It is our position here at World Streets that the challenges of sustainable transportation are so many and so important that we need to ensure we maintain focus on concepts and policies that are going to be up to the task and the priorities at stake. The following just in from Brazil summarizes the author’s expert views on this particular mode. We have left it in his colorful language, making this a lively as well as informative read. Again, our objective here is to make sure that no one, particularly no one in the developing world, wastes any more time with approaches that are very clearly inappropriate. We need to keep focus.
We invite the reader to have a close look at the author’s views of Malaysian monorail projects and dreams, where he shares some pointed remarks which need to be borne in mind for any city having first thoughts about all the great things that monorail supporters claim they do for people, and for cities.
Now, from our archives:
Dragging monorail projects and propositions into the cold light of day Continue reading
Worldstreets has committed to carry out a series of articles, in cooperation with informed on-the-spot collaborators, looking into various aspects of public transport user groups, on the grounds that they are increasingly emerging in many cities around the world as important potential players in the uphill struggle to sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. In most of the 20th century transportation decisions were strictly made by government administrations and elected politicians, more often than not in cooperation with interests representing industrial and financial partners supplying infrastructure, vehicles, electronics and services. In most places these were closed loops in which the public was occasionally, at best, invited to approach the table and then asked to share their views on alternative proposals prepared by the various administrations and agencies, but for the most part were excluded from the actual planning and decision process. They were at most shadow players.
However this is starting to change, to the extent that in many cities in recent years these groups are increasingly becoming important players in the planning, decision and investment process. That is all to the good and that is why Worldstreets is carrying out this series of articles in 2015/2016.
We often hear that transportation reform in Penang is going to require massive public investments, large construction projects, elaborate technology deployments, and above all and by their very nature are going to take a long time before yielding significant results. This is quite simply not true. This approach, common in the last century and often associated with the “American transportation model”, no longer has its place in a competitive, efficient, democratic city And we can start tomorrow, if we chose to.
To get a feel for this transformative learning reality let’s start with a quick look at a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture as a major means for reducing traffic related nuisances, accident prevention and improving quality of life for all. These approaches are not just “nice ideas”. They have proven their merit and effectiveness in hundreds of cities around the world. There is no good reason that they cannot do the same in Penang. Starting tomorrow morning.
(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)
Most of what we are seeing in Penang when it comes to planning and policy in Penang is terribly familiar. The bottom line until now at least is that overall you are not doing well, because you do not have a plan or a coherent vision to guide you. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are not alone.
Montréal has never really had a coherent planning vision – they simply react to developers’ proposals.
In fact Penang could hardly be more lucky because there is not only abundant information on the fast-growing number of well thought out examples of cities, projects and approaches that are showing the way for sustainable transport and sustainable cities. But there is also an even longer list of examples of cities that are getting it blatantly wrong. These should be understood and integrated into the thinking and planning process of the city, just as much as the attention which must be given to understanding and adapting “best practices”. If you look closely you will see there are patterns that repeat themselves again and again. It is important to be aware of them.
Here you have an example of the city of Montréal, while doing a fair number of good things in terms of transport, public space and environment, is at the same time suffering badly from the lack of a well thought-out understanding of how transport issues cannot be treated without full attention to land use and the structure of the city. Again painful signs of Penang. And how did this come up?