There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past have dreamed about the future.
While the lively imaginations of a fair slice of Penang’s politicians, engineers, publicists, developers, lobbies, accountants and salivating eventual suppliers and partners are dreaming up images of a future fifty long years from today, 2066 to be exact according to the latest unvetted SRS proposals, it is perhaps a good moment to consider past failures to conjure up meaningful image of how things are going to look such a long time into the future.
Here is one proposal which I suggest that they add to their list of project hopefuls, along with their three monorails, LRTs, Sky Cabs, ring roads, tunnnels and islands, and a basically undisturbed even larger number of cars marked and moving in the scarce public space. Specifically I propose they add to their 2065 list, the Whale Bus as yet one more option to connect the island with the mainland.
These images have been taken from a collection of such imaginations, “France in the Year 2000”, a series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. * Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/france-in-the-year-2000-1899-1910/. Open Knowledge Foundation
And here from the same collection is a visualization of what one of your SkyCab stations might look like.
Another day in school
Since (a) the several documents furnished by the government and their chosen consultants have thus far failed entirely to provide a clear vision for Penang’s future beyond a patchwork of wild and unsupported guesses, (b) we will do well to concentrate attention and resources on the very large number of challenges that are troubling Penang today, and in particular the four years directly ahead: 2016-2010. And if we do this well, we will have learned a lot more about the future we wish to and can build, as opposed to our scarce knowledge about it as is the case today.
* Also have a look at https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/future-visions-of-penang-help-wanted/
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About the editor:
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Bio: Britton is an American political scientist and sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. 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 book, "BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City" focuses on the subject of environment, equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions. A pre-publication edition of Better Choices is currently undergoing an international peer review during Sept.- Oct. 2017, with the goal of publication in English and Chinese editions by end-year. If you wish to participate drop a line to BetterChoices@ecoplan.org .