Sustainable Streets??

Paradigms such as ‘active living’ and ‘sustainable streets’ become concerns of planners, particularly in developed countries. These concerns are triggered by the awareness of the importance of quality of life for people living in urban areas. The sustainable streets means that there is an integration of all modes of transportation in the street including bikes and pedestrians for walking. In Sydney, sustainable streets has been started to be a focus of the planning system since transportation system in Sydney has been left behind compared to that in other cities in Australia.

I was attending Sydney public talks held by City of Sydney on 25th of March 2009. I learnt many things from the talks and realised that the strategies offered were very applicable in all places even outside Sydney, as long as political will could be obtained. During the talks I was thinking about strategies and policies of transportation system in Indonesia and compared them with the strategies discussed in the public talks.

‘Why Indonesian government is focusing on transportation modes consuming large amount of investment while there is another bright solution that needs not more than one tenth of the same investment to create better result?’ I was complaining. I am not too mistaken to say that every cities, or even towns in Indonesia are competing each other to grab both local and international investment, let say ‘debt’ in order to build high-technology transportation modes, such as monorail and flyover. Why we are looking for something that is difficult to achieve while there is a better way to achieve better result? Or simply, why we are looking for more and more loan (let say, soft loan, to be fair enough!) to build longer flyover while facilitating people to reduce the usage of private cars and push them to walk and bike is not seen as a simple and good solution to solve the problems of heavy traffic in big cities?

When you are successful to push people out of their private cars and put them in the public transports or facilitate them to bike or walking, you don’t need more ‘debt’ to build roads, no need to spend lots of time and money in land acquisition and suffer lots of people losing their house because of the road development, and reduce a lot emission that could save the environment quality. All you need is time to make people get used to walking and cycling to and from centers of activities, create convenient, safe, and accessible public transports, and issue disincentive strategies for private cars.

Probably one of the big problems in implementing these strategies is the difficulty in creating coordination between government departments and local governments to be working together. Each has its own interests and priorities. If this coordination is not successfully obtained, sustainable streets will never be achieved. Further, one policy cannot be implemented without supporting policies. As an example, look at TransJakarta! The development of TransJakarta, as one of strategies to increase public transport quality, I guess, needs to be integrated with other policies, such as policies to decrease the usage of private cars by increasing the tax, security in trading to avoid smugglers, the increasing of the fuel price, and 3 in 1. However, these policies cannot be run well if law enforcement is still lacked.

Therefore, I am not too mistaken to say that tidying up the management in the body of government seems the first start to run sustainable streets.

Sustainable Streets??

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