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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Report. Policy Pathways: A Tale of Renewed Cities

report cover - IEA on Renewed CitiesToday the International Energy Agency has published a new report,  A Tale of Renewed Cities.   The report draws on examples from more than 30 cities across the globe to show how to improve transport efficiency through better urban planning and travel demand management. Extra benefits include lower greenhouse-gas emissions and higher quality of life.  According to the report, policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as USD 70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050.

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“CAR21″: A Thinking Exercise (or New Ways of Owning and Using Cars in the 21st Century)

 

From the World Carshare Consortium:  I would like to offer a “thought experiment” with anyone here who may wish to jump in with their ideas. criticism and/or proposals — or perhaps only to pull up a chair and see what happens in a case like this. The short story is that I would like to see what, if anything, happens with a simple change of title and focus for this group — the World Carshare Consortium at http//worldcarshare.com + + World Streets on Carsharing at http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/sharetransport/carshare +  Facebook page on carsharing http://www.facebook.com/groups/worldcarshare/ + YahooGroups discussion forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WorldCarShare  — which for almost 15 years now has been focusing its attention strictly on the varieties of carsharing that are fast multiplying and taking an increasingly important role in the mobility options of people in cities around the world.  Carsharing has a brilliant, in many ways surprising and certainly very different future, which in fact is already well in process.  But there is more to our story than that. Continue reading

New Mobility Strategies from the ground up – Supporting local commerce and enterprise

It is well established by now, in leading circles of knowledge, policy and practice at least, that mixed use is the fourth dimension of the tetraptych of the four interlocking axes of Transport/Mobility/Access/Presence. And in this case namely presence.

To my thinking, the concept of mixed use in a society that puts a premium on job creation and local entrepreneurship as well as sheer mobility per se, has not until now gotten a fair run, either in the literature or in practice. And yet it is vital to the future well-being of our cities and all those who live and work there. Continue reading

Weekend musing: Lewis Mumford on the city, in 1963. (Le plus ça change)

This is not the first time anyone addressed these themes.  In the City in History, a classic text of urban design. Mumford urged in 1963 that technology achieves a balance with nature and hoped for a rediscovery of urban principles that emphasised humanity’s organic relationship to its environment. Forty-five years on, the film clips look incredibly old and the message delivered in a rather morbid and factious manner (to quote Jane Jacobs), with a slightly ‘Outer Limits’ or ‘Twilight Zone’ ambience. Yet some of the key ideas promoted by Mumford have increasing resonance with the sustainability and green agenda of the early 21st century. In the increasingly praxis orientated and commodified world of urban design, whether anyone is listening or not is another matter.

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Book report: Sustainable Transportation Planning

Michael Alba reports from Boston on this new guide for transport planners:

Sustainable Transportation Planning seeks to tackle the greatest social and environmental concerns of the 21st century, focusing on the role of transportation in creating more sustainable communities. It is a how-to guide for anyone interested in the economic, social and ecological health of cities. Continue reading

Groningen: The quiet example

What? You know all about transport in cities and you have never heard of Groningen? Well, check out this : an unexpected street interview in Groningen, a slice of life as filmed by our old friend and transport innovating colleague Robert Stussi. He has titled it: “A Homage to Hans Monderman”. Hear, hear! Continue reading

Op-Ed: A rethinking of what parking is in the first place

“If your parking policy debates are going in circles, there is a good chance the protagonists are ‘framing’ parking in totally different ways.”  (Let’s see what Paul Barter of Reinventing Parking had to say  on this earlier today in Singapore.) Continue reading

Parks in, Cars not out? Is that going to be our future?

reports in today’s New York Times about the new trend whereby “All around the world, highways are being torn down and waterfronts reclaimed; decades of thinking about cars and cities reversed; new public spaces created.” That is certainly good news and true, but there is a bit more to it than that as you will see if you read on. Continue reading

Defining principles: Remembering Mrs. Jacobs

As we move ahead with the Safe Streets project over the course of the year ahead, there will be a small group of people to whom we shall be referring from time to time who have, through their insights and contributions, basically redefined the entire field of transport in cities. And Mrs. Jane Jacobs is of course one of this wonderful group. We are honored to be able to share these leadership profiles with you, and for Mrs. Jacobs we pass the word to Michael Mehaffy who reminds us of her contributions and takes on her critics head-on. Continue reading

More on public, private and social space. Andrew Curry reports from occupied London – Part II

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

World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 17, No. 3

The Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice is the long-standing idea and print partner of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda since 1995. The Autumn 2011 edition appears with articles by Theo Haris, Michelle Zeibots and John Elliott, and Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy. In the article that follows you will find the hard-hitting lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg. (For a more complete introduction to World Transport click here.)

