Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sustainable Transport for Developing Countries and STP initiatives for Dhaka City

Dear Sir or Madam,

On behalf of Roads for People, a movement dedicated to the development of an eco-friendly and sustainable transport system in Dhaka City, I would like to draw your attention to some of the features of your recently concluded symposium.

First of all I would like to congratulate the organisers of the symposium for undertaking initiatives for sustainable transport development in developing countries. However, it is a matter of deep concern that in the name of sustainable transport development, the forum was mainly used to promote unsustainable, capital intensive, car-friendly and anti-fuel free transport policy directives, notably the Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for Dhaka City. The STP initiatives cannot be regarded as sustainable transport initiatives under any circumstances because the approach:

· Shows total disregard to the majority of trips, i.e. all short trips (76% of the total trips) and fuel free transport (48% of the trips);

· Takes a stand against sustainable transport modes by banning fuel free transport and restricting intercity buses and railways, etc.;

· Invests the maximum amount of resources (237% more) for the less optimal transport solution;

· Promotes car friendly and unsustainable policy directives like change of modal share in favour of cars, promotion of more car parking facilities, etc.;

· Promotes auto-friendly, inefficient and environmentally disastrous projects like the Eastern Bypass, elevated expressways and other unnecessary road projects, defying the findings of the STP study itself;

· Develops transport alternatives considering only the supply side of the problem under the assumption of unconstrained demand, which would likely promote unsustainable use of scarce resources;

· Takes important transport policy decisions solely on the basis of arbitrary reasoning without any valid supporting scientific analysis;

· Promotes long distance trips and encourages the need for more travel, which is likely to induce more congestion and pollution;

· Provides a disproportionate amount of resources for car-friendly and capital intensive projects and allocates inadequate provisions and funding for sustainable transport systems such as walking, fuel-free vehicles (bicycles and rickshaws), public transit and an integrated waterway system;

· Promotes inequality and social injustice.

A detailed review of the main features of the STP and ongoing unsustainable transport interventions is attached herewith, which you may find useful.
In this connection, it might be appropriate to learn lessons from the dismal failure of Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP) (DUTP 2006, Bari and Efroymson 2006). The approach adopted in the DUTP was very much similar to that of the recommended solutions of STP. Key features of the project include: construction of a number of flyovers, banning of fuel-free transport from main roads, forcing the pedestrians to take elevated crossings, widening of roads at the expense of footpaths, etc. It may be mentioned here that the total travel time disbenefits of the project were at least twenty times more than the tiny savings of travel times. The moral from the dismal failure of DUTP is that in planning for a multimodal transport system, there is no scope to take decisions on the basis of prejudices while defying standard approaches of transport appraisal. Yet a similar unscientific approach is evident both in DUTP and in STP.
The main conclusion of the project is that there is no justification for wasting public money in the name of so-called development projects, such as DUTP, which cause colossal damage to the economy (well over Tk 7.78 billion per year), reduce mobility of people and goods, divide neighbourhoods and sever service facilities, inflict environmental degradation, destroy the basic fabric of sustainable development, deny vulnerable sections of the society their fundamental rights to accessibility and income, promote social inequality, and exacerbate poverty and hunger. An independent assessor appointed by the World Bank (World Bank 2007) also came down heavily on the justification of the key initiative of the project which attempted to ban fuel-free transport in favour of a tiny minority of car owners, who represent less than 5% of the population.

The dual role currently being played by a section of academics related to some higher learning institutions in Bangladesh is a matter of serious concern. These academics seem to be directly involved in formulating unsustainable, capital-intensive and environmentally disastrous policy directives like the banning of fuel-free transport, promotion of more free car parking facilities, and construction of flyovers and elevated expressways. It is difficult to understand how it could be appropriate to, one the one hand, be key members of STP or DUTP, while at the same time being directly involved in lucrative consultancy services for these wasteful and capital-intensive infrastructure projects. Such consultants would seem to assign more time to promoting lucrative infrastructure projects rather than for research and academic activities. Such behaviour not only represents a serious conflict of interest but also acts as a hindrance for the congenial development of academic and research activities, particularly at the postgraduate level. I would like to draw the attention of such malpractices to the University Grant Commission and other relevant authorities and hope that concerned academics will keep them above criticism and uphold the dignity and sanctity of higher learning institutions of Bangladesh.

The use of a sustainable transport development forum to promote such unsustainable STP or DUTP policy directives represents both insult and injury to the genuine movement for sustainable transport development. Those of us in that movement strongly deplore such practice and hope that organisers will in future be careful to avoid allowing their forum to promote such misguided transport initiatives.

We also hope that the sponsors of the symposium would constitute an enquiry committee comprising an international panel of experts on sustainable transport development to review the activities of the so-called sustainable transport development symposium and undertake requisite corrective measures to avoid such controversies in future and hence to uphold the dignity of the basic philosophy of sustainable transport development, that is, to promote low-cost, eco-friendly, space- and energy-efficient transport that recognizes the rights of the majority rather than prioritizing the elite.


Mahabubul Bari
International Expert on Transportation Infrastructure
Independent Adviser to the Ministry of Infrastructure
Republic of Rwanda
Post Box: 4989

Mobile: +250 0341 6508

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam
Save The Environment Movement
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Kindle Leather Cover, Black (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle)Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

আগামীকাল বিশ্ব কারমুক্ত দিবস / World Carfree Day

আগামীকাল বিশ্ব কারমুক্ত দিবস
আগামীকাল ২২ সেপ্টেম্বর বিশ্ব কারমুক্ত দিবস। জ্বালানী সমস্যা থেকে উত্তরণের জন্য সর্বপ্রথম ১৯৭০ সালে কারমুক্ত দিবস পালিত হয়। দিবসটি পালনের মূল উদ্দেশ্য প্রাইভেট কার নিয়ন্ত্রণে সচেতনতা বৃদ্ধি করা। পরিবহণ ব্যবস্থায় প্রাইভেট কার বৃদ্ধির মাধ্যমে যানজট, রাসত্দাঘাটের নির্মাণ ব্যয়, দূষণ, জ্বালানীর ব্যবহার ও দূর্ঘটনা বৃদ্ধি পায়। এছাড়া বিনোদনের জন্য উন্মূক্ত স্থান ও শিশুদের খেলাধূলার জায়গা কমে আসে। দীর্ঘস্থায়ী নগর পরিবহণ ব্যবস্থা গড়ে তুলতে পথচারী, সাইকেল, রিকশা ও উপযোগী পাবলিক পরিবহণের সমন্বয় করা প্রয়োজন। পাশাপাশি প্রাইভেট কার নিয়ন্ত্রণ করা জরুরী। এ লক্ষ্যে ইউরোপিয়ান বিভিন্ন শহরে ১৯৯০ সালে কারমুক্ত দিবস পালন করা হয়। এরপর ১৯৯৯ সালে ইউরোপিয়ান ইউনিয়ন প্রথম বিশ্ব কারমুক্ত দিবস পালন করলেও ২০০০ সাল থেকে বিশ্বের অন্যান্য অনেক দেশে দিবসটি পালিত হতে থাকে। এখন বিশ্বের অনেক শহরেই প্রাইভেট কার নিয়ন্ত্রণে নেয়া হচ্ছে জোর পদক্ষেপ। বাংলাদেশেও বিগত কয়েক বছর ধরে পরিবেশাবদী সংগঠনসমূহ দিবসটি পালন করে আসছে। আশা করা যায় আমাদের দেশে অতি শীঘ্রই প্রাইভেট নিয়ন্ত্রণের মাধ্যমে দূষণ ও যানজটমুক্ত এবং জ্বালানী সাশ্রয়ী পরিবহণ ব্যবস্থা গড়ে তোলার ক্ষেত্রে পদক্ষেপ গ্রহণ করা হবে।

September 22 is World Carfree Day

Coming September 22 is World Carfree Day. World Carfree Day is an annual celebration of cities and public life, free from the noise, stress and pollution of cars. Each year on September 22, people around the world organize events of all sizes to showcase alternatives to the automobile. World Carfree Network invites organisations and individuals everywhere to join.

World Carfree Day began as an open call for a grassroots celebration of cities without cars. The date, September 22, was chosen to coincide with the EU-sponsored European Mobility Week, but our hope is to involve people at all levels of society and from all over the world.

