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

Fuel Consumption and Environmental Impact of Rickshaw Bans in Dhaka

Fuel Consumption and Environmental Impact of Rickshaw Bans in Dhaka

Most trips in Dhaka are short in distance, usually one to five kilometers. These trips are perfect of Rickshaws. Rickshaws are cheap and popular mode of transport over short distances. Rickshaws are safe, environmentally friendly and do not rely on fossil fuels. Rickshaws support a significant portion of the population, not only the pullers, but also their families in the villages, the mechanics who fix the rickshaws, as well as street hawkers who sell them food. From the raw materials to the finished product the Rickshaw employs some 38 different professions. Action needs to be taken to support the Rickshaw instead of further banning it in Dhaka. The combined profits of all Rickshaws out earn all other passenger transport modes (bus, rail, boats and airlines) combined. In Dhaka alone, Rickshaw pullers combine to earn 20 million taka a month.

We think that over the coming holiday of Eid du Ajah, new Rickshaw bans will be put into action on roads in Dhaka. Eid was used in the past to place new bans on roads in Dhaka. Last Eid many roads were declared Rickshaw free without public support or approval. By banning Rickshaws roads are clogged with increased private car use as well as increased parking by cars. Banning of Rickshaws on major roads increases the transportation costs for commuters. Not only due to longer trips to avoid roads with bans in effect, but also due to actually having to take more expensive forms of transport such as CNG or Taxi, where in the past a Rickshaw would suffice. The environmental impact of banning Rickshaws is obvious because it exchanges a non-motorized form of transport for a motorized form of transport, thus increasing the pollution and harming the environment. Rickshaw bans harm the most vulnerable in society, mainly the sick, poor, women, children and the elderly; generally those who can not afford or do not feel comfortable on other forms of public transport. To ban Rickshaws also hurts small businesses that rely on them as a cheap and reliable form of transporting their goods. Rickshaws are ideal for urban settings because they can transport a relatively large number of passengers while taking up a small portion of the road. In 1998 the data showed that Rickshaws took up 38% of road space while transporting 54% of passengers in Dhaka . The private cars on the other hand, took up 34% of road space while only transporting 9% of the population (1998 DUTP). This data does not include the parking space on roads that cars take up in Dhaka . If included this would further raise the amount of space taken up by private cars. Every year the Rickshaw saves Bangladesh 100 billion taka in environmental damage.

The government makes many efforts to reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka but with no success. Blaming Rickshaws for traffic congestion and subsequently banning them from major roads has not had the desired affect. Traffic is still as bad now as it was before the Rickshaws were banned on major roads. Rickshaws thus can not be seen as the major cause of traffic congestion. Instead one should look towards private cars and private car parking on roads as the major cause of traffic congestion. The space gained by banning Rickshaws is often used for private car parking. The current trend in transport planning reduces the mobility of the majority for the convenience of the minority. The next time a ban on Rickshaws on another road is discussed please take into consideration who is being hurt and who is being helped. For a better transport system in Dhaka we need to create a city wide network of Rickshaw lanes. If this is done Dhaka can reduce its fuel usage dramatically as well its pollution. We ask your help in our fight to keep Dhaka a Rickshaw city. Any information or help is very much appreciated and sought after. I write you this letter to describe the difficulties we are facing and some solutions but they are by no means exhaustive and we look forward to your help and input.

Syed Saiful Alam
Central member of Save The Environment Movement
Email: shovan1209[at]yahoo.com

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Could People-Focused Planning Reduce Traffic Congestion in Dhaka?

Could People-Focused Planning Reduce Traffic Congestion in Dhaka?
A Transport Engineer’s Perspective

Mahabubul Bari

It is important from the transport planning point of view to adopt a people-focused policy, which would ensure maximisation of door-to-door mobility and accessibility for the majority of road users, not just maximization of vehicle-km/movements of cars within road links. Moreover, a people-focused planning process should promote environmentally-friendly, energy- and space-efficient sustainable transport modes.

