State of World Streets: 2009-2014

Today marks the fifth anniversary edition of World Streets. Our first number ws-newsstandappeared on 31 March 2009 with an opening message by the editor — click here – announcing the targets, intent and proposed method of this new collaborative media venture. On the same day we published our Mission Statement — Say Goodbye to Old Mobility —  which you can read here. Today we would like to spend a few minutes with you to review  the accomplishments and, yes!,  the shortcomings and disappointments  of these first five years.  And then go on to look out to our hopes and intentions for the rest of this decade. Continue reading

Lessons from COP15 : Staring the challenge in the eyes. Three Failures – Three new beginnings

It’s close to midnight on this fateful Friday the 18th, as COP15 suddenly trudges unfulfilled sadly into our past. And as I sort through the debris, I am struggling to figure out what might be the main lessons of this experience. Let me share with you my late-night thoughts concerning three event-shaping failures, or at least stark short-comings which I suggest we will all do well to learn from. After all we have the planet waiting for us. Continue reading

US Report Shows How Safe Routes to School Initiatives Protect Children Walking and Bicycling

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership in the United States has just released a new report showing how Safe Routes to School programs can be harnessed to keep children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school. The report explores the approaches five different communities used to create safer environments for children walking and bicycling. The lessons are universal.

The five communities (Santa Rosa, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; state of ME; Springfield, MO; and Portland, OR) each demonstrate how Safe Routes to School evaluation, education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering can address traffic safety concerns. Many of these safety improvements are made at relatively low costs to communities and schools, yet have profound effects on keeping children safe while also improving physical health and the environment.

The report demonstrates there are many different approaches to improving safety for children walking and bicycling:

• In Santa Rosa, CA, after children received pedestrian safety education, there was a 63 percent increase in children using the crosswalks to cross the street rather than crossing at unmarked locations.

• In Miami-Dade County, FL, since the launch of the WalkSafe™ child pedestrian safety program in 2001, there has been a 43 percent decrease in the total number of children ages 0-14 hit by cars.

• An analysis comparing bicycle crash rates in Maine for the eight years before their Bicycle Safety Education Program was implemented (1992 to 1999) with the first eight years the program has been offered (2000-2007) reveals a 51 percent drop in bicycle crashes for children aged 10-14.

• Springfield, MO has already demonstrated the impact special roadway signage can have on vehicle speeds. Data from their pilot showed that 85 percent of motorists reduced their speeds by three to five miles per hour without any increase in enforcement after speed limits were reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.

• Infrastructure improvements in Portland, OR have been successful in helping decrease crashes, as well as the severity of the crashes. Total crashes decreased by nearly 25 percent and there was a 32 percent decline in pedestrian injuries from crashes.

Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership noted, “The success stories in this report show the power and promise of Safe Routes to School to help communities all across the country to address safety risks and improve conditions for students walking and bicycling to school.”

In 2007, an estimated 14,000 children ages 14 and under were injured as pedestrians, while more than 300 children were killed while walking. In 2008, an estimated 52,000 bicyclists were injured in motor vehicle crashes, and 21 percent of those bicyclists-nearly 11,000 children-were age 14 or younger. Children walking and bicycling to school represent 11 percent of injuries and fatalities during the school commute, but just 14 percent of trips and less than two percent of miles traveled.

Transportation for America also recently released a report, Dangerous by Design, identifying the dangers that pedestrians face in 360 metropolitan areas and focusing on solving the epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths through active transportation. Safe Routes to School programs can provide tangible solutions to major traffic safety issues such as these, making it safer for children-and other residents-to walk and bicycle in their neighborhoods and to and from school.

Congress launched the federal Safe Routes to School program in 2005 through the federal transportation bill and provided $612 million for five years of state-level implementation of programs that build sidewalks, bike lanes, and pathways, while also providing funding for education, promotion, and law enforcement. Federal Safe Routes to School funds are educating children on safe bicycle and pedestrian practices, increasing traffic enforcement to improve adherence to traffic laws and speed limits, and making infrastructure improvements to create safe places for children to walk and bicycle.

The report can be viewed at www.saferoutespartnership.org.


The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, hosted by the non-profit Bikes Belong Foundation, is a network of more than 400 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and professionals working together to advance the Safe Routes to School movement in the United States. The Partnership focuses on building partnerships, changing policies, advancing legislation, and improving the built environment.

COP15: Radio France interviews World Streets Editor

As part of the massive media effort underway in France in support of the Copenhagen initiative, the editor of World Streets was invited by Ann-Cécile Bras of Radio France International this morning to share his views and reactions to the COP15 process and what might come next. His principal theme: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is the ‘solution’.” Follow the podcast here. Continue reading

The Transportation Majority. Can’t politicians count?

Public transport? Cycling? Walking? Car pooling? Car sharing? Stuck at home? Elderly? Handicapped? Spend my hard-earned money for them? Bah! Who needs it? Why bother if it’s just for a few marginal people? Let’s concentrate on the big problems, those of the majority of people. Us drivers and our cars. We are the transportation majority.

In the world of human mobility there is, as it turns out, no one “big problem”. And hence no big solutions. There is, for better or worse, just an ever-changing confluence of a very large number of different problems, different people, different desires, different daily life realities, different needs, different constraints, different priorities, different possibilities, and different decisions. And different actions. And different consequences.

The old mobility vision of society is essentially one of striding workers, with secure jobs, fixed hours, well defined trips, leaping into their car and then buckling up for “safe driving”. Very nice.

All of whom well served by our “normal transportation arrangements”, that is the huge and hugely expansive infrastructure that we continue to build and repair to support automotive transportation (and those largely empty cars).

Something like eighty percent of the local transportation funding in most cities of the world goes for that car-supporting infrastructure: roads, bridges, cloverleafs, tunnels, supporting elections, policing, accident prevention, and the long list goes on. Life is sweet.

