We hear once again from Mr. 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.
One 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.
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
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.
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 . . .
The letter that follows is, as you will quickly surmise, not an actual communication from one elected official in one case, but rather a composite, a distillation of experience that I have had over these last years of trying to push the sustainable transportation agenda in many parts of the world, almost always in conjunction and in dialogue with mayors and other city leaders.
As you will see, it is not that they are uniformly adverse to or not interested in the concepts behind sustainable transportation and sustainable cities. It is just that they have a great many other things on their mind, including staying on top day after day of the considerable challenges of managing their city — and, in not very long, running once again for reelection. This is the political reality of which those of us who would be agents of change must be aware, that politics is the art of the possible. Now let’s turn the stage over to our mayor: Continue reading