Approaches to transport development can lead either to a focus on the movements of vehicles or on the movement of people. In the urban context, the former, which is analogous to maximization of vehicle-km, tends to favour long distance and high speed travels, whereas the latter favours long distance and high-speed travel only when taken by public transport, and creates favourable conditions for short distance travel by fuel free transport (FFT) and walking. This in turn can lead to the development of a people-focused policy by prioritizing sustainable, environment-friendly, fuel- and space-efficient options, as demonstrated in Table 1.
Table 1: Traffic Prioritization on the Basis of Pollution and Fuel Ratting and Occupancy
Fuel Rating
per PCU
Zero emission
Zero emission
Zero emission
PT (Bus)
Considering the nature of trips in the mixed urban environments of Dhaka City, which are predominantly short (76% of trips are less than 5 km) people-oriented approaches would ensure maximum door-to-door mobility and accessibility of the majority of road users. Moreover, such approaches could also ensure maximization of overall social and environmental benefits.
Considering the superiority of the people-oriented approach, most of the developed cities of the world have adopted maximization of the mobility of people rather than vehicles as their policy objective. In well-planned German cities, over 80% of trips under 3 km take place by walking and cycling, whereas in Jakarta, where rickshaws were banned during the 1980’s and poor conditions exist for walking and cycling, over 70% trips are made with motorcycles and other motorised para-transits. Yet per capita income of Indonesia is only one-twentieth (5%) that of Germany. We also know the consequences of the pro-motorisation policy on Jakarta, which is notorious for its unbearable congestion and pollution.

Despite the obvious consequences of pro-car versus pro-people planning, the planning process in Dhaka has set maximization of the movement of vehicles as their target, thereby ignoring the mobility and accessibility of the majority of the city dwellers. For example, the proposed 20-year Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for Dhaka City totally ignores the contribution of short trips (76% of all trips) as well as all fuel-free transport (pedestrians, rickshaws and bicycles). Within STP, resources were allocated apparently arbitrarily for the capital-intensive projects, which promote long-distance travel and car-friendly policy options (and thus are likely only to lead to further traffic congestion).

In order to develop alternative transport strategies, STP adopted the top-down approach, employing a number of influential bureaucrats, a group of 32 advisors mainly drawn from the elite section of the society, and a consortium of local and foreign consultants. No attempt was made to ensure wider participation of stakeholders, NGOs, professionals and socially-deprived sections of the society in the decision-making process.

Disregarding their own evaluation process, the STP team selected a preferred alternative, which is 231% more expensive than the option which they themselves ranked as number one, out of a set of eleven (original ten and a modified option) previously-developed alternatives. Their final choice, based not on the extensive evaluation they had carried out, instead involved a sequential elimination process on the basis of arbitrary reasoning.

The best transport strategy, thus adopted, is unlikely to represent the best possible compromise considering overall technical and economic perspectives; rather, it reflects the evaluator’s own interests, biases and convictions. While some already-privileged sections of society may benefit—including those who profit from road-building—the interest of the majority of the city dwellers, and particularly vulnerable groups, would likely be seriously undermined by such an arbitrary and nebulous planning process.

For many years, discussion of transport issues and problems in Dhaka has had a singular focus on the supposed contribution of cycle rickshaws to traffic congestion, and the need to facilitate movement of automobiles. In line with this analysis of the transport situation, various projects have been undertaken, focusing on banning rickshaws and rickshaw vans from major roads, and sometimes relegating them to narrow rickshaw lanes. The problem of car parking has been addressed mainly through insistence on provision of separate parking places by offices, shops and restaurants, even by enacting law under the building code. Yet not a single transport policy decision was undertaken from the perspective of people-focused planning, which seeks to maximise the door-to-door mobility and accessibility of people and goods, rather than the movements of vehicles within road links.

The results of these various initiatives have been made clear through government-mandated studies, including the HDRC report on the rickshaw ban on Mirpur Road, and the DUTP after-study report. The results, almost astonishingly negative, would suggest that the basis for such anti-rickshaw and pro-automobile policy decisions and transport plans are flawed.
Moreover, despite the strong evidence of increased travel costs and traffic congestion, transport planning continues to focus on expanding the role of the automobile and reducing that of fuel-free transport. That pattern has been reflected by the further extension of the rickshaw bans on more city roads. Yet policies continue to give car owners absolute priority, while ignoring the fundamental principle of any transport project appraisal, that is, that net user benefits of any transport intervention must exceed net loss.