Then there are “the rest”, among them: the old, disabled, poor, rural, etc., etc. And of course the poor old disabled rural.

They too of course need to be catered to as well. Fair enough. Let’s give them a bit here and a bit there too. But most of our hard-earned tax money is still going to be spent on providing high quality mobility arrangements for “normal people”. That’s right, isn’t it?

Sorry but no, it’s not at all right. It is in fact 100% wrong. It is wrong because it is grossly unfair and uncivil. And beyond that, it is also based on a false precept. Why?

Because that splendid vision of society with thee and me at the wheel with the wind blowing through our golden hair, simply does not jibe with reality. It never did in the past, and as our societies age it increasingly is absurdly contrary to reality. Here is the surprise, the kicker:

The “transportation majority” is not what most people think, transportation planners and policy makers among them.

The transportation majority are all those of us who increasingly are poorly served by the mainline, no-choice, car-based truncated service arrangements that eat up most of our taxpayer money and take away our choices. And each year, as our populations age this majority grows in numbers.

Here is a generic short-list of the people who make up this till-now all too silent majority:

1. Everyone in your city, country or electorate who does not have a car

2. Everyone who cannot drive

3. Everyone who cannot afford to own and operate a car of their own (And remember that costs a lot of after-tax money)

4. Everyone who should not drive (for reasons of a variety of impediments such as limitations associated with age, psychological state , , , ,)

5. Everyone who lives in a large city and for reasons of density, public health and quality of city life needs to have access to a non-car mobility system

6. Everyone who would in fact prefer to get around by walking, cycling or some form of shared transport who cannot safely or readily do so, because all the money is being spent on the car-based system which is fundamentally, and financially, incompatible with these “softer” and more healthy ways of getting around

7. Everyone who suffers from some form of impairment that makes driving or even access to traditional public transit difficult or impossible

8. Everyone who cannot responsibly take the wheel at any given time (fatigue, distraction, nervousness, some form of intoxication. . . )

9. All those who are today isolated and unable to participate in the life of our communities fully because they simply do not have a decent way to get around.

10. And — don’t lose sight of this! – in a few years you!

How do we work our way out of this? Simple, get out there and vote!

Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to work for the transportation majority.

Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to join the transportation majority and get to work and around their city by public transport, walking, bicycle, carpool, or carsharing. Or better yet some combination all of the above.

And don’t vote for the other guys.

They will get your message.

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Editor’s note:

Several of our readers have pointed out that while this may be interesting, the only way to make the point is to put numbers to it. Exactly! But this has to be done on a place by place basis, so one can hope that this will be done and that we shall be seeing the results of this important metric here and in many other places.

Guest editorial: What to do when public transportation fails

Recently the city of Philadelphia, experienced a six day long strike by the local transit authority, SEPTA. Subways and buses stopped operating only hours before the Monday morning rush hour leaving workers scrambling for alternative modes of transportation to get to the office.

- Submitted by Timothy Ericson, CityRyde, Philidelphia, PA USA

The strike also left many school aged children stranded and unable to attend classes. Even non-transit riders were frustrated with huge increases in vehicular traffic on all of the city’s roads and hiways. During the strike period, bicycle ridership skyrocketed in Philadelphia as it was the only option for many commuters to reach their destinations. The strike forced many residents to view the bicycle as a primary form of transportation.

Continue reading

Honk! Quite incredible they would fall for this. (More on anti-social advertising in old mobility)

It is a rare day when anyone gets the matters which concern us all here quite as wrong as our friends from Bosch have it here. (One of a series of particularly egregious advertising abuses on the part of certain old mobility purveyors who just do not seem to be able to resist the temptation.)
Continue reading

Cycling your brain (It really could use a bit of fresh air)

Have you noticed? Just about all of the planning and decision making in our underperforming, all too often dysfunctional sector is terribly familiar. Priorities are set, terms of references written up, responsibilities defined, teams created, schedules posted, instructions issued, tools identified and applied, observations made, meetings arranged, reports written, recommendations communicated and the whole process grinds ahead to its inevitable destination – more often than not, bingo: old mobility! But if you look closely, the very mechanism, the process, is pretty much the same we were seeing back in the middle of the last century when we were planning and implementing many of the messes we now find ourselves in. Hmm.

So the moral of the story is that we need to take some very different approaches to identifying and then to starting to resolve the most pressing of our problems.

There are some out there, fortunately, and here is one you might wish to spend at least a few minutes with. They call it the NewMasterdam Bike Slam, and back in mid August as it was forming up we announced it here .

Well the Slam has been run, and the ocean spanning organizers have just completed a small illustrated booklet that sets out some of the process, as well as some of the recommendations they came up with. Here is more on that, together with the link so that you can review their results.

Their announcement, just in today:

Booklet on the New Amsterdam Bike Slam
While the Bike Slam teams were hard at work, leading experts from urban planning and design, transportation policy, cultural anthropology, and advocacy gathered on September 11 at the Center for Architecture to discuss “Global Trends in Sustainable Transportation Policy,” especially as they pertain to New York City.

Throughout the day, the primarily American audience was treated to perspectives from a multitude of exceptional speakers who offered opinions wide and varied, including how Dutch cities integrate economic benefits with the planning of space; population groups who are harbingers for significant mode shift (women and elderly); and the strong connections between growing cycling and lowering carbon emissions. Perhaps most inspiring is the consistent theme that benchmarks are not indications for achievement and mark the end of the project, but are markers for improvements and going further.

Special guests of the day included Christopher Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Janette Sadik- Khan, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner.

# # #

Download the booklet here. – http://www.aimsterdam.nl/bestanden/AIM-NABS

Keep on peddling. It will only do you good.

