This article by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has just appeared in the December 2013 issue of the United Nation’s “Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific.” It reinforces many of the strategies and principles set out in the New Mobility Agenda 2014/15 program, and provides useful reading for anybody concerned with transportation, mobility and public space improvements in Penang and George Town. A summary introduction to the full paper follows extracting a final section on Optimal Congestion Solutions and the Conclusions. The full paper is recommended and freely available at http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf.
In memoriam 2013
Streetsblog: Doing its job year after year in New York City.
Each year our friends over at Streetsblog in New York City publish a heart-rending testimonial to the mayhem that automobiles have wrought over the year on their city’s streets and the cost in terms of lives lost by innocent pedestrians and cyclists. Putting names, faces and human tragedy to what otherwise takes the form of dry numbers, faceless hence quickly forgettable statistics is an important task. We can only encourage responsible citizens and activists in every city on the planet to do the same thing, holding those public officials (and let’s not forget, “public servants”) responsible for what goes on under their direct control.
* * * Who is doing this job in Penang? * * *
An example for Penang: Once a week on Friday, the civil society journal and blog Streetsblog of New York City stubbornly reports the week’s toll of human life, injuries and major property damage directly due to the errors, miscalculations, inattention and anti-social behavior of the automobile drivers of the city. This unrelenting reminder is a public drumbeat to draw the attention of the public, the media and the city government to the flaws of their system and their behaviour. Let’s have a look at how they do it.
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.
As we are seeing in these pages Penang in general and Georgetown in particular are 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.
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.