- – – > To obtain your copy of WTPP 17/3 click here. Continue reading

More on public, private and social space. Dispatch from Andrew Curry reporting from occupied London

We think quite a lot about space here at World Streets, from at least two perspectives. First and naturally enough given that the goal of transportation/mobility/access is specifically to find ways to bridge space, in one way or another, and for better or for worse. And second, because when we get to cities, and given the bulimic, gorging nature of our present dominant transportation options, space starts to get in very short supply (the so-called elephant in the bedroom syndrome). But it is not just space per se; no less important is the quality of public and social space in cities that is (or at least should be) a continuing concern of policy makers and citizens alike. So when we spotted a thoughtful piece such as Andrew Curry’s short article that follows, we are glad to be able to share it with our readers. Continue reading

On “Filtered Permeability” as a sustainability tool

During one of our eternal research and reading probes which had us looking at and weighing the advantages, etc., of the many diverse approaches to creating “Livable Streets” (my favorite that being the term of the great and much missed Donald Appleyard), “Complete Streets”, “Quiet Streets”, “Fused Grids” . . . (just to cite a few of their many names”), we tumbled onto a phrase “Filtered Permeability” which was altogether new to us. After a bit we identified the person who had coined it, Steve Melia of the University of the West of England, and asked him to fill us in: Continue reading

Sustainable transport in Delhi and Stockholm

This article addresses from an Indo-Swedish perspective issues of the development of transport systems, taking its examples from Delhi and Stockholm. The introduction of the first BRT or bus rapid transport corridor in Delhi and the institution of a congestion tax in Stockholm are presented and discussed in terms of modernisation and sustainable transport. The authors explore the perceptions of politicians and examine the two projects in the search for the driving forces for transport policies. Despite all the differences, some similarities in the development of their urban transport projects have been found.

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Dutch cycle infrastructure quality drives one cyclist crazy

Not Holland

It will drive you crazy, at least it does this cyclist. The quiet Dutch voice of reason while they so patiently try to help us understand that a cycling nation or city is not built overnight. But put aside your prejudices (and your prides), and spend five minutes with the Dutch cycling guru Mark Wagenbuur while he rides us through the history of cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands. (There had to be a reason for it.)

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Thanksgiving 2010 and Morning in America

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010 sitting here in Paris, my thoughts not unnaturally turn to my native America. And since our view here is from the street I have to think a bit unhappily about why is it that we in this great country do not seem to be able to let go of “old mobility” – i.e., whenever you spot a problem you build something to solve it (also known as the Edifice Complex) – as the highest-possible cost, least civil, one size fits all solution to our problems of efficient transport and fair access in and around cities. Of course we Americans invented old mobility a long time ago — and at the time it seemed like such a logical and dynamic solution to the connection challenges of a vast growing nation. As indeed it was. But suddenly it’s 2010, the twentieth century is long behind us, and if we look carefully at the low quality of what we are seeing on our city streets across the nation it would strike one that perhaps it is time to rethink OM from bottom to top and come up with something a lot better. For example New Mobility, which without our having to define it here is the basic strategy and value set that is behind the far more successful city transport arrangements we can see in hundreds of leading cities around the world – and none of them sadly are American.

Why and how have we arrived at this sad state of affairs? Well, let me ask a foreigner working in this field who has long lived in and long admired America to tell us about what he thinks is going on. Sometimes when you are lost it helps to stop the car, roll down the window, and ask for some directions. Let’s try. Continue reading

From Australia, Jarrett Walker on transit’s role in “sprawl repair”

Urban sprawl is at its best a very mixed bag, as we all know. But worse yet behind its tempting glamorous face it surreptitiously locks in unsustainability in many many ways, ending up with a grossly unfair package of no-choice mobility combined with close to totalitarian car dependence for all at the top of the awful list. But is this a prisoner’s dilemma in which everyone at the table is forever destined to lose once those die are cast? Not so sure about that. The other day, we heard from Paul Mees with our review article “Locked in Suburbia: Is there life after Autopia?” where he suggests that we will do well to look more closely at the options other than hand-wringing that are in fact there to be taken. While today, Jarrett Walker walks us through his interpretation of how “sprawl repair” can work without waiting for some distant Nirvana (or Hell, whichever my be your vision of choice).
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Watery Future for the City of Light

One of the amazing/complicating things about the world of mobility in cities is that it is one of those slices of daily life where everything touches something else and then something else again. Which means that nothing ever obliges us by standing still long enough so that we can fix it fast, once and for ever. It’s all about process.

