The Three-Headed Monster
At a recent conference on walking (Walk21) in Hong Kong, I presented on a panel about partnerships. My talk was not only about the groups that people promoting walking could work with, but also the ones we should avoid. Namely, big businesses that are contributing to the problems faced by pedestrians (and cyclists, and public transit users) in cities around the world. My "three-headed monster" is the car/motorbike, fuel, and road building industries. Success in tobacco control has required people to work to reduce the power of the tobacco industry, by pointing out the harm it causes, restricting its ability to advertise, raising taxes on tobacco products, and generally making tobacco an unacceptable product. So too we must look at how the three-headed monster lobbies governments and entices consumers, and figure out ways to prevent it from increasing its profits. It makes no sense to try to advocate for better conditions for walking, cycling, and public transit while avoiding any direct confrontation--or worse, accepting partnerships and sponsorship--with the industries causing the problems in the first place. I am happy to report that people quickly caught on to the term...now let's hope that they will join me in doing battle.