Carfree days were organised as early as during the oil crisis of the 1970s, and several carfree days were organised in European cities during the early 1990s. An international carfree day was organised in Europe in 1999, which was the pilot project for the European Union's "In Town Without My Car" campaign. This campaign continues as European Mobility Week.
In 2000, Car Busters (the precursor to World Carfree Network) issues an open call for a "World Carfree Day," to coincide with Europe's carfree day on September 22. Since then, we have continued to call for activists and citizens to organise World Carfree Day events on or near September 22

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dhaka air pollution / ঢাকার বাতাসে সিসা দূষণ

রাজধানী ঢাকার বাতাস এর বাসিন্দাদের জন্য বিপদ জনক হয়ে উঠেছে, হুমকি হয়ে উঠেছে ঢাকার প্রায় দেড় কোটি মানুষের জন্য। বিশ্বের অষ্টম বৃহত্তম নগরী ঢাকার পরিবেশের যে অবস্থা, তাতে অধিবাসীরা ভয়ানক স্বাস্থ্য ঝুঁকিতে রয়েছেন। বাসিন্দাদের রোগব্যাধির কমপক্ষে ২২ শতাংশের জন্য পরিবেশ দূষণের বিষয়গুলো সরাসরি দায়ী। বায়ু দূষণে প্রতি বছর ঢাকায় মারা যায় ১৫ হাজার লোক। ব্রংকাইটিজে আক্রানত্দ হচ্ছে ১ লাখ ১৪ হাজার লোক। শিশুদের বেড়ে ওঠা বুদ্ধিমত্তা বিকাশ হ্রাস পাচ্ছে প্রচন্ডভাবে।
ঢাকার বাতাস দূষণের অন্যতম কারণ হচ্ছে রাসত্দায় চলাচলকারী গাড়ি, আশপাশের শিল্কপ্পাঞ্চল, ইটভাটা ও নাগরিক বর্জ্য। গাড়ির সংখ্যা প্রতি বছর গড়ে ১০ শতাংশ হারে বেড়ে চলেছে। প্রতিদিন রাসত্দায় প্রায় ১০০ টি নতুন প্রাইভেট কার নামছে। ঢাকার ভেতর সচল গাড়িগুলোর ৭০ থেকে ৮০ শতাংশই ত্রুটিপূর্ণ ইঞ্জিনের কারণে বিষাক্ত ধোঁয়া ছড়াচ্ছে। ইদানিং প্রচুর পরিমাণ সিএনজি চালিত গাড়ি চলাচল করছে। এসব সিএনজি চালিত গাড়ি থেকে বের হয় ক্ষতিকারক বেনজিন। আর এই বেনজিনের কারণে ঢাকায় ক্যান্সারে প্রভাব বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছে বহুলাংশে। এছাড়া সালফার ও সিসাযুক্ত পেট্রল ব্যবহার, জ্বালানি তেলে ভেজাল ও ত্রুটিপহৃর্ণ ইঞ্জিনের কারণে এসব গাড়ির ধোঁয়ার সঙ্গে কার্বন-ডাই অক্সাইড, কার্বন-মনোক্সাইড, নাইট্রোজেনের অক্সাইড, সালফার-ডাই অক্সাইড, অ্যালিহাইডসহ বিভিন্ন বসত্দকণা ও সিসা নিঃসারিত হয়ে বাতাসকে দূষিত করছে। ১৯৯৪ থেকে ১৯৯৭ পর্যনত্দ বাতাসে সিসার পরিমান বিপজ্জনক পর্যায়ে ছিল। পরিবেশ কর্মীদের আন্দোলনের মুখে সরকার সিসা বিহীন পেট্রোল আমদানী শুরু করলে অবস্থা অনেক নিয়ন্ত্রণে আসে। কিন্তু বর্তমানে পরিস্থিতি আবার বিপজ্জনক পর্য়ায়ে পৌছেছে।

এক জরিপ থেকে জানা যায়, ঢাকা শহরে গাড়ি থেকে নির্গত ধোঁয়া বছরে প্রায় ৩ হাজার ৭০০ টন সুক্ষ্ম বস্তুকণা (এসএমপি/সাসপেন্ডেড পার্টিকুলেড ম্যাটার) বাতাসে ছড়িয়ে দিচ্ছে। বাতাসে ভাসমান এ সূক্ষ্ম বসত্দকণার আকার ১০ মাইক্রোনের চেয়েও কম। কণা যত সুক্ষ্ম হয় স্বাস্থ্য ঝুঁকি বাড়াতে তার শক্তিও তত প্রবলতর হয়। পরিবেশ অধিদফতর ঢাকার গাড়িতে ব্যবহূত ডিজেল, পেট্রল ও অকটেনের পরিমাণের ওপর জরিপ চালিয়ে দেখেছে, গাড়িগুলো থেকে প্রতিদিন গড়ে প্রায় ১০০ কিলোগ্রাম সিসা, সাড়ে ৩ টন অন্যান্য বসত্দকণা, দেড় টন সালফার-ডাই অক্সাইড, ১৬ টন নাইট্রোজেনের অক্সাইড, ১ টন হাইড্রো কার্বন এবং ৬০ টন কার্বন মনোঅক্সাইড নির্গত হচ্ছে। ইতিমধ্যে সহনীয় মাত্রার চেয়ে বেশি পরিমাণ কার্বন ও ভাসমান সুক্ষ্ম বস্তুকণা ঢাকার বাতাসকে মারাত্বক পর্যায়ে নিয়ে গেছে। গত ২ বছরে বাতাসে কার্বনের পরিমাণ ৪ শতাংশেরও বেশি হারে বেড়েছে। বর্তমানে তা ৩৫০ পিপিএম (পার্টস পার মিলিয়ন)। একটি বড় শহরে কার্বনে সর্বোচ্চ গ্রহণযোগ্য মাত্রা হচ্ছে ২৯০ থেকে ৩০০ পিপিএম।
বাতাসে কার্বনের মাত্রা বেড়ে যাওয়ায় ঢাকার বার্ষিক গড় উষষ্ণতাও বেড়ে যাচ্ছে। ফলে পরিবেশের ভারসাম্য বিনষ্ট হয়ে পড়ছে। বৃষ্টিপাত ও উষ্ণতার স্বাভাবিক নিয়মের ব্যত্যয় ঘটছে। এ ব্যাপারে সর্বাগ্রে প্রয়োজন নাগরিক সচেতনতা বৃদ্ধির পাশাপাশি সরকারের দায়িশীল সংস্থাগুলোর যথাযথ তদারকি। বায়ু দূষণসহ নানাবিধ দূষণের বিরূপ প্রভাবে ঢাকা অর্থাৎ এই মহানগরবাসীর জনস্বাস্থ্য চরম হুমকির মুখে পড়েছে। নানারকম ব্যাধিতে মানুষ আক্রানত্দ হচ্ছে। সরকারের দায়িত্বশীল সংস্থাগুলোসহ পরিবেশবাদী সংগঠনগুলো এক্ষেত্রে যদি সচেতনতা বৃদ্ধিমূলক বিশেষ কিছু কার্যক্রম পরিচালনার পাশাপাশি সুনির্দিষ্ট নীতিমালার ভিত্তিতে পদক্ষেপ নেয় তাহলে ঢাকার বাতাস অনেকটাই নিরাপদ করা সম্ভব।
প্রিয় ব্লগারএই লেখাটি আমি আমার কলিগ হিল্লোল এর লেখা থেকে সংক্ষিপ্ত আকারে প্রকাশ করেছি। মহা স্বপ্নবাজ এই ছেলেটা দেশ নিয়ে অনেক ভাবে। তার ভাবনার খানিকটা পাঠকদের কাছে তুলে ধরতে চেয়েছি। এই পোষ্টের সকল প্লাস হিল্লোলের আর সংক্ষিপ্ত করতে গিয়ে যে ভুলগুলো হল তার জন্য সকল মাইনাচ আমার । ধন্যবাদ হিল্লোল।
Toy Story 3The Confession: A Novel

Monday, September 15, 2008

নিউ মার্কেটে গাড়ি পার্কিং ও মিরপুর সড়কে রিক্সা উচ্ছেদের পরবর্তী অবস্থা ও মিরপুর সড়কে রিক্সা উচ্ছেদের পরবর্তী অবস্থা

নিউ মার্কেটে গাড়ি পার্কিং ও মিরপুর সড়কে রিক্সা উচ্ছেদের পরবর্তী অবস্থা

যানজট নিরসনের নাম করে ইতিপূর্বে বিশ্বব্যাংকের ঋণ সহায়তায় একটি প্রকল্পের আওতায় মিরপুর সড়ক থেকে রিকশা উচ্ছেদ করা হয়েছে। কিন্তু প্রকল্প পরবর্তী সময়ে যানজট আরো বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছে। এছাড়া বাসের গতি কমেছে। মিরপুর সড়কে রিকশা উচ্ছেদ করা হলেও এখনও অনেক মানুষ ভেতরের (ধানমন্ডি এলাকার) সড়কগুলি দিয়ে রিকশা করেই চলাচল করছে। এর জন্য তাদের সময় ও খরচ দুইই বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছে। রিকশাচালকদের আয়ও কমেছে। মিরপুর সড়কে রিকশা বন্ধ করে ধানমন্ডি-১ (পুলিশ বক্স) থেকে নিউমার্কেট পর্যনত্দ রিকশা চলাচলের জন্য লেন প্রদান করা হয়েছে। কিন্তু যাত্রী অনুপাতে লেনের জন্য জায়গা প্রদান না করায় মানুষকে সীমাহীন দূর্ভোগ পোহাতে হচ্ছে। এই লেনটি দিয়ে একদিকে একটি সারিতে রিকশা চলতে পারে। আর লেনটি নিউমার্কেটের ভেতরের রাসত্দার সঙ্গে সংযুক্ত হওয়ায় রিকশায় চলাচলের জন্য অনেক পথ ঘুরতে হয়। এছাড়া নিউমার্কেটের ভেতর দিয়ে প্রাইভেট কারসহ অন্যান্য অনেক ধরনের যানবাহন চলাচল করে। ফলে রিকশা নির্বিঘ্নে চলতে পারে না। সেখানে একটি রিকশা আটকা পড়লে পেছনে শত শত রিকশা আটকা পড়ে। এর জন্য ধানমিন্ড-১ নম্বর সড়কে সৃষ্টি হচ্ছে রিকশা জট।

