As transport planners, we see the city as a place of encounter, opportunity, recognition, emancipation, as a place of continuous improvement of our well being. In our cities, we find jobs, distractions, leisure and pleasure. As planners, we wish to connect all city dwellers to the places where opportunities rest. We design our transport systems to facilitate citizens achieve their dreams and expectations.
The movie “Love’s a bitch” (Amores Perros) presents us a different city. The city as a place of dis-encounter, where people only find misfortune, and while trying to be unrecognised are obliged to live in confinement. We see people struggling to find jobs, no time for distractions or leisure and where pleasure becomes a painful experience. Both cities, the one we as planners understand and wish upon and the city the movie presents us, exist. We believe that the systems we have created have also helped with the divisions between the two realities presented. There is a strong disconnection between both realities, and we believe that our transport systems are encouraging such disconnection. The movie gave us the opportunity to reflect on this detachment and start thinking of ways to approach the dilemma.
For the last 100 years, cities around the world have been building a lot of road space to accommodate the car as the maximum symbol of that facilitator. However, increasing congestion, air pollution, accidents amongst others have diminished the ability of the private car to help city dwellers achieve their life dreams. As a reaction to this, planners all over the world have turned to public transport, bicycles and walking as an alternative to the car. We are firmly committed to the improvement of these sustainable transport modes to replace what once was the objective of the private vehicle.
We are conscious as transport planners that we do not have all the required tools to approach the presented problems. But we do find in other practices, such as health, education, housing, etc., the tools, and technics which could enrich our understanding of the challenges which cities are facing. We believe that cities, transport practice and research could improve by integrating with other fields. We also understand that it is time to go to the ground, palpate the other city; the city we have been ignoring for decades and rethink the planning approach to focus more on planning for and to the people.
Investing in more sustainable transport modes runs the risk of falling in the same adverse effects the car has brought to our cities if we do not acknowledge the existence of the other city which we have left behind. Finally, we understand that it is everyones’ responsibility to be the saviour of their community, all of us play a significant role. But we as transport experts, see ourselves as the facilitators who can bring the tools and techniques to the communities who have been left behind for decades and who know best what their problems are.
AG MC HN