The European Economic and Social Committee is organizing a conference on “Achieving the goals of the White Paper on Transport: how civil society can help with delivery”. This one day conference will take place at the Committee’s premises on 7 December. The principal document under discussion is entitled “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system”. It is available here . We are inviting comments on this document since it is at the core of the meeting. But first some background: Continue reading
That’s great. But just because we voted today does not mean that we are done with our duty as a citizen in a true democracy.
Today is the opening day of the 2012 Helsinki Equity-Based Transportation peer review program, the first in what we hope will become a growing thread of cooperating city projects querying the impact of first reviewing and eventually restructuring our city and regional transportation systems around the fundamental core principle of equity. You will find details on the EBT site at http://equitytransport.wordpress.com/ starting at noon today. Continue reading
After considerable and at times quite contentious discussions over the last months with colleagues around the world through various discussion fora, social media, programs, conferences and personal visits, we have decided to make one of the principal themes of our work here at World Streets for the coming year that of Safe Streets.
Hopefully we have learned at least one hard lesson of life, and that is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And here right before our eyes we have a case in point with the Occupy movements that are sweeping Europe and North America, a public crisis that is most unexpectedly taking place on “public land”. And then suddenly, with no advance notice, everything starts to morph and the issues involved start to encompass not only the continuing unchecked egregious abuses of the financial community but also important (for democracy) issues of public space — one of our consistent concerns here at World Streets. So in an effort to make sure that we do not miss the opportunity behind this crisis, we pass the word back to Andrew Curry so that he can build further on his article under this title earlier this week Continue reading
On Sunday, the NYC Street Memorial Project held the 6th Annual Memorial Ride and Walk. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, 151 pedestrians and 18 bicyclists were killed on the streets of New York City in 2010. Participants called for stronger measures to reduce traffic fatalities. The ride culminated by installing a “Ghost Bike” in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall for the unnamed pedestrians and cyclists killed in 2010. Continue reading
If you get it, New Mobility is a no-brainer. However, while newmob is a great starting place, it is not going to get the job somehow miraculously done just because it is the only game in town when it comes to sustainable transport. We have a few potential sticking points here that need to be overcome first. Let’s have a quick look.
After some years of talking with cities, and working and observing in many different circumstances, here are some of the barriers are most frequently encountered in trying to get innovative transportation reform programs off the ground, including even in cities that really do need a major mobility overhaul. Continue reading
The Colombian presidential elections will be held in less than three weeks on May 30. The campaign is all about ideas, leadership, and courage. And what could be more critical for a country or a city event to have these lined up together with a proven capacity to innovate, administrate, and to ensure that good policies and measures are continuously being scrutinized for performance and adapted to ensure that they are making the fullest possible contribution, year after year after year? Grab a cup of coffee and check out “Bogotá Change”. You are going to learn something.
* * * Click to “Bogotá Change” here * * *
Not all that long ago Bogotá, the Colombian capital, was considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities. At an altitude of over 2,600 meters up in the Andes mountains, seven million people were fighting a losing battle against drug crime, corruption, poverty and, not least, against each other.
But in 1995 the colorful and independent Antanas Mockus surprised many by being elected to become the city’s Mayor, after having been fired as the vice-chancellor of the university where he had mooned his ungovernable students in a fit of rage. Mockus’s anarchistic and untraditional methods set about a social revolution that meant that Bogotá today is a role model for cities such as New York and Mexico City. ‘Bogotá Change’ tells the story about how this happened, and shows that politics in fact can be both funny and deeply inspiring.
If you are interested in how a city in a developing country was transformed through leadership, vision, and much work, this video done by a professional movie producer from Denmark is a good investment of 60 minutes of your time.
The story in brief:
By the way, it is about the administration of three mayors in that city, in “one of the world’s most dangerous cities”: two one-time political rivals, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, both of whom are now united with another Mayor of Bogota, Lucho Garzon, and Sergio Fajardo, former mayor of Medellin. Coming together to bridge the political gaps they have recently created the Green Party (Partido Verde) and they have come from 5% of the anticipate vote in just 6 months ago to lead the Presidential polls for the election taking place in two weeks.
Quite an interesting process, which included a primary between Mockus, Penalosa and Garzon, where all three travelled to every corner of the country on a bus, always together, shared financing, never spoke a negative word of the others, and following the selection of Mockus as Presidential Candidate all three, in addition to Fajardo are fully engage and committed in the campaign as a TEAM.