এই লেন-এ বরাদ্দকৃত জাযগা চাহিদানুযায়ী রিকশা চলাচলের জন্য যথেষ্ঠ নয়। অথচ লেনের বাইরে প্রায় সময় দুই লেন জুড়ে প্রাইভেট কার পার্কিং করা থাকে। সামান্য কয়েকজন মানুষকে পার্কিং সুবিধা দিতে গিয়ে রিকশা লেনে প্রয়োজনীয় জায়গা না দেওয়ায় হাজার হাজার মানুষের দূর্ভোগ সৃষ্টি হচ্ছে। এখানে অবিলম্বে গাড়ি পার্কিং বন্ধ করে রিকশা যাত্রীদের সংখ্যানুপাতে লেনের জায়গা দিলে নিউমার্কেট এলাকার ব্যবসা বৃদ্ধির সাথে সাথে জনসাধারণ উপকৃত হবে। সেই সাথে যানজট হ্রাসের সঙ্গে পরিবহণ ব্যবস্থায় সৃঙ্খলা ফিরে অসবে।

প্রাইভেট গাড়িতে গড়ে ২.২ জন যাত্রী থাকে। সে অনুযায়ী প্রাইভেট গাড়ি থেকে নিউমার্কেটের এই জায়গায় ঘন্টায় ৮৭ জন মানুষ সুুিবধা পাচ্ছে। একই জায়গায় রিকশা চললে প্রতি ঘন্টায় ৯ হাজার ৭৭ জন যাত্রী চলাচল করতে পারতো। এই লেন দুটিকে পার্কিং করার পরিবর্তে রিকশার জন্য বরাদ্দ দিলে ১০৩ গুন বেশি ব্যবহারযোগ্য করা সম্ভব।

নিউমার্কেটের এই লেনটি রিকশার জন্য বরাদ্দ দেয়া হলে প্রশ্ন উঠতে পারে প্রাইভেট গাড়ি কোথায় রাখা হবে? এর সমাধানে নিউমার্কেটের যেকোন একটি জায়গা পার্কিংয়ের জন্য নির্দিষ্ট করে দেয়া এবং জায়গা ও সময় অনুসারে খরচ নির্ধারণ করা। এ ধরনের নিয়ম করা হলে দুটি ইতিবাচক পরিবর্তন হবে। প্রথমত যারা এখন দীর্ঘ সময় গাড়ি পার্কিং করছে তারা কমসময় গাড়ি রাখবে বা পার্কিং খরচ কমাতে বিকল্প পরিবহণ ব্যবহার করবে। তাহলে প্রাইভেট গাড়ীতে যাতায়াত হ্রাস পাবে। দ্বিতীয়ত আশে-পাশের এলাকা হতে নিউমার্কেটে যাতায়াত করতে লোকজন রিকশা, সাইকেল বা হেঁটে চলাচলকে প্রাধান্য দেবে। এর মাধ্যমেও প্রাইভেট গাড়ীর ব্যবহার হ্রাস পাওয়ায় যানজট কমবে।
এই প্রক্রিয়ায় প্রাইভেট গাড়ী নিয়ন্ত্রণ করা হলে মিরপুর রোডে যানজট অনেকাংশে হ্রাস পাবে। গাড়ীর জন্য ঘন্টা অনুসারে অর্থ নেওয়ার ফলে পূর্বে পার্কিং করার জন্য যে পরিমান জায়গা প্রয়োজন হতো, তার থেকে কম ব্যবহার হবে, যারা মার্কেটে এসে দ্রুত কাজ সেরে চলে যেতে চায় তারা গাড়ি রাখার সুযোগ পাবেন। পার্কিং নিয়ন্ত্রণ হওয়ায় রাস্তায় রিকশা চলাচলের জায়গা বেরুনোর প্রেক্ষিতে আরো বেশি মানুষ যাতায়াত সুবিধার কারণে ব্যবসায়ীদের ক্রেতা সংখ্যা বৃদ্ধি পাবে।

বিনামূল্যে অথবা কম মূল্যে পার্কিং সুবিধা প্রদান করলে যাদের গাড়ী আছে তারা হেঁটে, সাইকেলে বা পাবলিক পরিবহন অপেক্ষা প্রাইভেট গাড়ীতে যাতায়াত করতে উৎসাহী হয়। যা যানজট বৃদ্ধির মাধ্যমে মানুষের যাতায়াতে বাধা সৃষ্টি করায় ব্যবসার উপরেও নেতিবাচক প্রভাব পড়ে। ব্যবসা প্রতিষ্ঠানের সামনে বেশি বেশি প্রাইভেট গাড়ী থাকলে যারা অন্যান্য মাধ্যমে আসতে চায় তাদের চলাচল বিঘি্নত হয়। গাড়ীর জন্য বিনামূল্যে পার্কিং সুবিধা দেয়ার অর্থ হচ্ছে অন্যদের চলাচলে বিঘ্ন সৃষ্টি করা। ঢাকায় খুবই কম সংখ্যম মানুষের গাড়ি রয়েছে। প্রাইভেট গাড়ী ব্যবহারকারীদের প্রাধান্য দেওয়া হলে ব্যবসায়ী এবং বেশিরভাগ ক্রেতা সঙ্কটে পড়বে। একটি দোকানের সামনে বেশি গাড়ি খুব দৃষ্টিকটু দেখায় এবং চলাচলে প্রতিবন্ধকতা সৃষ্টি করে। এর জন্য অনেকই ওইসব দোকানে যেতে নিরুৎসাহ বোধ করে।

অনেক সৌখিন মানুষ আছেন হাঁটা পথে কি পাওয়া যায় সেগুলি লক্ষ্য করে এবং কিছু পছন্দ হলেই কিনে ফেলে। কিন্তু দোকানের সামনে গাড়ি থাকার কারণে মানুষ কিছু দেখতে না পাওয়ায় বিক্রি কমে যায়। যা ব্যবসায়ীদের ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ করে। দোকানের সামনে গাড়ি না থাকলে পথচারীরা বাইরে থেকে জিনিসপত্র দেখতে পায় এবং কোন কিছু দ্বারা আকৃষ্ট হলে ভেতরে প্রবেশ করে কেনাকাটার সুযোগ পায়।

বিনামূল্যে বা নামমাত্র মূল্যে পার্কিং ব্যবসার জন্য ক্ষতিকর। পার্কিংয়ের জন্য টাকা নেওয়া ব্যবসার প্রসারের সহায়ক। সময় ও জায়গার দামের উপর নির্ভর করে গাড়ি পার্কিংয়ের জন্য টাকা দিতে হলে মানুষ কম সময় গাড়ি রাখার সুযোগ পাবেন এবং অন্য ক্রেতারা ঐ জায়গা ব্যবহার করতে পারবেন। একই জায়গায় অনেক বেশি ক্রেতাকে সুবিধা প্রদান করার কারণে দোকানীদের বিক্রি বাড়ে। কম সংখ্যক গাড়ী বেশি সময়ের জন্য পার্কিং করা হলে অল্প পরিমাণ জায়গায় অনেক গাড়ী পার্কিং করায় জায়গার সর্বোচ্চ ব্যবহার হয়।

গাড়ী বেশি সময় পার্কিংয়ে রাখার অর্থ হচ্ছে জায়গার অপব্যবহার করা। পার্কিং বিনামূল্যে বা কম মূল্যে হওয়ায় মানুষ বেশি সময়ের জন্য গাড়ি রাখতে উৎসাহিত হবে। এক্ষেত্রে অনেকেই গাড়ি রাখা জায়গা পেতে সমস্যায় পড়বেন। অল্প মানুষ বেশি সময় ধরে দোকানে অবস্থান করলেই ব্যাবসায়ীদের সুবিধা হতে পারে না। ব্যাবসায়ীদের জন্য প্রয়োজন অনেক বেশি ক্রেতা সমাগম। এর জন্য পার্কিং স্থানে যতবেশি গাড়ি রাখার সুযোগ তৈরি করা যাবে তত বেশি মানুষ আসার সুযোগ পাবেন। সেক্ষেত্রে সময়ানুযায়ী পার্কিং ফি বৃদ্ধি করা হলে মানুষ কম সময়ের জন্য গাড়ি পার্ক করবে।

রাস্তায় প্রাইভেট গাড়ী পার্কিং কমানো গেলে অনেক মানুষ যাতায়াত সুবিধা পাবে। পার্কিংয়ের খরচ বৃদ্ধি পেলে মানুষ কম সময় গাড়ি রাখবে এবং যাদের বেশি প্রয়োজন তারা সবসময় গাড়ি ব্যবহার করতে পারবেন। পার্কিং করার জায়গা একই পরিমান হওয়া স্বত্বেও গাড়ি কম সময় রাখার কারণে অনেকে মানুষ গাড়ি পার্কিং করার সুবিধা পাবেন। এর ফলে আরো বেশি মানুষ দোকান, কেন্দ্র বা হোটেলে আসবেন। এতে গাড়ী ব্যবহারকারী ক্রেতারা কম সময় থাকলেও ব্যবসা বাড়বে, গাড়ির ভীড় বাড়বে না।

গাড়ির আধিক্যে পার্কর্িংয়ের জায়গা না পাওয়া গেলে বিনামূল্যে পার্কিং সুবিধা দেয়া হলেও ব্যবসায়ীদের ক্রেতা সংখ্যা বাড়বে না। পার্কিংয়ের খরচ বৃদ্ধির মাধ্যমে অল্প জায়গায় বেশি গাড়ি পার্কিং এর ব্যবস্থা করা সম্ভব। দুইভাবে পার্কিং সুবিধা হতে পারে বিনামূল্যে অথবা সহজে জায়গা করে দেওয়া। বেশির ভাগ মানুষ চায় গাড়ি পার্কিং এর জায়গা পেতে। পার্কিংয়ের সঠিক মূল্য পরিশোধ করতে হলে সময়ের কথা বিবেচনা করেন বিষয়টি অনেকেই আনন্দের সাথে গ্রহণ করবেন। এতে যারা কম সময়ের জন্য দোকানে যেতে চায় বা কম সময় থাকতে চায় তারা সহজে গাড়ি পার্কিং করার সুযোগ পাবেন। আর কম জায়গায় পার্কিং এর ব্যবস্থা করতে পারলে ব্যবসায়ীরা পন্য সামগ্রী রাখা ও ব্যবস্যা সমপ্রসারণ ও ক্রেতাদের চলাফেরার জন্য আরো বেশি জায়গা দিতে পারবেন। বিনামূল্যে পার্কিং ব্যবসার জন্য লাভজনক নয়। খরচ বৃদ্ধি পেলে পার্কিংয়ের জায়গা সব সময় কিছু খালি থাকবে। ফলে ক্রেতারা সহজে মার্কেটে আসতে পারবে বিধায় ব্যবসায়ীর লাভ হবে।

