03 January 2012

Fear This Future - Bikes Don't Exist



I've been puzzling over this most of the day today. A series of animated films from some group called Forum for the Future and their 'Megacities On The Move' project.

Four scenarios of how we'll live our lives in 2040. I've had to watch each film twice - which is rather painful because they're not that good - in order to figure out what the hell these people are on about. I've decided to slap this into the Car Industry Strikes Back category for reasons that I'll get to shortly.

What I think I've figured out is that two of these scenarios are meant to be 'positive' and two are meant to be 'negative'. The first film, above is entitled 'Communi-city'. In this scenario: "The world has turned to alternative energy, and transport is highly personalised with a huge variety of transport modes competing for road space." Apparently.

Have a look at it. Is it just me or does it look like the streets of most cities today - just with more gadgets? Just look at that traffic congestion.

Already at 01:26 into the film public transport is soundly ridiculed. The 'character', a Brit named Vee, remarks: "Public transport?! Haha. That's sooo old-fashioned. Hardly anyone uses THAT anymore. We haven't put money into trains or buses for years!"

Oh. Alright then. I think I'm getting a sense of who these people are.

At 03:00 something happens which is downright shocking. Vee is in a hurry and, in her car, she smashes into a cyclist. Her response?

"Oh, sorry! Gosh, are you alright?! No, I can't stop... I'm really sorry!" Then she continues, speaking to you and me... "Oh, I forgot some people still ride a bike. Funny how many people still don't have at least a little mini electric scooter..."

Yes. She actually said that. It's actually a line in a film made by an alleged NGO with the tagline "action for a sustainable future."

It's as stupid as can be, yes, and completely shits on bicycles as transport now and in 2040. It is supposed to serve, however, a weak dramaturgical purpose in that she is hurrying off to Date Night and she ends up on a blind date, sitting with the same cyclist, all bandaged up.

Which is, of course, no excuse for including a motorist performing a hit and run on a person on a bicycle. And then ridiculing bicycles after that.

If you watch all four films - and survive - you'll notice that bicycles are shockingly absent from these peoples' futuristic scenarios.

In the other of the two 'positive' scenarios, called Renew-abad - described as "the world has turned to alternative energy and high-tech, clean, well-planned transport helps everyone get around." - Vee rides a bike to the station but the whole point of the film is her getting all excited about the latest eco-car imported from... Morocco. Interestingly, the fake newspaper headlines at the beginning of the film include "China, Mexico, Turkey to Hunt for More Lithium". Lithium for batteries is and will be an issue in the future if all these e-contraptions gain purchase. And, as we saw in the first film, thse coal or nuclear-powered electric vehicles still kill and injure bicycle users.

The films are devoid of humans, featuring only futuristic vehicles and the tiresome voice of Vee, trying to explain all this to us. All four of them are spooky and you really sense that Big Business will feature prominently in our future - selling us all these new vehicles and technology.


In the film called Sprawl-ville - "The city is dominated by fossil fuel-powered cars.The elite still gets around, but most urban dwellers face poor transport infrastructure" - we see Vee's husband on a - shockhorror - bicycle. She tells us with thinly veiled disgust: "I HATE seeing him on that thing". She claims it's 'dangerous' but you know what? I don't take peoples' personal perception about safety to heart - it's PERSONAL - so I'm sure not going to take it from a cartoon character.

I really would like to see what the obesity levels are in these cities - all four of them. And the level of lifestyle illnesses and their effect on public health spending. Can't see how they are much improved from today.


Planned-opolis is another 'negative' film as far as I can gather. "In a world of fossil fuels and expensive energy, the only solution is tightly planned and controlled urban transport."

This one is just weird. Vee asks if we have our calorie card with us because... she's ordered a driverless taxi for us. How will that help us burn calories?! We're told that in Planned-opolis, there are few cars in the city centre, but only the rich own them. Then comes a plug for electric bikes - "the easiest way to get around our neighourhood..."