Now, it may be appropriate to investigate whether a people-focused transport policy in fact reduce congestion in Dhaka City. In the following paragraphs, answers to this question will be analysed from the perspective of traffic engineering.

Performance of FFT Modes at Intersections of Dhaka
From the traffic-engineering point of view, the capacity of the road network of a city is usually governed by the capacities of the junctions. Under the STP study, the passenger car equivalent of different vehicles was determined at the stop lines of 25 intersections within Dhaka City. The supplementary data from another study are also presented. The data clearly demonstrate that the passenger car equivalent (PCE) values of FFT are significantly lower than that of cars, which indicates the superiority of FFT and the potential for FFT priority measure in relieving congestion from Dhaka City. As shown below, over eight bicycles or 2.5 rickshaws occupy the same space as just one car.

STP PCE values (from STP 2005)
Car/Jeeps = 1.0; Small Bus = 1.5; Large Bus = 2.0; Auto-rickshaw = 0.7; Rickshaw = 0.4
PCE value from Ali (2006)
Motorcycle = 0.41; Bicycle = 0.12
That is, fuel-free transport (walking, cycling, and rickshaws) could move people while occupying far less space per passenger, and would—though not captured in the above figures—also involve significant reductions in demand for space for parking. In terms of the prejudice that cars are faster than other transport forms, the shorter travel times during hartals, when travelling by rickshaw rather than car, suggest that cars offer little in terms of speed in congested urban conditions—just the conditions which will prevail in mega-cities.

Reduction of Traffic Congestion by Integrated Demand and Supply Management Under a People-Focused Transport Policy
The growth of motor vehicles is so great that it neutralizes whatever development is carried out to improve the transport infrastructure of the city. That is, as cities around the world have experienced, it is impossible for road building to keep pace with the increase in car growth—unless strong measures are introduced to reduce the growth in cars and to encourage the use of less polluting and less space-consuming means of transport, i.e. fuel-free transport (FFT). The promotion of short-distance travel and people-oriented transport modes by integrating fuel-free transport with adequate public transport could in fact act as a deterrent to car growth and thus contribute to reduction of traffic demand. The restraining impacts of sustainable modes of transport could have far reaching impacts in reducing traffic congestion in a mega-city like Dhaka.

International experience has shown that an integrated public transit and bicycle priority lane could increase passenger carrying capacity of an urban road significantly. Similar findings have also been reported in research in Greater Dhaka. The study developed and validated incremental linear mixed models using audio and video speed and flow data from 27 road sections within and around Dhaka City. Using the models it can be demonstrated that the replacement of 65% of cars with the equivalent number of rickshaws could increase passenger carrying capacity of a road by as much as 43%.

More importantly, there is no justification to ban FFT from city roads, when a combination of FFT and public transport (PT) priority measures in fact offers the best possible solution for the reduction of congestion and pollution, at the same time ensuring significant improvement of roadway capacity and person mobility, as PCE (Passenger Car Equivalent) values for FFT are significantly lower in comparison to cars and other motorized para-transits. (And, as mentioned above, the differences would be even more significant if space demands for parking were included.) The STP in its original working paper on public transport recognised the superiority of a combination of FFT and public transport (PT) options and proposed three possible alternatives for roads of Dhaka City, such as a pedestrian lane +a single-lane bus rapid transit (BRT) for very narrow roads; a pedestrian lane + a mixed mode lane + a single lane BRT for intermediate to major corridors; and a pedestrian lane + one/two FFT-only lanes + one/two BRT lanes for intermediate to major corridors.

It is important to note that STP did not propose any combination of BRT and fuel-dependent transport (FDT) solutions. If Dhaka introduces public transit (PT) priority measures, such as BRT, there will be no need to give additional priorities to cars and motorised para-transits. BRT will be able to cater to the needs of intermediate and long trips in combination with FFT priority measures, which will ensure the ease of short trips. Such an integrated FFT and bus priority measure has the potential to significantly reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka City.

