The last time I dig my handbook on Sustainable of Transportation was almost 5 years ago.
I found a journal on sustainable transportation discussing about the myths of automobile dependence. Apparently all of myths are broken, they are not always true. They might be false myths for modern, advanced and developed city, but how about for developing cities ?
And here are the myths of private motorized dependence:
(PS: I prefer ‘private motorized’ term rather than ‘automobile’)
Automobile dependence is an inevitable consequence of wealth. People will always buy
cars and larger amounts of private urban space, thus alternative urban forms, public
transport and non-motorised modes will inevitably die out as people get richer.
When we talk to European planners they are adamant that their urban policies are determined to minimise sprawl. Most European urban and transportation policy documents indicate a strong
commitment to, and belief in, physical planning policies intended to contain sprawl and to provide effective alternatives to the car.
Finally, it is worth remembering that the most expensive places to live in the world. cities are in their high density downtowns such as in New York (Manhattan), Hongkong, Tokyo, and so on. There appears to have been a long term market in the world. for these areas which favour
dense, walking-based urbanity and increasingly thereis a shift in the suburban market to nodes that are more city-like.
BUT for Jakarta (and some developing cities), Wealth factor can be a cause for automobile dependence. The cars sales are rise each year along with the rise of wealth.
Automobile dependence is inevitably induced by warm climates where people can enjoy low density suburban lifestyles, whereas compact, transit-oriented cities are mostly in cold climates.
Yes, it might be true if you are in a warm, low rainfall like Perth and some Australian rural cities, while the density there is about 10-20 people/ha. And people there are appreciate the nice weather so much so their homes will accompanied with the big yard, where they can enjoy activities from barbecue to gardening. On the contrary, this condition will not applied to some warm cities, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Rio, Istanbul, and Mexico City, where people live in such high density.
Jakarta is an interesting example, where some part of it is very compact and the other part is low density. I conclude that if low density planning and high car use are encouraged in a city, it is probably for deeper reasons than lifestyle induced by the climate.
Automobile dependence is inevitably part of countries that are very spacious, whilst those
with little space have compact cities.
Yes, it is true for ‘tiny minute’ countries/cities, such as Singapore and Hongkong, where everything come in compact design. It is also true for cowboy country such as US and Australia.
But it won’t applied to some cities such as Stockholm. While Sweden has lots of abundant rural space, Stockholm developed into compact city, where people live no more than 30 minutes to city center and railway station within short walking distance from housing.
Jakarta indeed is a unique megapolitan, where the city is so compact but some of its people live more than 2 hours from where they work. The city is a high density but the transportation system are minimal. Again, we have to seclude Jakarta from any cities.
Automobile dependence is an inevitable feature of modern life and thus new cities developed predominantly after 1945 show it more than old cities.
There are some anomaly for rapid growth cities such as (modern) Tokyo, (modern) Seoul, Hong Kong, which have been built with a walking-based or transit-based urban form around.
Jakarta ? I have to agree with the sentence above. Modern life of Jakarta means more cars, less publics.
5 Health and Social Problems
Automobile dependence is inevitably created by the reaction to density and its health and social problems.
This is the basic idea why some people in Jakarta don’t want to live in the urban area. They prefer to reside 2-3 hours driving from where they work.
Why ? Some of the believe by living at the Jakarta outskirt, they will have better environment. By residing at the suburb, they feel save.
The myth is true for this scenario.
6 Rural Lifestyles
Automobile dependence is inevitably created by the attraction of rural lifestyles in the suburbs with their associated promise of withdrawal from the evils of city lifestyles.
See scenario no 5.
7 Road Lobby
Automobile dependence is inevitably created by the powerful combination of road interests.
The truth is I have no idea whether we have road lobbyist in Indonesia ? We probably don’t have lobbyists, but we do have many people who love to bribe local government and representatives in order to achieve their selfish goals.
But that not the case.
What happened here, our government prefer to subsidize gas instead of water and education.
Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that automobile lobbyists are everywhere. This is the reason why Japan Government won’t give any aids to any mass rapid transportation construction. My argument, if we improved public transportation, the motorcycles (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha) will be gradually disappear from our streets.
8 Land Developers
Automobile dependence is inevitably created by the powerful interests of land speculators and developers and there is little that planning can do to stop them.
Capitalism is based on the accumulation of wealth and its investment into physical assets which
produces further wealth. Cities appear to have been built in cycles with most construction related to the level of capital accumulation. Suburbanisation is explained as the need to invest capital in both the land and transportation systems to service it (Harvey, 1973; Walker, 1978).
What happened in Cibubur, Sentul and Serpong can be a perfect example for statement above.
9 Traffic Engineering
Automobile dependence is an inevitable outcome of the standard processes of transportation planning.
Do we even have transportation modeling process? Does our transportation even have a concept? There are no integration with our transportation modes, for sure. But do we even have an adaptive traffic engineering ?
Instead building a public transport network, we prefer to have new highways and tollways. We prefer that ugly infrastructures circling and dominating our beloved city. Highways and tollways are some examples of standard solutions of transportation planning.
We prefer to have a quick, expensive and short term solutions (= transjakarta), instead of expensive but long term solutions (= expansion and more route for LRT).
Just wondering, why do we still have the 3 in 1 regulation ?
10 Town Planning
Automobile dependence is inevitably regulated into cities by local town planning.
Our latest town planning policy is called RUTR 2010. It means, it will ended in the year of 2010 ( 1 year and 9 months from now) and they (DTK=Dinas Tata Kota – Government Town Planner) haven’t release the new one.
According to this, RUTR 2010 is concentrated of East, West and North corridors development. It means Jakarta will expand to the East and West side. By expanding to the both sides means they have to build more road infrastructures and will lead to more car/private motorized dependency.
Most of the myths happened here. If we know there are some myths to be broken, then why don’t we start ! Starting by consolidating our city and legalizing it in the latest government town planning policy. Second, stop rural development (rural is for our water and nature preservation not for our habitation). Third, cut gas subsidy and give that money for budget raise for reliable, convenient, integrated and affordable public transportation (HOV Priority). Fourth, supporting walking and cycling community by creating safe and convenient pedestrian area. Fifth, create access not mobility. Sixth, Car limitation policy. Seventh, Freight Transport Management. Eighth, promoting new building codes that will integrate between building, people and transportation. Ninth, Education, education, education. Last but not least, Law Enforcement.