ডিইউটিপি প্রকল্প

ডিইউটিপি এর প্রকল্প (২০০০-০৫) পরবর্তী প্রতিবেদনে উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে ''প্রাইভেট গাড়ি ব্যবহারের অন্যতম সমস্যা পার্কিং। যাতায়াত করার চেয়ে প্রাইভেট গাড়ি পার্কিং এর জন্য বেশি জায়গা দখল করে।'' গবেষণায় দেখা যায় প্রাইভেট গাড়ি ৯৫ ভাগ সময় পার্কিং অবস্থায় থাকে। প্রাইভেট গাড়ী পার্কিংয়ের জন্য প্রচুর জায়গার প্রয়োজন পড়ে। পার্কিংয়ের জায়গা এবং পার্কিং অবকাঠামো নির্মাণে প্রচুর খরচ হয়। কিন্তু জায়গা এবং অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের খরচ অনুযায়ী পার্কিং ফি সঠিকভাবে গ্রহণ না করায় পার্কিংয়ের চাহিদা বেড়েই চলেছে। জায়গা ও সময় অনুসারে পার্কিংয়ের সঠিকমূল্য নির্ধারণ এবং প্রাইভেট গাড়ি নিয়ন্ত্রণ করা না গেলে পার্কিংয়ের চাহিদা বাড়তেই থাকবে।

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Are private cars the ideal transport?

Are private cars the ideal transport?

Let us return to the private car. Whatever convenience and comfort it provides comes at various costs. Cars are the main source of pollutants worldwide. There is no such thing as a clean car; cars just vary in the amount they pollute. Despite increasingly stringent emissions control standards over the decades in the US, cars pollute more than they used to—because people are driving farther.

It is difficult for us to appreciate just how much cars pollute. The air in Dhaka City, after all, improved dramatically after the banning of two-stroke baby taxis, and again with the introduction of unleaded fuel. However, this is by no means an indication that the air in Dhaka is clean. Any trip to the countryside is a reminder of the pleasure of breathing clean air. Even in Dhaka, if we wake up early and take a walk, we can experience a bit of the pleasure of fresh air; as each car passes, we can also understand just how much each car pollutes the air. As the streets fill with cars, the pollution rises. On hartal days, despite large numbers of people moving about the city, the air is fresh and the city (violence aside) is quiet. Cars—and the wide paved roads needed to accommodate them—also emit a great deal of heat, making Dhaka even more insufferable in the many hot months.

Cars also are the main cause of noise pollution. A full 97% of students in Dhaka in a survey on noise pollution said that their studying is disrupted by car horns; 96% of the general public interviewed mentioned car horns as the main cause of noise pollution in Dhaka. When rickshaws were on strike in October 2004, there were no rickshaws on the streets, yet the streets were as noisy as ever.

We would argue that since cars only transport roughly 10-20% of travelers, they should only have access to 10-20% of road space, for moving and parking—and should respect the rest of users, as well as the right to some peace and quiet of all the people working and living next to roads.

Presumably one component of civilization is respecting the rights of others. The attitude of drivers—who represent the wealthiest portion of society—that they alone should have full access to roads—is anti-democratic, anti-civilization, and disturbingly elitist. A society in which people fail to respect the rights of others, and in which the rich believe they should have special privileges on the roads as well as in every other aspect of life, is a society destined to fall into crime, selfishness, viciousness, and lack of the neighborly friendliness that allows people to live comfortably together.

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam
shovan1209 [at] yahoo.com

Air Pollution: What is the Main Cause, Cars or Rickshaws?

Air Pollution: What is the Main Cause, Cars or Rickshaws?

Cars pollute as soon as they are turned on, whether they are moving or sitting still in traffic. To blame air pollution on rickshaws because they slow down cars is outrageous. Even when moving smoothly and well-maintained, cars pollute; internationally, cars are the major polluters of our air and the major contributors to climate change. Worldwide, the most air pollution is created by the United States, not because their cars are slowed by rickshaws, or because their cars are poorly maintained, but because Americans drive so much. Cars pollute; lots of cars pollute a lot.

CNG is cleaner than other fuels, but as it is a carbon-based fuel, it still releases carbon dioxide into the air as well as the cancer-causing chemical benzene, for which no safe level of exposure is known. People travelling by foot, bicycle, or rickshaw arrive at their destination without contributing to air pollution; people travelling by a motorized vehicle, even a bus, contribute to air pollution. While the rich are the main sources of air pollution, everyone breathes the air. Meanwhile, if the rich believe they are somehow immune to air pollution because they live with air conditioning, they might wish to remember that they too must breathe the same air that they are polluting; the more cars, the more they too will suffer.

Syed Saiful Alam
shovan1209 (@) yahoo.com

Thursday, September 4, 2008

London’s congestion charge cuts traffic jams by 30%

London’s congestion charge cuts traffic jams by 30 percent

By James Monaghan
London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s central London congestion charging system celebrated its first anniversary in February 2004 to general acclaim at home and abroad. Despite of the prophets of doom and even some of its supporters back in 2003, the centre of the UK capital has achieved and maintained its figure of 30 per cent fewer traffic delays inside the charging zone compared with the period before charging was introduced.

Transport for London (TfL), the city’s transport authority, told City Mayors: “Estimates of year-on-year changes in traffic levels show a reduction of 18 per cent in traffic entering the zone during charging hours." In the first six months after the introduction of the scheme in February 2003, the reduction had only dropped by 16 per cent. This is a small but gratifying sign that central London’s streets are becoming safer and more congestion- and pollution-free.

Ken Livingstone, who became London’s first ever directly elected Mayor in 2000, had made transport one of the main planks of his campaign. He stressed the need to ease traffic congestion in central London by persuading people to switch from private cars to public transport. He promised to do this by introducing a congestion charge while at the same time dramatically increasing the number of buses on London roads. Under the scheme, private car drivers entering central London pay a daily fee of five pounds (eight dollars) with heavy goods vehicles paying the same.

To a large extent, Mr Livingstone’s claims to City Mayors in July 2003 seem to have been vindicated. He said then, “It has helped to get London moving again after years of choking traffic. London has become the first of the great world cities to set about substantially reducing congestion in the central area.”

The congestion-charging scheme was at the heart of a larger transport strategy designed from the outset to tackle four key transport priorities for London: reducing congestion; improving bus services; improving journey time reliability for car -users; and making the distribution of goods and services more reliable, sustainable and efficient. It has also been designed to raise significant funds to improve London’s transport system.

The London congestion charge was strongly opposed by Conservative members on the London Assembly (London’s municipal council) and 'The Evening Standard', London’s evening newspaper. The paper’s prediction of traffic chaos never materialised. London’s public has always supported the scheme, while opinion in the business community was divided. Office-based businesses were largely in favour of congestion charging because it was likely to ease travel to work for their staff. Some retailers, on the other hand, claim loss of trade. The Labour Party initially adopted a wait-and-see attitude, but now welcome it since Mr Livingstone rejoined the Party.‘Congestion Charging: Update on scheme impacts and operations’, released at the first anniversary by TfL claims among other things that, • Buses continued to experience significant gains in reliability in and around the charging zone with up to 60 per cent reduction in disruption caused by traffic delays.

• There has been a year-on-year increase of 29,000 bus passengers entering the zone during the morning peak period, for which sufficient additional public transport capacity has been provided.

• When over 700 businesses inside and just outside the charging zone were asked if they supported congestion charging zone, as long as there is continued investment in public transport, 60 per cent agreed, around 20 per cent disagreed. Only 12 per cent said the congestion charge affected business performance.

• On the other hand, net revenues from the scheme are less than anticipated. Instead of raising more than £100 million during the scheme’s first year, “congestion charging contributes £50 million of net transport benefits to London’s economy per year, mainly through quicker and more reliable journeys for road and bus users”. This is partly explained by TfL’s claim that 50,000 fewer cars per day were being driven into central London since the introduction of the charging scheme – although they also claimed that the number of people entering the centre of London had only fallen by some 4,000 in 2003.

Some controversies remain. TfL is carrying out a public and stakeholder consultation on behalf of the Mayor, who is proposing to extend the present central London charging scheme westward into Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. If accepted, the proposals, which are widely accepted by the Liberal Democrats, opposed by the Conservatives and found to be too restricted by the Greens, would not be implemented before 2006.

TfL also released a report in early March 2004 into Transport in London and its national ramifications. The report warns, “Inadequate transport will limit office development, job creation, house-building and the efficiency of the labour market” unless heavy investment in the transport system takes place.

Within a decade there will be the equivalent of 19 more passengers on each carriage of the Tube (the London underground rail system) during rush hour. Some trains currently are already leaving their first station with no seats left.
The dire warnings are partly due to political manoeuvring to increase central Government funding for transport, but in general congestion charging is becoming less of a hot issue and the Mayor is moving into other areas such as energy efficiency.

