Transportation sustainability in the urban context: a comprehensive review

Selima Sultana, Deborah Salon, Michael Kuby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Although the term “sustainability” did not gain traction until the 1980s, concerns about the consequences of transportation technology started long before. This paper reviews the literature on urban transportation sustainability using three frameworks. First, urban transportation can be unsustainable environmentally, economically, and socially (the three pillars of sustainability). Second, sustainable strategies tend to fall into two paradigms. Sustainable Transport Technology improves current patterns of modes and trips by consuming less resources and generating less waste. Sustainable Travel Behavior and Built Environment takes a more holistic approach that targets more sustainable travel choices, recognizing that changes in the built environment that currently constrains those choices are also essential. Third, the Planner’s Triangle helps explain commonly encountered situations where inherent tradeoffs can impede win-win-win strategies across environmental, economic, and social domains. The paper concludes with future research directions and concluding thoughts about urban transportation and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-308
Number of pages30
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2019


  • Cities
  • built environment
  • sustainability
  • technology
  • travel behavior
  • urban transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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