Our challenge in Penang has three main parts: (a) to see if we can help to create and reinforce a “new majority” for equitable and efficient transport system reform; (b) build capacity for sustainable mobility, innovation, and new approaches in the sector; and (c) train and influence at least a small core groups future leaders. This article which has just appeared in Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm) provides a good idea of the dimensions of the task before us.
As we look at the city of George Town, with a population of some 750,000 living with the city limits of ca. 120 sq/km (roughly the size of the city of Paris), one of the things that comes most immediately to mind is that, despite the significant challenges posed by the current transportation arrangements, it is certainly not an example of a major Asian megalopolis, or even a “large city” by Asian standards. And even if we take into account the entire George Town Conurbation, the total population is just a bit more than 2.2 million.
So what can we call it? What about a medium-sized Asian city?
– Ian Perry, Independent consultant and consultant. Cardiff, Wales
The importance of citizen participation in decision-making was highlighted yesterday evening at a public meeting in Penarth, South Wales, attended by 147 frustrated citizens who showed their willingness to participate in their communities decision-making. An attempt to force the Vale of Glamorgan (county) council (Vale council) to hold a referendum on proposals for the National Cycle Network (NCN) failed by just 17 votes. 133 votes against 5 were for a referendum on the matter, with 150 votes needed under current legislation.
Electric cars inspire dreaming, not only on the part of some consumers, observers and enthusiasts but also by public authorities who are trying hard to work their way out of the twin-headed hydra of finding the difficult path to sustainable transport in cities, and in many cases also having to deal with an auto industry in painful transition. As someone who drove a small ecar every day for ten years in Paris traffic (see attached pic), I personally found it a grand way to get around the city. But is that the crux of the issue here? I think not.
Cities live and flourish when they find their own way to combine density, mixed use, access, active citizenry and quality of life. And thus every square meter that today is not being used in the public interest is a waste, a failure of imagination and citizen engagement. Happily this idea of reclaiming the unoccupied, the abandoned, or the hijacked spaces of the city for the community as a whole is a movement that is now in full flower, and we intend to report on it in World Streets. We are calling this: The un/OCCUPIED movement.
Today the International Energy Agency has published a new report, A Tale of Renewed Cities. The report draws on examples from more than 30 cities across the globe to show how to improve transport efficiency through better urban planning and travel demand management. Extra benefits include lower greenhouse-gas emissions and higher quality of life. According to the report, policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as USD 70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050.