There’s a rally and walk for sustainable transport happening in Brisbane city tomorrow (Saturday) from 11am. It’s another effort to try to draw attention to the bizarre cognitive dissonance that characterises the transport policies of the Brisbane City Council. There is a continued determination to spend hundreds of millions on tunnels and bridges to expand car usage, sitting blithely alongside statements and programs purportedly aimed at reduce emissions in the city.
This commentary on the Citizens Advocating Sustainable Transport site points out that “Council’s 2006-2007 budget allocates a tiny $412,000 to Greenhouse Gas Reduction (strategy 9.6.3) while pouring 503 million into planning for increased car use (page 102).”
The state government is little better, keenly pushing for the ‘Airport Link’ tunnel (which doesn’t actually go to the airport, but rather funnels onto the already overloaded East-West Arterial road). The project’s own figures confirm it is anticipated there will be a massive increase in private vehicle trips.
The State Transport Minister, Paul Lucas, was quoted in my local suburban paper, the City North News, last month boasting about a 58 per cent increase in annual road funding, from $1.25 billion to $1.98 billion, in a single year. “We can’t get much more car friendly than this”, he was quoted saying.
There’s a couple of different ways one could read that statement, but they’re probably both right. It is true that state government is keen to be as car friendly as possible, regardless of the economic, environmental and health costs, and it’s also true, due to those same costs, that we really can’t afford to get any more car friendly if we are serious about greenhouse emissions, air quality and liveable cities.
I don’t advocate an anti-car hairshirt approach to the issue. We need to look at ways to reduce car usage, or net emissions from car trips, wherever possible. Encouraging people to consider alternatives and providing more opportunity for alternatives to be taken up is important, but trying to create some sort of social stigma around car travel as a way of shaming people into doing other things is unlikely to work, and can also run the risk of creating a backlash.