A densely-populated, car-free neighbourhood and yet no bicycles? Does anyone really believe that would happen? Have these people never been to Copenhagen or Amsterdam? Note the hunched-over cyclists aren't even pedalling. There goes the health benefits of cycling, not to mention the social anthropology of urban cycling relating to liveable cities.

Watching this one, you figure out the agenda for this project and it is an arch-Conservative one. Big business benefits in the 'positive' scenarios and suffers in the others. In Sprawl-ville - the anarchy scenario - there is chaos everywhere but Vee is the noble entrepeneur who just wants to make a buck. In Planned-opolis you feel as though they're going after the Scandinavian model - 'tightly-controlled' cities are, apparently, claustrophobic for business.

In their .pdf about the project, bicycles are mentioned just eight times - half of them plugging e-bikes as the only alternative in the future.

In the future scenarios of Forum for the Future the bicycle plays no role at all. Which, in many ways, makes it difficult to take them seriously. Indeed, looking at the appendix, there are no bicycle-mobiliy experts involved at all.

So. Car Industry Strikes Back? How's that? Well, what is really not that surprising is that this project is partly funded by - guess who? The FIA Foundation. The international automobile association who are quite possibly the greatest adversary for urban cycling and liveable cities. We know what they're up to in Barcelona and we know how they promote helmets.

Everything they do is to ensure that the automobile remains the standard in our socities and everyone else - on foot, on scooters or on bicycles - must be tamed and taught submission to the mighty automobile - for fear of a return to The Anti-Automobile Age in this new century with focus on demotorization and liveable cities.

Should we fear these future scenarios? I fear so.

ADDENDUM: 05.01.2012
Forum for the Future have responded to this article in the comments. I've also included the text here:

Hi Mikael,

I would like to respond to your comments and explain how Forum for the Future works in more detail, which hopefully will show that in fact, we share a common agenda.

Scenarios are not positive visions or predictions, but rather thinking tools meant to open up the debate. The very point of using them is to depict - in a plausible but challenging way - what the future could look like across a number of different directions. Often, that future is quite unpleasant, and our intention is to communicate just that, in order to get people to wake up to the fact that business as usual is not going to lead to sustainable outcomes.

And so it is that with this project, the vignettes you reference in your blog post are meant to make the point that a future in which there are low levels of walkability and a poor cycling environment is not necessarily a future we want. So, in other words, in Communi-city, the road congestion and lack of attention to public transport is really a warning, not a vision for the kind of future we want. And I think you’ll agree that with the challenges facing our cities today and in the future - particularly the rapidly-growing megacities of the developing world - that warning is both very real and very necessary.

No one scenario is ever meant to be entirely positive or entirely negative. For example, there are also many elements of Communi-city which are meant to be appealing, such as the strong sense of local community, the high levels of grassroots innovation, and the scaled-up use of alternative energy.

The idea is that people engage with the scenarios to understand which elements of each they believe are desirable, sustainable, and will lead us to a better future. This can then begin to form a vision of what we should work towards, and this vision will necessarily contain a combination of elements from different scenarios.

With Megacities on the Move, we piloted the scenarios in city-based workshops in Istanbul and Mumbai, where a variety of stakeholders – including cycling activists – used them in strategic planning sessions to consider what kinds of solutions would get us to where we need to be. Which definitely in both cities included ideas for better cycling and walking infrastructure.

Moreover, it is not true that bicycles do not appear in the scenarios. They may not feature as prominently as they should in our short films, but that is the limitation you often run into when trying to condense something rather complex into a 2-minute video clip. For a more detailed account of different elements of urban mobility, you should read the full set of scenarios, which you can find on our website.

You are absolutely right in suggesting that Forum for the Future, and these films, have an agenda. As a charity, our mission is to create a sustainable world. And we often do so by using scenarios to challenge people’s thinking – pushing it wider out of the box, and further out along the time horizon.