The advantages of integrated bicycle and bus operation were demonstrated in a number of case studies in New Delhi. The studies demonstrated that a combination of bus lane and NMT (bicycle) lane could increase mobility and passenger carrying capacity of three-lane corridors, where only motorised vehicles were allowed to operate. The passenger carrying capacity of such corridors can be as good as any other capital-intensive mass rapid rail transit system (MRRTS).
Concluding Remarks This paper has shown that measures prioritizing people—by emphasizing pedestrians, bicycles, and rickshaws over automobiles—could significantly reduce congestion in Dhaka. It is important, in conclusion, to point out that pro-people planning must involve a strong collaboration between urban planning and transport policy. Traffic congestion will most effectively be reduced when travel demand, rather than supply, is addressed. As such, short trips must be emphasized. However, short trips are only viable when most of people’s daily needs (for instance, to reach workplaces, schools, shops and recreation) are accessible close to homes. Urban planning that attempts to separate uses will by necessity increase the need for travel and the length of such trips, thereby increasing congestion; the opposite is true of urban planning that encourages mixed use.

When considering the need of people rather than automobiles, it becomes clear that requirements for car parking, wide roads, bans on rickshaws, and failure to give attention to the needs of pedestrians, bicycles, and rickshaws, will both increase congestion and worsen the day-to-day existence of city dwellers. That is, car-friendly measures, by inviting more car travel, also invite more air and noise pollution, and make life ever more difficult and expensive for those who do not travel by car. Fortunately, by focusing on the needs of people rather than a single mode of transport (the car), it is possible to improve the situation for all of Dhaka’s residents by easing congestion, reducing pollution, and creating people-friendly environments wherein socialization will be enhanced. Surely such a city is one worth working to attain.

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Syed Saiful Alam
Save the Environment Movement


Knowledge-based Transport Planning and More Rickshaw Bans in the Dhaka City

Knowledge-based Transport Planning and More Rickshaw Bans in the Dhaka City

Dr.Mahabubul Bari

For several years, discussion of transport issues and problems in Dhaka has had a singular focus on the supposed contribution of cycle rickshaws to traffic congestion, and the need to facilitate movement of automobiles. In line with this analysis of the transport situation, various projects have been undertaken, focusing on banning rickshaws and rickshaw vans from major roads, and sometimes relegating them to narrow rickshaw lanes. The problem of car parking has been addressed mainly through insistence on provision of separate parking places by offices, shops and restaurants even by enacting law under the building code. It is a matter of deep regret that not a single transport policy decision was undertaken after conducting a proper scientific or knowledge-based analysis of the transport problems of the city. It has become a standard norm to take important policy decisions rather arbitrarily, whether it is rickshaw ban or Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for the city.

The results of these various initiatives have been made clear through government-mandated studies, including the HDRC report on the rickshaw ban on Mirpur Road (HDRC 2004), and the DUTP after-study report (DUTP 2006). The results, almost astonishingly negative, would suggest that the basis for the policy decisions and transport plans are flawed. This would be less than surprising when considering the fact that important transport policy decisions were taken without employing any knowledge-based approach or scientific study.

Moreover, despite the strong evidence of increased travel costs and traffic congestion, transport planning continues to focus on expanding the role of the automobile and reducing that of fuel-free transport. That pattern has been reflected by the further extension of the rickshaw bans on more city roads. In this connection, readers are requested to draw their attention to the following news item:

Paltan-Bijoynagar Road made off-limits to rickshaws
Staff Correspondent
“Traffic Division of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police made Purana Paltan-Bijoynagar Road off-limits to rickshaws from Thursday. The decision was taken at a meeting on Wednesday. All the deputy commissioners of four traffic divisions were present at the meeting. M Sayedur Rahman, deputy commissioner (south) of traffic division, told New Age on Thursday that the authorities banned plying of non-motorised vehicles on the stretch between Purana Paltan and Bijoynagar to ease traffic congestion.” The New Age, Dhaka, Friday, October 19, 2007”.

