WHERE IS PENANG GOING? : BETTER? CHEAPER? FASTER? – REALLY?

penang-traffic-scene-penang-monthly

– By Joshua Woo . In Penang Monthly, October 2016. http://penangmonthly.com/better-cheaper-faster-really/ 

This article by Mr. Joshua Woo, Special Officer to Member of Parliament of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia provides a critical analysis of two radically different, hotly contested  approaches to sustainable transport planning and policy for the state of Penang, Malaysia.  Readers  not familiar with these challenges and critical differences in Penang are invited to consult  the background  postings here: (a) Penang Transport Master Plan (b) Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas ;and  (c) The NGO Challenge, and (d) State Government response to NGOsYou may also find good value  in a three minute video which provides a very good, and very funny synopsis of the process currently underway: (e) The Three Minute Summary .                                        * Still hungry for more from all sides: work your way down the right hand menu to this site.

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WHAT DO I MEAN BY A “CAR FREE CITY”? 

netherlands-zwolle-intersecction-with-cyclists-and-cars

* Most definitely not a city without cars, but a city in which living without a car is, on the grounds of convenience, comfort and economics for many preferable to living with one.  It is not about government interference or compulsion. It is a scenario which offers more and better choices.  (Does your city offer that choice?)

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Op-Ed: A Properly Financed Transport Plan for the Long Haul

Penang highway from SRS MP

Project from SRS TMP at http://pgmasterplan.penang.gov.my/. “MOVING PEOPLE NOT CARS”

This official interview with state executive councillor for Local Government,Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Chow Kon Yeow has appeared at a good time as public discussions are gathering momentum with a growing range of no-political civil society organizations and NGOs asking that the state government reconsider the “Big Bang” project which they have developed by their consultants SRS consortium for an admitted total of RM46bil for a wildly ambitious construction program projected to handle the transportation requirements of the state for the next 50 years. (Other informed estimates set the taxpayer burden at close to 50% higher.)

It is our intention to comment on a number of points advanced by Mr. Chow in a follow-up article in the coming week. For your convenience, you will notice that the items to be discussed are identified by two asterisks and a number for your later reading convenience. We now invite you to enjoy Mr. Chow’s presentation.

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RETHINKING NEW MOBILITY IN PENANG: The search for Values, Vision, Competence, Strategies, Tactics . . and Happiness.

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Sustainable Moldova Challenge initial work plan (First steps)

barn raissing in rural America -2

Cooperative barn raising in rural America

As part of preparing the way for a sponsored project, the last months  here were given over to work aimed at laying a firm organizational, working tools and communications base for the actual project. As of this date here are the main building blocks already for the most part in at least beta  working order and ready to go as soon as the sponsors and partners give the green light:

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Penang: Peer exchange on PTMP tasks and accomplishments to date

We hear once again from Mr. Teoh Huey Hooi who comments on July 23 on the following graphic issued by the SRS team with government support. He tells us that “this comparison is obvious, Halcrow just a conceptual guideline, Penang Forum just opposing and did nothing. SRS is the most professional one.”

Interesting interpretation, but let’s have a closer look.

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Sustainable Transportation – 101 Things You Have to Keep Your Eye On

brain2One of the reasons why such a small proportion of the world cities are working on having more sustainable transportation systems has to do with the fact that these are literally “complex systems”, a category of social and economic interactions which is far more complicated than laying down additional meters of concrete.

A complex system is filled with nuances and surprises, as a result of the fact that all of the bits and pieces that constitute them interact with each other, and all too often yields contradictory results which are quite opposite from what the initial practitiones or policymakers may have wished to bring about.  The classic example of this is of course the discredited “predict and provide” approach to transport which famously creates a mindset which consistently favors more traffic.  So even with all of the goodwill and hope in the world, many of these policies or approaches achieve results which are contrary to the initial expectations and often deleterious.