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam
shovan1209 [at] yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Improving Dhaka's traffic situation: Lessons from Mirpur Road

Improving Dhaka's traffic situation: Lessons from Mirpur Road


On 17 December, rickshaws were banned on Mirpur Road from Russell Square to Azimpur. The reasons given for the ban were that rickshaws cause traffic jams because they take up too much road space and move more slowly than cars and buses. The move to ban rickshaws was pushed by the World Bank, which also pushed the government to ban rickshaws from various other roads in 2005. Roads for People applauds the efforts of the government of Bangladesh to reduce traffic problems in Dhaka City. We agree that it is wisest to separate non-motorised transport (NMT) from motorised transport (MT) on main roads, and that a reduction in traffic jams would decrease suffering of Dhaka's inhabitants. However, much of the work to date appears ill-advised, leading to negative consequences in terms of traffic flow, travellers expense, livelihood of the most vulnerable, and pollution.Research suggests that women in particular are suffering from the rickshaw bans, finding no adequate replacement transport and often experiencing greater travel costs in terms of both time and money.

The ban on non-motorised transport on Mirpur Road has had the following effects resulted in at least a 10 per cent increase in monetary costs per trip (actual increase seems to be much higher as evident from the experiences of the focus group discussions), induced at least a 50 per cent increase in average journey times per passenger per trip (our estimate using HDRC and DTCB data), caused 32 per cent loss of net income by rickshaw pullers, forced one forth of passengers from rickshaws to walking, left no options but to take shelter in more expensive and unreliable modes, such as baby taxis and taxicabs, even for short trips, for more than one third of people, and caused untold sufferings for the most vulnerable road users like women, children and the disabled.In this paper we set out some thoughts on some of the current directions of transport policy, and our suggestion for improvements.

The ban on NMT on Mirpur Road from Gabtoli to Russell Square meant non-motorised transport was banned on this stretch of road in December 2002 as a pilot project. Several more streets are slated for NMT bans. As of December 17, 2004, NMT was also banned on Mirpur Road from Russell Square to Azimpur. Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) was commissioned by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) to investigate positive and negative consequences of the ban and make recommendations for further potential bans. This section summarises the findings of that report, while also raising a significant question: to what extent is it acceptable to increase poverty among the poorest for the sake of a small perceived benefit in travel time, and also at the cost of higher transport costs and some decreases in mobility? Put another way, how much are the poor and middle class expected to suffer for the convenience of car owners to drive a bit more quickly (except in cases where the jams quickly revert to previous levels, as appears to have happened on the Russell Square-Azimpur corridor) and to park where they wish along the streets and on the footpaths?Economic and other impact of ban on NMT pullersThe HDRC study found various impacts on NMT pullers (rickshaws, vans and hand carts) when comparing their situation before and after the ban. These include:Average monthly net income of rickshaw pullers decreased by 32 per cent, from 3,834 to 2,600 taka (see Table 1 and Figure 1 below). Overall, income for NMT pullers declined by 34 per cent. The amount of money sent back to their villages also declined following the ban. Before the ban, on average rickshaw pullers spent 64 per cent of net income and sent the rest (36 per cent) to his village. Following the ban, the amount spent in Dhaka decreased by 27 per cent, while the amount sent to the village decreased by 41 per cent.

Similar patterns follow for other NMT pullers (see Table 1 and Figure 2). Pullers compensated for loss of income by reducing food consumption, particularly of fish, meat, and cooking oil: for NMT pullers overall, 85.9 per cent decreased their consumption of fish, 87.5 per cent decreased consumption of meat, 65.1 per cent decreased consumption of cooking oil, and over half (55.3 per cent) decreased consumption of vegetables. There was an increase in the number of income earners in the family from 1.24 to 1.37. This suggests that some children have been taken out of school to compensate for lost income, or that the burden on wives of the pullers have further increased as they must earn money as well as do all the family and household labour. Average number of working days per month for NMT pullers increased by 1.1 days (from 23.67 to 24.78 days a month), and for rickshaw pullers by 1.3 days (from 23.18 to 24.44 days a month). Average number of working hours per day also increased, from 10.33 to 10.97 hours overall, and from 10.16 to 10.70 for rickshaw pullers.

More rickshaw pullers worked full-day than half-day shifts: 60.5 per cent after the ban, and 56.7 per cent prior to the ban; the figures overall were 65.1 per cent after the ban and 61.5 per cent prior to it. Only about five per cent of pullers reported a second income, and that second income was insufficient to compensate for the loss of income from the ban. Almost all the pullers (81.6 per cent overall) were affected by loss of income; 86.1 per cent of van pullers reported decreased income. Although HDRC recommends training in driving of MT for displaced pullers, only 1.6 per cent of pullers overall suggest that they be provided MT driver training, while 55.9 per cent asked for alternative rehabilitation and 31.6 per cent suggested construction of special lanes for NMT. , while only six per cent wanted an alternative profession in MT, 36 per cent would like to take on petty trading, 27 per cent return to agriculture, and 23 per cent take on day labour. Only four per cent of pullers supported NMT withdrawal on other major arterial roads; fears expressed by them included hardship for the pullers and their families, and concern that the move would lead to further deterioration of the law and order situation in the country in general and Dhaka in particular.

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam Save the Environment Movement shovan1209 [at] yahoo.com

Work for a Better Dhaka

No Traffic on a Saturday? Well, No Cars, Anyway

With a few simple steps, we could make Dhaka more livable. The first step is to change our priorities, by emphasizing access, not mobility, short rather than long distance travel, children, not cars, and livable environments, not just transport. To achieve this, we must change our policies; for instance, by enforcing the ban on parking on footpaths; reducing parking and charging a fair market rate for it; creating positive infrastructure for non polluters: pedestrians, cyclists, and rickshaws; and by putting children first: building more or better schools, libraries, and parks, and by making streets safer. In short, “We need a model in which happiness, rather than consumption levels, is the measure of success.”

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam
shovan1209 [at] yahoo.com

Rickshaws are the main source of vehicular transport for the middle class.

Rickshaws are in many ways the ideal form of transport

They provide door-to-door transport at all hours and in all weather, emit no fumes, create no noise pollution, use no fossil fuels, and employ large numbers of the poorest people.

It is not the rickshaws that are clogging the streets; it's the cars. In 1998, the less than 9% of vehicular transport by car required over 34% of road space, while the 54% travelling by rickshaw took up only 38% of road space. The solution is not to reduce rickshaw transport, but to prevent the growth of car use, by minimising the road space and parking space allocated to cars.

In addition, there are many simple solutions that could benefit both the rickshaw-riding majority and the car-owning minority. Instead of banning rickshaws, the World Bank and local authorities could be (a.) providing dedicated lanes and cycle rickshaw stations that would prevent conflicts between modes, (b.) implementing a programme to help improve the quality of the rickshaws, (c.) supporting cycle rickshaw drivers with training, uniforms, tariff standardisation, etc., (d.) creating cycle lanes throughout the city, and (e.) supporting public transit through bus-only lanes, bus-only turns, etc.

Many rickshaw pullers fled from starvation in the villages. With exceptionally bad floods this year, many villages lack sufficient food and seeds. Cutting back on rickshaw income means directly attacking the ability of the poorest and most vulnerable to survive - not just the rickshaw pullers themselves, but the families and entire villages that they support.

The Mirpur Road is a disastrous choice for a rickshaw ban, as there are no alternate roads for rickshaws, and it is extremely difficult to walk on this road because of the prevalence of street vendors.

Accommodating the automobile over other modes is undemocratic, supporting a wealthy elite while the majority suffers. In the long run, even the rich will not benefit from rickshaw bans, as current policies will lead to more traffic jams, dirtier air and increased noise pollution.
The World Bank figure that the rickshaw ban will cover "only 6% of roads" is highly misleading. Maybe 6% of roads, but those corridors carry well over 50% of all the traffic in the city. Further, the figure of 6% is misleading because Dhaka has only a small number of arterial roads which due to the lack of a secondary road network means must carry all kinds of traffic, including short trips by pedestrians and rickshaws as well as longer trips by motor vehicles. The proposed restrictions cover almost all the main arterials (the widest roads in Dhaka), and almost all of the north-south corridors, where a large percentage of the overall traffic occurs. The rickshaw-ban roads are almost all in the range of 25 metres to 45 metres wide (including walkways), i.e., at least three lanes in each direction. Some are even wider. So the World Bank's claim that traffic cannot be segregated on the arterial roads is simply false.

World Bank policy in Dhaka is inconsistent with the spirit of the World Bank's urban transport strategy, Cities on the Move (2001), which is highly progressive and supportive of non-motorised transport.

Rickshaws are the main source of vehicular transport for the middle class. Since there are often not alternatives within their means, a rickshaw ban is a restriction of their freedom of movement, and therefore a violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While proposing for further rickshaw bans between Russell Square and Azimpur, the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board presented data showing an increase in average motor vehicle speeds (15 kmh to 24 kmh) in other parts of the same corridor where a rickshaw ban has already been imposed. But did they analyse how robust and stable the gain in speed reductions would be? Considering experiences of the other rickshaw-free roads, is it not more likely that the gain in speed would be very short lived and the extra space created would soon be filled by more motorised vehicles? And further, wouldn't a ban on motor vehicles on major roads similarly speed up the rickshaws and also allow space for bicycles and pedestrians?

