The case for transition to a sustainable transport system in Stellenbosch

Moody, Matthew (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Human existence in its current form is unsustainable. Urban transport systems are one of the chief contributors to this problem due to the dominant role of the car. Car dominated transport systems have a number of serious impacts on social, economic and ecological systems which collectively suggest they are not sustainable. The complex, global “system of automobility”, a powerful socio-technical regime, ensures that car dominated transport systems endure, despite the serious problems they generate. In the face of the power and resilience of this system, there are examples around the world of urban areas which have implemented transport initiatives which depart from the dominant paradigm of automobility. They have successfully provided viable alternatives to the car, facilitated urban forms which are supportive of green modes and “reconquered” scarce urban space from the automobile. However, there are a multitude of barriers to any transition to sustainable urban transport systems. These can only be overcome through the related processes of contestation and innovation. The case of Stellenbosch is a local expression of the global “system of automobility”. Through a combination of infrastructure, urban form, institutions, beliefs and ways of life, this system is perpetuated at a local level. In a highly inequitable developing country context, this is particularly problematic. A town primarily designed to service car mobility is best suited to the reproduction of the middle class. The poor, and others without access to a car, are at a disadvantage and movement by green modes is, everywhere, discouraged. And yet, there are a number of innovative initiatives occurring within the town which depart from the dominant paradigm, contesting its continued dominance. The path towards transition is at all times uncertain. However, it is possible to enhance the potential for transition by strengthening existing niches, contesting existing regimes and preparing for the imminent increase in landscape pressure generated by climate change and resource scarcity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Menslike bestaan in sy huidige vorm is onvolhoubaar. Stedelike vervoerstelsels is een van die belangrikste bydraers tot hierdie probleem weens die oorheersende rol van die motor. Vervoerstelsels waar die motor die botoon voer het ‘n aantal ernstige gevolge op maatskaplike, ekonomiese en ekologiese stelsels wat gesamentlik daarop dui dat sodanige stelsels nie volhoubaar is nie. Die komplekse, globale “stelsel van motorvervoer”, ‘n kragtige sosio-tegniese regime, verseker dat vervoerstelsels waar die motor die botoon voer in stand gehou word, ondanks die ernstige probleme wat hulle skep. Met inagneming van die krag en veerkragtigheid van hierdie stelsel bestaan daar oral in die wêreld voorbeelde van stedelike gebiede wat vervoerinisiatiewe geïmplementeer het wat afwyk van die oorheersende paradigma van motorvervoer. Hulle het uitvoerbare alternatiewe vir die motor suksesvol verskaf, stedelike vorme wat groen gebruike ondersteun gefasiliteer en skaars stedelike ruimte van die motorvoertuig “herwin”. Daar is egter ‘n menigte hindernisse in die pad van enige oorgang tot volhoubare stedelike vervoerstelsels. Dit kan slegs oorkom word deur die verwante prosesse van verset en innovering. Die geval van Stellenbosch is ‘n plaaslike uitdrukking van die globale “stelsel van motorvervoer”. Deur ‘n kombinasie van infrastruktuur, stedelike vorm, instellings, gebruike en lewenswyses word hierdie stelsel op ‘n plaaslike vlak bestendig en behou. Teen die agtergrond van ’n uiters onregverdig ontwikkelende land is dit in die besonder problematies. ‘n Dorp wat in die eerste plek uitgelê is om vervoer wat op motors berus, te bedien, is veral geskik vir die reproduksie van die middelklas. Die armes en diegene sonder toegang tot ‘n motor word benadeel en beweging met behulp van groen wyses word oral ontmoedig. En tog kom daar ‘n aantal vernuwende inisiatiewe in die dorp voor wat afwyk van die oorheersende paradigma wat die voortgesette oorheersing daarvan beveg. Die weg na oorgang is te alle tye onseker. Dit is egter moontlik om die potensiaal vir oorgang te verbeter deur versterking van bestaande nisse, bestryding van bestaande regimes en voorbereiding vir die toenemende druk op die landskap weens klimaatsverandering en die skaarste aan hulpbronne.

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