A COP15 Reader and Resource

If you have a morning to spend researching the state of the art and opinion on the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen (COP15), you may wish to have a look at the collection of 170 key resources called up by our Knoogle (KNOwledge + goOGLE) combined search engine.

If you click here to http://tinyurl.com/knoogle-COP15 you will see the results.

For the record, Knoogle New Mobility 1.1 is the first iteration of a power search engine developed by the New Mobility Agenda in cooperation with the SMART program of the University of Michigan, and specifically tailored to help policy makers, local government, researchers, NGOs, activists, consultants, concerned citizens and the media keep up efficiently with the work and activities of the leading international groups, programs and sources leading the field of sustainable transport and sustainable cities worldwide.

Knoogle is being developed as part of a project in which we are looking into ways to create tighter linkages and better coordination between the fast expanding number of programs and agencies that are concerned with issues of sustainable transportation, climate, environment, etc. For full background on this project in process click to http://www.knowledge.newmobility.org And if you wish to get involved or contribute in any way please get in touch.

The current version of Knoogle (1.2) searches a total of 618 carefully selected sites and sources that have been carefully chosen to provide leading edge coverage of developments and news in the specific area of sustainable transport and new mobility. (For the record, full Google search for COP14 calls up more than 167,000 sources. A bit more than a morning’s work.)

You can also review World Streets complete coverage of COP15 b clicking to http://tinyurl.com/ws-COP15.

"Boys will be boys." And why it is important to change this now

Editorial: In the triple nexus that is the defining concern of World Streets – namely, mobility, land use and climate – we have to be ready to take stock and face up to the reality that most of the problems we face today in each of these areas are the result of the domination of an “old order”, a certain way of seeing and doing things. What have we got wrong? What can we do about it? And what might this mean to COP15 and beyond? Continue reading

COP15? One thing that can change the debate right now!

To make a significant difference in COP15 . . . what is the ONE BASIC THING we could do right now to change the game, the rules, so that our planet has a reasonable chance. Something deep and fundamental. Something that upsets the old order that has failed us for so long. Continue reading

Letter from Italy: New Mobility for a New Economy? More cash for clunkers foolishness

Cash for clunkers is a worldwide virus often presented as a medicine for a very sick patient. (See World Streets ‘Cash for Clunkers‘, 12 Aug. 09, ). This dispatch just in from Enrico Bonfatti, editor of our sister publication, Nuova Mobilità, translates an article posted in N/M in Italian last Friday. Apparently the Italian political establishment is no better at this than any of the dozen or so governments who are desperately scrambling to hold on to an irredeemable past. At high cost to taxpayers and to the future.

Following the World Streets 12 August post on the funds and impacts of the US program for scrapping old cars for new– (Mr. Meter on America’s “Cash for Clunkers” — we invite you to read the analysis from an Italian perspective as presented by Italy’s “NoAuto” association in response to the Minister of Economic Development Claudio Scajola’s proposal to relaunch of the 2010 program of incentives for the purchase of “green cars” in support of the country’s ailing car industry, the estimated cost of which is in the area of € 400-500 millions. What will we get for our money?

Rome. 8 October 2009.

Yes for new mobility — no to incentives for the car

In these days the media are back to talking about actions in support of the automobile. The association NoAuto believes that a new round of incentives to subsidize new car purchases would be a grave error in both industrial and transport policies.

1. Because such incentives produce only temporary effects.
The European car market is saturated, and the only markets expected to grow are those of the large emerging countries (China, India, Brazil, etc.). However these are and will be served by local production. It is therefore economically wrong and socially irresponsible to continue to support an industry in a permanent structural decline. What is needed instead is a vast program of industrial reconstruction and reshaping for the future.

2. Because the car-oriented mobility system is in the midst of a permanent crisis.
The historic promises of the car (speed, flexibility, comfort) are now a mirage. Our cities are gripped by congestion and made unhealthy and unsafe by pollution, noise and accidents: all the direct result of growing figures in car flows, which in recent years has been repeatedly supported by incentives to purchase newer and “greener” car. Thus supporting the purchase of more cars at the public’s expense is wrong from the transport policy’s point of view too.

3. A European solution
For these reasons, NoAuto believes that we would do better to scrap these costly and ultimately ineffective stop-gap measures, and instead design and launch an innovative multi-partner, public-private reconstruction plan for improved new mobility, to be applied primarily to the urban and local scale .

NoAuto believes that such a plan should created and promoted not only nationally, but could be developed into a powerful and timely European policy, that could include budget improvements for the Action Plan for Urban Mobility that the European Commission has just issued on September, 30th.

In brief, the extraordinary plan for new mobility in and around our cities should rely on two main lines of action:

1. Creation of a National (or European) Fund for New Mobility . . .
to support local authorities’ plans to improve public transport, walking, cycling and innovative transport modes (carsharing, city logistics, etc.). At the regional level funds should not be aimed to support single modes of transport, but rather should be strategically integrated into overall policy reforms plans and policies (packages of measures), and looking beyond the city centers to deal with the problems of the surrounding lower density areas as well.

At the national level the legislative framework of “Piani Urbani della Mobilità” (Urban Mobility Plans) which was introduced many years ago, should now be brought up to date and modified to meet new needs (not so much new, as uncovered) and – most of all – to find the necessary funds as will be required to support the transition process over the ten to fifteen years directly ahead. This funding of first rate new mobility programs for our cities and the country can easily come out of savings that can result from the rationalization of the much larger amounts which traditionally get spent on big transportation infrastructure projects, which themselves support inefficient use of resources. It is time to put “old mobility” (the no-choice, car-based system) behind us and move up to efficient mobility.

At the European level the New Mobility Plan should be dealt with in a separate section within the European funding schemes for local or regional transportation networks.

