Inappropriate transport policy

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Inappropriate transportation models

Governmental policies are failing to keep pace with the growth in traffic which is adding to the problems of air pollution, climate change, noise, congestion and biodiversity/habitat loss.


The majority of Third World people get around on foot. In African countries like Kenya, more than 90% of rural trips are made on foot; less than three percent by car or bus. Cars are owned almost exclusively by businessmen, bureaucrats and foreigners. However, the World Bank, for example, spends $100 million on urban transport every year; most of that is car-related. Of the $2.1 billion spent in 1985 on transport, miniscule amounts were spent on non-motorized vehicles. The long-term effect of World Bank programmes has been to encourage transport systems which are both capital and energy intensive.


More cyclists and pedestrians are affected by unsafe roads and more passengers by poor public transport than are concerned as drivers by traffic congestion or parking problems. Yet very little research has been carried out on the transport used by the poor. According to an Indian critic: "our research programmes do not have even a remote relationship with the problems of poor people and rural areas of India. We consider research on aeroplanes, aerospace and automobiles as a real science, whereas research on Indian modes of transport like bullock-carts, horse-carts and rickshaws is considered substandard and below dignity". Aid agencies and development banks can have a real influence on transport policies.

Transport choices do not arise out of the free interplay of market forces. The existing systems of political power strongly influence investments in roads, bridges, expressways and oil refineries. Decisions on transport policy are usually in the hands of technocrats -- engineers and economists, often Western educated, who are wealthy enough to own cars. They are backed by urban elites who profit from oil import deals, car dealerships or construction contracts. Their decisions about what kind of roads will be built, and where, are based on economic pressure or military security. The dream of an automotive society can never be a democratic dream.

Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
23.08.2016 – 19:49 CEST