So here is a report from today’s New York Times on a pretty exciting waterfront  project here in Paris for which World Streets’ editor was interviewed this week  and about which, when you get right down to it, is pure New Mobility Agenda. As you can see he managed to patch in some of our common concerns here (see closing section below), along with some words on the importance of value capture and tax reform, followed up by a good closer from Todd Litman in Vancouver. You will recognize and I hope appreciate it.

Sustainable mobility: Step by step. Step by consistent persistent step.

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Density without tears: Singapore’s Transportation Secrets

Density. Sprawl. Car-dependence as a result of car use’s gradual reshaping of our cities. The unintended consequences of a no-policy transport and land use policy can be catastrophic for many, in many ways. And once the damage has been done(see the map of last week’s piece contrasting two cities of the same population size: Atlanta and Barcelona)it is not easy task to get the toothpaste back into the tube. But let’s get to that another day. Today let’s listen to Christopher Tan on Singapore’s no tears transport policy.

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Moving People: Solutions for a growing Australia – Australian perspectives on sustainable transportation

When it comes to both old and new mobility, Australia offers an interesting case. Along with a group of countries that may seem surprisingly mixed at first glance, and which would include of course the perennial United States with the spacious Canada right in its footsteps, but which also a number of the Nordic countries and in particular Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland who have followed the toxic combination of personal wealth and ubiquitous cars to the extent in which it has in many ways locked them into an all-car no-choice system, the Australian mobility pattern is right up there with the “best” of them. But life moves on and in every one of these countries you will now find a growing number of individuals and groups who are questioning the old ways. Have a look at this sample of leading edge new mobility thinking in Australia. We find it both refreshing and instructive.

Moving People: Solutions for a growing Australia

* Note: the full 81 page report is available at http://www.ara.net.au/UserFiles/file/Publications/Moving_People_report.pdf

National land transport policy issues and directions

Australia’s current land transport systems are not sustainable in economic, environmental or social terms. To substantially improve the sustainability of Australia’s land transport systems, national land transport policy for at least the next decade needs to be framed around outcomes:

a. Congestion management: to manage congestion costs, improving economic competitiveness and quality of life in our cities;
b. Environmental improvement: to achieve substantial cuts in transport greenhouse gas emissions;
c. Social inclusion: to ensure adequate accessibility options are available for all Australians (and international visitors);
d. Health & safety: to make the transport system safe and encourage healthier transport choices; and,
e. Energy security: to increase our energy security by reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels.

This report focuses primarily on the people elements of the land transport task.

The key Policy Objectives that are required to improve the sustainability of our transport systems are:

• Changing the modal balance for transport away from such a high dependence on motor vehicles;
• Improving the environmental performance of all transport modes but particularly of cars and trucks; and
• Ensuring that travel opportunities are available to all, irrespective of personal circumstances.

These three policy objectives can be translated into six major Program Directions:

i. Reducing the demand for travel
a. Land use planning (increased density, co-location)
b. Maximising opportunities for walking and cycling
ii. Achieving a shift to lower carbon transport modes
a. Cars to public transport, walking and cycling
b. Trucks to rail
iii. Improving vehicle utilisation
a. Higher car occupancy
b. More efficient freight movements
iv. Reducing vehicle emissions intensity
a. More efficient vehicles
b. Smaller passenger vehicles
c. Alternative fuels
d. Intelligent transport systems
e. Better driving practices
v. Increasing mobility opportunities
a. Provision of reasonable base public transport service levels
b. Using existing public transport opportunities (e.g. school and community buses) more effectively
vi. Creating a more sustainable freight network
a. Focus on freight movement to ports, hubs and to connect key manufacturing/distribution centres

A seven point national plan

These initiatives would be encouraged by the following National Land Transport Seven Point Plan.

