17
Feb

2016

No, We Are Not Cable Car Evangelists

Post by Steven Dale

So apparently as of today I’m an evangelist.

Hallelujah.

According to a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator I am now both a “cable car evangelist” and a “North American evangelist for gondola systems.”

A little over the top, no? And categorically untrue.

The thing about evangelists is that they seek to establish their faith (whether religious or technological) as the de facto standard within a market or society. By definition, the establishment of that standard through evangelism is necessarily to the exclusion of all others.

We’ve never done that. We educate people about gondolas, we speak to people about gondolas but we never do so with the idea or intention that they are somehow superior to other forms of transportation. We’ve never once said that gondolas are the best tool, simply that they are a tool.

Do I think cable cars and gondolas are useful as public transportation? Yup.

Do I think more city planners and transit engineers should be looking at the technology to solve certain transit problems? Most certainly.

Do I think it’s important to open our minds to the possibilities that cable cars hold for our cities? Guilty as charged.

Do I think cable cars and gondolas are better than all other transportation technologies and should be the de facto standard for all public transport systems? Not on your life.

In fact, I’ve gone on record numerous times stating where gondolas are not appropriate and superior to other technologies. 

For example:

On September 7th, 2010 I wrote — “One thing we’ve tried to do with The Gondola Project is get above the knee-jerk, reactionary mode-choice debate. LRT’s great when implemented in the right way, poor when implemented the wrong way. Ditto for BRT. Same for Urban Gondolas and CPT. Again, it’s about multi-modality and options. We believe transit planning isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s about matching the right tool to the right task at the right price.”

On July 11th, 2011 I defined the term “Transit Techno-Zealotry” as “The practice of insisting upon a singular public transit technology to the exclusion of all others with no strong justifiable reason . . .  a rejection of multi-modality in public transportation.”

And on March 12th, 2012 I further wrote — “We’ve a demonstrated understanding of public transit and its various permutations. We’re not hostile to other modes. We don’t claim gondolas to be superior to all other forms. We aren’t violent, rebellious or aggressive. At the end of the day, all we say is that gondolas are a transit tool – nothing more.”

This site is lousy with commentary like those above.

Just because you have expertise in something and choose to share it with people doesn’t make you a evangelist. It makes you someone who has expertise in something and chooses to share it, nothing moreWhether or not you choose to evangelize on behalf of your speciality is your business. We’re not going to be techno-zealots. Despite what the Hamilton Spectator says, we’ve chosen not to evangelize.

We’re not cable car evangelists, we’re simply urban planners who happen to know more about cable cars than almost anyone else in the city-building business.

I’m proud—deeply, profoundly proud—of the work we do here and the fact that we don’t advocate for one technology over the other. Yes, we educate people about cable cars but we’ve never said they’re better than other technologies.

Call me a cable car advocate, specialist, researcher or whatever . . . But an evangelist?

No where on this site will you find evidence of that.



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