The Ranty Highwayman)
Stockholm Syndrome: Breaking It With Carrots & Sticks
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
I’VE BEEN CASTING MY EYE BEYOND THE UK AGAIN, TAKING INSPIRATION FROM THE CITY OF STOCKHOLM. SPECIFICALLY THE CITY’S “URBAN MOBILITY STRATEGY”.
At 70-odd pages, it’s a bit of a read (although short by strategy standards), but I want to focus on just two diagrams from the strategy as they sum up the issues and challenges for Stockholm and indeed any town or city. First is this from page 7;
It is a really elegant way of setting out the space that (road) transport modes take and the competition between traffic (in its widest sense) deemed by function and whether it is considered to be vital for a city. Pedestrians are absent from the diagram which is a little odd, but the document does correctly realise that people walking are traffic and states they should be at the top of the planning and providing hierarchy. Trains/ light rail is not on the diagram as this is about streets (although trams are always a potential part of the mix).
Breaking the syndrome
We have our own motorised Stockholm Syndrome in the UK; we’ve been captured by the car and the politics of cars giving unlimited mobility. We trust the government to provide for driving (as in today’s Autumn statement) and of course, we have great affection for our cars.
We don’t see national leadership and so it is left to local authorities to try and make change happen, but while this localism is great in theory, it always seems to have government interference when real change is sought.
Change is not simple. It is not about dealing with single modes or aspects. We need area-wide plans and strategies, linked to funding and with proper objectives and outcomes. I’m afraid there seems to be few places willing to try to enable real change and the future remains bleak.
I wrote my first blog post just about four years ago, where I asked “what do we really want“. Looking back, it only seems to me we want the current mess to persist, despite that fact that it starkly doesn’t work.