– By Wang Zuxun. This excellent article was published July 3, 2018 in Chinese in http://bit.ly/2KSHCZn . It was kindly brought to our attention by Dr, Lim Mah Hui, former Councillor in the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and active as a member in the Penang Forum. What follows is a machine translation of the Chinese original, lightly edited for clarity as possible. You will still find anomalies, but the text is largely readable and the article so good that we can leave it to you to sort them out for yourselves.
In a conversation about one of the critical issues and decision points being set out in my forthcoming collaborative book, “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City” — namely the fundamental structural importance of the climate/transport link — I was told yesterday by a well-placed person in Malaysia that no one in Penang or indeed Malaysia (or for that matter pretty much anywhere else on our gasping planet) takes climate change seriously. At least sufficiently seriously to even consider changing their daily transport choices (which it just happens is what my book is all about.).
Question to our WhatsApp Forum:
I have been so long away from Penang, and my stay was just those couple of weeks, that I have huge zones of ignorance about how transport policy is made in Penang. But if I take several pretty high performing examples of cities and metropolitan areas with whom I have worked pretty closely over the years – say Bremen, Lyon, Helsinki and Adelaide – I can report that the pattern is, among other things, to organize “working groups” with pretty high levels of expertise in the key fields of public policy to help guide and coordinate government and other key actors: For example, walking, cycling, transit, school and work transport, space and land use, universal access, parking, speed, road architecture, economic instruments, vulnerable populations and areas, security,, public health impacts, enforcement, etc., etc.
And in each case, the strength of the working group is not only pretty high levels of competence at the local government level in their area of responsibility, but also, and perhaps even more important, the strong continuing working links with the key organizations of civil society that are engaged in that particular sector of the overall sustainable transport and sustainable city challenge. Intensity of involvement, collaboration, and continuity are the keys to success.
So now my question:
What luck for Penang and George Town that you did not ever invite the famed 20th century Swiss architect, designer, artist and general polymath Le Corbusier, who when he donned his urbanist hat provided the world with several striking examples of how to build a city for cars. That most devinitely is not where you want to go. Fortunately most of his city projects never got off the drawing board. But today, the Danish architect Henrik Valeur tells us about one that did in the city of Chandigarh, and what perhaps Indian planners and urbanists can now do to rectify.
The mind. . . yours, mine, theirs. This is the hardest challenge of all, and one that is right at the core of our Sustainable Penang/New Mobility Agenda transformation project for 2014 and beyond. Fortunately we are not the only ones since it is the age-old habit of man to lock blindly into old ideas — and particularly all those old ideas which are so omnipresent and unquestioned by all who surround us that they finally become invisible. How can we change something if we cannot see it? But let’s hear what our old and great friend Jan Gehl has to say about this in a lecture which he gave recently to the annual conference of the European Foundation Centre on “Sustainable Cities: Foundations and our Urban Future” in Copenhagen.
This is a video transcript of a 20 November 2013 interview with Bolivar Torres, Brazilian journalist with O Globo, a leading Brazilian newspaper. Topic: Notably unsustainable transportation and trends in Brazilian cities — seen from an international perspective. What to do? How to move from today’s failing and inconsistent ad hoc policies which are not getting at the roots of the problems? Perhaps toward a New Mobility Agenda? And what in anything might be introduced in time to improve traffic and life quality conditions for all during the coming World Cup and Olympics? (Much of this is going to be very familiar to Penangites.)