You are warmly invited to comment on all or any of these.
Did someone say, White Chairs?
During Rotterdam’s public art festival Wereld van Witte de With, urbanism office M.E.S.T. reanimated this idea. But instead of bikes, the designers left 350 white chairs in public space in Rotterdam. The chairs served as a terrace for all the decentralized performances, and fed a discussion about public space and ownership at the same time. People were allowed to use the white chairs freely and to take them to any other location as long as they remained part of public space. The white chairs were slowly spread across the city. According to the festival organization, they were even spotted at the Central Station of Leiden, a town somewhere between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Continue reading
What is it about what the English call a motor car that, when an otherwise perfectly decent human enters it and slams the door shut, somehow there is a total transformation of that person gripping the stirring wheel into something, into someone who is just a little bit less decent and a little bit less human. A consistent theme of World Streets is that over the last hundred years or so our cars have not only transported us but they have also in the process also transformed us. Oops. And in the process they have fatally (I chose my word) altered the dimensions of the space in which we live our daily lives, and in the same process made this thing that was supposed simply to transport us from A to B at our leisure, into a defining part of our daily lives — and indeed in some ways part of ourselves. A cruel critic might say, half Faust and half Frankenstein. Continue reading
This weekend saw the first public testing of the much bruited Autolib’ carshare project currently getting underway here in Paris. And as you wait for our in-depth coverage, on-the-spot interviews and film we thought you might find it handy to refresh your understanding of the basic objectives and challenges, with this reprint of our 10 December 2010 article in which we try to take a balanced view of this ambitious transportation project. You will be hearing a lot more about Autolib’ in the coming months. If it works, it will be a major transformative project and will make a lot of people start to think in quite different terms about how they are going to get around in the city in the future. (For a quick print update try here and here. And for a short video, here) Continue reading
Our old friend and long time colleague Lee Schipper is sitting in a hospital bed in Berkeley California today, and since your editor is stuck in Paris and can’t visit him, we thought that while he gets his strength back we would reach into our and others archives and publish a series of pieces to celebrate his deep knowledge of all that World Streets is about, his excellent judgement and his world level communications skills. (And if you have something by Lee that you would like to share with our readers as we wait for him to swing back into action, please send it on.)
No matter how many times I have been to the Netherlands, how many times I have ridden next to parked cars, nor how many times as a driver have I leapt from my vehicle, in all that time and in all those places I never learned how do the Dutch get out of a car. But I should have and Russell Shorto explains why. Continue reading
We have been reading and hearing quite a bit in the French media, and in particular in the context of the city of Paris’s ambitious planned Autolib project, that “carsharing is dead in France”. Which came as something of a surprise given that our own read of the evidence does not at all square with this position. So we asked Nicolas le Douarec, who has something of a record in bringing carsharing to Paris, what he thought about that death warrant. His heady response follows. Continue reading
Let me sketch out an easy to understand (or reject) climate/transport foundation strategy that presents some stark contrasts with the ideas and approaches that are getting the bulk of attention when it comes to targeting, policy and investment in the sector — and which in a first instance is quite likely to earn me more enemies than friends (that goes with the territory). At least until such time that these basic underlying ideas are expressed in a manner which is sufficiently clear and convincing that we can with confidence put them to work to turn the tide. So here you have my first brief statement of the issues, the basic strategic frame and the key pressure points to which I invite your critical reactions and comments. In a second piece in this series, to follow shortly, I intend to have a look at the package(s) of measures, policies, tools, modes, etc. which can be sorted out, combined and refined to do something about it. Or maybe not.
- Eric Britton, Editor Continue reading
We live at a time when the people at the top who have to make or influence decisions in our sector are time-starved, over-burdened and, truth to tell, not about to spend a lot of time reading, or even listening or otherwise trying to ingest the great glaciers of data views and recommendations that are about to inundate and eventually freeze them solid for more thousands of years. But for those of us who see ourselves as change-agents, we need to find ways to capture their attention in order to widen their intellectual pallet in order to draw their attention to a range of new ideas and alterative problem-solving approaches beyond the ones that normally inform (and limit) their choices. Well, what about a series of attention-grabbing, lesson-purveying one-minute movies that can get them thinking in broader terms? And better than that, share with their families and colleagues. Might we have a look and think about this together? Continue reading
I like this concept, and while by itself it may not move the earth I would like to invite your comments and suggestions on this formulation which, self-evident though it may seem, some of us at least may find of use from time to time. We need to get a firm handle on the reasons why old mobility thinking is proving so hard to dislodge. This quick characterization may be of help.
In a conversation yesterday with Katherine Freund of ITNAmerica, during which we were discussing her participation in the forthcoming World Share/Transport Forum in Kaohsiung next month, the conversation rolled around as to the reasons why the narrow binomial choices which seem inevitably to frame the transport policy issues/choices in most places – i.e., either spend money to help cars or public transit as the two main options – are destined to fail. And in the process we eventually worked our way around to the phrase . . . Continue reading