The above demonstrates the most infinitesimally small sample of some articles written on urban planning, design, transport or/and neoliberalism. They are from highly respected academics, researchers and/or practitioners, specialising in their chosen field. The publications in which these are found are likewise of an aspirational calibre. They are not mere editorial or opinion pieces. Rather, they are findings from rigorous research, tirelessly collated data and, in some instances, seemingly endless interviews. Whilst the focus of these studies may not correlate, there is one commonality: they all point to the fact that our built environment is not working and we need to change it.
I can’t help but wonder how many studies (which in some instances, perhaps ironically, are government funded) need to be done before a government or a policy maker or just anyone with any clout at all takes note and demands change.
Here in Australia, we invest heavily in research for physical health, pouring millions into the discipline, and I’m in no way decrying that. The difference is that when that research makes its way into The Lancet or somesuch, people (ie politicians, policy makers) take note and change happens. I am not naive enough to state that all medical research ends up with clinical trials and cures for cancer are only a day away, however how we – as a society, even it could be argued, globally – view physical medical research is very different to the findings of urban planning research and the topics that align itself with them.
It could almost be said that there is no need for further research, until we start using the massive amount we’ve already got as we have quite a backlog of the stuff. If medical research was at the same stage, without any implementation of the findings gained through that research, I surmise we would have just been out of the bubonic plague era. It could be said that the car is the urban planners bubonic plague.
This divide and this tension between endless research and a lack of implementation really needs to change. No court of law would require this much evidence before conviction, and it certainly wouldn’t want any more.
And the jury most certainly would not need to retire.