We are independent, but our approach is very much to work with a range of businesses and organisations to do this, rather than work against them. In choosing the partners we did for this project, we looked for not ‘big business money’ as you suggest, but a range of organizations which represent different approaches to mobility. EMBARQ is a sustainable transport NGO which does on-the-ground project implementation in cities. Vodafone is a company which seeks to use its products to try to offset physical travel demand. And the FIA Foundation’s (this is the foundation, not the automobile association) focus is on promoting road safety.

We are always working on improving the way we frame and communicate our work, so we will bear in mind your comments and those of others on your blog to do this. But I do wish that you had taken the time to read the work in detail and perhaps engage us directly in a debate, as I believe we have a common agenda and one that we could perhaps work together on.

Find out more here: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/project/megacities-move/overview

34 comments:

Peter Smith said...

Classic. I love the driver: "No, I really don't have time to stop". Hit and run -- sweet. Until you mentioned it, I didn't realize the blind date was the cyclist who had been struck.

I've been making the point for years now that EMBARQ and its myriad sister organizations are just public relations firms aimed at halting the progress of, and ultimately destroying, any form of transport which is not cars -- the same way General Motors/Firestone Tire/Standard Oil did back in the day. That's why EMBARQ/Shell/Caterpillar/WRI/etc. all work so hard to promote BRT at the expense of biking.

But try to convince the self-declared 'green' folks at any number of organizations, including prominent members of the Streetsblog network like Streetfilms, Streetsblog, etc. -- not going to happen. Believing that organizations with 'green' names and massive budgets derived from automotive and fossil resource companies have an agenda which is not actually green is just not conceivable for many people, apparently.

Taliesin said...

Just suffered through all 4 of them. About the only positive thing I can think to say is that at least they acknowledge change is on the way.

The central point of those videos seems to be, if you don't buy a bunch of expensive shit like funny little cars that run on fairy dust or whatever, major high speed rail networks, e-bikes, etc., then the future is going to be pretty bleak. The corporations don't care so much what we buy, they'll sell biofuels just as readily as fossil fuels, they'll build railways just as enthusiastically as motorways, just as long as they get their profit.

The corporations aren't stupid either, and they know that a large part of the population are smart enough to be scared by the scenario in "SPRAWL-VILLE", and will pay either directly or via their governments to avoid it. So capitalists sell us the gizmos so that this part of the population can play at giving a fuck about the planet. But that won't stop them from drilling for the rest of the oil so the other half can can continue driving SUVs.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of the bicycle is that it just doesn't give enough opportunity for profit.

Paul Martin said...

They are just dreadful on so many levels. I'm speechless... utterly speechless.

Paul Martin said...

You can't make all these stupid contraptions with the energy captured by a solar farm, or biofuels, or wind power... We need oil to build the future we need but instead we're going to burn every last drop of it... and then it will be too late.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

"Everything they do is to ensure that the automobile remains the standard in our socities and everyone else - on foot, on scooters or on bicycles - must be tamed and taught submission to the mighty automobile"

Well, we're part way there - they've already got us off the roads in many places and the more bike infrastructure there is, the more drivers feel justified in insisting that we use it (as my own sister-in-law did this weekend, saying "Cyclists are always getting in my way. There's a perfectly good bike path - why don't they use it"). It's no wonder rideshare is dropping in places like the Netherlands.

The day they put in the first bike path was the day cycling received its mortal wound. It took decades to take effect and it'll probably survive a few more years on life support, but unless cyclists are integrated, the dream is effectively over. Peak oil is our only hope - maybe it will make driving too expensive for most folks.

Slow Factory said...

What is FIA up to in Barcelona?

Bad Karma said...

I was in the process of loading one of the videos up, and continued to read your post as I did so. I've wasted precious download on what? I don't think I'll be watching it... or any of them.

Mikael said...

I'd love to see the stats that show cycling is declining in the Netherlands.

Bicycle infrastructure has little to do with this post. If you want people to ride bicycles - Citizen Cyclists - you'll build cycle tracks. They've been around for a century and look at all the cities in the world that have high levels of cycling - they ALL have protected infrastructure for bicycles - and pedestrians.

Mankan said...

this just makes me sad...

