Love Your Car Or Love Your City
How can we create livable cities if the number of vehicles owned by 20 percent of Asians keeps on increasing, while the rest travel in the midst of traffic and smog the former has created?
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Strategy 2020 shows us that urban transport system should be pro-poor. It should help create livable and sustainable cities through integrated public and non-motorized transport and demand management measures to reduce private vehicle use. It should have an equitable allocation of road space, which puts people, not vehicles, first.
The ADB Strategy 2020 gives recommendations on how cities can make their locales pro-poor. These include reducing road expansion, holistic planning, and comprehensive dialogues and consultations to foster better understanding of the unique problems that come with rapid urbanization.
To create livable cities, the paramount requirement is political leadership. This goes beyond mere technical expertise. To create a pro-poor city, local champions are needed to encourage a shift in attitudes and perspectives. It is not an easy task, but it is possible, as illustrated by the city of Seoul, Korea, which demolished a highway to pave the way for more footpath and green spaces. This has breathed a greener and a more vibrant economic life in the city.