Flutterby™! : ITDP exposing lack of clue

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ITDP exposing lack of clue

2011-09-07 00:08:03.535884+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Institute for Transportation and Development Policy: Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life (continue through to the PDF) includes this particularly clueless bit of scenario building:

I wouldn’t think of going on a date in a car. Cars are so 2010. We’ll just pick up a couple of those shared bikes over by the school, bicycle together along the new waterfront promenade, then drop them back near the house.

How clueless (and far from 18) do you need to be to think that the date in the car is about transportation? When those rented bikes supply privacy, then they'll be desirable date transportation for teenagers.

Cluelessness like that, from generally respected academics and industry leaders, makes me despair for the future of our society.

Edit: As Lyn mentioned: the version I found was on the TRB web site, but this is not a TRB report. I apologize for my aspersions against the TRB

[ related topics: Children and growing up Privacy Invention and Design Automobiles Pedal Power Bicycling Real Estate ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-07 21:25:39.318037+00 by: Dan Lyke

Lyn, thank you, and apologies to you and the TRB. I've done a little correction. I should have read more carefully, and that makes a hell of a lot more sense now. This was forwarded to me by people doing research reports in the transportation industry, and I LOLed and sent them back a short critique, and basically CC'd that to Flutterby. Digging a little deeper on the TRB site, it looks as though they've got an email list where they forward on stuff from advocacy organizations, and this is part of the archive of that list.

However, my extrapolation that suggested that this sort of rainbows-and-unicorns view of transportation comes out of high profile academia comes from real examples, which I will happily share with you off-line (I don't have any good examples of bad from industry that isn't just advertising).

Eric, I believe that scenario building can be done really well. I find it often isn't. If it's done from a "what might happen if...", then the outcome is often hoohey. If it's done from a "assume a world where X, what would have to happen to get there", and the moderator enforces that results-to-cause rather than cause-to-results assumption, then it can be very useful in testing assumptions.

So, for instance, for this one you could ask "what would have to happen for 18 year olds to see rented bikes as a date option", you might have to come up with some price numbers for those bicycles, reasons why people who are walking to rent the bikes and aren't avid bikers would enjoy bicycling as an activity (versus walking or using other transportation along that waterfront), and a way in which teenagers could find privacy in city level population density.

If that were a desired outcome, you could then say "Okay, how do we change parental views of teenagers and sex to be more like those in Marin". If you were looking for opportunities you could use that as a tool to say "when we see those views change to be like this scenario, invest in bicycle rental".

Similarly, I think looking at the other scenarios presented in that little flyer opens up a number of interesting questions about transportation that could be fascinating: What needs to happen to economics and cultural attitudes about human labor for pedi-cabs to be used outside of tourist areas? What do my own biases about such things and my general unwillingness to use pedi-cabs because it feels kind of demeaning to ask someone to pedal for me reveal about me?

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-07 20:59:23.642463+00 by: Medley

I don't know anything about ITDP except what I found on their website. But their about page suggests they are an advocacy organization: "ITDP uses its know-how to influence policy and raise awareness globally of the role sustainable transport plays in tackling green house gas emissions, poverty and social inequality. This combination of pragmatic delivery with influencing policy and public attitudes defines our approach."

So your slam of academics and industry leaders and concomitant despair is probably out of place, as well.

We can talk offline, if you like, about what the existence of a link on the TRB site might or might not mean.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-07 17:02:09.491206+00 by: Medley

That's not a TRB report. It's linked to from the TRB website - and the context is unclear. But it's not a TRB or National Academies-authored report.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-07 16:24:09.297832+00 by: petronius

Then after we drop off the bikes we'll hop into the Orgazmotron....... and finish off the evening with a tasty snack of Soylent Green.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-07 03:40:02.749655+00 by: ebradway

I've become loathsome of "scenario building". Invariably, the scenarios are entirely wrong or, if they are right, predict a future that already exists outside the myopia of academia.