ALTERNATIVE STYLES FOR CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN TRANSPORT PLANNING

ABOUT THE TIME OF THE FIRST ANNUAL MEETING OF THE HIGHWAY RESEARCH BOARD, GEORGE BERNARD SHAW OBSERVED THAT "EVERY PROFESSION IS A CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE LAITY." IN THE INTERVENING HALF CENTURY THE PROFESSIONS HAVE GAINED TIGHT CONTROL OVER GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS AND INTIMIDATED CONGRESSMEN AND CITY COUNCILMEN. DURING THE PAST DECADE MOVEMENTS OF A POPULIST NATURE WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE ESTABLISHED SYSTEM HAVE CHALLENGED THIS PREEMINENCE. WITH RESPECT TO TRANSPORTATION PLANNING, CERTAIN ASSUMPTIONS WERE ADOPTED IN THE BEGINNING WHOSE NET EFFECT IS THAT THE BUSINESS OF TRANSPORTATION PLANNING IS CONSIDERED TO BE INSTALLATION OF A NETWORK OF FACILITIES TO CONNECT GEOGRAPHIES EFFICIENTLY. A COROLLARY OF THESE ASSUMPTIONS IS THAT SOCIAL VALUE RESIDES IN FACILITIES, WHICH OF COURSE IS NOT SO. WHILE THE GROWTH OF THE TRANSPORTATION NETWORK---AND PARTICULARLY, IN RECENT YEARS, OF THE HIGHWAY NETWORK---HAS UNQUESTIONABLY BENEFITED THE VERY LARGE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION THAT HAS PARTICIPATED IN OVERALL ECONOMIC GROWTH, CERTAIN SECONDARY AND TERTIARY EFFECTS, SUCH AS REORGANIZATION OF THE SPATIAL STRUCTURE OF METROPOLIS AND REDISTRIBUTION OF OPPORTUNITIES AND COSTS, HAVE AROUSED CONCERTED POLITICAL PROTEST AND REEXAMINATION OF PRIORITIES. ONE OF THE GREATEST DIFFICULTIES IN DEALING WITH THIS PROTEST, AND CONDUCTING THE REEXAMINATION, IS THAT THE GEOGRAPHIC IDENTITY OF TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES DOES NOT CORRESPOND TO CULTURAL, ECONOMIC, ETHNIC, OR SOCIAL IDENTITIES WITHIN THE POPULATIONS AFFECTED BY THOSE FACILITIES. INSTEAD OF AN AMALGAMATED UNITED STATES, THE PLANNER IS FACED WITH SOCIALLY HETEROGENEOUS COMMUNITIES WITHIN A GEOGRAPHICALLY HOMOGENEOUS AREA. THIS RAISES THE QUESTIONS: WHERE IS THE "COMMUNITY"? AND WHO SPEAKS FOR IT? A DRAMATIC CHANGE OF THE LAST DECADE---ELEVATION OF EQUITY TESTS TO AT LEAST EQUAL FOOTING WITH EFFICIENCY TESTS IN APPRAISING PUBLIC POLICY--- HAS RENDERED THESE QUESTIONS MORE PRESSING AND THE ANSWERS TO THEM MORE DIFFICULT. PUBLIC HEARINGS, STUDY GROUPS, ADVISORY COUNCILS, AND OPINION POLLS ARE ALL ATTEMPS TO GET AT PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY DESIRES. THE AUTHOR SUGGESTS, HOWEVER, THAT IT IS NOT TO THE DEBATES THAT ARE ENGAGED---E.G., OVER FACILITY LOCATION ---THAT PRIMARY ATTENTION SHOULD BE DRAWN, BUT RATHER TO THE UNCONTESTED ISSUES SURROUNDING LARGE-SYSTEM TRANSPORTATION POLICY, INHERENT IN WHICH ARE THE MAJOR EQUITY QUESTIONS. THE SECONDARY AND TERTIARY DISECONOMIES OF THE TRANSPORTATION NETWORK ARE NOT AMENABLE TO NEIGHBORHOOD ACTION, BECAUSE THEY ARE PRODUCTS OF TECHNOLOGICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FORCES OVER WHICH THE CITIZEN HAS NO POWER. THE AUTHOR SUGGESTS THAT LATENT MARKET DEMAND MAY PROVIDE A CLUE AS TO THE DIRECTION FUTURE TRANSPORTATION PLANNING SHOULD TAKE AND ADVOCATES A MAJOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EFFORT TO ASCERTAIN THIS DEMAND AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF A GENERALLY SATISFACTORY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM FOR THE AMIABILITY OF THE URBAN SETTING. IF THE PROFESSIONS ENTER INTO A CONSPIRACY WITH THE LAITIES INSTEAD OF AGAINST THEM, IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY THAT THE RIGHT MIX OF TRANSPORT SERVICES WILL BE SUPPLIED.

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Pagination: pp 6-11
  • Monograph Title: Social, Economic, and Environmental Factors of Transportation
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00200498
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309019692
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Mar 7 1972 12:00AM