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam

shovan1209 [at] yahoo.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Specific Recommendations on Dhaka Transport

Specific Recommendations on Dhaka Transport

Despite the fact that the STP model has a number of shortcomings, the study appears to be more or less successful in identifying the preferred mass transit option for long trips, that is, Strategy 1a: Roads+, ALL BRT, NO Metro. Strategy 1a represents a combination of moderate investment in roads and an intensive BRT system as the means for mass transit. The option requires only a fraction (42%) of the total amount of USD 4.52 billion required by the STP-preferred alternative. It also represents the best option considering economics, safety, social development, affordability and sustainability. The surplus resources could be better utilised for the development of a balanced multimodal transport system by providing due consideration to the following vital issues:

1. Adopt integrated demand and supply management for the development of a sustainable transport system for Dhaka City.

2. Adopt a sustainable and “Smart” land use policy, which prefers a concentrated and mixed-use land development and reduces need to travel.

3. Adopt a people-oriented transport policy aiming at maximising door-to-door mobility and accessibility of people and goods, not just movement of vehicles within road links.

4. Assess transport policy by considering key wider policy issues such as economy, environment, accessibility, safety and social equity.

5. Abandon car-friendly and capital-intensive transport policy and explore eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives.

6. Start a fresh study for the development of sound transport policy considering impacts of all transport users and providers, not just FDT.

7. Ensure fair representation of all stakeholders and transport professionals in the decision making and planning process.

8. Properly integrate the proposed BRT system with improved local transport, ensuring adequate and continuous FFT and pedestrian facilities.

9. Provide a continuous bicycle lane throughout Dhaka City.

10. Develop an integrated commuting surface rail services within the Greater Dhaka Metropolitan Area.

11. Reintroduce centrally located stations for bus services (intercity and local).

12. Retain the central railway station at Kamalapur, and revive the old rail stations and service lines at Furbaria and other parts of Dhaka city.

13. Develop an integrated waterway system for Dhaka City.

14. Develop a hierarchical transport model suited to the Greater Dhaka Metropolitan Area for evaluation of different land use and transport development options.

Syed Saiful Alam
Save the Environment Movement

Cycle Training in Dhaka: More than it appears

Cycle Training in Dhaka: More than it appears

Syed Saiful Alam

For four hours a week, one section of a residential street in Dhanmondi comes to life with the shouts of playing children. Boys and girls, age five on up, are on bicycles—a few with training wheels, most without. Some are just learning, guided by a helping hand, while others ride confidently on their own, despite the child’s diminutive size. Teenagers join in the ride, and even a few adults come to learn.

One of the trainers leans down and asks a child, “How do you feel about riding a bike?”
“I love it!” exclaims the child.

“Which would you rather do, play computer games, watch TV, or ride a bike?”
“Ride a bike!”

“What if Tom and Jerry cartoons were on?” asks the trainer. “Then what would you rather do?”
“Ride a bike!” the child repeats. It is clear from watching the children that this child is not alone in his fascination for cycling. The other kids of all sizes are also happily absorbed.

A few official helpers, themselves aged only 12-15, move around the bicycles and clusters of children with authority, ensuring that everyone gets a chance at a bicycle, helping young children learn, and checking that the bikes are in good condition. A sturdy 14-year-old circulates with a pump and tools, fixing the bicycles when they fall into disrepair. Various adults from the neighborhood also gather, mothers to watch their children with anxiety and pride, father and brothers to help with the program, or just to enjoy the evident pleasure of the children.
A CNG baby taxi driver slows to a stop in front of a large sign featuring Einstein and a Bangla slogan, “Cycling is intelligent transport.” Other vehicles slow down as the drivers and passengers stare at this unanticipated sight of children riding in the street, in a lane marked with small signs with messages such as “Let us play” and “Cycle training is going on”.

The program is run by WBB Trust Thursdays and Saturdays from about 3-5 pm (earlier in winter, later in summer) in front of its office on Road 4/A in Dhanmondi. WBB hopes the program will spread, as people see the need to make better use of all the space usually devoted exclusively to traveling and parking.

Ziaur Rahman Litu, who regularly helps with the program, comments, “Rich children have many advantages; they can get basically whatever they want. But for poor children, they may only get one meal a day. They gain no advantages in school, housing, or other areas. We need to do something for them. I can’t help them to eat, but at least when they come to our program, they are enjoying themselves, laughing, forgetting their hunger and other problems. We want to spread this joy throughout the city.”

The mother of a very overweight boy watches with concern as her child struggles to learn, unable to gain his balance due to his unwieldy body. “I know he needs to lose weight, but where can he play? At home he’s always in front of the TV,” she explains. As her son gains confidence and slowly begins to gain balance, she herself gets onto a bicycle, riding for the first time in years. Though she falls several times and rips her salwar, she is laughing with joy. Soon she sails past her son, shouting to him, “Look at your mother!”

A 10-year-old girl is riding for the first time, and slowly gains confidence, only to crash into the footpath and fall over. Her mother runs anxiously over, and someone pulls out a bottle of Savlon. The girl grins, waving everyone away, and gets right back onto the bicycle. Some parents may never have seen this aspect of their children, or perhaps only on a visit to the countryside, where their children run eagerly, climb trees, and forget to whimper or complain over minor pains.
Another mother tells us that her daughter is usually silent, and never mixes with others. But when she saw that children are riding on the street, she suddenly became excited and begged her mother to take her to the class. This child, reluctant to talk to others, who has no friends, suddenly is struggling with persistence to learn, and euphoria breaks across her face as she pedals away from her trainer and rides free for the first time.

Advantages for participants include not only the chance to learn to ride a bike, or to practice the skill, or to enjoy outdoor play, but the confidence of the child helpers in carrying out their job, and the opportunity for rich and poor to mix in a safe setting. For guardians and the others who congregate on the footpaths, this is an opportunity for recreation simply in watching others, laughing at the spectacle of grown men stumbling as they learn, and at the pleasure of children.
Maruf Rahman of WBB Trust explains that in a good city, children can safely walk and cycle to school, traffic systems are not all geared towards the convenience of car drivers but allow others to move safely by other means, office workers can transport themselves by bicycle without cost, and parking for cars does not take priority over play space for children.

Children need play spaces, not just in the home but outdoors, where they can move about freely and mix with other children. Relying on playgrounds and fields in the crowded city of Dhaka is no solution. If children are to have any hope of a happy childhood, with full opportunities for development, then we have to consider turning some of our less trafficked streets into playgrounds, at least a few hours a week, so once again our city can ring with the happy shouts of children.

On a Saturday afternoon, as the street again fills with children and bikes, other children are playing in the only space available for them—the roof of their luxury apartment building. As they toss a ball to each other, the ball frequently falls down on the street, amongst the cyclists. The players congregate on the roof and stare down at the children, perhaps wondering when they, too, will be able to make the street their playground.

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam Save The Environment Movement shovan1209[at]yahoo.com

Suggestions for Improving Transport in Dhaka

Suggestions for Improving Transport in Dhaka
Syed Saiful Alam

1. Maintain the use of rickshaws bya) Canceling all planned bans on rickshaws from different roads;b) Creating rickshaw-only lanes on major streets (including those that currently ban rickshaws), andc) Considering a gradual shift to improved rickshaws that are easier to maneuver and more comfortable for passengers. If the rickshaw licensing system is to be maintained, set a higher level for the number of rickshaws, and base it on research into which all citizens can have input.

2. Cancel all plans for future flyovers, and use transportation budgets to improve public transit and conditions for NMT.

3. Make cars less affordable and available through reducing import of cars, raising registration fees and taxes, and restricting licenses.

4. Ban cars from small streets and lanes and from congested areas, and greatly reduce parking. Enforce a ban on parking on footpaths and on major streets.

5. Make cycling more safe and attractive by providing separate bicycle lanes on all major roads (creating a continuous cycle lane throughout the city) and by giving bicycles priority at traffic signals so they aren’t in danger by motorized vehicles.

6. Make cycling more affordable by greatly reducing the tariff on imported bicycles.

7. Create more places to park bicycles.

8. Increase bus use by creating special lanes for buses on major streets, banning all motorized vehicles except buses and emergency vehicles in congested areas, and considering other benefits to buses.

9. Ensure conducive environment for walking by a) creating pedestrian-only zones in the central shopping and business districts, b) reducing motorized transport (Pedestrians will naturally walk farther when the streets are quieter), c) cleaning up footpaths from construction debris and car parking (vendors actually attract Pedestrians, and should be allowed to stay, though not to block entire footpaths), and d) making footpaths more comfortable by planting more trees along them.

10. Carry out public education campaigns through the mass media and other means (e.g. through leaflets given to school children) to encourage parents to walk or cycle rather than drive their children to school, and to consider more environmentally-friendly and social means of transport, e.g. public transit and walking/cycling rather than cars/auto-rickshaws.

11. Support community programs to convert underutilized streets into children’s playgrounds for a couple hours each day, thereby making better use of roads in quieter neighborhoods, and allowing children play space, as is currently happening in various areas as a citizen initiative.
Source: Improving Dhaka’s Traffic Situation: Lessons from Mirpur Road

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

Syed Saiful Alam
Save The Environment Movement

No Traffic on a Saturday? Well, No Cars, Anyway

Jason Grant
No Traffic on a Saturday? Well, No Cars, Anyway
Bicycles and pedestrians filled Lafayette Street at Canal Street on Saturday, the first day of the Summer Streets program.

By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZPublished: August 9, 2008

At Grand Central Terminal, the trains ran as usual on Saturday. Tourists studied maps, vendors hawked water and magazines ­ but outside, something was off. On one side of the station there were no cars, taxis or delivery trucks. Instead, the street was filled with pedestrians and bicycles.Skip to next paragraphSuzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Jason Phelps, 34, stepped off the curb, tilted his sunglasses and froze. “I’ve just walked into a swarm of bicyclists,” he told someone on his cellphone. “I don’t know what they want,” he joked, “but I’m going to close my eyes and pray.”