Viewing the film:
Let’s have a look at the backdrop to this inspiring story, thanks to a film that has been put together by a Danish film team in their Cities on Speed series (more on that below). You can do this in at least three ways.
All four films in this series are available for purchase from The Danish Filminstitute – details at http://www.citiesonspeed.com/.
Alternatively, you can check out the seven part series which has been posted to YouTube (IP??) and which you can access here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OdhD5D5its&feature=PlayList&p=0AD7F4A77E828E07&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1
If you are not sure, let me invite you to start here and please view at least the first two episodes, barely ten minutes in all. Then you can either continue with YouTube presentation (full screen recommended) — or, if you will, click to http://www.megavideo.com/?v=0MKNIESG for the full 59 minute film. (If you are like me, a bit overworked and under brained, you may not think you are going to sit through the whole thing. Okay. Let’s see what you do.)
# # #
About the filmmakers –
Producer: Henrik Veileborg, Upfront Films, email@example.com
Director: Andreas Møl Dalsgaard, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cities on Speed
For the first time in history, over 50% of the world’s population is now living in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to increase to 80%. At this very moment, giant urban organisms are growing at unprecedented rates. For some time now, growth in cities like Shanghai, Mumbai, Cairo and Bogotá has far outpaced planning. These cities are expanding so rapidly that urban administration and the keeping of official statistics have become largely impossible, and population figures are increasingly nothing more than rough estimates. They are truly ‘Cities on Speed.’
The Cities on Speed series consists of four documentaries, each of which pinpoints key problems in Bogotá, Mumbai, Shanghai and Cairo. Based on the perspectives of a series of noteworthy characters, the four films present drastically different views on the global megacity and the challenges brought about by their explosive growth. Cities on Speed portrays radical urban problems, and people with radical ideas on how to solve them: from underground parks in Shanghai and mime traffic police in Bogotá, to the so-called ‘garbage people’ in Cairo and 100,000 new Nano cars in Mumbai.
More at: http://www.citiesonspeed.com/. For the Bogata film, http://www.citiesonspeed.com/citiesonspeed/Bogota_ENgelsk.html
Copies can be ordered direct from http://eshop.dfi.dk/Shop/ItemList.php?CategoriSelect=14. Price: € 40.00.
# # #
What are the lessons that I take from this engaging, challenging film?
1. Leadership is not a committee matter. It is rare. It needs to be uncommon, courageous, original and inspiring. And viral!
2. Transportation is not something in itself. If we try to separate it from the greater whole of which it is but one part, we will never achieve either the mobility system or the city that should be our goal.
3. Continuity is both difficult and critical. It is one of the first victims of political football.
4. There are new ways of thinking which combine deep democracy and everyday practicality. We would be very weak, very foolish, and very amenable to manipulation by entrenched interests if we were not to recognize this and act on it.
What are the lessons you take from this film? Click comment below in order to share them with us all.
Editor, World Streets
“We’ll keep our cars thank you very much. And we shall park them where we want. And for as long as we choose to. If heritage is a barrier, let’s move it out of the way. And, by the way, what moral authority do you have to tell me otherwise?” - Simon Bishop, Delhi, India Climate Change is so serious explain the policy wonks that it is like a war. Did Gandhi then delay the salt march due to the searing heat of Gujarat? It took place when the Gujarat cauldron was heating, finishing in April 1930. Did Gandhi continue to take His Majesty’s coin as a lawyer as ‘the system was made to support the Empire and until it changed. We wouldn’t? This is a key point. Until policymakers start to take a lead and practice what they preach who will believe the product they are trying to sell?
“The problems of excessive traffic are crowding in upon us with desperate urgency. Unless steps are taken, the motor vehicle will defeat its own utility and bring about a disastrous degradation of the surroundings for living… Either the utility of vehicles in town will decline rapidly, or the pleasantness and safety of surroundings will deteriorate catastrophically – in all probability both will happen.”
- Simon Bishop, Delhi, India
Climate Change is so serious explain the policy wonks that it is like a war. Did Gandhi then delay the salt march due to the searing heat of Gujarat? It took place when the Gujarat cauldron was heating, finishing in April 1930. Did Gandhi continue to take His Majesty’s coin as a lawyer as ‘the system was made to support the Empire and until it changed. We wouldn’t? This is a key point. Until policymakers start to take a lead and practice what they preach who will believe the product they are trying to sell?