1. Increased investment in public transport. (see Sections 2.7 and 4)
2. Freight capacity investment and efficiency improvements (see sections 3.2.3 and 3.2.7)
3. Road pricing reform, and reallocation of road space to prioritise low emission modes (see Section 3.2.3, 3.2.7 and 5.4)
4. Improved accessibility for all with the establishment of Regional Accessibility Planning Councils, behavioural change programs. (see Sections 3.2.1 and 3.2.5)
5. More compact, walking and cycling friendly urban settlements. (see Section 3.3)
6. Improved fuel efficiency. (see Section 3.2.4)
7. Improvements in transport research and information—implementation of a National Transport Research Program (see Section 5.2)

The public transport role

Australian public transport systems and services must play a larger role in future national land transport solutions, as a key means of improving the sustainability of these systems. Service improvements must be delivered in an efficient manner, to assure value for money to governments and the community.

Public transport system and service development should encompass:

• delivering improved customer service;
• investing in network extension and service
• enhancements; making better use of existing infrastructure;
• driving improved land use and transport planning; and,
• maximising value for money for Government.

The report outlines a range of ways in which Australian public transport services can be improved to enable the sector to enhance the sustainability of Australia’s land transport systems. It also identifies ways in which public transport service efficiency can be improved.

Following the lead now being provided by COAG, Federal and State funding support for the implementation of substantially improved public transport systems and services should be dependent upon both the existence of State integrated strategic planning systems, including land use and transport systems, and also upon the existence of programs that help to assure efficient service delivery is achieved. Benchmarking can help to provide this assurance and should be part of the assessment criteria for any funding request to the Federal Government to assist upgrade public transport systems/services.

The case for federal funding

The sustainability issues confronting Australia’s land transport systems are very significant and growing in magnitude. They affect all Australians. While the cities are the areas of greatest concern, regional and rural areas also confront many of the issues (e.g. the road toll, greenhouse gas emissions, social exclusion, economic competitiveness related to infrastructure provision and energy security). Because of the scale and geographical spread of these issues, national policy and program responses are required for effective solutions. This must, involve the Federal Government showing leadership and working in partnership with others. Some issues require a specific Federal policy and program response. The sheer scale of the financial requirement means that state-based budgets wil not be sufficient to equip Australia’s cities with adequate transport services.

The recently announced Federal provision of over $4 billion towards a number of transformational urban public transport initiatives under the Building Australia Fund, on recommendation from Infrastructure Australia, demonstrates that the Federal Government recognises the importance of transformational change. The December 2009 COAG Communique supports this acceptance.

Programming for outcomes

Federal government involvement in land transport must contribute to the resolution of a number of national issues that are severely impacted by land transport services/ system performance. The following national land transport program structure is proposed.

The chart indicates the alignment between the critical national land transport issues and the proposed outcome-based response programs. A program structured along these lines encourages an integrated, “modally-agnostic” approach to the pursuit of solutions to land transport problems, which is important for achieving transformational change—as distinct from an approach that is simply more of the same. Program elements in each area would need to include a wide range of measures for maximum effectiveness. This would include measures associated with (for example) infrastructure improvement, system regulation, and operations management, etc. A clear set of national key performance indicators should be developed and monitored, to measure progress against these critical policy goals.

Because of the long time period that will be required to implement many of the changes (especially those related to developing more compact urban land use patterns), long term funding commitments will be fundamental to the achievement of effective outcomes. Rolling five year Federal funding commitments, with provisions to guarantee minimum flows, will be vital to driving transformational change. These should support State/ Territory (and local government in some cases) five year plans.

The national interest issues discussed in this report require transformational change, not simply “more of the same”. The focus for Federal funding support should be on capital assistance to projects that lead transformational change and improve the national interest outcomes identified in this report. In some cases this assistance will be the majority of the funding required for a particular initiative. In others it will simply be top-up funding, to support private sector funding. The top-up could be in recognition of identified external benefits from the initiatives in question that the private sector is unable to capture as in some port projects.

The Federal Government should not involve itself in the operation of land transport systems that are currently State/Territory or local government responsibilities but should influence the development direction of those systems in ways that contribute to better outcomes when assessed against the national interest issues raised in this report. In providing funding support along such lines, the Federal Government needs to assure itself that outcomes represent social value for money and that funding recipients do not simply substitute Federal money for State/Territory/local government money. The use of performance benchmarking, a comprehensive planning approach and subsequent performance monitoring can protect against these risks.

