- From the editor
I have been invited to give a keynote address to the Urban Futures Conference that is to take place in Graz Austria this year from 18/19 November. As you can well imagine it is something of a big deal with power speakers pouring in from industry, academy, the consulting world and all the other solid sources on information and wisdom in our field.
Upon reading the World Streets article of 25 Oct. on ‘The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver’, Dr. Mah Hui, a city councilman in George Town Malaysia, commented:
It is very interesting and promising proposition which i can agree with substantially. But suddenly you break off when you just made the point that its more effective to design the roads to slow down vehicles. Do you have section 2 to suggest what types of designs have been used and might work?
In Penang, our council is using speed tables to slow down cars with limited success partly because it’s not well designed as I see the motorists and especially motor cyclist speeding up and crossing the speed tables at over 30 kph ! Even with better designs how do we reduce their speed over stretches without the tables?
Regards/ Mah Hui
Oops. You are so right Ma Hui. I admit I was being a bit lazy in that first blast, but as luck would have it I have given this quite a bit of attention over the years and have had a chance to observe both better (less) and worse (more) treatments in cities around the world. And while I am by no means a traffic engineer, what I can offer this morning is a quick shortlist as it comes off the top of my head and memory, and with more than a little help from US Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Calming Library (www.ite.org/traffic/), along with an article just in from Partners for Public Spaces by Jay Walljasper entitled “How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life”.
And now, in to the answer to your query, starting with a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture:
Sometimes life is simple:
Question: How fast will car drivers speed on any given stretch of road or street?
Answer: As fast as they can.
Qualification: And if that is not true for every driver on the road, it is true for enough of them that if road safety is the goal, then this brutal, uncompromising reality must be taken into serious consideration.
Question 2: Now what if anything can we do about it?
When one considers how things have gone in the last decades or thereabouts, it is not easy to believe in the survival of civilization.
I do not argue from this that the only thing to do is to adjure practical politics, retire to some remote place and concentrate either on individual salvation or on building up self-supporting communities against the day when the atom bombs have done their work. I think one must continue the political struggle, just as a doctor must try to save the life of a patient who is probably going to die.
But I do suggest that we shall get nowhere unless we start by recognizing that political behaviour is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured.
Why in all the welter and chaos of those many issues and trends that threaten our planet have we decided to focus on the much-needed, long-overdue, massive overhaul of the transport sector as our goal? To understand this choice made some years ago have a look at this table which appears in an article by the noted physicist and international environment scientist Dr. Robert U. Ayres in the latest edition of Exernomics – http://exernomics.org.
Which, if you have not noticed, does not seem to be working particularly well when it comes to guiding us (decision makers but also the voters behind them) toward better policy choices, even in matters purely “economic” (money, prices, interest rates, income distribution, taxation, regulation, growth, etc.).
With this harsh truth in mind, we try to keep up on matters economic, and several of our collaborative programs have this as their aim. One, EXERNOMICS, you can follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Exernomics/552738241538438 . Or directly via http://exernomics.ecoplan.org
Have a look and share your thoughts with us on this
In the spirit of World Streets long term watching brief on carsharing developments around the world, here is some current background on the status of carsharing from the land of the sun’s origin. And we are continuing to seek further details to give you a fuller picture of where it is and where it may be going.
In the meantime for more background 0n carsharing in Japan from World Streets, click here – http://goo.gl/m6XFcx