Featured Presenter: Debra Efroymson

Today’s featured speaker is coming all the way from Bangladesh. Debra Efroymson, Regional Director for HealthBridge will be speaking at the Summit late morning April 26th. Keep reading to learn more about the fantastic project she’s involved with: WBB Trust – Work for a Better Bangladesh.WBB Trust (Work for a Better Bangladesh), with guidance from HealthBridge, is challenging accepted ideas about urban planning and transport. By introducing new information, working workshops, as well as by co-organizing a closely with electronic and print journalists to gain attention to the issues, and regularly organizing seminars and design contest at the leading technical university, WBB has succeeded in showing that there are more than one way to view the urban planning/transport paradigm.

Rickshaw

While for years the emphasis in media and planning has been on the perceived negative role of cycle rickshaws and how to ban them gradually from the city streets, there is now much discussion of the benefits of rickshaws and the problems caused by cars.

Ecocity designs made by urban and regional planning students introduced the possibility of urban neighborhoods of 25,000 people without cars or other motorized transport, and the designs were very well-received. Challenges to traditional transport planning, organized by WBB and partner environmental and other organizations, have succeeded in greatly slowing rickshaw bans, possibly blocking a planned elevated expressway, and in bringing attention to the need for car controls, better situation for pedestrians, and the possibility of including bicycles into urban plans.

Further, WBB has worked with renowned experts such as Jan Gehl and Richard Register–both of whom have visited Dhaka–to emphasize planning focused on people, and with inclusion of nature.

While there is much more to do to arrive at genuinely people-focused urban planning that will reflect the ecocity philosophy, WBB has shown that much can be done, even in a city of over 12 million people.

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