The ding of bicycle bells and the chatter of people on foot replaced the usual automobile noises along 6.9 miles of Manhattan for six hours on Saturday. It was the first day of Summer Streets, the city’s experiment in car-free recreation modeled on similar efforts in Guadalajara, Mexico; Bogotá, Colombia; Paris; and several American cities.

On a path that extended from the Brooklyn Bridge north to Park Avenue and the Upper East Side, thousands of people filled the streets, taking part in activities like street-side tai chi or salsa dancing. Others simply enjoyed the chance to stroll in normally car-clogged streets. In a city where walkers, cyclists and motorists must share limited space, having a major thoroughfare through Manhattan free of cars created a giddy sort of excitement.

Deborah Fried, 48, a tourist from California, rented a bicycle outside the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue. Ms. Fried said she regularly rode her bicycle at the beach near her hometown of Pacific Palisades, but she had never bicycled on her visits to Manhattan .
She said the Summer Streets path felt safe.

“You don’t have to worry and be killed by a taxi,” she said. “To me, this beats bicycling on the beach because you get the flavor of the city.” The route was broken up by three rest stops, where water, maps and first aid were available. The stops also featured music and dance performances, and yoga and other exercise classes. Police officers directed traffic at 24 streets crossing the route.

Rabbi Jonathan Feldman, 47, took advantage of the break in traffic for a walk with his children before morning services. He said he appreciated the early morning quiet on Park Avenue.
“It gives the city a certain calmness that it doesn’t have otherwise,” Rabbi Feldman said.
The city may make Summer Streets, which continues the next two Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., a regular event if it proves to be a success (city officials have said that this would be a subjective measure).

Although Department of Transportation officials said they did not yet have an estimate of how many people turned out on Saturday, Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, praised the debut. “Summer Streets really struck a chord this morning,” she said in a statement.
The plan to close off streets had drawn criticism from shop owners, who feared it would hurt business. But the city assured skeptics that Summer Streets might bring more customers to their stores.

On Saturday, the economic impact remained unclear. Martha Barzola, 37, manager of a Papyrus stationery store on Park Avenue, said that the area around the store during summer weekends can sometimes resemble a ghost town. Because of the increased foot traffic, however, her store achieved its sales goal of $600 for the day within two hours, she said. But Ibrahim Hamzah, an assistant manager for an Edison ParkFast lot on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Streets, said he had not had a single customer, in contrast to the 30 or 40 cars that is typical for a Saturday in summer. “The number of times this is going to happen should be minimal,” Mr. Hamzah said. “We’re losing money, and it makes the job boring.”

There were other complaints. One woman, who declined to give her name because she was in a rush, said she had to park several blocks away to get to a medical appointment. Other pedestrians said that some novice riders, still learning to control their bicycles, were a danger to those on foot. Delivery of food to restaurants was disrupted because trucks could not get in.
Taxi drivers had also worried that Summer Streets would reduce the number of people hailing cabs. But Ali Sada, parking his cab for a few minutes at Park Avenue and 57th Street, praised the event.

“All these people are going to be tired when they put their bikes away,” he said. “We’re going to make a lot more money.”

Jason Grant contributed reporting.
J.H. Crawford Carfree
Citiesmailbox@carfree. com

www.dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ Dhaka Rickshaw
www.dhaka-transport.blogspot.com/ Pro-people Transport Plan www.dhakanewspapers.blogspot.com/ All Newspapers on one click

What If We Loved Our Kids More than Our Cars?

What If We Loved Our Kids More than Our Cars?

For it must be a sick society indeed that can, and does, and continues to, love its cars more than its children.

WITHIN just one generation, the lives of children throughout the world have changed radically, with just one indication among many being that so many children are now driven to school rather than walking. The same change that occurred in the United States has also happened where I now live, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Even though car owners are very much the minority, children’s freedom has been greatly curtailed by those cars. Those whose parents do have cars are driven everywhere; those whose parents do not, unless they are very poor, are escorted by adults and strictly prohibited from playing outdoors. It sometimes seems the only children in the city who have the opportunity for wholehearted pleasure, and who have confidence and skill in negotiating the streets, are the slum children.

One could, of course, sit back quietly and watch these changes, reflecting that surely it isn’t as bad as it appears or that something else will come along to make things better or that children perhaps don’t need to play outdoors or meet and interact with strangers or get to know those of other social classes or learn how to get around on their own. It is easy to be defeatist and say who am I to fight such changes? And there are those who feel the changes are inevitable, because the only response is to curtail cars – and that is a ‘freedom’ or enjoyment we could never part with. It isn’t that bad, people may argue; in some parts of the world children have access to parks and playgrounds, and while structured sports for children may not deliver all the benefits of street play, it is the best we can do in the modern world and surely nobody wishes to give up the benefits of modernity.

We too, here in Dhaka, watched the changes and despaired. Later, I found inspiration in reading David Engwicht’s Street Reclaiming; we bought sports equipment to give to the children on the street where our office is – a ‘residential’ neighbourhood with homes, NGO offices, a private university, a pharmaceutical company, a car repair centre and a fair amount of traffic – and made signs to put in the streets with such messages as ‘Love us, let us play.’ The kids took the sporting equipment and played on the roof of their apartment building; the signs seemed likely to turn rusty in our office.

Then one day, a few months later, a couple of my colleagues came into my office and announced that on that very afternoon they were starting a cycle training programme. A what? We have been working to promote cycling, and fighting with transport officials on the issue of cycle rickshaw bans in Dhaka; in the process we have collected a good number of small, folding bikes. Out came the bikes. We bought a few more for little kids, and taped paper with the message ‘Cycle training’ over our old signs, and put up a banner, and later made a large sign showing Einstein on a bicycle – an amusing choice, I had to think, in a Muslim country – all to make the car drivers pay attention, slow down, and yield a lane or two to the kids.

The first day we arranged for some friends to come cycle; almost nobody from our street showed up. Curious children and sceptical adults watched from their balconies. Later, a neighbour told us that people believed we couldn’t be offering free cycle training without an underlying motive –which they took to be that we were planning to kidnap their children. How effective the media has proved in frightening parents out of allowing their children freedom of movement or opportunity to play! If only we could compare the likelihood of children being harmed by being kept under lock and key to the likelihood of being kidnapped. But the woman who told us this was brave, or had a better feeling towards humanity, and brought her children, and reported to her neighbours, and the numbers began to increase. We advertised the programme (for free) in newspapers and through handbills, and children and adolescents (and even adults) from different parts of town began to come, and a regular group of children showed up for the inestimable pleasure of riding a bike with other children.

Other organisations have started similar initiatives, though on small fields rather than on streets. Less than a year has passed, and we hope eventually people will realise the good sense of converting quiet streets into temporary children’s playgrounds. In the meantime, other stunning and unanticipated results have occurred. Prior to the programme, no children on the street knew each other, having always being escorted by parents, usually by car; now many friendships have developed.

One of our volunteers, Topon Shikder says: ‘We have created a platform which allows children from different apartment buildings to get to know each other, breaking the isolation which existed, in which everyone lived their separate lives. So now if someone is in trouble – is sick, or there is no male around – they can turn to each other for help. And of course the kids love it, they keep asking me, “give me a bike, give me a bike, when is it my turn?” It’s wonderful to see their excitement.’

We have slum children helping to run the programme and fix the bicycles; like it or not, if you want to ride, you have to interact with these kids, and interact they do. A couple of child servants who have no other opportunity for recreation sneak away to join and revel in being treated the same by our staff as the rich neighbourhood kids. The children who repair the bikes have gained confidence as well as new skills, marching about with great authority; twice a week a few of them eat lunch with our office staff. During school holidays, children from the street come to our office to borrow bikes, usually in groups; it is now perfectly normal to have children moving around as freely as if it were their office.

Another of our volunteers, Muminul Islam says, ‘Street children – those who pick rags or papers, or sell peanuts at the nearby lake, to make a little money – often wander to our street to watch, and stand with their mouths almost hanging open. So I send one of our kids with a bike to ask the child if he wants to ride for a few minutes. I can’t express how happy they are! Sometimes afterwards they get so excited that they come up to me and grab my hand, calling me uncle or brother, and thank me profusely.’

I wish I could say that the adults on our street have also thanked us warmly for the initiative, and that drivers slow down, or avoid entering our dead-end street altogether so as not to disrupt the children. Most adults, including the parents whose kids participate, are delighted; when they see drivers racing on the street, or honking loudly at the kids, they complain about how uncivilised they are. But other adults tell us we should take the programme elsewhere, and one woman – a paediatrician –complained that it’s hard on drivers because ‘we have to slow down;’ others ask why we take so much space (blocking one or two lanes of a three-lane street). Our volunteers shake their heads in wonder – it really seems that people love their cars more than their children, they say.

What we are giving to the children at one level seems so minor – the chance to ride a bike up and down a stretch of road, while passing drivers blare their horns. On the other hand, we are giving them the freedom to leave their homes unescorted, to gain a new skill, to form friendships, to interact with different kinds of people...and to have fun. Perhaps, if things go well, if we are able to continue and expand, we will even succeed in communicating our key message: cars should not be allowed to destroy the joy in children’s lives. Perhaps, people will see that children don’t have to grow up trapped in cars and behind TV, helpless and dependent, growing up in fear of strangers and of the world around them. Perhaps, they will come to see the harm in the mentality that has developed; in which any sacrifice of children’s natural state seems preferable to restrictions on cars. For it must be a sick society indeed that can, and does, and continues to, love its cars more than its children.

