For the last several years the internationally fabled Worst Practices Department has taken its place of honor in World Streets and the world more generally, because when it comes to transportation there has never been a shortage of flakey ideas.
This year we shall for the first time be handing out handsome Awards in a planet- spanning ceremony that will be the object of an open virtual conference (details to follow) perhaps on the same day that the Sustainable Transport Awards for 2014 are announced in parallel with the annual TRB conference. The keen-eyed, unafraid WSWPD program Dear Leader will of course figure prominently on the trophies. (Details to follow shortly.)
But what we are looking to draw attention to here are not just the little stuff that may be the joy of an intrepid inventor with blinders on or group of gung-ho supporters fearlessly attached to some favorite notion, but the kinds of wrong-headed mega projects that often keep popping up in many parts of the world, sold hard by their sponsors and (if I may) fellow travelers -;)
In a world in which considerable attention is given to the concept of “Best Practices” as teaching guides and exemplars in the field of cities and transportation, World Streets has since our founding in 2009 drawn attention from time to time to poor, desperately poor and even pernicious policies and practices. Our Worst Practices Department has its rightful place in World Streets because when it comes to transportation there has never been a shortage of flakey, retrograde, often even dangerous ideas.
You are invited to pitch in, drawing to our attention what you believe to bone fide worst practices. What is surprising is just how many of them are, and how hard it is for some of the worst and most costly ideas (they often go together) to be put to death in a peaceful way.
To be quite frank, to the point and a bit rude, the famed 20th century Swiss architect, designer, artist and general polymath Le Corbusier when he donned his urbanist hat provided us with several striking examples of how to build a city for cars. We are extremely fortunate that most of them never got off the drawing board. But today, the Danish architect Henrik Valeur tells us about one that did and what perhaps Indian planners and urbanists can now do something to rectify.
In order to understand what needs to be done to create healthier lives and a better performing set of transportation arrangements, World Streets has from the very beginning made a consistent distinction between what we call “Old Mobility” vs.”New Mobility.” The difference between the two is simple, straight-forward . . . and substantial.
Old mobility was the dominant form of transportation policy, practice and thinking that took its full shape and momentum starting in the mid twentieth century, at a time when we all lived in a universe that was, or at least seemed to be, boundless and free of constraints. It served many of us well in many ways at the time, albeit with numerous and notable exceptions, though we were blind to most of them most of the time. It was a very different world back them. But that world is gone. Gone and it will never come back.
“Regulations that prohibit shared taxis are an example of worst practice.”
- Ann Hackett
It’s a fine thing of course to know about “best practices” in our troubled sector, and there are quite a number of programs and sources in various corners of the world that are busy assembling these and making them available in various databases. That is excellent. But we decided that World Streets can make a useful contribution if we take all this from the other end — and launch a series of collaborative “worst practice” (or possibly just “bad practice”) profiles, illustrating different ways to get it very wrong. Continue reading