The prophetic words of Colin Buchanan in the UK 1963 “Traffic in Towns” Report are now ringing in the ears of Indian towns and cities. Drivers include; a high and fast growing urban population, rising levels of prosperity, inadequate public transit, sprawling cityscapes, and easy lines of credit. All are factors behind a growing appetite to raise status through motorcycles and cars and buy into the suburban dream waiting just round the corner. More on that at the end of the article!
The impact of growing traffic is being felt specifically on built heritage in a number of important ways. The historic centres of Indian towns and cities were not designed for motorized traffic. Streets were meant to be narrow to offer shade for all manner of pedestrian and animal traffic to go about their business without struggling too much against the extreme heat of summer. Pick up any Lonely Planet to India and you’ll find testimony that such a heritage fabric lends itself for the tourist to enjoy on foot or by bicycle. Sadly exhortations to ‘explore the old city by cycle rickshaw’ or ‘hire a bicycle to enjoy the outskirts of the town’ are fading away as pollution, noise and danger render the option unpalatable.
A perfect case in point is the system of nallahs or streams running through the city of Delhi. Built by the Tughluqs to supply the city with water nearly 1,000 years ago these nallahs or streams could be cleaned up to act as ‘greenway’ walking and cycling corridors. Just one nallah in South Delhi, for instance would link five of the seven ancient cities of Delhi, providing unrivalled access for tourists, school children, families to get in touch with the proud history of this city. Led by hungry contractors, the picture below shows what is happening in practice.
Not only is tourist revenue under threat, but local people are increasingly hooted at and bullied in their own backyard by motorized transport. Parks and gardens are difficult for children and the elderly to get to. Street play is hazardous between parked vehicles and erratically moving traffic. What visual and aural intrusion is doing to deter tourists from ‘Incredible India’ is one thing, but the associated levels of pollution are also damaging building fabric. In larger towns with roads over 30 metres in width, high levels of traffic are also decreasing the economic viability of heritage buildings as they become dangerous and difficult to access – witness Sabz Burj on a traffic island in Delhi.
On a wider level whole communities living in historic enclaves are severed by wide arterial roads cutting through their heart or surrounding them from outside.
At a policy level there is a yawning gap between land use and transport planning. Delhi, the capital city of India still has no Transport Plan.
A series of exhortations in the Master Plan to build cycle tracks on all arterial roads are rarely observed and, without any network plan, those that are remain ineffective. In the absence of any multimodal plan to reduce journey distance through the application of compact, mixed land use strategies, large numbers of people are moving to greenfield apartments that can only be reached by motorbike or car. The newly opened Gurgaon Expressway from Delhi, saturated with traffic years ahead of schedule, is the result.
There are isolated examples of towns that have challenged the ‘inevitable’ threat to their heritage caused by unbridled suburbanization and motorization but only one has done this in a systematic way; linking environmental, social and economic objectives. Located near the India-Pakistan border, the Punjabi town of Fazilka removes cars from the city centre during daylight hours.
The market area was the first part of town to be made car-free. Four-wheeled vehicles are not allowed to drive in this zone during 12 daytime hours, although even then it has not yet been possible to prohibit motorcycles successfully. The Municipal Council President Anil Sethi places an emphasis on improving local transport options rather than in encouraging long distance travel. Sethi eschews overpasses and flyovers in favor of initiatives like the ‘Eco-cab’ scheme where residents can use their mobile phones to dial a cycle rickshaw to take them door-to-door. The local tea seller or shopkeeper keeps part of the telephone fee for acting as the cab controller, directing rickshaws to their customers.
Other examples of towns applying the ‘car free’ concept, although not in a holistic way like Fazilka include Nainital, Shimla and Darjeeling where cars are banned during retail hours on the main shopping streets. The concept is an in emergency response to the huge influx of tourist traffic during the summer months. This, combined with steep hillside topography constrains the movement and storage of vehicles. In Nainital a system of Eco-Cabs operates where users obtain a ticket from a booth at either end of the main street and then travel from one side of the town to the other. Challenging gradients preclude cycles or cycle rickshaws in Shimla and Darjeeling but allow for pedestrians to enjoy unfettered access to the main shopping streets.