Transport, Environment, Economics and Health: Promoting an All-Win Situation

Transport, Environment, Economics and Health:Promoting an All-Win Situation
Syed Shamsul Alam

While economic gains may be sufficient in themselves—assuming a reasonably fair distribution of those gains—to improve conditions in health and education, the opposite tends to happen with transport. Market economies support transport investments and infrastructure that actually lead to worsening traffic conditions, and richer cities tend to suffer from worse transport problems—including more traffic congestion, more pollution, and more injuries and deaths from road crashes—than poorer cities.

As i**es increase, if the government does not intervene, then car use will increase. In the case of Hong Kong and Singapore, the governments quickly realized that a drastic increase in car use in proportion to rising i**es would lead to an impossible situation on the streets, and thus instituted strict measures for car control, such as mandating that car owners first buy parking spaces, or charging very high fees for licenses. Where governments have not taken such proactive steps—or where such steps are taken and then loosened under pressure of car manufacturers and others—the traffic situation will invariably decline as i**es rise.

While we often hear of the subsidies given by government for mass transport, few talk of the subsidies governments give for cars. Yet such subsidies play an important role in increasing car ownership, and can represent vast sums of money being spent providing free parking, road space, and other infrastructure (such as elevated expressways) for cars, or on fuel subsidies largely used by car owners. Meanwhile, the increase in cars and government moves to increase road space for them—often by limiting or banning other transport—result in a decrease in fuel‐free transport (mostly walking, cycling, and cycle rickshaws), due to danger, lack of road space, and the unpleasantness of trying to use such modes adjacent to noisy and polluting motorized vehicles.

The “free” market thus fails us by resulting in more fuel-dependent transport (FDT), with serious consequences for the environment and health. (Of course if the market were really “free”, there would not be huge subsidies for cars, and car owners would be expected to pay in real terms for the damage they cause, so that a very different picture would likely result.) Damage to the environment of fuel-dependent (motorized) transport includes air and noise pollution, space used for roads and parking that could have been green space (for agriculture, parks, and nature), and contribution to climate change. Damage to health includes rising rates of respiratory and other disease from pollution; injuries and deaths from road crashes; lack of physical activity caused both by more time spent in cars, and the inability to walk or cycle due to the presence of so many cars; increases in obesity due to lack of physical activity; and the reduced possibility of interacting with neighbors, or of children and youth enjoying outdoor recreation, due to the conversion of open spaces to parking and the danger from so many fuel-dependent vehicles.

Other problems caused by fuel-dependent transport include economics, poverty, and insecurity. For example, the average American spends $6,000/year for car costs, or 20% of gross earnings for the ʺprivilegeʺ of owning a car. Given that one main reason to own a car is to drive to work—so that one can then pay for one’s car—the futility and wastefulness of the current system is obvious. People b**e further impoverished due to high expenses on transport, which can represent a significant portion of monthly i**e. For instance, traveling by bicycle is essentially free, whereas bus fares can prove very costly to the low‐i**e. Those whose i**e is dependent on fuel‐free transport are also affected by bans on their livelihood, including rickshaw and van pullers and handcart peddlers. Finally, global insecurity is increased due to dependence on foreign oil and the wars that result as countries fight for control over existing oil supplies.

Shifting from the “free” market focus, with its emphasis on further enriching wealthy corporations, to a focus on transport for development, would lead to significant changes and gains—not only for the poor, but for everyone. Namely, such a focus would emphasize the need for more fuel-free transport (FFT). FFT has many benefits, including the facts that it is inexpensive, does not cause air or noise pollution, generates employment, provides convenient exercise (allowing people to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, rather than having to make extra time and spend extra money on it), and increases equity by giving people of different i**e equal rights on the street (or prioritizing the poor over the rich, which would make a small contribution towards balancing the great inequalities favoring the rich).

In working to achieve change in the transport‐health‐environment‐economics equation, our overall goal is to create people‐friendly cities. Given the significant role transport can play in increasing or decreasing quality of life in a city, transport must play a significant role in making cities more livable. Needed changes include an increase in fuel‐free transport (walking, cycling, cycle rickshaws), an increase in public transport, a decrease in car use (brought about by high parking fees reflecting actual land values, license controls, and car‐free areas), and encouragement of high-density, mixed‐use areas, which in turn would lead to a reduction in traffic demand as access is emphasized over mobility.Of course bringing about changes in transport, affected as such changes are by economics and politics, is by no means easy. Significant opposition arises from a number of sources, for rather obvious reasons; such opponents include those manufacturing and selling cars, road and highway construction**panies, media (consider the role of car advertisement in electronic and print media), much of government, and some international agencies.

While there is no one set of working methods guaranteed to bring success, a mix of approaches modified for one’s own political environment is likely to include at least some of the following: signature campaigns, letter writing (to newspapers and policymakers), meetings with journalists and other ways of giving journalists information, research and publications, meetings and other**munication with government officials, seminars, press conferences, and demonstrations.Local, regional, and international alliances can also help support the work. Such alliances can include local NGOs working on the issues of environment, rights of the poor, and public health; a regional network with HealthBridge partners; and international support from such networks or groups as the World Carfree Network (WCN) and possibly the Institute for Transportation & Development Policies (ITDP).

While success is difficult in this area, it is by no means impossible. For instance, successes in Bangladesh included a major slowing of rickshaw bans, and an expressed reversal of World Bank policy in Dhaka regarding those bans. In the words of World Bank Country Director, Christine Wallich: “Any future support from the World Bank would be possible only if it can be demonstrated that aggregate positive impacts of NMT‐free conversion on transport users and transport providers outweigh the aggregate negative impact.” Other countries within theHealthBridge network and beyond have also experienced significant successes.

There is much to learn from the work, and while the difficulty is great, there is still much cause for optimism. Significant lessons include the obvious—that accepting that defeat is inevitable guarantees defeat. That is, if we believe before we start that we will fail, and thus don’t even try, we will indeed fail. Only by trying do we at least have the possibility of success—a possibility that can, surprisingly, materialize at times! After all, as we have also learned, policies serving only a powerful elite will, necessarily, have limited appeal among the masses. While the rich have access to resources that may seem overwhelming, there is tremendous power in public opinion. Therefore, supporting the masses can succeed—if, of course, the work is done wisely.
In sum, we need to work together to guarantee a major role for fuel‐free transport (and to reduce transport needs overall by emphasizing proximity over mobility), and to reduce fuel‐dependent transport. By reducing car use, we can create an all‐win situation, in which even car users benefit. How? By supporting jobs and inexpensive transport for the poor; by decreasing pollution, congestion, and noise; by increasing levels of physical activity and thus improving health; by increasing access to convenient transport for all groups, and by increasing availability of and access to safe outdoor play spaces for children. The result of all these measures is friendlier, people‐focused cities—cities in which all inhabitants will gain.

Syed Saiful Alam
Save the Environment Movement

Friday, August 15, 2008

Economic and other impact of ban on NMT pullers

Economic and other impact of ban on NMT pullers

Syed Saiful Alam
The HDRC study found various impacts on NMT pullers (rickshaws, vans and handcarts)
when comparing their situation before and after the ban. These include:1. Average monthly net income of rickshaw pullers decreased by 32%, from3,834 to 2,600 taka (see Table 1 and Figure 1 below). Overall, income forNMT pullers declined by 34%.2. The amount of money sent back to their villages also declined following theban. Before the ban, on average rickshaw pullers spent 64% of net incomeand sent the rest (36%) to his village.

Following the ban, the amount spent inDhaka decreased by 27%, while the amount sent to the village decreased by41%. Similar patterns follow for other NMT pullers (see Table 1 and Figure2).

Pullers compensated for loss of income by reducing food consumption,particularly of fish, meat, and cooking oil: for NMT pullers overall, 85.9%decreased their consumption of fish, 87.5% decreased consumption of meat,65.1% decreased consumption of cooking oil, and over half (55.3%) decreasedconsumption of vegetables.

There was an increase in the number of income earners in the family from 1.24to 1.37. This suggests that some children have been taken out of school tocompensate for lost income, or that the burden on wives of the pullers havefurther increased as they must earn money as well as do all the family andhousehold labor

Average number of working days per month for NMT pullers increased by1.1 days (from 23.67 to 24.78 days a month), and for rickshaw pullers by 1.3days (from 23.18 to 24.44 days a month).

Average number of working hours per day also increased, from 10.33 to 10.97hours overall, and from 10.16 to 10.70 for rickshaw pullers.

More rickshaw pullers worked full-day than half-day shifts: 60.5% after theban, and 56.7% prior to the ban; the figures overall were 65.1% after the banand 61.5% prior to it.

Only about 5% of pullers reported a second income, and that second incomewas insufficient to compensate for the loss of income from the ban.

Almost all the pullers (81.6% overall) were affected by loss of income; 86.1%of van pullers reported decreased income.

Although HDRC recommends training in driving of MT for displaced pullers,only 1.6% of pullers overall suggest that they be provided MT driver training,while 55.9% asked for alternative rehabilitation and 31.6% suggestedconstruction of special lanes for NMT. Similarly, while only 6% wanted analternative profession in MT, 36% would like to take on petty trading, 27%return to agriculture, and 23% take on day labour.

Only 4% of pullers supported NMT withdrawal on other major arterial roads;fears expressed by them included hardship for the pullers and their families,and concern that the move would lead to further deterioration of the law andorder situation in the country in general and Dhaka in particular.

source: Improving Dhaka’s Traffic Situation:Lessons from Mirpur Road
Syed Saiful Alam
Save the Environment movement