2. A European plan to convert the car industry, . . .
which accompanies the transition to the new urban mobility system. A plan built on three pillars:

a) The strategic use of unemployment wages and other kinds of “social bumpers” and professional training to avoid “social butchery” among workers in the sector, while at the same time facilitating the transition to a New Mobility Agenda and the jobs that will go with it;

b) Placement of extraordinary orders by administrations and public companies for the development of green transport modes and products (trains, metro, tram , buses, vans, taxis, bicycles, including by grouping purchases to drive down unit costs);

c) Funding to support to integration of producers of components, services and systems for the new urban mobility: research centers, local authorities, partners of credit, specialized consultants, public interest groups working in the field, media projects, etc.

Also in this case an action at the European level is required because it will help us to attain the critical mass needed to ensure such actions. Among other things, a joint European Union position could overcome any possible objection on “State aid” \.

For these reasons NoAuto now calls for a political initiative as broad-based as possible, involving the many experiences of mobilization against unsustainable transportation plans and projects, and, more importantly, finally starting a confrontation with the car sector workers that abroad is already being performed.

A good starting point could be to resume and revive the ideas and proposals that have been launched in recent months – for example by workers of the FIAT plant in Pomigliano d’Arco.

This is no time for closed government. The important thing is to begin to open up the debate to all the players, let the best ideas compete, and mobilize for another mobility. If not now, when?


# # #

NoAuto is an Italian public interest association promoting a system of mobility alternatives to the car: MORE public transport, safety for walking and cycling, decreased congestion and pollution, reconquest of urban space, healthier lives, are among the objectives. The weekly magazine ‘Carta’ (www.carta.org) hosts a regular feature of the association.

For more:
Read: www.noauto.org
Contact: info@noauto.org

———————–

And now, a glance at Europe’s ‘cash-for-clunkers’ programs

By The Associated Press (AP) – 8 Aug. 2009

The popular “cash-for-clunkers” program that has encouraged consumers in Europe and the U.S. to trade in their old cars for newer and more efficient models was born in December 2008 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a Euro 26 billion ($37.36 billion) stimulus plan to help the country ward off a recession.

To date, 11 countries in Europe offer similar plans.

* Germany offers Euro 2,500 to buyers of new or almost new cars who own cars that are nine years or older.

* France offers Euro 1,000 to scrap an older car that’s at least 10 years old.

* Italy offers Euro 1,500 for a car and Euro 2,500 for a light commercial vehicle for buyers who agree to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old.

* Spain offers Euro 2,000 on a purchase price of up to Euro 30,000; old car must be at least 10 years old.

* Portugal offers Euro 1,250 for scrapping a car that is 8 to 12 years old, or Euro 1,500 for a car that is older than 12 years.

* The Netherlands pays between Euro 750 to Euro 1,750 to scrap a car that is 9, 13 or 19-years-old.

* Austria offers Euro 1,500; car must be at least 12 years old.

* Romania offers Euro 900 to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old but limited the program to just 60,000 units.

* Slovakia offers Euro 1,100 toward a purchase price of up to Euro 18,800.

* Serbia offers Euro 1,000 on any new locally built Fiat Punto if a buyer trades in a 9-year-old car.

Source: Various governments, IHS Global Insight. – http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jOxyXvhSiYz–vOseImAnJ5Nl4xwD99U99I81

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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The very high cost of these programs:

It’s not the shameless draining of the taxpayer coffers that is the true cost of this folly. It is the fact that each time a high profile public “effort” is announced and grabs the headlines, it has the impact of giving a false sense of security that “something is being done” to counter the fundamental problems that underlie all this. This in turn generates either a sense of complacency, or in cases like this where the foolishness is so very apparent, discourages many from coming to grips with the real issues and choices. So CfC is a real step backward.

Honk! Cycling your mind

One of the main strategic underpinnings of New Mobility Agenda, and certainly of everything that appears here in World Streets, is that if we are ever to reinvent transportation in our cities, as we so badly need to do, we must in the process free ourselves from our old ways of seeing, thinking and doing things. For example, when you think “bicycle” . . .

For example, you and I think we know exactly what a bicycle is: and while that may apply 99 times out of 100, if we look more closely we are going to see quite a few variations which also need to be taken into consideration. And ditto by the way for what constitutes “safe cycling”.

Continue reading

Car Free Days 2. Thursday: A breakthrough strategy for reducing car dependence in cities

This is the full unedited text of the 18 October 1994 presentation by Eric Britton to the Ciudades Accesibles ws-ebpush-small-bwCongress in Toledo Spain  organized by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works, Transport and the Environment, with the participation of Car Free Cities Initiative of the EuroCities program and the Direction General XI of the Commission of European Communities.

Continue reading

Women as our metric for sustainable lives: Leadership role

Linda Baker makes the point in this article that “Women are considered an ‘indicator species’ for bike-friendly cities”. In World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda we take this one giant step further. For us women are the “defining metric of sustainable transport”. Our transportation arrangements do not only have to be planned with them in mind (“thank you very much”), but by them — and, while they are at it, for us all. See our “2010: The Year of the Woman in Transport” at , and more generally you are invited to check out our index reference on this at http://tinyurl.com/ws-women. Come on. It’s time! Continue reading

PARK(ing) Day in Cape Town (Not everybody loves it equally)

A few weeks back, a local police vehicle – which had been circling for a while – came to abrupt halt on a no-stopping line in front of me in Fish Hoek, and asked if my colleagues and I had permission to be in our parking bay*. The nearby businesses were complaining, you see; by occupying our bay, they said, we were preventing others from doing so, and this meant, no doubt, that their daily takings would suffer.

- By Gail Jennings, Cape Town, South Africa

The thing is, though, that around 40% of South Africans suffer every day precisely because they need to find a parking bay. The only way they can get about – constrained either by lack of public transport, or by an inability to conceive of taking shared transport – is by private car.