This arbitrary decision making process as depicted in the news item draws attention to a number of disturbing questions as follows:
Do the police have the authority to ban or restrict rickshaw movements?
If yes, from whom do they get that authority?
Do the police have similar authority to limit the movement of motorised vehicles when there is not sufficient road capacity for them, e.g. narrow lanes, which cannot accommodate cars without causing traffic jams?

Probably not, it is therefore clear that such misguided policy actions are being pursued just to give absolute priority in the transport system of the city for a tiny minority of car owners, i.e. the so called elite section of the society.

Do the police have requisite training to make proper transport decisions?
If so, why dies Dhaka needs organisation like DTCB, when the police can do the job better?
The rickshaw bans are being extended beyond Mirpur Road, but it seems unlikely that those bans were carried out by the police, rather than by a section of the powerful bureaucrats behind the scene. It may be mentioned here that after failure of the rickshaw ban in the demonstration project of the Mirpur Road, the World Bank has set the standard of extending further bans on the condition that: “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”.

It is matter of deep regret that policies continue to give car owners absolute priority, while ignoring the fundamental principle of any transport project appraisal, that is, that net user benefits of any transport intervention must exceed net loss.

Now, it may be appropriate to concentrate on, possibly, the most important argument in the news item, that is, “the authorities banned plying of non-motorised vehicles on the stretch between Purana Paltan and Bijoynagar to ease traffic congestion.” In the following paragraphs answer to this question and other related aspects of such transport policy interventions, will be analysed in the light of knowledge-based and participatory decision-making approach.
Did the previous rickshaw ban in Dhaka City ease traffic congestion?

The answer lies in the “After Project” report of the government mandated study of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project (DUTP 2006), where fuel free transport was banned.
It might be appropriate to look into the issue considering a number of key congestion indices with respect to before and after scenarios of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project as follows:

Average journey time per vehicle
Average journey time per person
Journey reliability
Throughput (total number of vehicles per time interval that pass a point on the carriageway)
Average Journey time per Vehicle
The Table 1 shows the comparison of travel times of fuel dependent (motorised) vehicles between 2000 and 2005. Considering large variability of the travel time data, it is evident that there is no statistically significant difference of travel times of fuel dependent or motorised vehicles between pre and post rickshaw ban scenarios. This means that no travel time gain for fuel dependent vehicle was achieved due to rickshaw ban.

Table 1: Comparison of 2000/2005 Travel Times (average of two directions) in Mirpur Road Corridor (Source: DUTP 2006)
Average Speed (km/h)
Travel Time (min.)
Delay (sec)
No of Stops
Delay in Stop (sec/stop)
Gabtoli - North South Road (Demonstration Corridor)
% Difference

The Table 2 demonstrates the comparison of travel times of buses between 2000 and 2005. Although there is no statistically significant difference of travel times for fuel dependent vehicles between pre and post FFT ban scenarios, the travel times for buses did undergo significant deterioration with a 26.1% increase of travel times. This means that bus congestion has increased significantly due to imposition of rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.

On balance average vehicle congestion in terms of journey time per vehicle has increased significantly due to the rickshaw ban.
Table 2: Comparison of 2000/2005 Travel Times for Buses in along Mirpur Road Corridor (Source: DUTP 2006)
Bus Line
Speed (km/h)
Travel Time (min)
No of Stops
Line 7: Gabtoli to Gulistan Via Neel Khate

% Change


Average journey time per person
Bus travel has worsened following the FFT ban, with a 26.1% increase in travel time; passenger travels by bus has become slower than by rickshaw. Thus all the bus passengers (28.1% of total passengers)—both those who continue to travel by bus in pre- and post-project scenarios, and those who were forced to shift from rickshaws—have experienced significant increase in travel times.

