We often hear that transportation reform 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 your city. Starting tomorrow morning.
(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)
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 trends, 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.
Let’s start with a simple listing and then go on to brief comments in an attempt to clarify.
WHY ARE THEY THERE? NOW? (Work trip in Jakarta on one more busy morning) Each person behind a wheel there made a choice to be there. For better or worse. How can we give them Better Choices? That’s the rub.
What many people call “transportation” . . is at its very essence not about road or bridges, nor vehicles or technology, and not even about money. Above all it is about people, their needs, fears, desires and the decisions they make. And the backdrop — real and mental — against which they make those decision. The transport planner needs to know more them and take this knowledge into the center of the planning and policy process. What makes them tick, individually and collectively. What do they want and what they are likely to resist. And people, as we all know, are intensely complicated, personal and generally change-resistant. .But if we take the time and care we can start to understand them, at least a bit better. Which is a start.
Dear Friends of a Sustainable Penang,
I am hard at work on a challenging book under the title BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Mobility to Smaller Asian Cities, which is not about Penang, the focus being much broader. However, at one point in the book I intend to comment on some of the most interesting things I have observed that are being done in Penang via the internet and civil society in order to broaden the debate and inform both concerned citizens, government, the business community, policy makers and the public more generally. We call this The Third Force.
WHY ARE THEY THERE? NOW? (Work trip in Jakarta on one more busy morning) Each person behind a wheel there made a choice. How can we give them Better Choices? That’s the rub.
What many people call “transportation” . . is at its very essence not about road or bridges, nor vehicles or technology, and not even about money. Above all it is about people, their needs, fears, desires and the decisions they make. And the backdrop — real and mental — against which they make those decision. The transport planner needs to know more them and take this knowledge into the center of the planning and policy process. What makes them tick, individually and collectively. What do they want and what they are likely to resist. And people, as we all know, are intensely complicated, personal and generally change-resistant. . But if we take the time and care we can start to understand them, at least a bit better. Which is a start.
Some very interesting things and lively discussions going on in Malta when it comes to their transport master plan for 2025 that we all might learn from. Here is a first set of references to open up the topic:
Matts-Åke Belin has a job title that might sound a little foreign to an American ear, but one that’s very important in his home country of Sweden: traffic safety strategist. He holds that position with the Swedish Transport Administration, where he has been one of the key architects of the policy known as Vision Zero. Since approved by the Swedish parliament in October 1997, Vision Zero has permeated the nation’s approach to transportation, dictating that the government manage the nation’s streets and roads with the ultimate goal of preventing fatalities and serious injuries. It’s a radical vision that has made Sweden an international leader in the area of road safety.
Serendipity: The Happy Surprise
On 14 Dec. 2015: Mr. Lim Thean Heng, Chief Engineer, for reasons of his own, decided to created a WhatsApp group, “Sustainable Penang”. The results of his successful initiative can be accessed online via https://web.whatsapp.com/, and from there clicking the menu to Sustainable Penang. The forum is open to invited participants, and thus far has almost two hundred members, roughly 20% or so from outside Penang. One of the main targets of the forum is to get feedback and views on the state government ‘s work in preparation of a Penang Transport Master Plan, on which there are many opposing views, including in the most informed public and reaches of civil society. But that is not the only thing that gets talked about there.
Did you realise that our WhatsApp forum is also a valuable research tool?
Penang Forum meeting
An open letter to Mr. Joshua Woo
Special Officer to Member of Parliament of Bukit Mertajam
Subject: – Commentary on your article appearing in the Penang Monthly October issue under the title “Better, Cheaper, Faster – Really?” – http://penangmonthly.com/better-cheaper-faster-really/
What are the actual costs off building bigger, wider, fast and more roads for Penang: Let’s start by hearing two conflicting and in many ways typical opinions:
Dr. Pojani in her lecture at Penang Heritage of Friday entitled “Urban Transport Crisis in Small and Medium Size Developing Cities and the Effectiveness of Countermeasures” — at one point advises us to FOLLOW THE MONEY. Now that’s an interesting comment and really makes me wish I had been with you. Here’s an example of how I interpret this counsel from my perspective as a strategic planner.
Thanks to Andrew we have a YouTube recording of the Dr. Pojani lecture – at https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155333414145550&id=756525549 . Hopefully her presentation slides will be available shortly for all those of us who were not in Penang that day.
Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two-plus decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international CFD challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.
“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the road, and think about it.”
SRS projects vs. Penang Forum call for new Transport Master Plan
Translated from Chinese interview of Ahmad Hilmy, transport and city planning scholar from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which appeared in the China Press of August 13, 2016. Mr. Hilmi closes the interview by stating frankly his recommendation that “the government engage independent experts to study both the proposals by SRS and the NGOs, based on best scientific estimates of construction cost, acquisition cost, maintenance and operation cost, life cycle, opportunity costs and externalities, ridership, environmental and life quality impacts, cultural and heritage issues, impacts on vulnerable populations, etc., instead of keep on arguing.
For full background on the fast-growing struggle to create a sustainable transport system for Penang. we direct you to The NGO Challenge Dialogue at http://wp.me/p3GVVk-xJ. The picture is rather murky at first due to considerable obfuscation on the part of the current administration, but if you are interested please take the time to work your way down through that top right menu section also entitled NGO Challenge Dialogue. You make up your mind, and if you have any comments, corrections or suggestions these pages are entirely open.