We recently ran a think piece in World Streets which I believe could be a
good topic for researchers and graduate students working in our related
The title was "
uite-what.html> The Transportation Majority. Can't politicians count?. The
thesis is that in most cities, in most communities in fact, the majority of
the population is not best served by owning and driving their own car. The
full article is posted at
ite-what.html and for you convenience I have copied the text just below.
One observant reader immediately posted the following comment which I very
much take to heart: " I agree with the premise but without numbers it is
purely an opinion. Any idea how to go about tracking down figures for people
who fall into these groups in order to make this a more persuasive
Fair enough. So now my question:
1. Do you know of any projects or reports that have put numbers to these
classes in one or more places? And if so would you kindly send on the
references so that we can publish and share with the readers of World
Streets - and indeed any other publications, teams or lists that share these
2. In your view is this a good topic for research, publication and pubic
3. And if so, now what?
With kind regards,
PS. Shared Transport as a key sustainability strategy?
Www.ShareTransport.org Come on in.
> World Streets | Paris | +331 4326 1323 |
uite-what.html> Transportation Majority. Can't politicians count?
Public transport? Cycling? Walking? Car pooling? Car sharing? Stuck at home?
Elderly? Handicapped? Spend my hard-earned money for them? Bah! Who needs
it? Why bother if it's just for a few marginal people? Let's concentrate on
the big problems, those of the majority of people. Us drivers and our cars.
We are the transportation majority.
In the world of human mobility there is, as it turns out, no one "big
problem". And hence no big solutions. There is, for better or worse, just an
ever-changing confluence of a very large number of different problems,
different people, different desires, different daily life realities,
different needs, different constraints, different priorities, different
possibilities, and different decisions. And different actions. And different
The old mobility vision of society is essentially one of striding workers,
with secure jobs, fixed hours, well defined trips, leaping into their car
and then buckling up for "safe driving". Very nice.
All of whom well served by our "normal transportation arrangements", that is
the huge and hugely expansive infrastructure that we continue to build and
repair to support automotive transportation (and those largely empty cars).
Something like eighty percent of the local transportation funding in most
cities of the world goes for that car-supporting infrastructure: roads,
bridges, cloverleafs, tunnels, supporting elections, policing, accident
prevention, and the long list goes on. Life is sweet.
Then there are "the rest", among them: the old, disabled, poor, rural, etc.,
etc. And of course the poor old disabled rural.
They too of course need to be catered to as well. Fair enough. Let's give
them a bit here and a bit there too. But most of our hard-earned tax money
is still going to be spent on providing high quality mobility arrangements
for "normal people". That's right, isn't it?
Sorry but no, it's not at all right. It is in fact 100% wrong. It is wrong
because it is grossly unfair and uncivil. And beyond that, it is also based
on a false precept. Why?
Because that splendid vision of society with thee and me at the wheel with
the wind blowing through our golden hair, simply does not jibe with reality.
It never did in the past, and as our societies age it increasingly is
absurdly contrary to reality. Here is the surprise, the kicker:
The "transportation majority" is not what most people think, transportation
planners and policy makers among them.
The transportation majority are all those of us who increasingly are poorly
served by the mainline, no-choice, car-based truncated service arrangements
that eat up most of our taxpayer money and take away our choices. And each
year, as our populations age this majority grows in numbers.
Here is a generic short-list of the people who make up this till-now all too
1. Everyone in your city, country or electorate who does not have a car
2. Everyone who cannot drive
3. Everyone who cannot afford to own and operate a car of their own (And
remember that costs a lot of after-tax money)
4. Everyone who should not drive (for reasons of a variety of impediments
such as limitations associated with age, psychological state , , , ,)
5. Everyone who lives in a large city and for reasons of density, public
health and quality of city life needs to have access to a non-car mobility
6. Everyone who would in fact prefer to get around by walking, cycling or
some form of shared transport who cannot safely or readily do so, because
all the money is being spent on the car-based system which is fundamentally,
and financially, incompatible with these "softer" and more healthy ways of
7. Everyone who suffers from some form of impairment that makes driving or
even access to traditional public transit difficult or impossible
8. Everyone who cannot responsibly take the wheel at any given time
(fatigue, distraction, nervousness, some form of intoxication. . . )
9. All those who are today isolated and unable to participate in the life of
our communities fully because they simply do not have a decent way to get
10. And -- don't lose sight of this! - in a few years you!
How do we work our way out of this? Simple, get out there and vote!
Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to work for the
Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to join the
transportation majority and get to work and around their city by public
transport, walking, bicycle, carpool, or carsharing. Or better yet some
combination all of the above.
And don't vote for the other guys.
They will get your message.
# # #
Several of our readers have pointed out that while this may be interesting,
the only way to make the point is to put numbers to it. Exactly! But this
has to be done on a place by place basis, so one can hope that this will be
done and that we shall be seeing the results of this important metric here
and in many other places.
# # #
> Curry said...
There is also a substantial group of people who live in a household which
has a car, but who don't have the use of it for most of the time, even
though they are able to drive.
Thursday, 26 November, 2009
I agree with the premise but without numbers it is purely an opinion. Any
idea how to go about tracking down figures for people who fall into these
groups in order to make this a more persuasive position?
Thursday, 26 November, 2009
Eric Britton <http://www.blogger.com/profile/01696196999600921674
You are absolutely right about the importance of putting numbers to these
groups. But this is a task for a specific place, and one which I too would
like to see the results of.
Anybody out there ready to give this a rough run for their city or other
statistical area? Would be a fine contribution.