Impacts of the project on car passengers who have been riding a car both pre- and post-project are more or less neutral, as there is no significant difference in travel time.
The passengers of motorised para-transit who continue to travel both in pre- and post-project scenarios are likely to suffer increase in average journey times. While there is no significant difference in travel times between scenarios, the times required to find a driver who would be willing to go for short trips have gone up substantially as per HDRC report (HDRC 2004) thereby increasing average travel times per person.

Despite being subjected to a ban on Mirpur Road, rickshaws remain the most popular means of transport in the corridor, accounting for 30% of all trips. Rickshaw passengers have become net losers, being forced to take long detours using congested side roads, and thereby substantially increase their travel time.

These evidences from the after project studies prove that congestion in terms of average journey time per person have increased significantly after rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.

Journey Reliability
Both DUTP after project study (DUTP 2006) and HDRC studies reported significant deterioration of waiting times for bus passengers. Again, as reported in the HDRC report, baby taxi operators are reluctant to take short trips, causing significant increases in waiting times for passengers. Similarly, finding suitable taxicabs at an affordable cost has become increasingly troublesome and time-consuming for short trips.

It is therefore clearly evident that journey reliability of the Mirpur Road demonstration project deteriorated significantly due to imposition of rickshaw ban. This in turn represents increase of congestion.
Throughput (total number of vehicles per time interval that pass a point on the carriageway)
Although it might not be appropriate to compare throughputs between a FFT free road and a mixed vehicles road, it is obvious from the Table 3 that number of vehicles that pass at North of Dhanmodi R#2 of Mirpur Road, decreased significantly both in terms of absolute number of vehicles and passenger car equivalents due to rickshaw ban. This indicates the congestion in terms of throughput has increased significantly due to rickshaw ban in Mirpur Road.
Table 3: Comparison of 2000/2005 throughputs at North of Dhanmondi Road #2 Section of Mirpur Road (Source: DUTP 2006)
Road section of Mirpur Road
North of Dhanmondi R#2
North of Dhanmondi R#2
Difference %

Again, although passenger carrying capacities of the whole network under investigation were found to increase on average by 30% due to a significant increase of bus services under a private sector-driven initiative, increase in passenger capacity for the demonstration project was only 15%. Again, a careful analysis of data reveals that nearly total elimination of FFT combined with a very high increase in bus service resulted in only a 15% increase in passenger capacity, whereas a small decrease in cars combined with only a modest increase in bus service resulted in a 27% increase in passenger capacity in a VIP road, which has been under FDT-only operation in the base case, indicating that as far as road capacity is concerned the problem is cars, not rickshaws.

Whether car more efficient than rickshaws in terms of road space occupancy?
Despite constant claims of the city officials that rickshaws are the main source of traffic jams, data indicate that rickshaws are far superior to cars as far as road space occupancy is concerned (see Table 4). In the base case i.e. before fuel free transport ban, rickshaws made up 69.8% of vehicles, yet utilised only 43.5% of road space to transport 59.4% of passengers (all trips). Cars made up only 6.4% of vehicles, yet occupied as much as 29.9% of the road space in the base case to transport far fewer passengers (5.5%) than by rickshaw.

Despite being removed from the main roads, rickshaws are still the most popular mode of transport, serving 30% of the passengers, whereas cars serve only 8.5% of all trips (11% of vehicular trips) while requiring the greatest share of road space (54.2%). Although the modal share of cars in overall has gone up only 3.0%, they now claim about 25% more road space than prior to FFT ban. If one considers the additional parking space required for them, total road space required would be much higher. It is clear that a combination of fuel-free transit and public transit would be far superior to a fuel-dependent transport and public transit option.
Table 4: Road Space Occupancy Impacts of DUTP on Mirpur Demonstration Road (Sources: DUTP 2006, STP 2005 and HDRC 2004)
Light 4-whl.
Cycle Rickshaws
% Modal Share of All Trip (HDRC 2004)
% Modal Share of Vehicular Trip (HDRC 2004)
% Space on the Main Road Link
% Passenger on the Main Road Link
% Modal Share of All Trip (HDRC 2004)
% Modal Share of Vehicular Trip (HDRC 2004)
% space on the Main Road Link
% Passengers on the Main Road Link
It may be mentioned here that despite 50% traffic growth of motorised vehicles during 2000 to 2005 period, the traffic in terms of PCE (passenger car equivalent) in Mirpur Road Demonstration corridor was lower in 2005 in comparison to that of 2000. However, despite having less number of traffic in 2005, the performance of the corridor was significantly worse under FFT free condition after the ban.