In a sign of things to come, the Carter Road in the Bandra area of Mumbai organized its first car-free day on 21st February 2010. Forty thousand local residents and Bollywood celebrities including Priya Dutt pledged to take part whilst the area was closed off to traffic. The aim of the event was to focus people’s attention on the impact of vehicles on pollution and in inhibiting healthy living and exposure to the great outdoors.
Perhaps the key point to make, however, is that cars are aspirational. The policy wonks who rail against the Tata Nano would be the first to scream and cry if they were asked to make sacrifices by walking or cycling to the office or using public transit. Most have chauffer driven, A/C vehicles clogging up the roads on the way to their next conference.
Go to the Habitat Centre in Delhi by cycle, home to a host of environmental and UN organizations and you will be politely waved through the service entrance and forced to face oncoming car traffic. Go to a conference by cycle and you will be waved away. When these leaders asked if they walk or cycle the inevitable answer is ‘No, it’s too dangerous.’, ‘When the roads are planned for cycles I will use one’, ‘ It’s too hot for 9 months of the year in India to cycle’. The answer is always why I can’t do something, not why I can. In fact it’s perfectly possible to cycle in the Indian Plains early in the morning or late in the day when most people commute even during the hotter months with a folded shirt in your bag, a hat on your head and a T-Shirt on your back.
# # #
About the author:
- Simon Bishop is working as a transport and environment consultant in Delhi, where he lives with his family. In India he has worked on bus and cycling projects like the Delhi BRTand helped set up the Global Transport Knowledge Partnership. Before coming to India two years ago Simon worked in London as a planner on demand management and travel marketing schemes, receiving an award from the Mayor for “London’s Most Innovative Transport Project”. He authored ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ – Policies for Sustainable Aviation’ while working as a policy adviser in the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Yesterday’s feature article under this title generated a number of immediate comments and responses from readers in Australia, Canada and Germany, including the following announced “Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising”, a “stakeholder approach” to dealing with these thorny issues. We produce it here in its essentials together with URLs for further information. But does it actually do the job?
Richard Campbell from Vancouver Canada wrote in this morning as follows: “There are similar standards in Canada that just came into effect. http://www.adstandards.com/en/MediaAndEvents/newInterpretationGuideline.aspx. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws.
It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions. Here is the complaint procedure: http://www.adstandards.com/en/ConsumerComplaints/theConsumerComplaintsProcess.aspx“
Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising
Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) maintains the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code), the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada. The Code sets the standards for acceptable advertising and forms the basis for receipt and review of consumers’ complaints about Canadian advertising. The Code is augmented by Interpretation Guidelines that are designed to enhance industry and public understanding of the interpretation and application of the clauses of the Code.
On September 24, 2009, ASC published and implemented Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses #10 or #14: Motor Vehicle Advertising. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws. It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions.
Developed by a working group, the motor vehicle advertising guideline initiative was led by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), in conjunction with ASC, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Association des agences de publicité du Québec.
The working group was convened following the adoption of legislative provisions obligating the SAAQ to “in collaboration with automobile manufacturers, advertising agencies and highway safety stakeholders …establish guidelines aimed at prohibiting any advertisement that portrays a road vehicle and conveys a careless attitude with respect to road safety by presenting situations that encourage reckless, dangerous or prohibited practices or behaviour.” The auto advertising issue was of interest to other Canadian jurisdictions, several of whom joined the working group (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Transport Canada.) The working group’s adoption of the Guideline was supported by all Canadian jurisdictions.
The positive cooperation from the other stakeholders meant that the guidelines could be built on the existing self-regulatory structure, thereby avoiding the need to adopt more binding measures. (Our emphasis.)
* Click here for the new Guideline: http://www.adstandards.com/en/MediaAndEvents/newInterpretationGuideline.aspx
Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses 10 or 14: Motor Vehicle Advertising1
(Editor’s note: These are the “eight questions” referred to above.)
4.1 When evaluating complaints about advertising involving depictions of motorized vehicles that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety), Council will take into account the following questions:
a. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration of the vehicle convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits?
b. Does the depiction of a vehicle’s handling ability involve potentially unsafe actions such as cutting in and out of traffic, excessively aggressive driving, or car chases in a residential setting?
c. Does the depiction appear realistic or does it appear to be unreal, as in a fantasy-like scenario that is unlikely to be copied or emulated in real life?
d. Would it be reasonable to interpret the depicted situation as condoning or encouraging unsafe driving practices?
