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    Jan 31 2014: Good point Don! Maybe we could apply this to the workplace also, have people work from home for a few days a month to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

      Tell me how that works. How does somebody "work from home" when ones job is stocking shelves?
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        Feb 4 2014: What makes you expect for this to work on any job, Bryan?
        • Feb 5 2014: Because the advocates of "telecommuting" presume that the VAST MAJORITY of jobs can be done via "telecommuting", when such an assumption is obviously false to anyone who has lived outside a very insulated unicorns-and-fairies world.
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        Feb 6 2014: I've read Ruchika's comment again in regard to your latest remarks, Bryan, but can not find any reference for a 'vast majority' you seem to have.

        'Have people' indicates no specific quantity, unless equated with all people there possibly are.

        But why would anyone who has lived outside very insulated unicorns-and-fairies worlds presume apparently exaggerated generalizations over more realistic numbers?
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      Feb 4 2014: I respond here on your third level comment above:

      I absolutely agree with you, that NMT should be the choice in dense traffic areas, but the question remains, if this forms by free choice of citizen empowerment, or rather by a monetary dictate of afford-ability or laws.

      Generally, humans are inherently lazy and chose higher levels of comfort over lower ones whenever they can. Which in my view is perfectly fine for several reasons, yet on the given topic, it creates the well known conflict of 'ecological wisdom' vs. 'personal comfort'.

      As the initial question is 'How can we as citizens be empowered to reduce traffic and pollution in our densest cities?', I question, if this is a matter of 'citizen empowerment' at all. Maybe I am confused by this term in this context, but what it boils down to, to me, is nothing but to personally renounce the use of more comfortable ways of transportation in order to reduce traffic and pollution in dense cities.

      Additionally, and according to The Energy and Resources Institute you linked to, NMT is even coming at higher personal risks:

      Quote about NMT:

      'It should be noted, however, that safety (actual and perceived) can be a major barrier to walking and the use of bicycles. Indeed, non-motorized vehicle users are amongst the highest casualty groups in accidents involving motorized transport, particularly in developing countries.'


      So does 'empowering' truly matches how we as citizens could reduce traffic and pollution?

      This is why I stated, that 'I doubt that asking for change one 'would do' returns sufficient solutions to the given problem', because whoever becomes able to afford a motorized vehicle, would not only increase his/her comfort, but also their very safety, which especially in dense traffic becomes of importance. And as NMT does not reduce traffic, only changes its form, the safety issue with mixed vehicles stays the same.
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        Feb 4 2014: Hi Lejan, point very well noted! Yes, the policies need to emphasis NMT and when there is a choice people might not want to walk in view of the hazards involved. As mentioned the current levels of NMT are fairly high currently more out of 'no option and no choice'' rather than exercising a choice. However, with the a slow but rising awareness that the current state of affairs relating to congestion and pollution need to change - the recommendations to the relevant ministries for transport have been to prioritise and make NMT more a transport option of choice by creating proper walkways, pavements, bicycle lanes etc.
        Citizen empowerment would mean the choice that we as citizens might choose to exercise and this can be done in some measure through our own initiatives. For instance the cycling clubs started in various indian cities to promote cycling as a fun , healthy, activity; the bicycle sharing programs started by universities , dial- a -rickshaw facility are just some initiatives which have started out in a small way but are addressing the growing awareness of the current not so sustainable situation , amongst the citizens
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      Feb 4 2014: Allow me to corner your argument again, Ruchika, by condensing your definition of citizen empowerment stepwise to extract its very essence:

      'Citizen empowerment would mean the choice that we as citizens might choose to exercise and this can be done in some measure through our own initiatives'

      'empowerment... the choice ... as citizens might choose ... some measure through own initiatives.'

      'citizens empowerment might choose own initiatives'

      Essentially, it boils down to the very same and current market doctrine of supply and demand, by which it is assumed, that consumers choice collectively optimizes their options of products regarding price, quality, variety and availability.

      As this might be true for a highly simplified and one-sided view on basic economics, we might find enough examples in his world today, that this principle alone is insufficient to regulate and solve the problems it creates out of its very own dynamic.

      Yes, citizens / consumers are empowered / entitled to choose own initiatives, yet the overall statistics shows, that collectively this option remains over-proportional theoretically.

      Rising levels of obesity in affluent societies is proof of this collective choice and initiative, to consume more energy food-wise, than what is needed, leave alone healthy for the human body. And this despite a plenitude of educational programs, sport- and fitness clubs and the possibility to chose to walk over the car.