An important consideration in structuring Federal financial support for land transport infrastructure is whether to adopt a formula-based approach to distribution of funding allocations (primarily to States and Territories) or to rely on a bid process, where bids are submitted in accordance with pre-specified criteria and allocations are made to those proposals which best meet the criteria, irrespective of geography. The latter approach characterises the Infrastructure Australia approach. The former is closer to the basis for current Federal allocations of land transport financial assistance (basically road funding). An argument for including at least an element of formula funding within a Federal financial assistance program for land transport is that to do otherwise would unfairly penalise a jurisdiction that has put in additional past effort at its own expense and currently has a smaller backlog than others, simply because of greater effort. It is proposed that a part of Federal land transport financial assistance should continue to be formula-based and part be based on transport-plan based project submissions.

Sustainable funding—road pricing reform

A reformed transport pricing regime should become the basis of a sustainable approach to national land transport policy.

A reformed road pricing system should cover all vehicle classes and all costs attributable to road use.

Possible options to structure such a charging system include:

1. a use-based charge to cover carbon costs (the current Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme curiously proposes offsetting the carbon price for cars by excise offsets for three years, a system that is at odds with the purpose of emissions trading);
2. a usage-based charge to cover the costs of road construction and maintenance attributable to lighter vehicles;
3. tonne kilometre charges for the additional road damage attributable to heavy vehicles;
4. a use-based charge to cover the external cost component of accident costs;
5. use-based charges to levy vehicles for air pollution costs; and,
6. a congestion pricing scheme to make users accountable for the congestion costs attributable to their road use, by time and location. Existing fuel excise and registration charges would be abolished and replaced by the above charges. There would need to be an Intergovernmental Agreement to implement such a system, because the incidence and scale of revenue flows would differ substantially from the current arrangements.

Overview

The national land transport policy framework outlined above, which focuses mainly on people movement, is based on:

• identification of the critical national land transport
• issues that require a national response for their resolution;
• formulation of a comprehensive, outcome-driven approach to national policy/program structure; implementation of a set of planning processes that feed the policy/program structure in an integrated manner;
• concentration of Federal land transport assistance funding in seven categories to promote outcome achievement.

The proposals should place Australia in a strong position to provide a world class 21st century land transport system.

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This report is a collaborative publication produced by the three leading groups representing the public transport industry in Australia (the Australasian Railway Association, the Bus Industry Confederation and the International Association of Public Transport–UITP).

It has been jointly authored by John Stanley (Adjunct Professor, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney) and Simon Barrett (Managing Director of L.E.K. Consulting, Australia).

The report is targeted at key policy makers in Commonwealth and State Territory Governments, with an interest in, or responsibility for, transport policy and related areas.

* For further information: Prof. John Stanley at j.stan@bigpond.net.au

* Again: the full 81 page report is available at http://www.ara.net.au/UserFiles/file/Publications/Moving_People_report.pdf

En Vélib’ dans les éco-quartiers By Vélib’ in Paris "eco-neighborhoods"

Okay, dear reader. If you want to get to the bottom of this update on how Paris’s famous Vélib’s are being integrated into the city’s mobility and land use plan at a fair level of detail, you will have to make your way through this largely untouched machine translation of an article just published by the Vélib team here in Paris. Courage!

(If you want to know you will know. If you don’t, you won’t.. .)

Vélib’ in Paris “eco-neighborhoods”

Source: http://velib.centraldoc.com/newsletter/

The month of April puts sustainable development in the spotlight for a week. On this occasion, you can learn about eco-neighborhoods with Vélib’. How do they favor motorized traffic? What is the mobility of tomorrow? Eco-neighborhoods are part of the climate plan of the City of Paris, which aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

What is an eco-neighborhood?”

While Vélib ‘has participated in the increase in cycling in the city, sustainable neighborhoods begin to bloom in the capital. The users of Vélib ‘could well be among the first to borrow the bike paths of sustainable neighborhoods, which are biased to motorized traffic and public transportation. The construction of an eco-neighborhood based inter alia on the best life and living together. The urban setting has to be warm and alive and for this, sustainable mobility, natural heritage, security is taken into account, as well as biodiversity, water management, noise and air pollution. Building a sustainable community based mainly on the HQE (High Environmental Quality) rewarding the preservation of the planet and a better quality of life (noise, air quality, water …).

