Wayne Gao on M2Ws in Taiwan
World Streets has for some years now pushed hard for the idea of an integrated strategic planning approach and operations plan for the better, safer use of motorized two wheelers in and around cities. This has largely been an uphill struggle. Not to claim that there have not been innovations and improvements here and there. But for the most part, this creeping problem continues insidiously to take on ever great proportions, while those responsible continue to look elsewhere. We really need to do better than that.
An excellent summary reminder of what a sustainable transport master plan is all about. Sadly in the real world of politics and lobbies, we will hear and read many of these words, lightly said, but the real challenges behind each of these short points are all too rarely understood and respected. It is the job of those of us who understand the importance of these points to stubbornly bring them up again and again as the decision process moves on. Eternal vigilance and active civil society.
Mayors, political representatives and transport experts of numerous municipalities and regions in Europe and beyond, are assembled in Bremen on April 12-13th, 2016 for the 3rd European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans.
While recognising that European guidance documents exist on sustainable urban mobility planning, Bremen and other European cities demonstrate that it is possible to breathe life into a planning document by grounding the plan in the experience and context of a city with all of its large and small challenges. The purpose of this document is to place the EU’s sustainable urban mobility planning guidelines firmly in the context of the reality of European cities.
The third annual SUMP conference focusses on an efficient and people-focussed city as a core objective of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning. Following on the conference themes, this declaration emphasises some cornerstones of content and process:
To create a city that works for all, we need to have a vision. Policy without vision is like driving blind-folded. In this short posting we would like to explore the vision of a Soft City. You will have your own ideas on this but here are ours. And of course your comments and suggestions are as always most welcome.
- The Soft City is recognizable. Has a clear sense of identity. When you’re there you know where you are.
- Proximity: In contrast with the reality of sprawl and limited accessibility for the majority, a place where many things you need in your daily life are within a comfortable and safe walk or bike ride.
- The Soft City is quiet and clean.
- And safe – for all but above all for women and children (who are visibly apparent on the street).
- There are people on the streets (eyes on the street, assuring safety and amenity).
- Traffic is light, unobtrusive and moves slowly – in tempo with the others sharing the street.
An important element of our Better Choices sustainability strategy is to achieve our carefully-considered objectives for the city, often very demanding, without avoidable social conflicts and divisions into opposing camps. For that we need to be attentive to soft policy techniques.
Softness is often confused with weakness. But not in the martial arts. The goal of the soft technique is deflecting the attacker’s force to his or her disadvantage, with the defender exerting minimal force. With a soft technique, the defender uses the attacker’s aggressivity, force and momentum against him or her, by leading the attack(er) in a direction to where the defender will be advantageously positioned (tai sabaki) and leaving the attacker off balance; a seamless and to many invisible movement then effects the appropriate soft technique.
Maybe it will take care of itself.
An even dozen hard facts that politicians, administrators and engineers are finding it very hard to accept – but without which they will never be able to lead the transition to sustainable mobility and a sustainable city.
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.