Among the speakers for the first Seminar on Social Responsibility and Sustainability was the British transportation specialist, Philip Anthony Gold, a consultant for several institutions, who discussed the need for urban mobility design that is more focused on people. In an exclusive interview for the UFJF, the expert spoke about the need for a more humane, more complete and honest proposal to plan and manage the system of urban mobility that better meets the needs of the entire population in a city.
Currently, Gold is a consultant with the International Road Assessment Programme (Programme for International Audit of Highways), which is currently being implemented in Brazil, and the National Association of Public Transport (ANTP). In the lecture, Gold’s work from his book, “Distance Education on Urban Mobility,” will be applied to the subject. As Gold discussed, “The part that I authored addresses the issue of walking as an integral part of the urban transport system, noting that walking, in fact, is the most fundamental part of the transportation system although it is not so regarded by politicians.”
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Department of Communication (SECOM): What importance does your work have for public and private companies?
Philip Anthony Gold: It is critical because we seek to demonstrate a vision of different visions of urban mobility currently in use worldwide that are focused, wrongly, in my view, on vehicles and not people. Looking to replace those visions with a vision that values people and their need to travel, is just one way of enabling the shift of focus. If this view is accepted, then all professionals and politicians working on the development of urban transport would value good conditions for walking as a priority, and not as a last priority as in most cities.
Have you noticed a growing interest in sustainable measures between institutions?
Yes, but they are still far from the intensity required to make significant positive changes in the cities where the car still reigns over the people.
What purpose does the Seminar on Social Responsibility and Sustainability serve for collaboration to awaken social responsibility, both for professionals and academics?
In my experience, such seminars are essential to wake people up to reality; to be able to see rather than just superficially see what is going wrong and not operated sustainably in the cities. The issue of quality of sidewalks was raised in Brazil recently, mainly through a series of seminars devoted to the subject that have been assembled for five years in cities throughout Brazil.
What is the role of universities like UFJF in this type of discussion?
Elementary and underutilized. There should be an intense two-way flow of constant research, creativity and knowledge between universities and society. That’s what universities exist.
What are the main sectors in which you notice a lack of sustainable actions in the country?
The most basic sectors: education, health and public administration.
And what action is most urgent today?
I will limit myself to my area of specialization: urban mobility. The most urgent need is undoubtedly to change the view of how to manage the conditions for walking in cities. The prevalent idea that the land owner is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the sidewalk in front of your land must be permanently done away with. The city should fully take responsibility for sidewalks and the pedestrian crossing system, creating and implementing a plan and a program to retrain the RVTCP – Road Transport Network and Coexistence with Pedestrians. This network exists, but no one sees and no one recognizes it.
Does your city prioritize sustainable urban mobility and improve conditions for pedestrians?
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
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