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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Planning and Policy Objectives for a Real Strategic Transport Plan for Penang

shell-lgame-as-depicted-by-bosch

Again and again and again, when it comes to “transport master planning” in Penang, it seems as if we always end up circling to the same old structurally wrong thing. And in the process allowing the undertrained proponents of the Big Bang “solution” of the present government package, to occupy the center of the debate. This is a huge mistake.

It is my position that the starting place for responsible and effective transport planning and policy in Penang is NOT to link it to land deals —  but to look at the challenge in and of itself. From a well defined, explicit strategic perspective.

Some will say that they do not have enough money to accomplish their objectives — which quickly become wild, pharaonic, costly and not related to the real problems and priorities at hand. Remember, transport for people and not for cars (infrastructure included)

Here is the simple question that the policy makers need to ask and resolve.

(a) What is it that they can accomplish for the people of Penang,

(b) working with available resources in order to

(c) alleviate the day-to-day mobility problems of the people of Penang – with

(d) especial attention to the needs of the poorer half of society and the vulnerable populations (elderly, handicapped, poor, isolated, non-car owners, and

(e) above all women of all ages and stations of life, and in

(f) in the coming four years, i.e., 2017-2020.

How hard is that? And why is no one minding this store?

Please someone, tell me why this is not being done?

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About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

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 .

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Road safety in Malaysia: What, who and why?

Malaysia reports to the World Health Organization on the order of 24 traffic fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants in recent years, sharing this ranking with countries like Chad, Namibia, Eritrea, and Swaziland. Countries with anywhere from one half to one tenth of the GDP/capita of the average Malaysian.

Roughly two thirds of the total killed were on motorcycles of varying sizes. Most of them were young people. This rate has not declined in recent years.

traffic accident death Penang

Where in the Penang Transportation Master Plan(PTMP)  can we find the analysis, conclusions and policy recommendations to do something about it?  And could this be shared with the public?

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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.
The solution to the problem of traffic congestion has been to build more roads, flyovers, interchanges, bridges and toll plazas but the problem remains
Our transport system has created what one sociologist referred to as the “rivers of death that run outside our doors”. . . It is the poor who constitute the majority of road accident vic¬tims. About 60% of all fatal accidents involve motorcyclists, 17% pedestrians, and 7% cyclists
Development, without regard to our environment, heritage and tradition, has been responsible for the despoilment of our urban landscape. Beautiful green towns and cities with open grounds, human-scale buildings and rich architectural gems have given way to ugly metropolises with dominating skyscrapers, megamalls and ugly transport infrastructure.
And that is just a taste of which this excellent document offers still today. Read on . . .

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Motorized two wheelers (M2W) in Penang. Quo vadis.

Penang motorised wo wheelers motorcycles

If you are a car owner/driver, older person trying to get across a busy street in Penang, or mother with a couple of kids on her hands, you are likely to have some pretty ugly thoughts about motor cycles/scooters.

“Instead of dreaming about a distant future, what about first seeing what you can do to meet the important mobility challenges people face every day in Penang, starting with what you already have.”

Fair enough, but the fact is that they are a very important part of the mobility systems of small Southeast Asian cities like Penang (and larger ones as well of course), and we need to learn to look at them in a more positive light. For that we need more information and better perspective.

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