VIDEO: Disrupting Colonial Approaches to Transport Planning – Webinar

The Trufi webinar “Disrupting Colonial Approaches To Transport Planning” brought to the forefront the sociological and political dimensions often overlooked in traditional transport planning discussions. Presenters Benjamin de la Peña and Miloš N. Mladenović challenged planners to cultivate curiosity and explore existing systems with an open mind, acknowledging the social, cultural, and entrepreneurial aspects.

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Embrace Curiosity. Beware of Power Dynamics

De la Peña urged planners to be curious and open-minded, to engage with existing systems and understand their social, cultural, and entrepreneurial components. Instead of viewing existing systems as backward or problematic, he suggested seeing them as assets and exploring ways to work with and empower them.

“If we’re going to disrupt neocolonial practices in transportation or frames of thought,” he said, “it has to start from individuals and how we think about it in our own self-awareness, which then helps us shape and reshape our organizations, institutions, and projects, and hopefully systems.

De La Pena raised concerns about the unequal power dynamics in data aggregation and analysis. Planners should consider who benefits from data collection and who has access to data analysis, and strive to shift power in favor of the local communities and transport workers.

Emphasizing Expansionism Preserves the Status Quo

Transport planning usually focuses on expansionism, said Mladenović, without questioning how expansion impacts society. “Transport is growth, that’s what you’ll read in most of these books,” he said. “Curbing transport is, of course, not even a thought.”

Cultural factors, if they are a thought at all, are an afterthought. “It’s a narrative that propagates existing patterns of power and protects the status quo, the status quo of accumulated privileges,” said Mladenović. This type of planning ignores the different ways people see the world and serves those who already have more power and advantages.

Transport planning need to change, and be more open to new ideas and different ways of living and thinking. Local communities need to raise awareness and demand change in transportation policies. By engaging in such actions, communities can challenge the status quo and push for a more sustainable and equitable approach to transport planning.

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