Public transport advocate solicits ideas to break ‘car culture’ in Penang

Penang has over-built infrastructures that are poorly used, says Eric Britton. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

From the Archives. George Town Malaysia. Sept 23 , 2013  http://themalaymailonline.com/ —

By Opalyn Mok

A predilection for cars means that 80 per cent of transport funding is used to cater for the needs of 20 per cent of society, according to a public transport proponent today.

World Car Free Day founder Eric Britton pointed out this uneven distribution in public expenditure was an issue in many modern cities, including Penang.

“It should be the other way around where only 20 per cent funding is needed and it can fulfil the needs of 80 per cent of the society,” he said during a media focus group under the Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda two-week programme this morning.

In a bid to change that, Britton is here for the two-week Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility Agenda.

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Project: On-Board Bus Announcements of Next Stop

We discussed with several of the focus groups the possibility of following the lead of leading cities around the world in ensuring that all of the new buses are equipped with a sound system that announces the next stop clearly at least one minute in advance so that all will be able to get to the door and prepare to exit. There was substantial support for this project.

The immediate reason for doing this is to provide convenience service for the blind and others suffering from visual impairments who cannot or have difficulty in recognizing stops, particularly when they use lines with which they’re not already familiar. These announcements will not only be useful for the visually handicapped but also for quite a wide range of other traveling Penangites and visitors.

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Sustainable Penang Roadmap

magnifying glassThis website has three main functions: (a) Platform:  to provide an open platform for collaborative communication on the target program; (b) Network:  outreach and linking to extend the number and range of people and organizations interested to follow progress here, and (c) Reference: a reference resource to serve planners, policy makers, NGOs, academics, students, environment and transport user groups, neighborhood organizations and others wishing to follow the SP/NM project over 2013-2016.  The entire site and reference system has been laid out to serve both local partners and readers in Penang and Malaysia, as well as  international readers interested to inform themselves and follow the development of this original and in many ways exemplary three-year project in Penang.

To take them in order (content as per 28 April 2014):

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Corbusier-Free Cities (A thought for Penang)

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.

wpd-le corbu transit city future

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Laying the Base for Public Bicycle Sharing in Penang

As we are seeing in these pages Penang in general and Georgetown in particular Penang bike graffitiare giving serious attention to the possibility of creating a public bicycle system for the city. As a first step they have issued a Request for Proposals which is shortly to come online. This is a great thing because there are many reasons to create conditions for safe and agreeable cycling on city streets across the state.

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Changing Mindsets (in Penang)

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 city towers jan gehl - smalltransformation 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.

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Why the Dutch cycle (It’s not an accident)

This posting is part of a stimulating dialogue in which two contrasting views of the role and practice of city cycling are discussed. Because the issues examined here are in many ways universal and fundamental to the success of a city cycling program, including the on-going early Spring of a much needed cycling Renaissance in Penang, we are pleased to be able to share this first article with our readers. (PS. We need more creative disagreement between informed people such as this. If everyone agrees too quickly mediocrity invariably results. Sustainability is hard and challenging work.)

netherlands-amsterrdam-cycle-path

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