      In short, people chose subjective benefit and pleasure over higher necessities and better knowledge, which may well and rightly be named inconsistent behavior, yet individually we developed more than enough counter measures not to realize this for ourselves.

      'The industry' is well aware about this, our imperfections and spends billions of dollars each year to intensify this, our inconsistency in its favor, which we call advertising and which became an industry in itself.
      • Feb 5 2014: Ah, but "empowerment", according to the dogmatics of the left, only applies when one is "empowered" to do exclusively what those dogmatics insist upon. Anything else is "false empowerment", due to "ignorance" or "deception".
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          Feb 6 2014: I am not very familiar with the dogmatics of 'the left', Bryan, and have some difficulties to understand your perceptions on this in the given context.

          What I was trying to point out on empowerment here, was, that inconsistent human behavior, which is a natural attribute in my view, creates irrational individual and collective behavior in relation to better knowledge.

          For instance: As a smoker, I know that my habit increases my risks for cancer significantly. And this knowledge I consider 'better knowledge', which we have today thanks to medical science. But as I enjoy smoking, my wish to continue this pleasure conflicts with my 'better knowledge' about it. As individual, I am empowered to decide to keep smoking, as I do, but this my 'empowered decision' doesn't change the fact, that I am acting irrational about it.

          Is it this what you consider the 'dogmatics of the left'?

          To me this is a matter of logic, not of political beliefs.
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      Feb 4 2014: As the Michelin Group started this TED conversation, it might be helpful to reflect on their contribution to the overall advertising regarding individualized transportation, as it is to expect for them to get their share on the markets of developing nations as well.

      Given their latest global market campaign on car tyres, the overall massage is based on safety, and its appearance embedded within an over-simplified, highly emotional, cartoon-like and story-telling fantasy world.

      Usual for the automotive and petrol industry, the colors green & blue are dominating, besides seasonal ones (eg. white in winter), to suggest environmental harmlessness and compatibility on subconscious levels towards potential consumers.

      So thats what we are also up against, I suppose, when we as consumers have to make decisions for ourselves. Not only our given and natural inertia is to be challenged here, but also those continuous seductions had to be ignored, which constantly deliver the promise to us for our lives to become more worth living.

      And to rub it in, lets make a reality check on India and what Michelin thinks the world looks like:

      India: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Trafficjamdelhi.jpg
      Michelin: http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/168/126/168126583_640.jpg

      Despite the difference, that one is a photograph and the other a computer generated image, key seems to be the numbers of observable vehicles, as, besides safety, thats what any car owner is actually dreaming of.

      As being a consumer myself and a critic of advertising and the current market mechanics, I don't even expect any industry anymore to be honest about their products in relation to me and in overall context, as well as I do not expect any significant impact of the masses of anonymous consumers on their very environmental needs and necessities if it comes to sustainability .

      Certainly, we could wait for the current paradigm to shift towards optimization, initiated by growing consumer awareness, ...
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      Feb 4 2014: ... yet given the odds we are up against, this isn't likely to happen any time soon nor is it likely to happen in time as it is needed.

      So to effectively reduce traffic and pollution in our densest cities, we have to be totally radical about it, and this in and not against the interest of consumers, which we all are.

      Yet here I prefer seduction over command, and comfort over renunciation, which may look as follows:

      Make public transportation free of charge, adjust it to the local needs for transportation, in terms of destinations, timetable rhythm and make it desirable to travel this way.

      Specific needs for transportation of bulk objects by the people is covered by a sufficient motor pool, also free of charge, easy accessible and sufficiently coordinated.

      Both types of motorized transport will have reserved lanes to drive on, as well as there will be reserved and safe lanes for NMT throughout the whole city.

      Violation of other vehicles using those reserved lanes will be painfully fined, not fixed, yet percentage wise of one monthly average income, so the punishment becomes more independent of individual wealth.

      Goal is to make the use of private cars as undesirable as possible in terms of traffic jams and traffic flow, as traffic lights will always favor public transportation by any means and default programming of transponder signals.

      Additionally a toll system for private cars is partially refinancing the 'free of charge' public transport and motor pool as well as the installation of a highly dynamic, additional and local fuel taxation.

      In terms of convenience, consumers choice may then turn in favor for public transport, rather than to wish for an own car, and as transportation of whatever kind comes with a price, why not channel all needs and resources in a smart and sustainable way to gain multiple benefits of all citizens?

      This radical approach may contradict current economical philosophies, yet as those do not deliver solutions, we can't use them.

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