Slow Factory said...

Mikael, cities with high levels of motor vehicle use need cycle tracks... regarding "world", relatively recently in Chinese cities and currently in some cities of the Global South, cycling use was or is rather high, as there were or are not many motor vehicles around.

(I am not saying it is safer than industrialized city cycling, just that a lot of people do it)

Slow Factory said...

@Peter Smith: I think that the WRI project EMBARQ greenwashes its sponsors Shell and Caterpillar - or, really, it was initiated with their involvement - BUT I am not sure that BRT is promoted by them and its "myriad sister organizations" at the expense of cycling. Do you have evidence of this?

Bad Karma said...

Okay, so I weakened and started watching them. The headlines of the UN dibandng got me offside, then a billboard in the background set off all my alarms;

'Got more free time? Why not spend it in Church.'

I stopped at that point and was filled more remorse than morning after my last bender. I really wish I hadn't watched that film, even though it was at most a minute or so in.

I also agree with Mikael that Vee is very poorly voiced, and probably an attempt to appeal to an 'internationl' (non-American) market.

VickyWJ said...

I've come across forum for the future before, and would deduce that these are an ironic comeback at all the people saying technology can solve all our problems. Having said that I've not watched the videos as my broadband is too slow.... sigh... some technological progress would be welcomed

Erik Griswold said...

@Slow Factory:

BRT sells more asphalt and rubber tires than any rail transit line will. Heck, even Michelin was clever enough to promote the rubber-tyred Metro lines that ended up getting put in place in Paris, and built from scratch in, fx Montreal and Mexico City:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber-tyred_metro

Erik Griswold said...

Ah the future! How diverse the predicitons:

I thought it was going to be just like this:
http://youtu.be/rGFTOoU62BA

But then we got to that magical year 2000 and there were no flying cars. Why?:
http://youtu.be/PRl_D_CunWA

As for GM and the gearheads, they've been at this before:
http://youtu.be/1iepyjVthBM

That's my favorite part, the whole thing (in poorer qulaity) is here:
http://youtu.be/_CdO9JBL54g

Not just in 1956, but also in 1939!
http://youtu.be/aIu6DTbYnog
(Fast-forward to 8m50s for the best bits!)

Erik Griswold said...

Amongst their "key funders"...

http://www.embarq.org/en/about/embarqs-sponsors

...is CIVITAS who, when I passed by their website...

http://www.civitas-initiative.org/index.php?id=69

...gave me this lovely photo of a city who's name escapes me at the moment, but it's very familiar!

http://www.civitas-initiative.org/images/toppics/pic_69.jpg

Erik Griswold said...

One more thing, (and sorry for my html skillz ^^), if there is no more fossil fuel, where are all these vehicles going to get lubricants?

Fonant said...

"The day they put in the first bike path was the day cycling received its mortal wound."


Ah, that explains why The Netherlands (where they've been building bike paths for three decades now) has hardly any cycling! Why are the Dutch still building new cycle paths, I wonder? Perhaps they're trying to persuade the few remaining cyclists back into their cars?

And why we have such large numbers of people riding bicycles in the UK, where we have almost no decent cycle paths and where cyclists are expected to integrate with motor traffic.


Please drop the segregation vs. integration debate: what we need is simply places where ordinary people feel safe cycling. If you can tame the cars so people feel safe cycling amongst them, that's fine. If cars want to travel faster than 20mph then you need to keep them away from the people who are walking and on bikes.

After all, no-one would argue for removing pedestrian paths beside roads, and asking the pedestrians to integrate with the motor traffic. Would they? "The day they installed the first pavement (sidewalk) was the day walking received its mortal wound".

M Beebe said...

This is what you get from people who took "The Jetsons" seriously, haven't moved beyond it mentally, or are otherwise inculcated with the infinite-energy and growth ruse. Theirs is a so-called technocopian worldview that completely ignores energy, debt, and ecology. None of these scenarios is remotely possible now, in 2050, or anytime in the future. Walking is the future, bikes are the future (for those who have the means), and degrowth is the future. Peak energy, global warming, etc. mean it probably won't be pretty for many- but then, it isn't now- and as you point out, nor would it be in the asinine dystopias conveyed by these videos.

hamburgize.com said...