4.2 When evaluating complaints involving depictions in automobile advertising that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety) or Clause 14 (Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals), Council also will take into account the following questions developed and endorsed by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association:
a. Is the vehicle operated in violation of applicable laws or beyond reasonable speed under the circumstances taking into account the portrayed road, weather, traffic and surrounding conditions (e.g. children in the area,) or over usual speed limits in Canada?
b. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration and braking of the vehicle, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits or to otherwise operate a vehicle unsafely or illegally?
c. Does the depiction of racing and rallies, and of other competition environments, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages, convey the impression that production vehicles could be driven like racing or competition vehicles on a public roadway?
d. Is the advertisement encouraging or endorsing vehicle use that is aggressive, violent or injurious toward other road users, or that denigrates or disparages cautious behaviour when using a vehicle?
# # #
This proposal strikes these eyes as a possible step in the right direction; however we fear that calls for “reasonable behavior” will be about as well accepted by the main actors involved in this sector as it would be in the more aggressive edge of the financial community.
We do not see that anything of worth can be achieved in this domain unless there are real teeth to it. Where are the teeth? Where is the responsibility? Where is the good governance needed as a framework for working democracy, healthy entrepreneurship and society?
I don’t think that we can responsibly run away from this one.
Editor, World Streets
Our sustainable colleagues over at Nuova Mobilità, our Italian-language sister publication, have shown more consistent aggressiveness concerning debating the issues of car advertising then we (which points out the advantages of diversity) — but from time to time we too consider that it is useful to give this some thought and dialogue. N/M picked up the following quite contentious article on the subject today from the Guardian, which we are also pleased to share with you for your information and comment. (Ours appear at the end of this article).
Want to promote cycling? Cut back car adverts now
- Tom Bogdanowicz, guardian.co.uk. London. Wednesday, 17 February 2010.
The UK spends £500m a year on car ads and fetishises auto-ownership – no wonder cycling is stuck in the slow lane
Step out of your home and what do you see? There is a subliminal and overt message on the streets and in the media to buy cars and use them. You’ll find it on TV, on your computer, in the newspapers you read. It makes the promotion of any other form or transport, such as cycling, an uphill struggle regardless of how convenient, healthy and sustainable it may be.
The advertising spend on the promotion of motor vehicles in the UK exceeds £500m a year. And, by and large, it works: car ownership has grown steadily since the 1940s and, after the current economic crisis abates, it will likely continue to do so.
In sharp contrast, the promotion of cycling and walking is almost non-existent. When Transport for London ran a TV ad promoting cycling it was a unique occasion. The number of cyclists on UK roads has dropped sharply since the 1940s, and London stands out as a rare example of a city where cycling has doubled in six years.
While the government encourages us to walk, ride bikes and use public transport, it knows that car advertising is persuading us to do the exact opposite. Instead of sharing one car, households buy two or three so that everyone can express their own personality through their vehicle. If you believe the advertising, your car will make you more attractive, more popular and more successful. How many car ads show the reality of being stuck in traffic or the frustration of searching for a parking space?
Cycling gets the occasional media boost when team GB sweeps the Olympic medals or cycling in London soars, as more people realise it’s faster around town than driving. But very few companies pay big money for bike ads, so newspapers don’t have cycling sections – with notable exceptions, such as this blog – and there is no cycling equivalent of Top Gear.
The outcome of all that PR for cars is more sales as well as more congestion, more pollution and a greater demand for scarce parking spaces. There would have been no need for the congestion charge in London if not for the success of the auto industry’s publicity machine and the popularity of motoring programmes.
Reversing the trend of ever-increasing car ownership and use is not as difficult as it seems. If governments were to limit car advertising, as they did with alcohol and tobacco when the health impacts were recognised, people would take decisions about their mode of transport based on common sense rather than the promise of open highways, high speeds and glamorous locations. Common sense might well encourage cycling or walking for more journeys.
The survival of cycling as a transport mode and its growth in London is a tribute to its convenience and simplicity. Surveys show that one-in-five of us would like to cycle. If the barriers to cycling were removed – such as perceived danger and a lack of cycling infrastructure – cycle journeys in the UK might increase tenfold to the levels seen in Holland or Denmark. The benefits are obvious: more cycling and walking would help prevent health problems as well as climate change.
Holland is lucky to have invested in cycling before car-oriented planning created a road system that discourages cycle use. The UK, unfortunately, has seen several decades of car-centred planning. But, as London shows, the UK can still join the virtuous circle. Local traffic management schemes can be redesigned to allow cyclists through them and urban gyratories can be removed.
