Category Archives: Active citizenry

Editorial: No FPT without SCR (Systematic Car Reductions)

This is a simple fact! Free Public Transport (FPT) has no possible justification whatsoever unless your governing officials are willing to do something about adjusting the other half of the modal mix to bring down car ownership and use in the city strategically and as quickly as possible . . . SCR – Systematic Car Reductions.

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The tools for achieving these necessary adjustments in the modal split are well known, experience-proven and widely used in cities of all sizes in many parts of the world. There is no possible justification that competent public authorities not be aware of these proven tools and policies. They include most notably: Continue reading

Transforming transport in Penang – and the earlier the better

Transport in Penang (and all around the world for that matter) relies on non-renewable sources of energy. Think 20 cars with one person in each vehicle, versus one bus with 20 passengers. The former creates traffic jams and worsens pollution to detract from the overall liveability of a city. It is often argued that supplying more roads only creates more demand for their usage. With 10,000 more vehicles added to Penang’s roads each month [1], we will have to commit ourselves soon to a decision to enhance sustainable transport.

Think City Bhd invited Prof Eric Britton, managing director of EcoPlan International in Paris, founder of World Car Free Days and longtime advocate of sustainable transport initiatives, to Penang with the purpose of studying the transport system, meeting stakeholders and hosting a series of events to come up with ideas and a new perspective for transportation improvements across the state. Thus, Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility was arranged as a two-week itinerary that featured 11 focus group discussions, three master classes, a lecture, a symposium and dialogues with MPPP, MPSP and the Penang Transport Council.

Malaysia Penang heavy traffic in GT

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Sustainable Penang Phase 2: Implementation (2014/15)

malaysia penang bike street markingThe 2014 objective is to identify, prepare and implement specific reforms and projects that can be brought online and already start to show results in the year ahead. (Time horizon as selected by State Government for near-term measures and reforms set out in Transport Master Plan Strategy.)

The key implementing agencies will be the State Government and the two Municipal Councils – MPPP  and MPSP — coordinating with the Penang Transport Council. The project is accompanied by Think City and supported by the International Advisory Network of EcoPlan International and World Streets. The key lies in the active engagement of Civil Society Partners in Penang (NGOs, universities, researchers and consultants, media, bloggers, local associations, concerned citizens).

- – > See full Executive Summary at http://penang1xs.ecoplan.org

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A New Moblity Agenda for the Vision Impaired in Penang

In the context of the Sustainable Penang/New Mobility 2014 program, the key to the success of the project lies in the identification and eventual Penang St Nicholas Home logopreparation and implementation of specific, practical, relatively low cost concepts and measures which give more importance to non-motorized transport and public transportation than to the traditional uses of the private car. One of the ideas that came up early in the Focus Group  brainstorming sessions was that of providing voice announcements for the blind and others with visual impairments on the new Rapid Penang bus services being developed across the state. In the following excellent article prepared by the local NGO Saint Nicolas Home we see how thoroughly they are looking at the problems of mobility and access for the visually impaired. Thus it is not surprising that Saint Nicolas Home is emerging as one of the most engaged champions of this collaborative project for 2014.  (We shall be seeing more about that project shortly here.)

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Getting away with M U R D E R

In memoriam 2013.

Streetsblog: Doing its job year after year in New York City.

Each year our friends over at STREETSblog in New York City publish a heart-rending testimonial to the mayhem that automobiles have wrought over the year on their city’s streets and the cost in terms of lives lost by innocent pedestrians usa ghost bike photoand cyclists. Putting names, faces and human tragedy to what otherwise takes the form of dry numbers, faceless hence quickly forgettable statistics is an important task. We can only encourage responsible citizens and activists in every city on the planet to do the same thing, holding those public officials (and let’s not forget, “public servants”) responsible for what goes on under their direct control.

Who is doing this job in your city?