A sustainable community is thought of as environmental and energy challenges, but also by economic and social criteria. Eco-building, renewable energy, revegetation techniques are widely used in the context of eco-neighborhoods.

* Click here for more information on eco-neighborhoods

Vélib’, soft modes and sustainable neighborhoods: what is the mobility of tomorrow? Anne

According to Anne Faure planner present at the conference on mobility and eco-neighborhoods, organized last February 16 by the association Zukunftstrasse in partnership with the Club of cities and territories bicycle, motorized traffic is a fundamental criteria in the construction of an eco-neighborhood. For her, Vélib ‘has given visibility to cyclists.

The concept of eco-neighborhood was first developed in the countries of northern Europe. According to Anne Faure, the Grenelle Environment has encouraged its development in France where the projects sustainable neighborhoods are still very recent. “One can cite the examples of the BIA Good Grenoble or Lyon Confluence, these neighborhoods are close to the center and well served by public transport, the soft modes are also very present. Meanwhile, there is a proliferation of small projects in France, “she said.

According to Anne Faure, so that these new neighborhoods are truly eco-neighborhoods, it is necessary that they be served by public transport and car traffic and parking are limited. It is a difficult objective to implement but the view is changing. “Indeed, we must know that 40% of average emissions of greenhouse gases are produced by the building and 40% from transport. Other sectors, which include industry, only 20% “she adds. The BIA of Rungis and the Batignolles district in Paris trying to develop such soft methods. The Confluence area in Saint-Denis and the reconquest of warehouses in the Ile-Saint-Denis also take into account the overall problems of displacement. “But in France the focus is on the building with techniques such as thermal insulation, while in Germany the first experiments in the primary endpoint was a city without a car,” said Anne Faure.

The planner said that the construction of an eco-neighborhood refers to the principles of sustainable development based on economic issues (including development of commercial and non-polluting activities), social (including construction of housing and utilities) and environmental (focus attention on managing energy, water and waste). She said the principle of eco-quartier is a first step towards a new vision of the city: “This is of course to shatter the limits of eco-districts across the territory of the city. For this, we need these neighborhoods is easily accessible to everyone, so they serve as a model.

The eco-city tour of Paris’s Vélib’

Beyond the planned actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the City of Paris acts on the environment: adaptation of buildings, revegetation of Paris, creating green spaces, roofs, shared gardens … Sustainable Neighbourhoods part of this process. They are emerging especially in the outskirts of the city, on vacant urban land or concerted development zones (CAZ). Gare de Rungis (13th), Boucicault (15th) and Claude Bernard (19th) … Velib ‘invites you to visit the eco-neighborhoods of tomorrow, Cycling. Browse a few of them with iVélib ‘.

* The district Fréquel Hondarribia in the 20th district was awarded in November 2009 by the Department of Ecology to support eco-district, in the Category Sobriety energy. Station Vélib ‘No. 20016

* 1st eco-neighborhood in the capital, the Batignolles in the 17th district will be divided into three sectors: BIA-Cardinet Chalabre BIA Clichy Batignolles area Saussure. Station Vélib ‘No. 17110

* Planned for 2012, the BIA Pajot, located in the heart of the 18th district, will pilot an eco-neighborhood in Paris, where the architectural heritage will retain his place. Station Vélib ‘No. 18010

* Launched December 6, 2009, Macdonald warehouse, located Porte d’Aubervilliers, is the largest geothermal project of its kind in Paris and covers an area of 200 hectares. Station Vélib ‘No. 19032

Examples from abroad

In Europe, there are many sustainable neighborhoods, including the Netherlands,
Ava-Lanxmeer in Culemborg, Sweden, B001 in Malmo Hammarby in Stockholm, and Finland, Helsinki Vikki.

In the UK, BedZED is a neighborhood built in south London, between 2001 and 2002. Covering an area of 1.7 hectares, it accommodates 100 apartments, 2 500 m² of offices and shops, green spaces, an auditorium, a health center, a sports complex and a creche. Since its establishment, and compared to conventional homes, this eco-district has reduced its energy consumption for heating by 88% and electricity by 25%.

In Germany, the Vauban district in Freiburg im Breisgau was rehabilitated in 1996 according to strict standards QEH. Nearly 3 000 homes and 600 jobs have been created. The homes are powered by solar energy and produce more energy than they consume. The area has been developed for an optimal sun exposure, with environmentally friendly materials and roofs are vegetated. Automobile traffic is reduced and the space reserved for outdoor games and soft travel.