If reduced auto promotion stemmed the growth in car ownership as well, we could see more people cycling and drivers might discover that the roads were less busy and parking spaces easier to come by. In fact, there is little choice; Britain’s urban population continues to grow – unless we enable people to cycle and walk more, and stop persuading them to use cars, we face gridlock.
# # #
About the author:
• Tom Bogdanowicz is campaigns and development officer for the London Cycle Campaign
* Source: guardian.co.uk. http://tinyurl.com/yb7ssh9
* Reader comments here: http://tinyurl.com/yznghcu
From the editor: A Personal Reflection:
It is not exactly that recourse to the law is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but it – that is the crude hammer of the law – is certainly the last refuge of citizens and political leaders who are not able to come up with a better and softer path to get the job done. Which is to say that we approach matters like this with a heavy heart, but then are ready to hear the arguments from both sides, all while not forgetting what sustainability and social justice are all about.
The bottom line: As an essentially naïve person, I always tend to confound or confuse (or wish hopefully about) advertising as having primarily an information function. Of course when any of us has a point we wish to make, there is also a human tendency to try to make that point in a way which renders it agreeable for the public you are trying to get on your side. At one point of course this can become a matter of more even than simple cajoling , namely attempting behavior modification, and this brings us in front of an ethical choice, or maybe better a dilemma.
I, and I am almost certain you also, have reached the conclusion that advertising in public places and the media can be extremely useful in matters in which society is having a problem or two: smoking too much, speeding too fast, drug dependency, various forms of unfair discrimination, the long list goes on. No reasonable person can deplore the intelligent and in a surprising number of cases pretty effective advertising/information campaigns that have been run over the last several decades in order to modify behavior of large numbers of people and create really a better and safer society for all. Moreover I, and once again I bet you too, want to see more of this done wisely and effectively.
Now back to our topic, namely the at least highly dubious habits of the automobile industry advertising practices. And here I have to put my cards on the table and state that I am not an anti-car guy. I have had quite a range of cars over the years which by and large I greatly appreciated and I think have used wisely. On the other hand, we are all increasingly aware that as things stand today there are many situations in which “own-cars” are not always necessarily the best way to get around every day (particularly in cities of course). Anyway, we shall soon enough have a billion of them raring to go all over the planet, so it is our job as citizen-guardians of the concept of sustainable transportation to provide perspective and, if we can manage it, wise counsel as to what exactly is going to be their proper place in society. After all, that is what governance is all about.
For starters, anyone would have to be blind or soft in the head not to see the pernicious qualities of much of the car advertising that we presently have in our various print and electronic media. Much of this goes well beyond giving us simple information about their products, and with the help of very sophisticated media specialists and experts in behavioral psychology often combine to create pattern and attitudes which are far from being in the public interest.
The fixation with speed, the subtle ways of manipulating and implying speed as a personal (to some) if not a social value — and hey! everybody knows that speed kills — gives us a great place to start. Some of the rest is more puzzling and is going to be more difficult, so until we can sort this out, speed gives us a good training ground to get going and figure out how to handle the rest.
My position on this today then is that I feel there is every reason for the vigorous public debate in as many fora and places as can be reached. Tom Bogdanowicz’s points are worthy of reflection, and it is good to see him looking at all of this from the perspective of cyclists. And if you click here – http://tinyurl.com/yznghcu – you will be taken to the extremely lively commentary that his article has excited, and which also might find it useful to spend the time with.
I wish I could tell you that I have a way to wrap this up so that you can put it all behind you and move on to other things. But I cannot and so as resourceful citizens we have to keep thinking about it, talking about it, and pretty soon doing something about it.
Editor, World Streets
To move from the unfair and hopelessly inefficient deadlock that is old mobility toward sustainable transport and sustainable cities, we need concepts, dialogues, demonstrations, projects and programs. But none of this is going to happen if we don’t have the people: the warm, surely fallible but somehow thoughtful, daring and courageous human beings who are needed to bring all this about.We need more heroes, wouldn’t you agree? Our Profiles here on World Streets are intended to remind the world that whenever something good happens, it is because there are real live people behind it. Let’s take Robin Carlisle who is working for change in Capetown South Africa for example. Continue reading
Paris. Nov. 1994: Kenneth Boulding, 1909-1993, was one of the magisterial figures in the field of social science of the second half of the twentieth century. In the last two years of his life, he took to writing sonnets, 216 in all between 1981 and 1993. We have taken one of these to sound the theme for our collaborative knowledge-building enterprise here on World Streets: “how to turn a heterogeneous caucus into a choir, singing the same good song, So, to democracy all should be turning When it is not just voting, but group learning.”