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The Sustainable Transport Conundrum (2)

poster sustainable transport dilemma  2

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Saudi women call new day of defiance against driving ban

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RIYADH (AFP) –  Saudi women activists have called for a new day of defiance next month of the long-standing ban on women driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

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Penang Focus Group 10. Women, Gender Balance and Leadership

FB penang-women bus credit http- www. flickr com photos bitemytrip.8541775016

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Penang Focus Group 1. Media Partners for a Sustainable Penang

 penang - media traffic camera

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Penang Focus Group 6. Civil Society

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Ten Targets for Sustainable Penang: 2013/2014

The goal of this year’s Sustainable Penang Autumn project is to use the dialogues maylasia - street art childrenand other contacts in order to define a series of at least ten “transformative actions” that can be planned and carried out over the fifteen months following this first program. With an eye to then reviewing progress action by action in a second event to take place in Penang in the opening months of 2015. A sort of open progress report and collaborative reflection for next steps.

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Meet Streetmix, Where You Can Design Your Own Street (in Penang)

Do you have the feeling that your street could be a lot better if it were designed for people and safe mobility instead of primarily for moving and parked cars? Suppose the entire width of the street, sidewalks, gutters and provision for parked and moving vehicles is, say, xx meters. And if you wanted to see what it could  look like if there were more provision for safe walking, cycling, street furniture, trees and greenery, transit shelters, priority public transport, lane dividers,  turn lanes, and yes, parked and moving vehicles, then have a look at Streetmix (the Website Where You Can Design Your Own Street in Penang).

USA Streetmix - 2 all car

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The Legend of the Hummingbird

One day, a long time ago and in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire that was raging the countryside. All the animals were terrified, running around in circles, screaming, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

But there in the middle of the flames, and above the cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again And then again.

After a while, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those miniscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! “

To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m going to do my bit”.

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Scientists Discover Tipping Point for Spread of New Ideas

Our challenge in Penang has three main parts: (a) to see if we can help to complex systems networkcreate and reinforce a “new majority” for equitable and efficient transport system reform; (b) build capacity for sustainable mobility,  innovation, and new approaches in the sector; and (c) train and influence at least a small core groups future leaders.  This article which has just appeared in Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm) provides a good idea of the dimensions  of the task before us.

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Letters: Citizen participation in cycling provision in the UK

- Ian Perry, Independent consultant and consultant. Cardiff, Wales

The importance of citizen participation in decision-making was highlighted yesterday evening at a public meeting in Penarth, South Wales, attended by 147 frustrated citizens who showed their willingness to participate in their communities decision-making.  An attempt to force the Vale of Glamorgan (county) council (Vale council) to hold a referendum on proposals for the National Cycle Network (NCN) failed by just 17 votes.  133 votes against 5 were for a referendum on the matter, with 150 votes needed under current legislation.

UK Wakes Penarth cycle protest

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Announcing the un/OCCUPIED Movement at World Streets

guerrilla-gardner-unoccupiedCities live and flourish when they find their own way to combine density, mixed use, access, active citizenry and quality of life.  And thus every square meter that today is not being used in the public interest is a waste, a failure of imagination and citizen engagement. Happily this idea of reclaiming the unoccupied, the abandoned, or the hijacked  spaces of the city for the community as a whole is a movement that is now in full flower, and we intend to report on it in World Streets.  We are calling this: The un/OCCUPIED movement.

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Our Right to Walk is Non-negotiable (India)

india- children in trafficAnumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, in a wide-ranging conversation with Faizal Khan reporting for the excellent Walkability Asia ( Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities),  spells out clearly the inevitability of a non-motorised transport code in India through shocking figures and revealing facts. “We need zero tolerance policy for accidents. This menu of action needs support. Our right to walk is not negotiable.”  And on this Roychowdhury is entirely right. On this score we must be entirely intransigent and as part of this to keep pounding away on this important point of citizen activism on every available occasion, until we get the concept of zero tolerance written into the law and respected on the streets. All our streets! Continue reading

The Equity Initiative: 2011-2015

First step: Say good-bye to Old Mobility

Chengdu China looking at caps on cars“Old Mobility” – with its relentless stress on more, supply, more vehicles, more speed, ever greater distances and more infrastructure as the knee-jerk answer to our mobility problems — has been the favored path for conceptualizing, decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is fully charted, surprise-free and easy to see where it is leading.  Aggressing the planet, costing us a bundle, draining the world’s petroleum reserves, and delivering poor service for the majority . . . this tired approach  is a clear failure. It’s time for a major change of course.