Even nuclear powered cars were planned by car industry - never seen on earth . . .

As car industry denies cycle traffic and public traffic, so does other world trusts deny cycle traffic as solution for future mobility, for example Siemens. As partner of European Green Capital Hamburg Siemens only suggested products they sell as solution to solve future problems. Cycles do not exist in the Siemens-studies

Carlton Reid said...

So bizarre. So wrong. So scary.

And the predictions fail from the first second each time: newspapers?

Karen Lynn Allen said...

I watched one of the "positive" Renew-abad videos. Not everything in it is completely awful, but it is interesting how consistently the human idea of Utopia is to expend as little physical effort as possible while be whisked around at high speeds.

There is a great deal of irony that the main character is in the medical profession. Adult humans need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical exercise (such as walking or biking) to be healthy. Not especially fit or buff,just healthy. Children need at least an hour a day. (Active children's play generally also meets this need.) No society where people spend 99% of their time sitting immobile (for work, for transportation, and for passive recreation) can be healthy, no matter how many medications the population ingests or how many doctors they see.

Human physiology will not magically change by 2040. Even if we had unlimited cheap energy with no environmental consequences, we would still want to design walking and biking into people's everyday lives.

Raymond Parker said...

Quite simply bizarre! None of these will even remotely come to pass.

Jetson's on SSRIs.

Mikael said...

"The day they put in the first bike path was the day cycling received its mortal wound."

Hmm. That was in 1915 in Copenhagen and in the 1930s in the UK. What happened after that? Cycling boomed, peaking in the 1940's.

Then what happened? Car culture started to dominate and cycle tracks were removed.

Cycling levels plummeted.

In Denmark and the Netherlands we started to rebuild our cycle track networks in the 1980's.

What happened? Cycling levels started to rise again.

Anonymous said...

all other content of the video aside, did anyone notice that "mr. right", who's she meeting for a date, was the bicyclist that she hit?

Anonymous said...

If you want the future, take a trip to a typical European city. Cities like Frankfurt and Brussels allot more space to non-automobile transport that North American cities. It's not that far ahead, but it's already an advance. These videos are the biggest pieces of crap.

Ivana Gazibara said...

Hi Mikael,

I would like to respond to your comments and explain how Forum for the Future works in more detail, which hopefully will show that in fact, we share a common agenda.

Scenarios are not positive visions or predictions, but rather thinking tools meant to open up the debate. The very point of using them is to depict - in a plausible but challenging way - what the future could look like across a number of different directions. Often, that future is quite unpleasant, and our intention is to communicate just that, in order to get people to wake up to the fact that business as usual is not going to lead to sustainable outcomes.

And so it is that with this project, the vignettes you reference in your blog post are meant to make the point that a future in which there are low levels of walkability and a poor cycling environment is not necessarily a future we want. So, in other words, in Communi-city, the road congestion and lack of attention to public transport is really a warning, not a vision for the kind of future we want. And I think you’ll agree that with the challenges facing our cities today and in the future - particularly the rapidly-growing megacities of the developing world - that warning is both very real and very necessary.

No one scenario is ever meant to be entirely positive or entirely negative. For example, there are also many elements of Communi-city which are meant to be appealing, such as the strong sense of local community, the high levels of grassroots innovation, and the scaled-up use of alternative energy.

The idea is that people engage with the scenarios to understand which elements of each they believe are desirable, sustainable, and will lead us to a better future. This can then begin to form a vision of what we should work towards, and this vision will necessarily contain a combination of elements from different scenarios.

With Megacities on the Move, we piloted the scenarios in city-based workshops in Istanbul and Mumbai, where a variety of stakeholders – including cycling activists – used them in strategic planning sessions to consider what kinds of solutions would get us to where we need to be. Which definitely in both cities included ideas for better cycling and walking infrastructure.