The other 60% suffer for quite the opposite reason: they don’t need a parking bay, they rely on public transport, which currently is unreliable, unintegrated, unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible, unsustainable, and just plain unpleasant. And it’s not even public transport, come to think of it – it’s commuter transport, workwards in the morning, homewards in the evening, and little flexibility in-between.

Should businesses not perhaps be complaining about this, that they’re accessible only to people with private cars? In our world that’s heating up, depleted of fossil fuels, with dimished urban and quality open spaces, increased road deaths, congestion, road rage and lack of access to health care, education and economic opportunities, use of the private car as we know it – and its space-hungry requirement of parking bays – is on its way out.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we hang on to what we know for as long as possible, resisting a change to what we regard as less convenient; less flexible; less, well, personal, ways of moving around.

But as Jeremy Cronin, deptuy minister of transport, puts it: ” We have to respond to the challenge of access not with cars or more freeways [or more parking!], but with with intelligent public transport, non-mortorised transport, accessiblity and urban redesign.

‘In South Africa we are blessed and cursed with the reality that at least 60% of households don’t have cars. And while that’s a good thing, it’s also a terible thing for those who don’t have the car, because it makes them immobile.

‘The struggle to achieve the right to moblity is inextricably linked to the struggle for public space, for decent, safe, dignified and accessible public space.’

The car is the least space-efficient, least socially equitable and least environmentally responsible mode of transport, yet it is currently given preferential treatment.

Which is why on 18 September, I – and thousands of people worldwide – temporarily transformed my (paid-for) parking space into a public park as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.

I shared my sunny ‘park’ bench with other civic-minded souls; with passing dog-walkers, who welcomed a rest en-route home; with butchery workers who were otherwise planning to spend their lunch hour on the hard sidewalk in the damp and icy shade; and with shop owners who took a coffee break while unpacking stock. I even ordered a pizza delivery from one of said businesses, and watched over a number of bicycles parked in ‘my’ bay next door (you can fit about 10 bicycles in the space of one car).

In cities around the world, inexpensive street parking results in more traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution, and the strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human environment. Our public spaces are public assets, yet we allocate an estimated 70% of our urban open spaces to privately owned vehicles.

The unprecedented urban growth taking place in developing countries reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions of new urbanites, suggests the United Nations Population Fund, 2007. ‘Cities have enormous potential for improving people’s lives, but inadequate urban management, often based on inaccurate perceptions and information, can turn opportunity into disaster.’

South African cities, and cities as a ‘lifestyle concept’, for want of a better way to put it, historically developed because rural people wanted to be closer to economic opportunities, other people, food, markets, and a sense of being where it’s all happening. Yet with sprawling, low-density, spatially segregated cities such as Cape Town, quite the opposite has happened. Social exclusion, long commute distances, high transport costs, poor-quality urban environments, isolated, dangerous and inaccessible parks, dwindling resources…

To quote Jeremy Cronin once more, there are several key factors in our society that continue to actively reproduce inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. ‘And one of these is the fact that spatial configuration of our society in which where you live impacts dramatically on the cost in time and money that it takes you to access work, education and any of your basic constitutional and other rights.’

Low-density, sprawling neighbourhoods are more likely to need motorised transport (the densities are not enough to support viable, unsubsidised public transport) and contribute to social isolation. And excessive traffic and high-speed freeways can separate communities and make sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, more difficult to use.

Higher-density neighbourhoods, on the other hand, with a good mix of land-use and inter-connectivity, facilitate walking and cycling, sustain public transport and are generally safer (because there’re more eyes on the street).

If Cape Town is to become a city within which it is easy to access opporunities, be they opportunities for health-care, education, work or leisure, the city must break away from its current radial movement pattern that focuses on the central city, and create a strong network of cross-city roads, public transport and walking and cycling routes that connect and link homes, work places, shops and social facilities.

Urban planning has been used to startlingly effective degree to engineer social injustice. So it’s not too much of a stretch to see how quality, safe, affordable, accessible and largely sustainable mass public transport (such as the proposed Integrated Rapid Transit – IRT – system), better pedestrian and bike-commuting facilities, and more urban spaces in which butchery workers can sit and share their lunch, can lay the foundation for a sounder economy and more sustainable, equitable society.

• Yes, we did ;-)

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Gail Jennings is the editor MOBILITY magazine, a quarterly pro-sustainability transport magazine with a focus on public planning, public transport, road safety and the democratic use of road and other public space. Visit http://www.mobilitymagazine.co.za or http://emag.mobilitymagazine.co.za.

World Streets and the One Percent Solution (And that includes you.)

You know this as well as I do. There are no single, mega-dollar, build-it, big bang solutions for transportation systems reform. Only large numbers of, for the most part, generally quite small things. Small perhaps in themselves, one by one, but when you put all these small things together you start to get the new and far better transportation systems that we need and deserve. Large numbers of small things, each doing their part in concert. We call them “one percent solutions”. And you are part of that process.

Likewise for World Streets. After seven months of unfailing daily publication and more than 85,000 readers we know we are doing an important job. But if we are to continue to appear we need the support of many people and groups. One percent solutions. Get next to us and push. For the planet, for your city, for your children.

* But before you take this any further, you may wish to have a look at what our readers are saying about World Streets and how it is fitting in with their daily work routines and quest for new ideas and perspectives. And why one hundred of them think it is worthy of your support. Click here for more – http://tinyurl.com/ws-readers.

Contents
1.The One Percent Solution
2. Program summary (Opens in own window)
3. Ten reasons why
4. Next steps
5. Afterword: Why one per cent?
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1. The One Percent Solution Continue reading

Climate change imperils 3,351 coastal cities worldwide (Two-thirds of which in the Global South)

Why have we pegged the action program of the New Mobility Agenda to (a) the ongoing process of climate emergency and the unbearable destruction of our planet and cities that goes with it and (b) to the imperative need to get large scale improvements in the two to five years directly ahead? For this reason . . .


