23 April 2006

A New Mobility Citizen Poll for Your City ???

New Mobility Citizen Poll for Your City– A Proposal for Discussion

When it comes to creating more viable and fairer transport systems, and behind that our real objective: more agreeable and more sustainable cities, we have one recurrent problem that we can perhaps deal with if we put our heads together.

As is well known, whenever any given ‘soft transport’, “public space” or some type of “not quite so many cars” initiative is proposed in any given place, the first and most striking thing that happens is the howls of protest that immediately emerge from all those who claim that their democratic entitlements are being threatened by, as they often like to put it, some small group of arrogant bike-happy technocrats and their fellow eco-travelers. And since the media always likes a good cat fight, these righteous citizens often dominate the news. For the rest, for you and me and others like us, hey! we’re the Silent Minority. The absolutely disenfranchised.

Well, it does not always have to be like that and here is one proposal concerning which I would like to invite discussions and refinement – all as a prelude to giving this idea a couple of trial runs in one or more pioneering cities.

The idea is to carry out an annual open citizen survey of attitudes and preferences concerning transport policy and practice (and the investments that go with it) in your city. The results should be made widely available through old and new media, and brought to the fore of the attention of the politicians, administrators and policy makers in your city. Here without any pretense of it being anything other than a grain of sand to get us going is my draft proposal for content for quick mini-survey that can be administered by phone, email or on any street corner by volunteers:

Note to the reader: In a first instance, before digging into the details, I would like to ask the members of this fine group: (a) is this an idea that is worth pursuing; (b) are there some (better)examples that we should be looking at and learning from. Then once we have a feel for this as a useful activity, we can then start to see how we might together fine tune a good questionnaire and routine.

1, Draft Mini-survey (for comment and . . . )

All questions where appropriate to be answered simply by a 1 (yes), 0 (don’t know), -or -1 (no), which will facilitate aggregation and overview.

  1. Name
  2. City of residence
  3. M/F
  4. Age: <15;>65
  5. Do you own/drive a car?
  6. My city government has a coherent, announced transportation policy:
  7. I believe that this is a wise and well executed policy.
  8. We need to spend more money to build more roads and more parking as a main transport priority.
  9. We need to give much more attention and spend more money on “soft transport” and related life quality initiatives (examples: better support of pedestrians and cyclists, traffic calming, more public transport, new forms of shared transport, ITC substitutes for displacement.)
  10. It is possible for people to live here well and easily without having their own car.
  11. If they want my vote -- all candidates for local public office should take a firm stand on their transportation policies, and issue as part of their platform a signed personal statement indicating their support of more sustainable transport projects and programs.

Your eventual brief comments or suggestions: ____________________________

____________________________ ____________________________

____________________________ ____________________________

____________________________ ____________________________

2. How to execute – Thoughts on

  • This maybe is pushing it for length. If it can’t be administered in three minutes, it probably will not do the job. Try it out on a couple of friends and let us know.
  • There is plenty of evidence that people tend to create and administrate questionnaires that one way or another tend to elicit their favored response. We should meticulously avoid doing this, and in our selection of questions – and people to be queried. If it ain’t neutral, it is not worth a lot. So careful, eh?
  • The simple mental model I have for this is an excel table with names in columns, etc. All leading to easy sorting and sub-total
  • To have a real impact, it will best be administered at some fixed time.
    As examples: on Earth Day, in cooperation with any local Car Free Days, European Moblity Week, etc.)
  • The procedures and information should be fully public so that there can be no charges of rigging the returns. (Expect in Belarusia and Florida in which it is OK.)
  • Also involve schools, various clubs and groups, senior citizens, handicapped, pedestrian and cyclist naturally but also take it into hospitals, prisons, old people’s homes, jails, and the homeless.
  • Local media partnerships, and even strong involvement by them, will be most useful.
  • I would propose that the on-street interviews be carried out on one day – but that an entire week be given over to the entire procedures.
  • The results should be publicly announced.
  • And then all those in local government should be asked to comment and give their appreciations of what this means. (Note: Our friends in South Africa with their first Car Free Days last year did a good job of this which we might usefully consult)
  • We propose that this be an annual exercise.
  • And that to the extent possible and sensible, we might want to think about questions and formats that are sufficiently parallel to allow us to aggregate.

  • BTW, is there or has there ever been anything like this in your city? Neighborhood? That we can learn from?

3. Parallel in-deapth Survey

It may be a good idea to have a more in depth survey for those people disposed to spend more time with us on this.

The trick will be to determine who, how, when, - and how used?

Here are a few first thoughts on this to get us going:

  • Employment, social status
  • Where live/where work
  • If it were faster and cheaper to get to work or school by some way other than driving a car (in traffic) would you be willing to consider it?
  • When was the last time you took a bus or rail transit?
  • Used a bike to get to work or school?

· D you think that it might be a good idea for your city to publish and maintain a “sustainable transportation webpage” that reports on key indicators including traffic deaths and incidents (by gravity and type), CO2 or other clean air indicators, parametric indicators of infrastructure and performance of NMT options, etc.

· Would you be willing to work, say, 20 hours over a period of one or two months. as a volunteer to support better researched specific projects in your neighborhood.

· Etc.

· Etc



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