Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pedestrian Advocacy in the Developing World

And now, after cleverly peaking your interest in pedestrian advocacy through this series of posts (part 1, part 2, part 3), I can finally crow about my own research on the subject. Truly motivated readers can check out the full article in the latest issue of Transportation: Theory and Application, but for the rest here's a quick summary:

Last year, after scouring the internet for every ped advocacy group I could find, I spent some time reading the websites and surveying the leaders of seven pedestrian advocacy organizations in low- and middle-income countries (thank goodness Google translate does Bulgarian). Some of the interesting findings:
  • Not surprisingly, pedestrian advocacy is a relatively new phenomenon in the developing world; most groups were only formed in the last five years.
  • Safety is the top concern for most groups, but issues of social justice/equity, health, and traffic congestion are also important
  • Most groups are funded entirely by private donations, unlike those in the US and Europe that supplement private funding with government monies, corporate grants, and even consulting fees
  • Technology plays a big role in the groups' outreach efforts; many have blogs, websites, email lists, and online forums. While a great (and cheap) source way to promote walking, these sources might not reach the poorest walkers, who likely don't have computer access.
  • Many group members serve as technical "experts" on government transportation projects. On one hand, this a great way for the groups to make their voices heard. On the other, that local governments don't have any internal pedestrian experts does suggest that walking isn't the government's top priority...
If you'd like to learn more about these groups or their work you can check out their websites on the Pedesrian Advocacy page.

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