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1384Re: [sustran] Re: Transport governance is also one such area which isnotwell-researched.

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  • Chris Bradshaw
    Jun 16, 2010
      I have been reading the works of Elinor Ostrom, this year's winner of the
      Nobel Prize for Economics. Ironically, she is a political scientist. But
      her ideas may help here.

      She studies CPRs, or Common Pool Resources, all in the natural domain:
      oceans, fish stocks, forests, rivers/streams. Her point is that localized
      goverance institutions do a better job than formal
      state/national/international ones removed from the interplay of the parties
      sharing the resources. Her writing, and that of a growing community of
      academics, touches on game theory, social-capital writings, economics
      (informal economies), and anthropology.

      But she doesn't look at 'modern' sharing, except for the 'knowledge commons'
      (publishing and the internet).

      But transportation -- and the continuous public right-of-way system that
      front on all properties -- is a shared space for human activity (along with
      a fair amount of activity of other species, e.g., road kill). The growth in
      demand for automobiles and the two-wheeled motorized units represent a
      break-down in the sharing of this most important spacial system. That these
      units are privately owned, vs. a pool of vehicles that are accessed only
      when needed (carsharing, bike-sharing, and even the new Peugeot "mu" system,
      just announced) makes it even worse, making parking of them as much or more
      of a problem for cities, as driving them. They become very inefficienty
      used, and their high ownership forces owners to use them more than
      necessary. And the accountability needed for safety has totally broken
      down, with drivers claiming a 'right to privacy' whenever technology is
      suggested as a measure/remedy.

      We need to think of our project as the rebuilding the commons of these
      rights-of-way. We need to focus on access not mobility, as the former
      focuses on the trip to _minimize_ of footprint of each; while mobility tries
      to _maximize_ the total units of distance traveled by each users, making
      speed a personal value that ruins the sharing that is natural to a commons.

      Before we point a finger at officials who we claim don't get it, we need to
      be better ourselves at getting to the basis of our task. It is not just
      that transportation has to be viewed as a single system, but at the way
      transportation coexists in these ROWs and the other functions that occur
      there, and are equally important for human ecology.

      I see a much stronger need for local governance units having a role in the
      utilization of the ROWs, and their natural bias toward satisfying short,
      slow trips, and transit for slightly longer ones. The history of
      transportation (a word that arrived with the nation-state and formal
      economics) is one of what Ostrom et al. call "coarser" scales of governance
      imposing their bias towards faster, more formal travel over the 'riff-raff'
      (their term) of local commerce/movement/access.

      Unfortunately, by discussing this at an international scale, we probably
      impose the 'coarse' scale onto our thinking.

      Chris Bradshaw
      Ottawa, Canada
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