Better Choices | Planners Bookshelf . . . An invitation

–  SHARING, when it comes to transport, can work in many ways.

Introduction: I am hard at work on a book under the title Better Choices: Bringing Sustainable Mobility to Smaller Asian Cities, as described in the attached working note. Better Choices aims to inform and support planners, policymakers, civil society and others who must face the challenges of what is in effect a whole new way of thinking about transport in cities.

After numerous interviews and exchanges, it occurred to me that while we now have great search engines such as Google that can bring the world and all its complexity and crushing detail to our doorstep, in situations like this we need something more focused, concise and immediately useful by way of reference materials, particularly in areas and situations in which the local city team may not have deep competence. It’s good of course to have this level of help in print between the covers of a book, but better yet if it can be online, continuously updated, free and carefully made.

When I finally woke up to this I decided to see if I could pull together, working with the help of friends and colleagues who have deep knowledge in the various areas under study, to produce for each key factor a single page of carefully selected reference materials on each of these topics which are important elements of the overall challenge.  The reader will not be surprised if I cite by way of example some of these key topic area, such as: bicycles, big data, gender, congestion charging, safety, equity, enforcement, sharing, etc. for the rest you can find the full working plan for the reference library at https://goo.gl/z8rl2V

To clarify what we are trying to accomplish, the attached draft presents a sample entry, prepared with the counsel of Paul Barter, on the topic of one of the most powerful toolsets available to our cities, PARKING. And yet why is it that so few cities on this planet have a strategic parking policy at all, never mind the willpower to put it to work?

For more:

  • For the PLANNERS BOOKSHELF working documentation – https://goo.gl/z8rl2V
  • For the BETTER CHOICES program – https://goo.gl/Q43j1i

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Better Choices In Brief:

The crux of the strategy which is explored in these pages is an understanding that by and large human beings in any part of the world are essentially change resistant. And particularly so if the perceived changes are seen as leaving them worse off in the future – and, worse yet, are being imposed by unfeeling, out of touch government bureaucrats and politicians.

And yet, obvious as that may be, one of the most striking things that we can note from transport policies in most places in the past has been that (a) they all too often effectively offer no choices to much of the population. Or at least (b) choices which by and large perceived by the citizen as being inferior, and in particular inferior relative to getting there by car or motorcycle.

Inferior?  Waiting for a bus that shows up late in the rain is one example.  Walking a kilometer without a safe sidewalk to get to a public transit stop is another.  Public programs which make it hard to find a convenient parking place in the city, for no matter what, announced benevolent reasons, is perceived by most of us who are car dependent as an inferior choice.  Increasing the price of petrol, which makes my daily commute even more costly. A government which on the one hand may virtuously recommend bicycle use, but which, at the same time makes no real provision for safe and convenient cycling.   A ride to and from work twice a day which year after year takes more time and costs more money.  And the long list of bad choices goes on.

But given the experience in leading edge places over the last several decades, and the enormous advantages offered by new technologies and new ways of organizing ourselves, there is no good reason for public policy makers not to regroup, mobilize and create as the central thrust of transport policy to provide better choices for all.  To do this, we are going to have to mobilize ourselves under a radically different guiding strategy.  Which is what this project is all about.

The Three Pillars.

This collaborative project is organized in three main interactive parts as follows:

  • BOOK: The first book in the BETTER CHOICES series is aimed to be of help to transport planners, policy makers and others concerned with these challenges in Smaller Asian Cities.
  • PLANNERS BOOKSHELF: A high quality, collaborative online library and reference source, available in working form at https://goo.gl/5CLNs5
  • PLATFORM: A continuing cycle of articles, op-eds, contributions and references posted to WORLD STREETS, available online at https://goo.gl/GwNZbg and to continue over the full year ahead. Supported by dedicated Facebook page at https://goo.gl/cB6CnO

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About the authors: 

Eric Britton:

Trained as a development economist, Professor Eric  Britton is MD of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities and the Journal of World Transport Policy & Practice  he is Distiguished Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy & Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris. His work focuses on sustainable development, efficiency, economy and equity in city transport and public space, team building and helping government to ask the right questions and find practical solutions to mobility, public space and job creation issues.
Contact: E. eric.britton@ecoplan.org |Tel. +336 5088 0787 |T. @ericbritton | S. newmobility

 

Jason Chang:

A leading world expert in ITS and sustainable transportation, Dr. S. K. Jason Chang  (台大土木系教授/先進公共運輸研究中心主任 張學孔) is Professor  of Civil Engineering in National Taiwan University and Director of the university’s Advanced Public Transport Research Center.  He has served as advisor to the Taipei City Government for more than 20 years. He has been actively involved in many international societies and activities, including Chair of Taipei Public Transport Association, Executive Director of Transportation Institute in Taiwan, Vice President of ITS Taiwan, BOD member of the ITS World Congress, BOD Member of Eastern Asia Society for Transport Studies, and Member of America Society of Civil Engineers, Member of ITE. He has published more than 120 journal papers, 150 conference papers, and more than 120 technical reports. Jason is a fervent cyclist.

Contact:  Cell: +886-93517-8543  | Fax: +886-22363-9990  | skchang@ntu.edu.tw

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