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It bothers me that in a city full of supposedly educated people, there could be such a display of anti-intellectualism as has been witnessed in these pages since Professor Peter Newman's article on light rail ("Light rail will change city, be good economic policy", Times2, June 3, p5). I wonder if people would label a professor in another field like, for instance, biology, as a "high priest" of the micro-organism cult, or as having a "Mickey Mouse" title like Professor of Genetics?
The fact is, our car-dominant city is an aberration in terms of urban planning and what makes a healthy, vibrant and economically successful city. Walter Burley-Griffin's original plan for Canberra was one of a compact, walkable and public transport-friendly city. Sadly, this plan was hijacked by subsequent planners who saw the proliferation of the private motor vehicle as a good thing, not seeing the long-term harm that such a skewed transport paradigm creates.
People like Professor Newman, who study the science of how cities work, are the people we should be championing in order to correct the planning blunders of our past and create a liveable city of the future. They should not be the people we ridicule or dismiss. We also need to collectively get our heads out of the sand and recognise the way we get around in Canberra has to change, and light rail is an important step in that direction.
--The Canberra Times
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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