UN-Habitat: Few coastal cities to be spared by climate change

All too soon, the harsh reality of climate change is upon us and the facts are becoming common place. But at a time when over 50 percent of humanity lives in urban areas, UN-HABITAT’s new State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/9: Harmonious Cities sets out to determine which cities are in danger and which communities might well be drowned out.

In the 20th century, sea levels rose by an estimated 17 centimetres, and global mean projections for sea level rise between 1990 and 2080 range from 22 centimetres to 34 centimetres. The low elevation coastal zone – the continuous area along coastlines that is less than 10 metres above sea level – represents 2 per cent of the world’s land area but contains 10 per cent of its total population and 13 per cent of its urban population.

There are 3,351 cities in the low elevation coastal zones around the world. Of these cities, 64 per cent are in developing regions; Asia alone accounts for more than half of the most vulnerable cities, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (27 per cent) and Africa (15 per cent). Two-thirds of these cities are in Europe; almost one-fifth of all cities in North America are in low elevation coastal zones.

Concerned about the prospect of large scale devastation, in his foreword, Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations states that, “Cities embody some of society’s most pressing challenges, from pollution and disease to unemployment and lack of adequate shelter. But cities are also venues where rapid, dramatic change is not just possible but expected.”

Aimed at policymakers and planners, the new UN report warns that few coastal cities will be spared.

In the developed world (including Japan), 35 of the 40 largest cities are either coastal or situated along a river bank. In Europe, rivers have played a more important role in determining the growth and importance of a city than the sea; more than half of the 20 largest cities in the region developed along river banks. Quoting a report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the authors note that the populations of cities like Mumbai, Shanghai, Miami, New York City, Alexandria, and New Orleans will be most exposed to surge-induced flooding in the event of sea level rise.

In Asia, 18 of the region’s 20 largest cities are either coastal, on a river bank or in a delta. 17 per cent of the total urban population in Asia lives in the low elevation coastal zone, while in South-Eastern Asia, more than one-third of the urban population lives there. Japan, with less than 10 per cent of its cities in low elevation zones, has an urban population of 27 million inhabitants at risk, more than the urban population at risk in North America, Australia and New Zealand combined.

The report points out that by 2070, urban populations in cities in river deltas, which already experience high risk of flooding, such as Dhaka, Kolkata, Rangoon, and Hai Phong, will join the group of most exposed populations. Also, port cities in Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and India will have joined the ranks of cities whose assets are most exposed. Major coastal African cities that could be severely be affected by the impact of rising sea levels include Abidjan, Accra, Alexandria, Algiers, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Durban, Freetown, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Luanda, Maputo, Mombasa, Port Louis, and Tunis.

An assessment of the vulnerability of Alexandria, the most important economic and historic centre along the Mediterranean coast (the cities of Alexandria, Rosetta and Port Said) suggests that, with a sea-level rise of 50 cm, more than 2 million people would have to abandon their homes, 214,000 jobs would be lost, and the cost in lost property value and tourism income would be over US $35 billion, which does not include the immeasurable loss of world famous historic, cultural and archaeological sites.

Researchers studying the impact of climate change on Dhaka predict that the city will be affected in two major ways: flooding and drainage congestion, and heat stress. The elevation of Dhaka ranges between 2 and 13 metres above sea level. This means that even a slight rise in sea level is likely to engulf large parts of the city. Moreover, high urban growth rates and high urban densities have already made Dhaka more susceptible to human-induced environmental disasters. With an urban growth rate of more than 4 per cent annually, Dhaka, which already hosts more than 13 million people, is one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Asia, and is projected to accommodate more than 20 million by 2025. The sheer number of people living in the city means that the negative consequences of climate change are likely to be felt by a large number of people, especially the urban poor who live in flood-prone and water-logged areas.

The report points out that Lagos, with a total population of nearly 10 million inhabitants, lacks adequate infrastructure to cope with flooding. “Normal” rainfall brings flooding to many areas of the city, largely as a result of inadequacies in sewers, drains and wastewater management. Any increase in the intensity of storms and storm surges is likely to increase such problems, as much of the land in and around Lagos is less than 2 meters above sea level. Many low-income settlements are built in areas at high risk of flooding (many on stilts), largely because safer sites are too expensive.

Observing the worrying prospects for cities facing climate change, in her forward, Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UNHABITAT, calls on cities and national governments to address these challenges and opportunities by adopting innovative approaches to urban planning and management that are inclusive, pro-poor and responsive to threats posed by environmental degradation and global warming. She continues to say, ‘From China to Colombia, and everywhere in between, national and local governments are making critical choices that promote equity and sustainability in cities. These governments recognize that cities are not just part of the problem; they are, and must be, part of the solution.’

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Source: UN HABITAT http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/news/v.php?id=4289

Honk! Concepts Run Wild at Dutch-American Bike Slam

Remember our New York and Dutch friends and their New Amsterdam Bike Slam and invitational event announcement and article of 19 August (newamsterdambikeslam.org)? Well they did it and the following article from today’s New York Times tells the story.

Continue reading

Bogotá’s Ghost Bike

Nicole Cañón, a 10-year old student on her bike ride to school, was run over by a bus and, when thrown to the street, was killed by a taxi. As if this were not enough, both drivers of bus and taxi escaped, leaving the child on her deathbed with no one to take responsibility.

Ghost bike ceremonies as memorials and calls for action

By Carlos Felipe Pardo, ITDP country director, Colombia

As of last Friday, Bogotá now has its own 9-11 to remember. Though it is of much smaller scale, it is equally tragic. Nicole Cañón, a 10-year old student on her bike ride to school, was run over by a public transport bus and, when thrown to the street, was killed by a taxi. As if this were not enough, both drivers of the bus and the taxi escaped, leaving Nicole on her deathbed with no one to take responsibility.