Switzerland also has many eco-neighborhoods, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern.

Projects are underway in Austin, Texas, United States, and Wuhan, China.

Green Neighbourhoods (Quartiers verts)

The City of Paris has been engaged for several years a new policy of sharing public space. Green neighborhoods have been created.

The first of them, completed in 2003, Alesia Tombe Issoire, covers an area of 65 hectares and was built to improve safety and comfort of residents. The continuity of bike routes has been optimized, and speed of traffic has been limited. Much has also been devoted to the greening of the area, with the planting of 45 trees and 14 planters.

In the 12th district, the district Aligre favors soft travel with a velocity at 30 km / h, parking reorganized, or the creation of bike paths. Shrubs and planters were installed to revegetate the area.

* For more click http://www.paris.fr/portail/deplacements/Portal.lut?page_id=7414

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How to build more traffic? It’s not hard. Read on.

A bit down on the resource column just to your left is an early warning system of sorts which calls up relevant articles from an eclectic collection of independent sources that publish regularly in areas related to our field. One of these is Planetizen, where yesterday we spotted this thoughtful interview we thought you might wish to check out. It’s an old story, but good research helps us to get beyond the purely anecdotal. And now that we know it, the job is to get that message across where it counts.

Freeways Responsible For Emptying Out Cities

- Interview by Tim Halbur, managing editor of Planetizen

A recent study shows that for every significant freeway that gets built in a major city, population declines by about 18%. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, author of the study, talks with Planetizen.

Photo: Nathaniel Baum-SnowNathaniel Baum-Snow is a professor of economics at Brown University. His research has been remarkable consistent and urban-centric since writing his dissertation in 2000 on “The Effects of New Public Projects to Expand Urban Rail Transit.” Baum-Snow’s work came to our attention when he was cited in a recent Boston Globe article quoting his study that concluded that each new federally-funded highway passing through a central city “reduces its population by about 18 percent.” The implication of this type of data-driven evidence of the effect of highway construction on cities is often hard to find, so we went to the source.

BAUM-SNOW: There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence we see out there in metropolitan cities that a lot of jobs exist in the suburbs, and that that wasn’t nearly as true 40 or 50 years from now. But amazingly enough, there’s not a lot of systematic, empirical evidence about the extent of which that employment decentralization has occurred, and their isn’t a lot of empirical evidence about how commutes have changed over time. In the process of writing my first paper about highways and suburbanization, I tried to read everything I could about this and I couldn’t find anybody who’d looked at this in a systematic way across metropolitan areas.

And it turns out that not only has the nature of residential and employment locations have changed dramatically, but the nature of commuting patterns have also changed dramatically. Now, the vast majority of commutes do not involve the central city at all, even commutes made by people who live in metropolitan areas, whereas in 1960, the majority certainly involved central cities either as origins or destinations or both. And that’s a major change. I think the next step is to try to understand all the things that generated that change.

PLANETIZEN: Over the last couple of decades, planners have shifted their attention to thinking about regional planning. It seems to me that your research could indicate that regional planning is unnecessary, because people tend to live and work in their own locality. Is that your take?

BAUM-SNOW: Actually, I think it’s an argument in favor of having more regional land use and transportation planning, and the reason is that if suburb A builds a highway to connect to suburb B, that’s going to effect the distribution of commutes not only between those suburbs but also the commutes in the region as a whole. So there are going to be these externalities where someone in suburb C has a faster way to get to work, so they’re going to start using it and filling up this new highway. And a business downtown might say, hey, there’s this new infrastructure, let’s go locate out there and I can have a lot more space to work with. So anytime one part of a region changes something, it’s going to effect population and employment throughout the metropolitan area. So I think it’s important to engage at the regional level.

I think that zoning and densification are important. But there’s no way to make people or firms locate in a densely packed manner without providing the transportation infrastructure to allow them to do it. So you have to have some sort of policy at the metropolitan area-level. And what you can get is local communities imposing costs on everybody else by doing something like imposing big exclusionary zoning right next to the urban core. And that’s clearly not economically efficient for the region as a whole- they’re obviously trying to protect their housing values. So I think that it’s important for regional government to be proactive and realistic with transportation planning.

