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Tradeoffs and entanglements among sustainability dimensions: the case of accessibility as a missing pillar of sustainable mobility policies in Italy

Author(s): Roberta Cucca | Enrico Maria Tacchi

Journal: Sustainability : Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 70;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: mobility | transportation | travel | public policy | environmental impact | civil rights | public access | pollution control

This article analyzes the tradeoffs between the environmental and social dimensions in sustainable mobility policies. We focus on the Italian context, where car dependency is a particularly prominent feature of the transportation system. During the past decade, many local administrations have promoted policies to foster more “sustainable mobility” as a way to manage congestion and reduce environmental pollution. However, these initiatives have often missed an important sustainability pillar: improving the accessibility of the most vulnerable to economic and social resources. This issue may have implications for social justice because access to mobility is an important dimension of inequality. A proposed framework identifies some possible tradeoffs related to sustainable mobility policies, concerning medium- to long-range mobility and short-range mobility. The article argues that, paradoxically, policies fostering mobility may lead to environmental pollution (e.g., low cost airlines), and that policies to contain the environmental impacts of mobility may harm social justice (e.g., environmental taxation) in the absence of strong promotion of collective transportation. Finally, we analyze possible solutions to reach sustainable accessibility.
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