Moreover, it is not true that bicycles do not appear in the scenarios. They may not feature as prominently as they should in our short films, but that is the limitation you often run into when trying to condense something rather complex into a 2-minute video clip. For a more detailed account of different elements of urban mobility, you should read the full set of scenarios, which you can find on our website.

You are absolutely right in suggesting that Forum for the Future, and these films, have an agenda. As a charity, our mission is to create a sustainable world. And we often do so by using scenarios to challenge people’s thinking – pushing it wider out of the box, and further out along the time horizon.

We are independent, but our approach is very much to work with a range of businesses and organisations to do this, rather than work against them. In choosing the partners we did for this project, we looked for not ‘big business money’ as you suggest, but a range of organizations which represent different approaches to mobility. EMBARQ is a sustainable transport NGO which does on-the-ground project implementation in cities. Vodafone is a company which seeks to use its products to try to offset physical travel demand. And the FIA Foundation’s (this is the foundation, not the automobile association) focus is on promoting road safety.

We are always working on improving the way we frame and communicate our work, so we will bear in mind your comments and those of others on your blog to do this. But I do wish that you had taken the time to read the work in detail and perhaps engage us directly in a debate, as I believe we have a common agenda and one that we could perhaps work together on.

Find out more here: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/project/megacities-move/overview

Igor said...

Have you guys and girls seen Metropia ? (the movie)

Look it up, it's definitely interesting to see how Europe might look like in just 12 years from now ;)
And you can cheer the main hero, who is biking to work, which is illegal actually! :-))


Cheers!

Slow Factory said...

@Ivana, it was obvious to me that you are trying to get a reaction and encourage discussion, and I am a little surprised many in this discussion thought otherwise. The "Future" is always elusive.

On the other hand, it might not be very interesting to corporate interests - except those which benefit from gentrification - to have Copenhagen or better bike modal share everywhere, so I can see how this might be sort of boring to visualize -- who wants to digitally superimpose or insert a graphic of bike after bike after bike and so on? ;-). Also, it seems that the resources needed for much of what is suggested or predicted will only be available as the result of conquering other planets!

I already acknowledged that I value some of the work of EMBARQ, but it needs to be known that it came about as the result of a sort of shareholder revolt in the mid- to late-nineties after Shell (now Shell Foundation) - one of its two "Global Strategic Partners" - was targeted following its involvement - and this continues - in exploiting the resources and people of the Niger Delta. The shareholders were not concerned with ethics nearly as much as image.

I am not sure how Caterpillar Foundation - its other Global Strategic Partner - got involved, and I am wondering if you are aware of the friendly fact that this company is the subject of a boycott for supporting the use of weaponized giant bulldozers for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the Israeli Army.

Vodafone has over 340 million subscribers and it is probably safe to guess that half of these are mobile phone users, and that many of these people drive around while talking or texting on their phone... and Vodafone has not volunteered to make this impossible by design. (Sorry that I don't have more precise figures.)

FIA is one of the main international lobby organizations for private automobile transport and - as with Shell and Caterpillar - its "Foundation" is simply part of its communication or marketing dept.

philippe said...

Slow factory, the level of intellectual confusion displayed in your comment is outstanding. Could we stay on the topic at hand rather than embarking in outragous rants ? Your views on caterpillar are totally irrelevant to adress Ivana - rather well taken - points.
Ethnic cleansing, jeez...

Interesting post from MCA, though I wouldn't have been so harsh on those clips. I rather like Ivana response.

Slow Factory said...

@philippe, I simply provided additional information on the organizations she mentioned, with links -- and I am not anonymous as you are.

"Intellectual confusion", "outrageous rants"? I acknowledge that my numbers about Vodafone are imprecise, and I assume you agree that de-constructing various alliances which push or promote various agendas is a worthwhile pursuit, and that that is part of the reason you visit this blog in general.

kfg said...

@Erik: "if there is no more fossil fuel, where are all these vehicles going to get lubricants?"

Oil is made by plants and animals.

