[F]ear, class, race, and even shame color the decision to get out of the driver’s seat and into a seat on a bus, train, or subway. The bias against public transit is so polarizing that European researchers last year announced a “Car Effect” that biases against transit. Instead of evaluating travel options for the combination that had the lowest cost and fastest commute, people in the study preferred driving even when a car wasn’t the best time-and-money choice.
"Spawned by one of the videos from LBC’s Cheyef 7alak campaign, which highlights some of the uglier aspects of Lebanese society, this meme has become synonymous with a sarcastic critique of the Lebanese government and its shortcomings.
The video it originates from tackles the issue of our total disregard for pedestrian bridges, by presenting mockumentary-style interviews with typical Lebanese citizens. One of those citizens is a young man…who earnestly praises the government for the pedestrian bridge (which provides much needed shade…) with a little netspeak (“lol”, ‘wtf”, “omg” etc.) thrown in. And he does so by uttering the phrase: “thx thx thx dawleh”.
A screenshot of the scene with the phrase superimposed can often be seen under an image representing a failure or inadequacy on behalf of the government. The image depicted above reads: “Traffic jams around Beirut entrances due to Lebanese Army training on Port road”, followed by a grateful “Thx thx thx dawleh”.
Consider how human bodies — of migrants, prostitutes, workers, capitalists — spices, clothes, foodstuffs, and materials from all over the world whirl by. The neon lights are fed by energy coming from nuclear power plants and from coil-, oil-, or gas-burning electricity generators. Cars, taxis, and buses move on fuels from oil-deposits…and pump CO2 into the air, affecting peoples, forests and climates in places around the globe. All these flows complete the geographic mappings and traces that flow through the urban and “produce” London (or any other city) as a palimpsest of densely layered bodily, local, national and global — but depressingly geographically uneven — metabolic socio-ecological processes. This intermingling of material and symbolic things produces the vortexes of modern life, combines to produce a particular socio-environmental milieu that welds nature, society, and the city together in a deeply heterogeneous, conflicting and often disturbing whole.
— Swyngedouw on metabolic urbanization & the cyborg city.
"Transportation within Lebanon, especially within the greater Beirut area, has become synonymous with congestion and chaos. The system is built, almost entirely, around the personal car with a road network that is severely wanting in both quality and structure. Tragically, public transport has become little more than a scarce afterthought. “If we carry on along this path then we are just building one giant car park,” warns Elie Helou, transport engineer at the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR).
[…] “We missed a great opportunity in the 1990s… to rebuild the system in a modern and sustainable manner,” says Youssef Fawaz, executive director at Al Majmoua Lebanese Association for Development. As the tarmac capillaries of the nation were restored and built upon, insignificant consideration and calculation was given to the design of this system. Instead, outdated plans from the pre-war period were dusted off, superficially tweaked and put into action. And so it was that the foundations for gridlock were laid.
[…] Most of all, there is a glaring gap between the CDR study’s public transport recommendations and the reality. The mass transit network was meant to include bus, rail and metro systems and was slated to capture about 15 percent of all trips in the greater Beirut area. What has actually come to transpire is a handful of bus lines running ad hoc, unreliable and slow services on outdated and dirty buses. There has quite simply been no political will to advance the proposals regarding public transport, write them into policy and mandate the CDR to turn them into reality.”
Electric vehicles are clearly the right answer to the wrong question.
— Jeff Speck, Walkable City (via fuckyeahurbandesign)
If Aramis had become a fully functional public transport system,
then we would forget about its contingent and contested existence because it had become an obvious everyday actor-network, one whose ‘black-boxed’ functioning we would only become mildly interested in when it breaks down. The way in which things disappear once they ‘live’ amongst us borrows a central tenet of theories of ideology, which argue that ideology becomes effectively inscribed into the heart of our material culture, our language, our social relations because it has become taken-for-granted. As such, we no longer see the conflicting and cooperative interests inscribed in it, and are only minimally interested in how it works. Such a view of ideology has been challenged many times over, and in a similar vein we have to ask whether things really do become so taken-for-granted when they are no longer new to us. What about the trainspotters whose fascination for the microdetails of trains never ceases? What about consumer (malpractices involving Latour’s beloved high-tech and low-tech quasi-objects? What about the emotional investments in rusty cars?
— Laurier and Philo (1999) reviewing Latour’s ‘Aramis…’
"I know that the topic of driving and road safety in Lebanon has been the subject of studies and a gazillion articles were written about it. Nonetheless, I would like in this article to express my own view on what are the main reasons that are making of driving in Lebanon such a big issue while leveraging my driving experience in each of Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Canada."