Outreach: Big House, Open Door

malaysia penang bike lane parkingToo often when it comes to new transport initiatives, the practice is to concentrate on laying the base for the project in close working relationships with people and groups who a priori are favorably disposed to your idea (basically your choir). Leaving the potential “trouble makers” aside for another day. Experience shows that’s a big mistake. Instead from the beginning we have to take a . . .

Following are incomplete working notes from book in progress: The Equity Initiative.  To be adapted for Penang Initiative.

Big House/Open Door

Concerned local/regional government agencies, transporters, business groups, local employers and others should be brought early on into discussions, planning, implementation, and follow-up. It is vital to bring to the table as wide a range of groups and interests as possible, from the city and in the surrounding region in each case, including those whose views may be negative about any of the kinds of major shift in today’s transportation arrangements. Nobody likes change out of the blue, especially those “imposed” on us by people who are indifferent to our problems and priorities It is natural to block these unwelcome proposals.  But that would be a huge mistake.

In a 21st century democracy, the key to success is to take a big house/open doors approach. Make sure that you bring in all those groups, interests, people who are going to be impacted, positively or possibly negatively. Better to have them inside the tent and from the beginning.

One of the richest and most exciting phases of the preparatory projects from the outset is that of taking contact with all these groups in order to discover what they are already doing to advance the sustainability agenda in your city. And what they are ready and able to do if they get the right kind of support.

Below you have our generic checklist of possible local collaborators, partners, and interested parties. As you look through it from the perspectives of your own community, you will see that there are gaps here. But this at least can get you started.

Local/regional government agencies

1. City hall(s)
2. Communications, public information specialists
3. Community development programs
4. Energy, conservation
5. Environmental services (including monitoring stations and services)
6. Fire department
7. Fiscal and economic policies
8. Mayors (personal commitment)
9. Ombudsman
10. Other towns and municipalities in region
11. Parking policy and administrating
12. Police and traffic authorities (local and regional)
13. Public health
14. Public space management
15. Related incentive programs
16. School system
17. Social services
18. Special event management
19. Street vendors, kiosks, etc.
20. Taxes and charges
21. Transport and traffic planners
22. Urban development/master planners
23. Other concerned agencies, services?

Mobility purveyors, representatives

1. Ambulance and hospital transport
2. Carshare operators
3. Carpool/ride-share operations
4. Shuttle services: Colleges, employers, hospitals, churches, etc.
5. Cycling groups
6. Emergency transporters and services
7. Fleet managers
8. “Ghost” or black/illegal taxis and carriers
9. Goods/Freight delivery
10. Jitneys
11. Message/courier services
12. Package delivery
13. Paratransit providers
14. Parking providers (public and private)
15. Pedestrian associations and action groups
16. Postal buses (mainly in rural areas)
17. Public transit operators (rail and road)
18. Rental cars, vehicles
19. Rideshare and hitch-hiking services
20. School and other special buses
21. Taxis, limo and chauffeur services
22. Transport services for elderly, handicapped
23. Transport shelters
24. Walk/Bike to School groups
25. Other?

Movement substitutes, Demand Management

1. Activity clustering
2. Carfree housing
3. E-meeting technologies (videoconferencing, voice conferencing, other)
4. Land use planning
5. Teleshopping (and delivery)
6. Telework, telecommuting programs
7. Travel diaries, logs
8. Trip chaining
9. xWork (new ways of organizing distance work)

Other key and potential actors, Supporters, Opponents

1. Board of Trade and other industry groups (including infrastructure)
2. Automobile associations and related industry groups (get them on board early)
3. Chambers of commerce, Business groupings, Downtown associations
4. City boosters
5. Colleges and universities
6. Clubs, churches, synagogues, mosques
7. Consultants, university/research groups working in these areas
8. Developers, real estate agencies,
9. Employers
10. Financial community, banks, insurance companies
11. Foundations, individuals and others able to provide financial support or backing
12. Fundraisers
13. Green Maps (Toronto has a fine one)
14. Groups or people interested or involved in earlier Car Free Days or similar car free projects or demos in region
15. Hospitals and health agencies (including public health)
16. Including eventual sponsors and sources of active participation and support
17. International, national, regional environment, mobility, etc. agencies and associations
18. Local and regional media (old and new)
19. Local merchants, chambers of commerce, downtown associations
20. Media: traditional and new
21. NGOs, Public interest groups, associations
– Environmental, ecological, public health, clean air groups
– Non-motorized transport: Pedestrian, cycling, skating, running groups
– Associations concerned with elderly, handicapped and poor
22. Out of town commercial centers
23. Polling organizations
24. Red Cross, emergency services and public information programs
25. Schools and educational institutions
26. Specialized consultancies, working in these areas
27. Street performers, musicians
28. Transport user groups
29. Urban development, public spaces,
30. Women’s groups
31. Youth, sports and recreation groups

* Comments and suggestions for improvement of this rough listing are more than welcome.

If you think that transport policy and investment decisions are best taken in smoke-filled rooms peopled exclusively by local politicians, your long time  transportation experts, perhaps accompanied by some of your principal suppliers, then the New Mobility Agenda approach to outreach and broad public consultation and direct involvement is probably not for you.

Mayors, city councils and local government have a lot more their plate than the transportation-related issues of their community. And there are just 24 hours a day. However to the extent in which local leaders are ready to reach out into the community deeply and often, they are going to find that there are resources and skills out there which need to be drawn on. 21st-century governance is based on the continuous reaching out for the skills and inputs of active citizens. Getting this right requires both considerable thought and careful use of state-of-the-art communication systems.

We have long maintained that mayors and local politicians who get this right will probably be able to stay in office as long as they choose to.

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eb - about the editor - 28jun13


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