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World Streets supports Sustainable Penang Transport Initiative

Penang BCF gent on bike beautiful

Last Minute News from Penang – 13 July 2016. 10:00 local time:

1.  Penang Forum today launched : Better, Cheaper, Faster Penang Transport Master Plan

2. Start with the sharp (hilarious) 2 minute introduction : https://youtu.be/6B9o1baUaP8

3. Now World Streets reader please sign  petition at www.bettercheaperfaster.my/votebcf

Penang BCF vote logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Penang – A Sustainable Transport Primer for a Battle of Ideas

Penang traffic - no sign of public transport

Introduction

In the coming weeks we are going to be presenting here coverage of a highly interesting public discussion of differences of perspectives, values and finally of interests, which have at its core the same concerns of World Streets and our readers: namely the challenges of sustainable development, sustainable transportation and the context of the politics of transport in cities.

But let’s not try to get into the interesting details and ongoing work in this first editorial; instead let’s see if we can present a quick canned history of this small South East Asian city that is facing some hard choices that are important for the immediate future but also for the long term. There is a lot of passion surrounding these issues and differences, so in this we shall do our best to maintain what our friends over at Wikipedia so deftly call, NPOV – a neutral point of view.

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A Think-Tank is Neither to Tarnish nor Burnish <—

Malaysia Penang Pedestrian in King crosswalk

* Civil society under attack in Penang Malaysia: This letter to the editor in response to warning issued to civil society by Penang’s Chief Minister

– By TK Chua, 8 July 2016 m.malaysiakini.com

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is under a lot of pressure lately. However, his advice to Penang Institute, the think-tank funded by the state government, not to tarnish but burnish the image of the state government, needs some comments.

I think the purpose of a think-tank is neither to tarnish nor burnish the image of the state government. Both would be wrong.

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Penang: Chief Minister warns Civil Society to serve the State

Penang Chief Minister and Penang insitute

Guan Eng Warns Penang Institute Over Safeguarding State Government Image

Kuala Lumpur, 7 July 2016: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has warned members of the state think tank, Penang Institute, not to tarnish the image of the state government.

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Question to members of Penang Transport Council reviewing and evaluating SRS master plan documents

Penang girl on bike - covered head

ON CYCLING:

CYCLING: We have been exchanging in our several group fora in support of the Sustainable Penang project thoughts about plans and actions in favor of more, better and safer cycling for all in Penang. And of course by this we mean specifically cycling for day to day transport, cycling for men, women and children getting from their particular A to B in all parts of Penang. (though it will be interesting as well to know of their coverage of leisure and touring cycling, etc.)

So, against this background we respectfully ask the following  . . .

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Towards Sustainable Transport in Malaysia – What we already knew in 2001 and are steadfastly ignoring today

Penang Changing Directions - color

The Consumer Association of Penang organized a National Seminar on Changing directions from 7-10 September 2001  in Penang, subsequent to which a report was published and we now make  freely available here in its entirety at https://goo.gl/kQVD0T. This is a remarkably prescient document which was largely ignored at the time despite the vigorous effort of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and others in the city’s lively civil society and NGOs.  Somehow neither Penang or the national government were prepared to devote time and resources to finding the path to sustainable transport in cities. (And they were not the only ones.)

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STEP: Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang (Archives)

Penang cener traffic growth

How were the leading minds  in Penang looking at the challenges of sustainable transport back at the turn of the century?  Did you know this? In many ways considerably better than is the case today. They were lucid, they had focus, and they stuck with the issues at hand..

To bring you into the picture (above)  let’s have a look at a presentation made back in 1999 introducing a collaborative civil society program at the time, called STEP – Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang. If you look closely you will note that just about all of the issues and recommendations that were being discussed back then, are every bit as topical today. But somehow we lost almost two decades.

What happened? Why did not this enlightened program take off at the time.  We shall be looking at that closely in the coming weeks and seeing if we can learn at least some of the lessons of the past.

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Better. Faster. Cheaper. – Toward a New Mobility Agenda for Penang

Better-Faster-Cheaper - script

It is amazing how words can pop up and associate in a situation in which a number of people with different ideas and orientations come together to see if they can put their fingers on some elusive but important truth.

Over the past months as a civil society consensus critiquing the State government’s transport plan in Penang (and, no less important, the process behind it) has slowly taken shape, this short phrase  is starting to crop up often enough to serve as a common motto, a watchword, a rallying point to give high visibility to the ideas and proposals that are better adapted to the important work that remains to be done

When we speak of the path to s sustainable transport system and sustainable Penang today we now speak with a unified voice of Better, Faster, Cheaper. Let’s have a look.

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