Sonnet for the Neighborhood Democratic Caucus
They come — a somewhat miscellaneous group
Of people gathered from the neighborhood.
Some may be naive — some are fairly good
At jumping through the somewhat twisted hoop
Of politics — not getting in the soup
Of disagreement, finding where they stood
On touchy issues that might mean they could
Lose the election; learning when to stoop,
And when to stand against a blatant wrong,
When to be quiet, when a little raucous,
And how to turn a heterogeneous caucus
Into a choir, singing the same good song,
So, to democracy all should be turning
When it is not just voting, but group learning.
- Kenneth Boulding, Boulder, Colorado, 14 April 1992
Who was Kenneth Boulding?
Professor Boulding was internationally known for his innovative and sensitive work in the field of economics, Along with the presidency of five other major scholarly societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science ,he was elected as president of the American Economics Association. He taught at universities on three continents, wrote more than thirty significant books and hundreds of articles, pamphlets and papers, and was awarded numerous honors for his work not only as an economist pushing the forefront of his profession, but also as a humanist, futures thinker and major activist in the field of peace and conflict resolution.
Ken Boulding was a profoundly democratic man, a Quaker (the Society of Friends), a loving and diligent work partner with his wife, the eminent Norwegian-born sociologist Dr. Elise Boulding, and both a worrier (about our ability to survive the challenges of the modern world) and an optimist (he decided to dedicate his life to doing something about it anyway).
Books in Print by Kenneth Boulding
The following lists the available titles of books by Ken Boulding from Books in Print. They can be ordered through your local book dealer which is what I am sure he would have preferred) or of course any of the booksellers that ply the net.
• The Future: Images & Processes
• The Future: Images & Prophecies
• National Images & International Systems
• Structure Of A Modern Economy
• There Is A Spirit: The Nayless Sonnets $4.50
• Toward A New Economics
• Three Faces Of Power
• Conflict And Defense
• Economics As A Science
• Meaning Of The 20th Century
• Beyond The Bomb
• Mending The World: Quaker insights on the social order
• Economics Of Human Betterment
• The World As A Total System
• The Organizational Revolution: A Study In The Ethics Of Economic Organization
• Preface To Grants Economics
• Evolutionary Economics
• Disarmament And The Economy
• Ecodynamics: A New Theory Of Societal Evolution
• Redistribution Through The Financial System
• Stable Peace
• Economics Of Peace
• Peace And The War Industry
• Mayer Boulding Dialogue On Peace Research
• The Evolutionary Potential Of Quakerism
• The Image: Knowledge In Life And Society
• New Nations For Old
• Collected Papers Of Kenneth E. Boulding
- – – – –
# # #
Editor – Late night thoughts:
Late last night as I was tossing, turning and thinking about how we are going to be able to find a way to continue World Streets, my thoughts turned to Ken Boulding, who in his latter years also had his active mind at times keeping him up in the middle of the night. What he did often on those occasions was to click on the bedside lamp, pick up a pen and quietly write notes — but also from time to time one more of his several hundred sonnets, including the one you can see here. (His dear wife, Elise Boulding, told me about this when I called to ask her permission concerning the following.)
It was back in late 1994, one year after Professor Boulding’s death, when we were just cranking up the first iteration of our collaborative web presence (see http://www.xability.com/commons/comdedic.htm), that I decided to seek permission to dedicate the first year of our new worldwide group learning enterprise and “somewhat miscellaneous group” in honor of Professor Boulding, whose work had marked me deeply back in the days when I was something of an economist stretching for new ideas and clues about why people do the things they do. I contacted his wife, Mrs. Elise Boulding, who kindly gave me permission to do just that.
Today, fifteen full years later and at a time when competence in matters of world peace and conflict resolution have rarely been so important, his poem, his work and his example come to mind. “To democracy all should be turning. When it is not just voting, but group learning.”
That sounds to me much like what you, dear reader, and we are trying to do here. And you will I am sre agree: we have to try a lot harder. This is a challenge we should not fail.
Eric Britton, Paris