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Old Mobility: Going, Going, Gone!

scratching-headIn order to understand what needs to be done to create healthier lives and a better performing set of transportation arrangements, World Streets has from the very beginning made a consistent distinction between what we call “Old Mobility” vs.”New Mobility.”  The difference between the two is simple, straight-forward . . . and substantial.

Old mobility was the dominant form of transportation policy, practice and thinking that took its full shape and momentum starting in the mid twentieth century, at a time when we all lived in a universe that was, or at least seemed to be, boundless and  free of constraints. It served many of us well in many ways at the time, albeit with numerous and notable exceptions, though we were blind to most of them most of the time. It was a very different world back them. But that world is gone.  Gone and it will never come back.

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Big House Equity Outreach: Bring in All Local Actors, Views & Implementation Partners

Too often when it comes to new transport initiatives, the practice is to concentrate on laying the base for the project in close working relationships with people and groups who a priori are favorably disposed to your idea, basically your choir. Leaving the potential “trouble makers” aside for another day. Experience shows that’s a big mistake. Instead from the beginning we have to take a . . .

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Support for women and leadership in transport. This time from Hong Kong.

The latest news about increasing support of women in leadership positions in transport just in this morning from Hong Kong.

World Streets is firmly behind the movement to bring more women at all levels of society and in all countries into the heart of the process of understanding, planning and implementing fair mobility for all. Since 1973 the editor has been actively engaged in the movement to increase the role of women in the highest levels of leadership in public, private sectors and into the volunteer and NGO movement. At times this has been a lonely vigil, but as the French poet Louis Aragon told us some two generations ago: “La femme est l’avenir de l’homme” (Woman is the future of man). If you believe that, it makes you very hard to stop. Continue reading

SEARCH FOR A CITIZEN APP: “CLICK-TO-FIX”

click-to-fix example of photoFor my colleagues in the city of Lyon, I am trying to give them a reference for an app which permits citizens to identify and report on problems on the streets in very specific and convenient ways.  Here is how it might/should work: Continue reading

Civil Society and European Union Policy and Practice in the Field of Transportation

Look out. This time our friends over at the European Economic and Social angry public meetingCommittee (JDE62) in Brussels are doing a terrific thing. Tomorrow morning they open their doors for a one day conference and peer brainstorm on Civil Society and European Union Policy and Practice in the Field of Transportation (my title).  As latest background information you will find here the final copy of their program and a list of their speakers, panelists, etc. Continue reading

Support World Streets (And why)

We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, on taking over Cavendish Laboratory in 1919

World Streets is an independent  public interest publication which, as a matter of policy, we make freely available to all who are looking to understand, support, and contribute to the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world. We firmly believe that there should be no barriers, and especially not commercial ones, to the free circulation of news, tools, counsel and peer exchanges when it comes to the important issues of sustainable development and social justice.  To ensure our full independence we do not accept advertising. We depend on the support of our readers, concerned public agencies, foundations and actors in the private sector to keep going. Continue reading

“I don’t believe in charity” – In memory of Roland Dreyfus

Ici chacun sait ce qu’il veut, ce qu’il fait, quand il passe ;
Ami, si tu tombes, un ami sort de l’ombre à ta place. *

Yesterday at the end of a long day I received an email announcing the untimely  and totally unexpected demise of my dear friend and colleague, Rolland Dreyfus, founder and principal inspiration and motor behind the Accès Universel program since its creation in 2006. In case you do not know his work you can follow the program he created with his energy, commitment and vision from its beginning  via their website at http://www.accesuniversel.eu  (where you will also find the announcement of his death). What to do? I am not on the board of the association (I am only  an advisor) so I am not in a position to get directly involved in the decisions to continue  or not either the work of the Association or the website. So rather than sit around moping and feeling absolutely powerless I took the risk of trying something immediately as a modest testimonial to support his work and vision. Continue reading