During the course of the series of Focus Groups, master classes, conferences, presentations, and media events organized in support of the program over the period 22 September to 6 October more than 100 project ideas of a wide range of types and sizes were advanced for discussion, consideration and counsel. (See Table of Ideas here at http://wp.me/3GVVk for details.) One of the most favorably received of these was the proposal to look into the creation of a program of Sustainable Penang/New Mobility Grant Awards. The discussion document presented to the meetings is reproduced here. As this project advances you will find more in these pages.
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.
In the context of the Sustainable Penang/New Mobility 2014 program, the key to the success of the project lies in the identification and eventual preparation and implementation of concepts and measures which give more importance to non-motorized transport and public transportation than to the traditional uses of the private car. One of the concepts that came up early in the Focus Group brainstorming sessions was that of providing voice announcements for the blind and others with visual impairments on the new Rapid Penang bus services being developed across the state. In the following excellent list of needed measures prepared by the local NGO Saint Nicolas Home we see how thoroughly they are looking at the problems of mobility and access for the visually impaired. Thus it is not surprising that Saint Nicolas Home is emerging as one of the most engaged champions of this collaborative project for 2014. (We shall be seeing more about that project shortly here.)
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 , 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.
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.