Everybody would like to live in a dense neighborhood as long as they have the biggest house on the block. So they have a lot of living space, but their neighbors are all contributing to the sidewalk life. There’s a balance there that is hard to get around, so there is a role for zoning that encourages density and gets the transportation infrastructure set up in a way that is feasible.


Image courtesy of Flickr user jbrownell.

PLANETIZEN: So was the creation of the highway system a good thing overall or a bad thing?

BAUM-SNOW: I do think that there was a welfare benefit from highway construction for a lot of people. People get to live in bigger homes, they have more choice in where they’d like to live. Now most households are dual-worker households, which wasn’t true back in 1950. Highways have allowed two people living in the same house to commute to different areas each day, so I think there’s been a welfare gain from that. So it’s sort of a mixed bag, but I think most people would say that although there have been some costs, the highway system has been a good thing.

A lot of people think that decentralization is about fleeing to the suburbs out of central cities, but if you look at the change in the spatial distribution of the population across large metropolitan areas, you find that it’s really much more of a spatial phenomenon. You see that the population density in the more peripheral regions of central cities actually went up quite a bit over the last 50 years, while the population of the central business districts went down.

PLANETIZEN: And how did you, as an economist, get interested in issues of transportation and land use planning?

BAUM-SNOW: Growing up I’d always been interested in urban transportation. I always loved riding the subway, and one of the first puzzles my parents gave me as a kid was a puzzle map of the United States with all the states and the interstate highways. And I would memorize the subway maps and bus maps, stuff like that. So it was always something I liked.

And as I got older, I would explore different neighborhoods in Boston (where I grew up), and I was fascinated how you could have such heterogeneity in land use patterns and in socio-demographic patterns within such a small space. So in college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I had an interest in public policy and politics, and I took a lot of different classes. Economics struck me as a field that had the best hope in helping me think about all of these things in a satisfying way.

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Nathaniel Baum-Snow is an assistant professor of economics at Brown University. You can access his research papers at his website here.

About the author:
Tim Halbur is managing editor of Planetizen, the leading news and information source for the urban planning, design and development community. Tim is the co-author of Planetizen’s Insiders’ Guide to Careers in Urban Planning and Where Things Are, From Near to Far, a book for children about city planners and what they do. He is also an audio producer and artist, collaborating with artists Amy Balkin and Kim Stringfellow on Invisible 5, a self-guided critical audio tour along Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles engaging with issues of environmental racism.

Op-Ed. Kaid Benfield on Vancouver’s Carfree Olympic Village

The first and most important new mobility option is: to get what it is you want or need, without climbing into carbon transport. And while we here at World Streets tend to spend most of our time looking at sustainable transport modes and good ways of combining them to create superior mobility packages, we also follow car-free (or car-freer) environments and programs around the world. The city of Vancouver has just taken a giant step in this direction as part of their Winter Olympics package, so let us give the word to Kaid Benfield, Director of the Smart Growth Program of the NRDC in Washington, DC for his views on this. Continue reading

Resource: Planning for Sustainable Travel – Tools for better integration between land use & transport planning

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) announce “a powerful new tool for planning practitioners, local authority officers and Councillors for better integration between land use and transport planning”. Planning for Sustainable Travel is a web-based resource with a summary practice guide, identifying the 11 key land use levers that planners and transport planners can use to help achieve lower trip rates, shorter travel distances and greater use of sustainable travel modes.

“The guidance makes two key recommendations:

1. Much more attention should be given at an early stage to analysing locational options for major development – selecting places likely to generate low trip rates and the greatest potential to offer a competitive alternative to car use.

2. New developments should be planned to achieve levels of car distance travelled per head that are lower than the average for the transport authority area and that are good practice benchmarks

It is intended that the guidance acts as a resource bringing together current sometimes disparate advise under one website and guide.”

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* For a short intro to the report – http://www.cfit.gov.uk/pn/091023/index.htm

* For project website – www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Full guidance is available at www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Planning for sustainable travel (summary guide)

* Planning for sustainable travel (leaflet)

* Planning for sustainable travel (background and technical analysis)

* For background on the CfIT – http://www.cfit.gov.uk

Contact:

Daniel Parker-Klein
Transport Planning Policy Officer
Commission for Integrated Transport
55 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU
t +44 020 7348 1970
f +44 020 7348 1989
m +44 07894 620655
e daniel.parker-klein@ciltuk.org.uk