Highway of the future? (Give them more rope.)

Again and we have to ask you to believe us dear readers, we’re definitely not anti-car — but sometimes a low-IQ high car-favoring project proposal pops up that puts the case in such flagrant terms that it just screams for attention. Which we are now if not exactly pleased at least prepared  to share with you.

In this short and surely most well-intentioned video you can view a proposal for a quite mad urban highway project, aimed at popping an additional 23 kilometers of high-speed elevated urban highway into the city of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco in Mexico. In addition to the base voice-over in Spanish, the whole thing is enhanced by an acid commentary by a number of long time World Streets friends and colleagues who were attending last week’s World CarFree Network Conference in York UK. As they say in the Michelin motorists’ guides: well worth a detour.

Note: This video has been taken down as a result of a copyright violation claim by the sponsor; Comunicación Gobierno de Jalisco. Perhaps this means that they have got the message? One can always hope?

BTW, what if the editorial team for the fine video simply take a series of still photos and text which after all will do just fine to give the reader an idea of what their project is all about. Then using that as the base for the excellent commentary.

Also I would say that the immediate and authoritarian response of the public sponsors already tells a key part of the story. Leaving the question: who exactly is it that would profit financially from such a misguided use of hard-earned taxpayer money? Seems like this would make an interesting story with deep lessons for sustainable transport, fairness and democracy.

The story behind this is as follows.  A letter to the members of the carfree_network came in over the transom today  bearing the following explanatory message:

Dear Members of the CarFree Network,

Some of you heard about Jalisco’s government project to build a second floor toll express way in Guadalajara, Mexico. During the IX Conference in York last week we interviewed some of you in order to have a compilation of opinions which in practice are strong arguments against it. We edited the following video which has already had a great deal of impact in getting people to discuss and debate the proposed plan. There has been 10,000 hits since Sunday!

I hope it is a good representation of some of the interviewees’ opinions. To all of you, thank you.  If you have any feedback or comments in reaction to the video please let us know!

Best wishes,

Jesus Carlos Soto, Felipe Reyes and Etienne von Bertrab – etiennevon@gmail.com

Latest update/9 Jan/17:00 Paris time : We kindly received the following, which probably will also be surpressed in due course but which for now works:

Now let’s see if we can give this a bit of historical context. To this end we share with you an excerpt from the 1958 Disneyland TV Show episode entitled Magic Highway USA, Disney’s optimistic exploration into possible future transportation technologies. We invite you to chart the mental difference between the two films. After a 52 year learning period , after thousands of ill-considered road-building projects in urban areas showing clearly to anyone who cares to look that this approach is worse than nonsense, here it is again.

As we like to say: Give them more rope.

Thanks to Ian Fiddles of Greenpeace in Sweden for the heads-up.

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6 thoughts on “Highway of the future? (Give them more rope.)

  1. I suggest that we differentiate “car” from “automobile”:

    The “automobile” is a rubber-tyred, unguided road vehicle able to carry up to 12 passengers, and the “car” is an inappropriately-used automobile.

    “Automobile” is a simple technical term; “car” is a simplistic marketing or even psychological term, about feeling, peer pressure, desire… addiction.

    To be clear: Carshare is a shared mobility service which uses automobiles… appropriateness of use is highly context-specific: Some automobiles may only be cars part of the time, or during part of their service life.

    Car is “Old Mobility”.

    Just start a conversation with “I am not anti-automobile, I am only anti-car”.

    Reply
  2. Commentary by Joel Crawford on Towards Carfree Cities IX conference:

    York, England, hosted Towards Carfree Cities IX between 28 June and 1 July 2010. I attended and gave a keynote talk focusing on the Reference Design for carfree cities and how it can be adapted to the conversion of existing areas to the carfree model.

    It was a good conference in a lovely small city with a quarter that dates back to Roman times. It’s interesting to note that it appears to have been originally designed using the standard Roman grid plan for colonial cities, but no trace remains of its original form. Two thousand years have left a typical medieval street pattern.

    There were many interesting talks, most of which will eventually be available on the conference archive web site. Most encouraging was the rapid success of a Sustrans program to get kids back on their bikes for the trip to school. Cycling has a ways to go before it reaches the levels found in the Netherlands and Denmark, but far more kids are riding than just a few years ago, at least in the towns that have asked for help from Sustrans. Kids, it seems, have to be actively deterred from riding their bikes to school. Once the ban is lifted, they turn out in huge numbers.

    Other presentations that attracted my interest were:

    * Designing a Zero-Carbon Transport System: Action Speaks Louder than Words
    * Porto: Planning for People, Not Cars
    * Milton Keynes – The Carfree City That Nearly Was
    * Personal Rapid Transit: The Future Public Transit for Carfree Cities

    Thursday evening we had permission to close off three blocks of an important street just outside the city walls. The place was jammed with people almost the moment the barricades went up. People were having a great time. The pent-up thirst for street life is obviously huge.

    Great concern was expressed regarding the current state of the Arctic ice cap. We are on a track this year that is below 2007, the lowest year on record. Alas, the dire situations in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico do not seem to have ignited much interest in carfree cities as a solution.

    Reply
  3. Note: This video has been taken down as a result of a copyright violation claim by the sponsor; Comunicación Gobierno de Jalisco. Perhaps this means that they have got the message? One can always hope?

    BTW, what if the editorial team for the fine video simply take a series of still photos and text which after all will do just fine to give the reader an idea of what their project is all about. Then using that as the base for the excellent commentary.

    Also I would say that the immediate and authoritarian response of the public sponsors already tells a key part of the story. Leaving the question: who exactly is it that would profit financially from such a misguided use of hard-earned taxpayer money? Seems like this would make an interesting story with deep lessons for sustainable transport, fairness and democracy.

    Would you agree to pass this message on? Thanks. Eric Briton

    Reply
  4. Hi, I am not sure of official regulations in Mexico, but I am sure that corporate-sourced material is used in news reports constantly and heavily — the problem with this piece might have been that some captions etc. were not added to make clear the division between the interviews in York and the stuff from the highway pushers. If the producers of the video were not given official permission to use the material, one way to set it off would be to re-shoot it off of a monitor and have this edited together somehow with the interviews.

    Quite obviously, the piece was removed because the highway people were scared of all those thousands of hits – this says a lot in itself and makes its own news story – but I hope that the footage can be used in the way I suggest or using some other alternative method.

    Reply
  5. During the World CarFree Conference in York, that Velo Mondial attended a video was created asking some experts to comment on the plans of Guadelajara Jalisco Mexico to build a highway. The plans resembled those that Amsterdam had back in the sixties of building a highway through the city; Amsterdammers blocked those plans and now we have the pretty city that Amsterdam is.

    The video was put on Youtube but the government of Jalisco was not pleased and asked YouTube to bring it down (after around 15,000 hits) claiming misuse of Copyright! That proved to be an action on the same level in communication as the plans are for building the road in the field of mobility. It became a much larger issue, calling even more attention on people worried about censorship and accountability. Two days later another 11,000 saw the video on YouTube.
    http://velomondial.blogspot.com/2010/07/drama-in-guadalajara-mexico.html

    Pascal J.W. van den Noort
    Executive Director Velo Mondial
    operations@velomondial.net

    Reply

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