To build on our recent Op-ed “Time for more Strategic Citizen Impatience for a Bicycle Master Plan for Penang” ay, let me try to be a bit more concrete with a quick brainstorm note for critical discussion. Bear with me please.
Penang has waited long enough, too long I would say, to have a real cycling program, which starts on and will transform the streets to ensure safe and abundant cycling for all ages. As far as I can see (I hope I am wrong) the State government of has not announced strategic program for a cycling renaissance: no comprehensive audit, no specific commitment, no explicit goals, no announced global budget, no open working group, and no timetable or metrics again which success or failure could be judged. Yes, you have some activities and improvements going on here and there– but these are fragmented and there is no overarching MASTER PLAN FOR CYCLING IN PENANG.
* Eric Britton: Notes from a group discussion on the Sustainable Penang WhatsApp forum of the lack of a structured bicycle plan for Penang, 17 Feb. 2017
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.
Again and again and again, when it comes to “transport master planning” in Penang, it seems as if we always end up circling to the same old structurally wrong thing. And in the process allowing the undertrained proponents of the Big Bang “solution” of the present government package, to occupy the center of the debate. This is a huge mistake.
It is my position that the starting place for responsible and effective transport planning and policy in Penang is NOT to link it to land deals — but to look at the challenge in and of itself. From a well defined, explicit strategic perspective.
Some will say that they do not have enough money to accomplish their objectives — which quickly become wild, pharaonic, costly and not related to the real problems and priorities at hand. Remember, transport for people and not for cars (infrastructure included)
Here is the simple question that the policy makers need to ask and resolve.
(a) What is it that they can accomplish for the people of Penang,
(b) working with available resources in order to
(c) alleviate the day-to-day mobility problems of the people of Penang – with
(d) especial attention to the needs of the poorer half of society and the vulnerable populations (elderly, handicapped, poor, isolated, non-car owners, and
(e) above all women of all ages and stations of life, and in
(f) in the coming four years, i.e., 2017-2020.
How hard is that? And why is no one minding this store?
Please someone, tell me why this is not being done?
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About the author:
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France
Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions and in the process, find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. Currently working on an open collaborative project, “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transportation to Smaller Asian Cities” . More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7 * This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licence.
“We don’t just plan cities – we plan lifestyles, we plan for people…”
The more explored this question, as I dug deeper into my research it quickly became evident that there is a lot more to it than I had initially thought.
– Dr. Creighton Connally, Postdoctoral Fellow, Asian Urbanism Cluster, Asia Research Institute, NUS, Singapore
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?