It is therefore clearly evident from the data analysis of the DUTP after project study that congestion in terms of all major congestion indices has increased significantly due to imposition of fuel free transport ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.
Whether net economic benefit of previous rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road Demonstration Corridor was positive?

The economic impact of fuel free transport ban on the demonstration corridor has been quite devastating; even DUTB’s figures indicate an enormous net loss. Revised figures suggest a colossal loss as high as Tk 1.52 billion per year for the demonstration corridor. Not a single item produced any positive benefit.

Although banning rickshaws means that many former rickshaw passengers will now have to travel by foot, including to access buses, absolutely nothing was done to improve the situation of pedestrians. The banning of FFT in the demonstration corridor has deteriorated accessibility of the majority of road users by cutting access to side roads, destroying the continuity of the transport system, and hampering door-to-door mobility of passengers.
The fuel free transport ban has been proved to be highly regressive in economic terms, with 83% of the road users becoming the ultimate losers as against only 1%, those who shifted from rickshaws to cars, emerging victorious.

Figure 1 Impact of Mirpur Road Demonstration Project on Road Users
Can fuel free transport ban ensure social equity and protect the right of the most vulnerable sections of the society?

Any city development initiative should contribute positively to social equity and protect the right of the most vulnerable sections of the society. On the contrary the fuel free transport ban created serious social exclusion problems by depriving the most vulnerable section of the society like women, children, the elderly, the disabled and the infirm of a feasible mode of transport.
Again, the initiative has generated undue advantages to a tiny minority of the urban elite, that is, car owners, by allocating them absolute priority in all spheres of the city transport system at the expense of mobility and convenience for the majority of the road users, i.e. pedestrians and rickshaw passengers. In the demonstration corridor, cars now make up only 8.5% of all trips but they occupy 54% of road space. Moreover, undue privilege to cars has also been manifested in terms of providing them with unlimited space for parking free of cost, giving preferential access along road links, ensuring uninterrupted movement at pedestrian crossings and giving undue long green times at traffic signals, etc.

Above all, the FFT ban project shattered the life of the vulnerable rickshaw pullers and operators by reducing their income by 32-41% despite being forced to adopt longer working hours, caused them to take less food, and above all deprived them from their fundamental right of earning a living by a legal means.

Knowledge-based and participatory decision-making approach for transport planning for Dhaka City

Given the complexity of the enterprise and the fact that transport and urban planning have significant effects on the economic and overall well-being of a city’s residents, it is important not to undertake any important transport policy initiative, such as fuel free transport ban arbitrarily. It is high time to institutionalise a knowledge-based and participatory decision-making process for the Dhaka City. It is a matter of deep regret that important transport policy decisions are being taken without conducting any knowledge-based analysis by involving people who do not have proper training on transport or urban planning process. In this connection lessons can be learnt from the arbitrary decision making process of STP where a top-down planning process was adopted by involving a number of part-timers mainly drawn from the section of the urban elite without wider participation of major stakeholders and socially deprived sections of the city. As is always the case in such scenarios, the tendency to allocate resources rather arbitrarily for car-friendly (pro-rich) and capital-intensive projects becomes evidently clear from the STP approach. The experiences of different cities of Brazil prior to participatory budgeting were more or less similar, when decisions regarding urban developments were the exclusive right only for the elite and the powerful. Participatory budgeting, which has been in operation in Brazil since 1989 (Souza 2001), is emerging as an innovative urban development management theme with enormous potential to support cities in the adoption of socially integrated, inclusive, accessible, transparent, participatory and accountable urban governance and management, with a view to ensuring equitable and sustainable urban development. There is no reason why such approaches could not be institutionalised and integrated with appropriate knowledge-based process ensuring people-oriented transport developments.

