An idea for Penang? Paris to limit speeds to 30 km/hr over entire city

france paris 30 kph signThe just-elected new Mayor of Paris, Madame Anne Hidalgo, has prepared a revolutionary sustainable mobility project whereby virtually all of the streets of the city will be subject to a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr.

The only exceptions in the plan are a relatively small number of major axes into the city and along the two banks of the Seine, where the speed limit will be 50 km/hr, and the city’s hard pressed ring road (périphérique) where the top permissible speed has recently been reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr. At the other end of the slowth spectrum are a certain number of “meeting zones” (zones de rencontre) spotted around the city in which pedestrians and cyclists have priority but mix with cars which are limited to a top speed of 20 km/hr. A veritable révolution à la française.

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Building on a Firm Base: Recent Advances & Accomplishments in Penang

Fortunately the kinds of pattern-break initiatives that are the core of the Sustainable Penang: New Mobility Program are not altogether unfamiliar in Penang intersectionPenang. Over the last decade various agencies and groups have started to think about transportation and environment in different ways, and not only in the abstract.

Here is a shortlist of some of the more innovative related pattern-breaking initiatives already in place and starting to make a visible difference on the streets of Penang. Projects like these do not only change what is happening on the streets but they also, one by one, start to change people’s minds about the city and what they can achieve through  their own actions and choices, our most important objective. *

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Rethinking Mobility in Penang: Values, Strategies, Targets

FB  Penang announcementFortunately Penang does not have to start from the beginning and all by itself reinvent its presently troubled transportation arrangements to create a beautiful and sustainable city. There are many cities in different parts of the world who have in the past addressed these same challenges, patiently, consistently and with continuity and excellent results. So in many ways there is nothing new; it all depends on how you put it together. And it is these cities and these projects that provide examples for Penang. All of these examples taken together constitute what we call the New Mobility Agenda. Let us have a look as been learned over the last three decades in these “rethinking cities”.

Underlying objective: All of the strategic points set out in the following have already been adopted by leading cities around the world, many of them in Europe. And they will in time be adopted, adapted  and put into service in Penang. But the objective of this program’s  is to accelerate this learning process, in the hope of gaining at least five maybe ten or more years in bringing world-class mobility to Penang.

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Transforming Transport in Penang – The earlier the better

Transport in Penang (and all around the world for that matter) relies on non-renewable sources of energy. Think 20 cars with one person in each vehicle, versus one bus with 20 passengers. The former creates traffic jams and worsens pollution to detract from the overall liveability of a city. It is often argued that supplying more roads only creates more demand for their usage. With 10,000 more vehicles added to Penang’s roads each month [1], we will have to commit ourselves soon to a decision to enhance sustainable transport.

Think City Bhd invited Prof Eric Britton, managing director of EcoPlan International in Paris, founder of World Car Free Days and longtime advocate of sustainable transport initiatives, to Penang with the purpose of studying the transport system, meeting stakeholders and hosting a series of events to come up with ideas and a new perspective for transportation improvements across the state. Thus, Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility was arranged as a two-week itinerary that featured 11 focus group discussions, three master classes, a lecture, a symposium and dialogues with MPPP, MPSP and the Penang Transport Council.

Malaysia Penang heavy traffic in GT

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Bus Rapid Transit in Penang

One of the most important early programs to create in Penang, and particularly in the first instance in George Town, will be to devise a system in which people who wish to come to the city for reasons of work or other will have a high quality, affordable alternative to using their own car. The immediate model to be examined and adapted has come to be known by the name of BRT or Bus Rapid Transit. It is an approach with many variations, which need to be adapted to the specifics of the city served. The basic idea is simplicity itself: namely to create priority lanes for public transport and services which offer more than competitive advantages to private cars.

taiwan taipei BRTPenang will not have to invent such a system from scratch.  Happily there is a rich background of experience  in  cities around the world and also in Asia.  By way of background information,  we  here draw your attention to a presentation  of international experience and lessons learned from projects in many parts of the world by  a foremost authority in the field,  Professor Geetam Tiwari of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD).  There is already interest in Penang in such services , and now is the time to  turn that interest into reality.

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Media: “Penang’s transport system inefficient, says expert”

The following article appeared Malaysiakini, the most read independent news website offering daily news and views in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Reproduced here in its entirety, it is  can be consulted directly from the source at http://beta.malaysiakini.com/news/251763. The reader may find some interest in the diversity of views expressed in the Comments which also are reproduced here.

maylasie traffic jam from Malaysia

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Carnage on the roads and streets

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.

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