- MISSION: Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda homepage – https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/
- PUBLIC ENQUIRY/Brainstorming report of Nov. 2013 – https://goo.gl/0BgurW
- TWITTER – https://twitter.com/SustainPenang
- LINKEDIN – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5084715
- #BETTER PENANG at http://www.betterpg.com/
- S/P PUBLIC LIBRARY at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD
- CIVIL SOCIETY IN Penang (Draft for review) – http://wp.me/p3GVVk-om
- ONLINE 24/7 Open Town Hall Meeting (Vol. 1, 2) – https://goo.gl/DdWumT
- COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org. Skype – newmobility
Dear Friends and members of this open public forum,
We are now getting into the true nitty-gritty fundamentals here and I would not like to leave this behind us too quickly. The disagreements are creative and as far as I am concerned a critical part of the reason we are here. Here are a few points I would like to share with you.
- SELF-ORGANIZED SYSTEM. First, this is — as we can see if we just look — an example of a self-organized system. Yes, LTH had the brilliant — the word is not too strong – idea of inviting this group’s 24/7 open conversations, and as I think we all pretty much understood on the topic of “Sustainable Penang “, and within that broad frame the issues and contradictions that exist and that are holding back the necessary move to a well thought-out, thoroughly professional strategic vision and plan of sustainable transportation, land use and public spaces in Penang.
But in self-organizing systems, what happens is that the various participants express a variety of opinions and desires on their particular areas of expertise and concern, and gradually a– and with a little luck — the whole complicated mechanism of discussion and exchanges lurches to uncover opportunities and priorities for a truly Sustainable Penang . And that is pretty much what is happening here and which you can see clearly if you page through the full record of the discussions, either directly here (takes time) or more easily on the first of a series of regular updates on these exchanges which anyone can freely follow through our Public Library at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD.
All that said, what I think is going to happen here is that within this discussion we are going together to lurch toward a number of greater truths, together and at times uncomfortably.
BRT – Bus Rapid Transit – a well-known transportation strategy which since first pioneered Curitiba Brazil in 1974 has seen many successes, and a fair number of disappointments. Fortunately all these projects are quite well documented, such that a real shared learning experience is underway. Today there are more than two hundred cities on all continents with working BRTs, of a huge variety of variations. All of that is well known and abundantly covered by the literature.
The great thing about BRT is that, if you get it right, it not only serves as a high performance option to being stuck in traffic in your car, but that it also provides an opportunity for rethinking the street system and provide improved contusions for cyclists and pedestrians. But without a doubt the second most important contribution of BRT is that it takes space away from cars, while at the same time giving the drivers a better option.
BRT in Penang
BRT is a great and, I would say without hesitation, even necessary strategy for Penang. However a word of caution: BRT is not an option that you buy off the shelf and plop down on the street. It is something that a city and its team of advisors have to work very hard to study, tailor and implement to meet the unique specifications of your city.
So as part of our learning curve just in is an excellent article on a hotly contested BRT start-up (and shortly close-down) in New Delhi which is getting considerable attention not only there but in the transport world more generally. Today we share with you a report by one of the principal advisors to the project, Professor Dinesh Mohan of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, along with a few references that see all this from other perspectives. (We thank the author for permission to reprint here.)
We often hear that transportation reform in Penang is going to require massive public investments, large construction projects, elaborate technology deployments, and above all and by their very nature are going to take a long time before yielding significant results. This is quite simply not true. This approach, common in the last century and often associated with the “American transportation model”, no longer has its place in a competitive, efficient, democratic city And we can start tomorrow, if we chose to.
To get a feel for this transformative learning reality let’s start with a quick look at a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture as a major means for reducing traffic related nuisances, accident prevention and improving quality of life for all. These approaches are not just “nice ideas”. They have proven their merit and effectiveness in hundreds of cities around the world. There is no good reason that they cannot do the same in Penang. Starting tomorrow morning.
(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)
Most of what we are seeing in Penang when it comes to planning and policy in Penang is terribly familiar. The bottom line until now at least is that overall you are not doing well, because you do not have a plan or a coherent vision to guide you. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are not alone.
Montréal has never really had a coherent planning vision – they simply react to developers’ proposals.
In fact Penang could hardly be more lucky because there is not only abundant information on the fast-growing number of well thought out examples of cities, projects and approaches that are showing the way for sustainable transport and sustainable cities. But there is also an even longer list of examples of cities that are getting it blatantly wrong. These should be understood and integrated into the thinking and planning process of the city, just as much as the attention which must be given to understanding and adapting “best practices”. If you look closely you will see there are patterns that repeat themselves again and again. It is important to be aware of them.
Here you have an example of the city of Montréal, while doing a fair number of good things in terms of transport, public space and environment, is at the same time suffering badly from the lack of a well thought-out understanding of how transport issues cannot be treated without full attention to land use and the structure of the city. Again painful signs of Penang. And how did this come up?
This Op-Ed has been contributed by Dr.Kua Kia Soong and provides a brilliant independent critical overview of what the title unambiguously suggests is “Malaysia’s transport mess”. While it examines the overall situation and climate from the vantage of Malaysia as a whole, it is no less relevant for the circumstances defining transport policy and practice in Penang. We thank Dr. Soong for his permission to publish the entire article as follows. This is an important piece to stimulate critical thinking and informed action in a sector which has been lagging badly and at high costs to the citizens of Penang and Malaysia. His closing sentence resumes the situation quite nicely: “The Malaysian public is tired of being told to be patient and that we can get our jam tomorrow… We want our jam today!”