Continue reading

“Take a ride where the drivers aren’t rude to you… ” BRT comes to Joburg (And then what?)

‘Have you heard of this BRT in Joburg? Are we going to get this thing in Cape Town?’ Xoliswa Mtshali is dusting my office bookshelves, moving copies of MOBILITY magazine around and looking at the photographs of TransMillenio in the latest issue. She’s spent the last week or so – like most other people in South Africa – watching news footage of the country’s first-ever BRT, Rea Vaya, which launched on 1 September. And friends of hers who live in Soweto have told her that the bus service is like nothing they’ve ever encountered before.

‘It’s cheap – not expensive like taxis. The music is not loud, they say. You can know when the bus will arrive… The bus doesn’t have to wait to be full before it goes…’

But the best, according to Xoliswa: ‘The drivers, they are not rude to you!’

As we’re talking, another ‘BRT update from Rea Vaya’ lands in my in-box. Today, talk is around emissions standards, and how the bus service will continue despite security threats. And the ruling-party ANC has criticized Soweto Taxi Services for allegedly intimidating taxi owners who support the Bus Rapid Transit system. Last week two passengers were injured by taxi gunmen, and a high-profile taxi leader was murdered.

Rather prosaically, Rea Vaya – which means ‘we are going’ in Sotho – is introduced on its website thus:

“In order to deal with the increasing transport problems faced in Joburg today, the City is pleased to introduce the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System.

“The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) is designed to provide a high quality and affordable transport system, which is fast and safe.”

And that’s exactly what it’s doing – but the impact of this is difficult to translate to anyone who’s used to quality public transport. Transport writers, engineers and officials are flying from all over the country to take a ride on the longest-awaited bus in South Africa’s history – returning with DVD upon DVD of photographs of every tiny detail, including the pedestrian paving and signage. There’s a festive, and slightly disbelieving air to it all, astonishing to anyone for whom timetables are old hat.

Adventurous travellers to the African continent boast of taking the ‘local transport’, but to everyday commuters with a deadline, this is nothing worth writing home about: waiting three-quarters of an hour for a minibus-taxi to fill up, never knowing when a minibus will arrive, dodging gun-toting drivers who’ve been known to kill in order to maintain their routes…

Rea Vaya’s website – which offers a fraction of the information something like Transport for London’s does – is a 21st century dream for South Africans with access to the net: route planners, timetables, maps, updates, photographs of work in progress.

Phase 1A is a 25km route from Soweto into central Joburg, with 20 stations en route. The full phase 1 will include seven routes of 122 km, 150 stations, and trunk, complementary and feeder services.

Sadly, when Cape Town does finally does get its first phase of the BRT (which as yet does not have a name), the route will go nowhere near the township where Xoliswa lives. The first route will travel between Cape Town airport and the central city. There is talk that perhaps in 20 years or so, in phase who-knows-what, Cape Town’s south peninsula might find itself on the BRT route – taxi-industry-negotiations permitting.

But to Xoliswa and other hopefuls: ‘The passengers will want it. We are the ones who must decide.’

For more information, visit www.reavaya.org.za

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By Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa.
Gail writes about issues such as social and environmental justice, energy and climate change, community-based projects, non-motorised transport, and edit Mobility Magazine (a quarterly transport publication for the southern African public sector).

Transaid: Emergency Transport in Northern Nigeria

Transaid is an international development organisation that seeks to reduce poverty and improve lives in Africa through creating better transport. Here is a partnership transport project they are working on in Northern Nigeria.
– Sustainable development and social justice? Think Africa! –

Transaid has been working as part of the PRRINN project in Northern Nigeria to help improve immunisation coverage for women and children in the states of Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina and Zamfara.

Transaid’s role has been to advise on appropriate management of the Ministry of Health’s transport to ensure adequate healthcare reaches those most in need. This project has now been expanded in three of the four states to cover all primary healthcare for mother’s, newborn babies and children (MNCH) extending the reach and impact of Transaid’s vital work.

The Problem
In this part of Northern Nigeria, less than 6% of children are fully immunised against life-threatening diseases and rates of newborn, maternal and child mortality are some of the highest in the world. Over 500,000 women die in pregnancy every year. A woman in sub-saharan Africa has a 1 in 13 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in the industrialised world*.

The millennium development goals which have been put in place to reduce extreme poverty aim to reduce child mortality by two thirds, maternal mortality by three quarters and to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Efficient and effective transport has a key role to play in the delivery of health services and is a vital link to enabling these goals to be realised.
*Statistic taken from ‘Maternal Mortality: Africa’s Burden. A Toolkit on Gender, Transport and Maternal Mortality’, vs4-04-2005

The Process
Transaid is providing technical assistance in relation to the transport elements of the project. Through the initial PRRINN project we have already begun to implement a transport management system to help improve health service delivery. We are also working with project partners and the government at state level to establish solutions to the problem of accessing health facilities in emergency pregnancy cases.

Plans are being developed for an emergency transport system to be put in place using members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW) to take patients for a small fee. This has already proven to be successful following a pilot in Jigawa state. We are also looking at the viability of other low-cost modes of transport such as the motorcycle and bicycle ambulance to improve access to emergency healthcare in hard to reach areas.

Partners
The PRRINN-MNCH consortium led by Health Partners International, Save the Children and Grid Consulting, the State Ministry of Health in Katsina, Yobe and Zamfara. (Jigawa state is not included in the MNCH project)

The Results
The overall aims of the whole project are to improve antenatal care for women and the number of births attended by skilled medical personnel. The project also aims to increase immunisation levels so that 60% of children under one year old are fully immunised by 2012, decreasing the number of cases of life-threatening illnesses such as measles. It is hoped that health centres will serve 50% more women and children through better functioning and rehabilitated systems (including transport). The increase in trained staff at health centres and hospitals will also ensure greater accountability and responsiveness to patients and a more joined up approach to management at all levels.