@Ivana: ". . .which elements of each they believe are desirable, sustainable, and will lead us to a better future."

How long has Ferrara been there? Does it suck? How about old Kyoto? Has that proven (for 10,000 years or so) to be some sort of unsustainable dump no one in their right mind would live in?

In short, what the hell is wrong with you people?

Peter said...

I think that the WRI project EMBARQ greenwashes its sponsors Shell and Caterpillar - or, really, it was initiated with their involvement - BUT I am not sure that BRT is promoted by them and its "myriad sister organizations" at the expense of cycling. Do you have evidence of this?

@Slow Factory - no studies have been done that i know of, but i'm certain that Shell/Volvo/Caterpillar/etc. know what they're doing with their money.

What we do have is:
1) anecdotal 'stuff we can see with our own eyes' evidence
2) lots of other evidence in the form of indirect studies (cycling levels, car ownership rates, etc.)
3) common sense
4) knowledge of transportation history
5) knowledge of how institutions work (i.e. follow the money).

So, some quick explanation/follow-up/examples:

1) go to any BRT route in the world and witness the anti-pedestrian and anti-cycling environment. Here's a recent report from Jakarta. whether its incredible death rates along India's BRT corridors, or the intense carcinogenic pollution along Curitiba's BRT corridors, these are not places conducive of human, or any, life -- much less walking and biking. there could be exceptions to the rule, where the auto industry failed, like in SF, which managed to keep some of its streetcar lines, but different locations/politics will call for different tactics. and unlike you and me, the auto industry will never give up. ever. perpetual persons granted everlasting life not by God but by the US Supreme Court -- i wish I had a few extra decades to rack up the money I need to influence politics. :)

2) car ownership continues to blow up around the world, including and especially in BRT-struck towns, with their 'smog-belching buses'. at a minimum, BRT prevents walking and biking -- by using up massive amounts of right of way; ideally it destroys any remaining support for mass transit (due to its horrific experience, its unsightliness, its expense, etc.) until the bus-only lanes can be reclaimed for cars.

3) a lot of this stuff is common sense. if the auto/petrochemical industry sees profits suffering in the future due to intensification of land use, freeway revolts, movement to cities, etc., do we expect them to, c) just accept it? if we give 50% of right of way to buses/stations/staircases/gerbil runs, do we expect pedestrians and cyclists to be provided with ample space, seeing as how they couldn't even get it _before_ the BRT implementation took up an extra 50% of the right of way? etc.

4) transportation history in America is clear -- the various industries will stop at nothing, including breaking mere laws, in order to destroy any alternative to the car, and they will do it even _just_ for more/better/faster profits -- they don't even have to be threatened with irrelevancy, just a very slight decrease in the growth rate of profits.

5) most of these PR organizations are staffed by people who have lived off the auto/BRT/petrochemical teet their entire professional careers -- like Dario Hidalgo, manager-type at Embarq and former manager at Transmilenio, like the two Penalosa brothers who make their money running pro-BRT organizations and giving pro-BRT speeches around the world, like Streetfilms, who continue to take money from pro-auto/pro-BRT PR firms like Embarq, etc. It's very easy to be co-opted -- just look at any major US research university (like most of them in PA that now support natural gas fracking, as the extreme expense of citizen health) -- just follow the money.

KeyStakeholder said...

The use of the phrase "alternative energy" is telling. It tells you everything you might want to know about the makers of these films and their backers. Rather than use words like "sustainable" or "renewable" or "clean" when discussing non-polluting energy sources they instead label these sources of motive power as "alternative". In the UK, the use of that word has pejorative connotations, usually to do with "alternative" lifestyles like strict veganism, communal living, far-left political beliefs or religious cults or other hippy-dippy stuff which is to be mistrusted, feared, scorned and therefore belittled whenever possible. By using this kind of language the makers of these films and their backers show that their default position associates clean energy sources with questionable fringe actives and beliefs which are to be scorned. This sets the context in which they frame their "thinking tools". Language is never neutral.