chapter  9
29 Pages

A Comparative Perspective on Urban Transport and Emerging Environmental Problems in Middle-income Cities

ByJeff Kenworthy, Craig Townsend

It is easy to find anecdotal horror stories about the traffic chaos and danger, unattractive public transport systems, vehicular pollution and generally degraded public environments that exist in many cities in developing countries. There is general agreement that urban transport systems and environmental conditions in very large and rapidly developing cities, including Bangkok, Beijing, Jakarta, Manila, Mumbai, and São Paulo, are in great need of improvement. Often, the sheer presence and impact of traffic in such cities lead to a perception that they must be highly dependent on private motorized transport. In like fashion, the high-quality public transport systems, good conditions for walking and cycling, and attractive environments of many European cities are often compared favourably to the auto-dependent cities and less attractive public environments of some American cities. Whatever the comparisons being made, people have firm opinions and perceptions about the strengths and weaknesses of urban transport systems, the differing levels of environmental quality in cities around the world, and the root causes of transport problems and how to fix them. However, it is rather more difficult to find systematic and reliable comparative transport research and standardized data on a wide range of cities with which to back up or refute assertions and prescriptions for urban transport and environmental improvements.