Reaching Hearts and Minds
SOLOMON J, Independent Research Consultant, UK
For many years, one of the most solid of the "Barriers to Sustainability" being addressed in this stream was a refusal on the part of those in power to address the question of the sustainability of transport policies. This is no longer the case. Over the
For many years, one of the most solid of the "Barriers to Sustainability" being addressed in this stream was a refusal on the part of those in power to address the question of the sustainability of transport policies. This is no longer the case. Over the last few years it has become politically acceptable for European policy makers to acknowledge the overgrowth of transport and the possibility that this rate of growth, if unchecked, might cause considerable problems both of mobility and of environmental and possibly social damage. Various efforts are being made to alleviate some of the problems. Although major trunk roads are still being built outside cities, it is hoped that within them, better public transport, Park and Ride and other traffic management measures, together with planning regulations rationalizing land use, manipulation of pricing and tax systems, and persuasion campaigns, together with a few radical measures like car-free developments, will reduce both the "need" to travel and "car dependence."
Current approaches are largely involved with mixed packages of such engineering-style solutions, with the occasional non-technological add-on such as Travelwise campaigns. But the debate and the search for solutions is still principally confined to transport economists and engineers and land use planners, with only the very occasional sociologist or psychologist being invited to contribute.
Thus what is common to most of these solutions is that they are, with the exception of a few underfunded persuasion campaigns, technical and economic in nature. There is no doubt that they are essential and need to be vigorously pursued. However, as Emin Tengstrom pointed out (Tengstrom 1993) when explaining why political decision-makers in all countries fail to solve the problems of car traffic, "Pure technical or economic solutions are doomed to fail."
Few people seem to have taken a great deal of observable notice of what Tengstrom was saying. A recent, typical example of avoidance of the real, intangible and difficult issues with which Tengstrom is concerned can be found in "Developing an Integrated Transport Policy," the present Govemmant's consultation document. (DETR 1997)
"Often people use the car because they are denied real choice. People in cars are forced to endure traffic jams and fumes, while many who wish to use public transport received inadequate services, arm those who wish to walk or cycle cannot find safe, unpolluted routes." (DETR 1997 p. 4).
Association for European Transport