Sustainable Transport: Declaration of Dependence

Out there in the real world life is a complex interactive system in which things do not exist in isolation but depend heavily on each other.  As Miller and Scott put it: “A complex adaptive system is a system in which a perfect understanding of the individual parts does not automatically convey a perfect understanding of the whole system’s behavior”.  Which means that if our goal is to create a strong and wise policy for sustainable transport in and around our cities we need to change our tools and perspective  as well as our behaviour.  As the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future” told us already a full generation ago . . .

The following is taken from the peer review edition of the forthcoming book “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City“. For a copy drop a line to betterchoices@ecoplan,org.

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CONGESTION AS POLICY. (You have seen worse.)

Whether or not congestion is “good” is one thing.  But what is for sure is that one way or another congestion is policy, or at the very least a policy option. And in some cases quite possibly a wise one.

Now this has been said many  times  by many people in many places, yet despite its incontrovertible wisdom the message continues to get lost on policy makers.  So in cases like this, we have to take a page out of the book of good people who sell us iPhones and cars, and keep repeating our message.

Today let’s hand over the podium to Kent Strumpell  from Los Angeles and see what he had to say on our subject in LA Streetsblog back in early 2008. To this reader it has lost none of relevance over almost a decade.  Read on. Continue reading

Jane Jacobs as our example for Penang (“Nobody but a bunch of mothers.”)

jane jacobs robert moses

Battle Royal: Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses

It was late Spring 1958 (as I best recall) in New York City when a young Eric Britton, just out of the US Army and about to dig into the Graduate Faculties of Columbia, was – as young men will do — checking out the action in Washington Square Park in the Village on a warm day. When he ran into two little kids wearing a sandwich sign saying something like “Save the Square!”. The kids handed me a pamphlet and explained that they were there to help their mother, who was just over there (they pointed).

And that was how I first met Mrs. Jane Jacobs, hard at work on an at-first very lonely effort to save this precious bit of NYC public space from the depredations of Robert Moses plan to run an urban highway extension of Fifth avenue over the concrete remains of what would once have been a beautiful and much used public park. It was clearly going to be a losing cause, but she decided to stick it out. And as she did others, unknowns and celebrities, gradually started to get behind her cause.

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Walking the Walk in Bogota (And why not Penang?)

 

Although the number of pedestrian trips made daily in Bogotá is high (3,090,809), we observe that there has been little study of the state of these road users in the city; a state defined on occasion by unsafe streets, the invasion of public space, and a poor and deteriorating pedestrian infrastructure, as well as by, among others, the intervention of various public spheres and the improvement of parks and plazas.

This document has resulted from an investigation process, consultation of various sources, and a critical, informative and constructive analysis on the part of its authors and collaborators. The aim is to develop an in-depth analysis that offers both layman and professional audiences profound insights into the difficulties, opportunities, and challenges of pedestrian mobility in the city, as well as generating a number of proposals in order to contribute to public policy that prioritizes pedestrian well-being.

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MISSING REPORTS: SRS “GAME-CHANGER FOR PENANG”. RFP Vol. 1 of 3 now available

We are glad to bring you the first volume of the full set of reports that constitute the winning SRS “GAME-CHANGER FOR PENANG” proposal in response to the state government’s RFP for the “South Reclamation Scheme” (well-chosen word).

These reports have not been shared by the winning consultant or state government with the people of Penang, though they have been requested on numerous occasions and constitute essential reading if the public is to understand the proposed and greatly revised plan that came out of this successful RFP and indeed “Game Changer”.

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Towards Sustainable Transport in Malaysia – What we already knew in 2001 and are steadfastly ignoring today

Penang Changing Directions - color

The Consumer Association of Penang organized a National Seminar on Changing directions from 7-10 September 2001  in Penang, subsequent to which a report was published and we now make  freely available here in its entirety at https://goo.gl/kQVD0T. This is a remarkably prescient document which was largely ignored at the time despite the vigorous effort of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and others in the city’s lively civil society and NGOs.  Somehow neither Penang or the national government were prepared to devote time and resources to finding the path to sustainable transport in cities. (And they were not the only ones.)

The policy of directly or indirectly encouraging the use of private motor cars and motorcycles to meet the transport needs of our people has had severe effects on the quality of life in the cities and on the economy and efficiency of urban transportation.

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