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
This set of references in support of the sustainable Penang project, and in particular the component involving civil society participation in determining the future of Penang’s transport/mobility system, has been carefully pieced together over the last two years, in response to a system on the part of the government that was providing little information to support citizen enquiries into the program which is also referred to by them as the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). The latest information on the government program in support of this will be found at http://pgmasterplan.penang.gov.my
Fifteen local NGOs have cautioned Penangites not to rush to endorse the state’s mega-billion transport master plan (PTMP), saying more consultation and transparency are needed in the massive deal.
The NGOs, including Aliran and the Penang Heritage Trust, issued a joint statement giving Penangites nine major reasons why “the people of Penang should not be rushed into signing this important agreement”.
Draft introduction: Welcome to a collaborative thinking exercise inviting any and all who may have some questions about the focus, the vision and in the end the quality of future mobility services as being proposed and aggressively pushed by the state government of Penang. The central instrument for this group investigative process is a group of poster illustrations which combine simple images and a few telling words in order test our understanding of the Penang Transport Master Plan — all this as prepared for the recent Gertak Sanggul Art Festival by Kin Yin and a group of young collaborators (who will be identified shortly in the final section of this first presentation).
This app is based on the idea that a democracy can only work if everyone plays a role. As such better Penang is a community-driven effort, it will only work if you and I do our part to make it work.
NOTE: This app Is created and maintained by volunteers using their own resources. No government fund was spent for this project and while we are happy to receive the support from local government officials, we are not directly affiliated to the government.
For those of you who do not know it, we do have a “publication arm” that works rather effectively, a collaborative blog which we set up in 2013 during my first visit to Penang, under the title Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda. It is freely available at https://sustainablepenangagenda.wordpress.com/. A section of the home page is shown here, and to get the feel for how it works I recommend that you start with . . . START.
I mention this now because the blog invites contributions from those with useful knowledge or questions to share with our 173 international readers, while each posting is picked up by parallel social media sites on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/SustainablePenang , 153 readers), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5084715), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/SustainPenang). Selected articles are also posted in World Streets (https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/), for the attention of our 4403 international readers).
- 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: email@example.com. 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.
In the city, as in life, as we make our way around it we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. Consciously or not. But when it comes to matters of transport and public spaces, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners, policy makers and the concerned citizen. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.
With this in mind we have made a selection of fifty wildly different photographs from the working archives of World Streets, which have been culled from more than three thousand images and which one by one can help us to better understand the almost infinitely variable challenges of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. I call these “Invisibilities” reminding us to all of the many things that go on in our sector which we often fail to look at. This is a universal problem, and my hope here is to encourage us all, myself included, to be more fully attentive to the human side of transportation.
(We propose that you look at this with the full screen setting bottom right just above.)
The following strategic commentary appeared in the form of a long letter responding to an invitation by the chief transport planner of Penang with the State Government Office to comment on a strategic presentation and commentary he was about to make at end year in Kuala Lumpur reflecting back on the Penang Transport Master Plan (2013-2030) carried out for the State by Halcrow and AKC Planning and published in a final version in October 2-12. Mr. Lim’s commentary. Cross Roads, Game Changers & Bulls’ Horns, is available here.
Update. My quick six-point “Summer 2015 Executive Summary” follows:
World Streets accepts this wise invitation of open discussion of these critical matters with grateful thanks to the Pope and the Vatican, and a genuine desire to participate usefully.
Pope Francis has invited us all, invited the world in all its varieties and contradictions, to read, ponder and comment on the carefully crafted forty thousand words of his Encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home. In the opening lines of the long, varied and challenging document he addresses us in these words.
In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home. . . I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.
Pope Francis’s just-promulgated encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home”, is without a doubt the most important single document to be published, initiative to be taken, since the phrase sustainable development was invented three long and patently unsuccessful decades ago. This extraordinary document of less than one hundred pages aims to inform and to rally the forces of responsible behavior and responsible governance to the cause and the plight of our planet and to the role of active democracy. Beautifully written (the English language version at least), clearly presented and cogently argued in clear day to day language. It is an excellent and inspiring read. However it is not a recipe, it has its shortcomings — it is a challenge, and thus requires that we read it carefully and do our own sorting out of the issues and the counsel it offers. Hardly an effortless process.
One of the more disheartening passages includes his listing of all the promising international agreements that have failed for lack of support from the leaders who signed them.
If I live outside of a city — say, in a classic spread suburb, rural area, commuter town or other hard to serve low density area — and if I happen not own a car, or on days when my car is not available, I am going to have an extremely hard time getting to work or wherever it is I need to go this morning.
In principle I have a few choices, for example: (a) Get down on my knees and beg for a ride from family or neighbors. (b) Try to find (and somehow get to) a bus or local pubic transport (in a period of ever-decreasing public services and budget cuts, so good luck!). (c) Search out a taxi if you can find one, call, wait for it eventually to show up and then pay a hefty amount. (d) For work trips, and if I am lucky, there may be a ride-sharing scheme. Or, for many less comfortable but still possible, (e) the hitchhiking option. (f) Or do like an increasing number of my fellow commuters and buy a cheap motorcycle. And perhaps most likely of all (g) be obliged to reschedule or forget the trip. But at the end of the day, and all things considered, I am forced to conclude that the reality of life in suburbia and rural areas today is: no car = no mobility. Harsh!
But stuff changes.We are entering a new and very different age of technology, communications and mobility, and as American writer Josh Stephens reminds us in the following article, things are starting to look up.
Shortlist of Transformative Realities and Trends
One of the great recompenses of having watched the sustainable transportation and related technology developments evolve over the course of several decades, is that if one takes the time to step back and scan the evidence for pattern breaks, one can readily spot a certain number of fundamental structural changes, quite a few of which bode well for a different and better future for transport in and around cities. Here are a handful of the fundamental underlying changes which I have spotted over the last decades and which I would like to share with you this morning.