VEHICLE friendly cities are cities where the transportation system in the city is geared towards providing infrastructure and facilities to commute by personal vehicle rather than to commute by non-motorised modes of transport such as walking and cycling and by public transports. Such cities offers nothing but long commuting time, traffic congestion, pollution, poor living standard and a financial burden to the economy due to the huge maintenance cost of the road infrastructures. This may hamper economic growth as citizens waste valuable hours of their day just by getting stuck in traffic rather than doing productive activity and the country has to spend a lot of resources maintaining the road infrastructure when it could have spent it in other more sustainable development related projects.
To ensure a sustainable growth and development, rather than first designing vehicle friendly cities by concentrating on enhancing the road infrastructure within the city by building massive concrete structures in the form of flyovers and elevated expressways, then realising that it is a big mistake to build such infrastructures due to the huge construction cost and maintenance cost, and then finally designing pedestrian friendly cities by building a continuous network of sidewalks and bicycle lanes and a diverse, integrated public transport system, developing countries such as Bangladesh may leapfrog the urban transport planning development pattern followed in American cities and from the beginning concentrate on designing people friendly cities. This process will save a huge amount of resources, most importantly it will create cities with less traffic congestion and pollution, as a result people will have to spend less time commuting and get more time to spend with family or to do other meaningful activities. This will help to significantly improve the standard of living of the citizens.
The writer is a Transportation Engineer in Thailand.