In this connection, some of the major recent transport policy decisions is worth discussion. The government has recently undertaken an initiative to build 52 kilometres of subway in Dhaka City on commercial basis using private sector financing. A similar initiative on building of a system of elevated expressway under a commercial venture is probably also in the agenda. Any move to build a mass transit system for Dhaka City is long overdue and welcome. However, there are number of issues which demand especial attention prior to undertaking major policy initiatives as follows:

· It might not be appropriate to build a mass transit system as a commercial enterprise under a profit or loss system. A profit making public transit system would likely to be expensive and beyond the reach of the ordinary people despite some fancy claims from the investor. A profit making enterprise would have an adverse impact on social equity and integration. Such a transport system will definitely deny the most vulnerable section of the society about the right to accessibly and mobility. The very objective of the development of mass transit system, i.e. to provide an affordable public transport system for the majority will be defected if it is run on a commercial basis.

· Despite some over optimistic claims, the underground metro will not be able to solve the transport problem of the Dhaka city on its own. Without a proper integrated demand and supply management approach it is unlikely that only an underground metro will solve the transport problem of Dhaka City.

· It is essential that any mass transit system, such as underground metro, should be integrated appropriately with other transport sustainable transport modes, like pedestrians and FFT to make it effective.

· The bitter experience of STP planning process should not negate the need for implementing a well-integrated mass transit system under a knowledge-based and participatory transport planning process.

· The implementation of car incentive project like elevated expressway system would likely to eat up some of the potential benefits of the proposed mass transit system. Current anti-FFT and pro-car transport initiatives would likely to be counter-productive for the development a sustainable transport system for Dhaka City.

Concluding Remarks
The truism “history repeats itself” applies to those who ignore the lessons of the past and insist on forging ahead, committing the same mistakes, and experiencing the same results. It is hoped that, city authority will learn form the mistakes of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project and try to assign due importance of FFT as it deserves. Given the small modal share of autos and the many problems they cause, there should be no provision for creating more auto-only roads within urban areas, and all existing auto-only roads should be converted into mixed-use roads by properly integrating public transit, FFT and fuel-dependent transport (FDT).
Again, while developing mass transit system for a mega city like Dhaka, efforts should be made to develop an affordable system for the majority under a well-integrated multi-modal system. It would be rather unfortunate to develop a mass transit system mainly as a profit making enterprise.

Given the complexity of the transport planning process and the fact that transport and urban planning have significant effects on the economic and overall well-being of a city’s residents, it is important adopting a knowledge-based and participatory approach involving all segment of the stakeholders. Such participatory planning process should take into account not only technical issues about feasibility and efficiency, but also the likely effects of policies on mobility, accessibility, and quality of life for all those affected, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups, those most likely to be left out of, and highly affected by, the existing planning process.

DUTP (2006), “Impact Assessment of DUTP: After Project”, Final Report submitted to Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, by DHV Consultants BV, the Netherlands, Japan Overseas Co., Ltd., Japan, Finnroad Oy, Finland, Operation Research Group, India, SARM Associates Ltd., Bangladesh, Desh Upodesh Ltd., Bangladesh, DevConsultants Ltd., Bangladesh in Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP), Dhaka, February 2006.

HDRC (2004), “After Study on the Impact of Mirpur Demonstration Corridor Project (Gabtoli-Russell Square)” Report prepared for Dhaka Transportation Coordination Board (DTCB), Human Development Research Centre, August 2004, Dhaka

Souza, C. (2001) “Participatory budgeting in Brazilian cities: limits and possibilities in building democratic institutions.” Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 13 No 1, April 2001.

It is important to have an open discussion to explore the scientific validity of the further extensions of fuel free transport bans and the justification of the building a mass transit mainly as a profit making enterprise under the perspectives of sustainable transport development in the Dhaka City. We, the proponents of sustainable transport development, would be very keen to discuss the issues at lengths at any place in Dhaka in between December 29 2007 to January 21, 2008. Active participation of DTCB, DCC, police, high officials from the Ministry of Communications, academic from universities, representatives from the development partners and members of STP advisory committee would be highly appreciated.

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