Impact
The new PRRINN-MNCH project will improve the quality and availability of all maternal and child health services including antenatal and postnatal care, safer deliveries, care for newborn and young children, better nutrition and increased routine immunisation. Using Transaid’s transport management system vehicles will also be better managed and scheduled, increasing vehicle availability for emergency pregnancy transfers.


More:

(If you want to know more about Transaid’s work in Nigeria please follow this link: http://www.transaid.org/projects/nigeria,-increasing-access-to-healthcare-for-mothers-and-children,-prrinn—mnch-update-%E2%80%93-april-2009

Bringing World Streets to China: A collaborative effort

World Streets is strongly committed to working with all those concerned in China to advancing the sustainable transportation agenda in their cities and surrounding regions. What a wonderful challenge for international collaboration and exchange on our topic, and it strikes us that this is an excellent occasion to initiate and deepen this collaboration. An important event can lead the way. Let’s look at this together.

First steps:

The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China falls on Oct. 1, barely two weeks away. World Streets wants to be there to celebrate this important event and to become a useful partner for sustainable transportation and sustainable cities in China for the many years ahead.

For various technical reasons, World Streets is not able at present to share our information and leads with our Chinese colleagues. So, to find our way into this new partnership out first step was to start by asking a few of our mainland Chinese friends by email, phone and Skype what they think. This we did and this is what they have told us:

For various internal reasons they told us some internet connections on the mainland are currently being filtered. Which means that it can happen that people in universities, home, internet cafes, and even government agencies are unable at present to access http://WorldStreets.org/.

This situation is not going to last forever; however, if we wish to be a good source of information and inspiration for our Chinese colleagues, we need to work our way around this.

Now there are work-arounds for this, namely sites ARE accessible via proxy sites or for those with access to VPNs (virtual private networks), but essentially this means either a few extra steps are needed to access the information. While this is useful for some for now, it is (a) only available to ‘net-savvy surfers. More than that however it is (b) a “back-door approach” which is hardly appropriate to the real, broad and deep collaboration and exchange that is appropriate in the face of the challenges ahead..

Intermediate adaptation:

Now that we have a feel for what is going on, our next step has been to take a template from our New Mobility Agenda series (www.newmobility.org) and to see how we might quickly refit it to make at least a portion of our content available by other means. If you go to http://china.WorldStreets.org/ you will see how this looks so far.

The advantage as it stands is that it gives the reader a clue and short summaries of all the articles that are housed in our archives and current editions: but unfortunately for now, not the full text. Still, we have a start.

Longer Term:

The permanent fix, we are advised, will be to approach the responsible regulatory agency, the Ministry of Information (see http://opennet.net/bulletins/011/#1), and register with them so that access to Streets will not longer be blocked. We are hopeful that some of our Chinese colleagues will work with us on this.

An option, we are advised, is to create a new .cn domain name and blog — but we hope this is to be avoided if possible since the job of uploading the hundreds of articles and tools housed in the present site to yet a new website is a formidable and time consuming task.

World Streets in China:

In closing, we might add that the steady progress that is being made of late in the quality of machine translations to and from Chinese and English has been very impressive. Our Chinese friends tell us that this is a handy way to find out at least the gist of any given article or piece, but there is of course nothing like a fine human translation. Still . . .

Our hope will be to do much better than this and to find Chinese partners in order to do with World Streets in China what we are presently accomplishing with our first non-English sustainable transport daily, Nuova Mobilitàhttp://nuovamobilita.org — for and with our Italian colleagues and in Italian. N/M is our working model or template for what we are hoping to do in other countries and languages. Because the simple reality is that if something is to get read every day by busy planners, agencies, local government, transport operators, researchers, activists and others concerned, the odds are that if it is not in their first working language it just will not get read.

Beyond this the Italian editors not only translate, but also adapt and provide context and commentary for the Italian reader on the articles they select for publication. And that is not all. The journal also functions as a turntable for swapping ideas articles and dialogues between planners and others concerned within Italy itself.

In short, the traffic is not at all one way. These are living streets.

And there you have our hopes for World Streets in China.

[Comments, corrections and refinements as always warmly welcome, You can leave them simply by clicking the Comment tag below.]

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Curious to get an idea of the quality of the Chinese language translations? You may care to try the hardest translation test of all. Click to translate, say, this article into Chinese in Google Translate — http://translate.google.com/translate_t# — and then simply reverse the process and translate the Chinese text back into English. Again, this is a terrible text, but have a look and see if the machine works to the extent that you have some reasonable idea of the original. (And bear in mind please that this two-round process significantly magnifies what may be small glitches. But if you really want to know, if you are genuinely curious it can be a genuine help. At least it is to us and to a number of our bilingual Chinese colleagues.)

Heads-up: "Bus schools in Delhi slums

“School buses are being converted to mobile classrooms for children in Delhi slums “
From: Sudhir Gota, CAI-Asia Center
Metro Manila, Philippines
Dear all,

I found this very interesting – “In pictures: Bus schools in Delhi slums” – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/8236636.stm

Do you know of any other city which uses “Public Transport facilities” as schools?

Co-benefits :-)

Sudhir Gota

Transport Specialist, CAI-Asia Center
Unit 3510, 35th Floor, Robinsons-Equitable Tower,
ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Metro Manila, Philippines 1605
Tel: +63-2-395-2843 Fax: +63-2-395-2846
http://www.cleanairnet.org/caiasia
Skype : sudhirgota

The Year of the Woman in Transport – Part II “Don’t treat women equally”.

How to move from this fine sounding idea to concrete operational reality? For starters each of us here can take it upon ourselves as an individual commitment first to ponder and then to try to ensure full and fair representation of women in every transportation planning and decision forum we are involved in (starting with World Streets itself). But we cannot afford to stop there. Continue reading