A collaborative network activity such as World Streets needs to find its own best combination of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s variant on the Greek parable of the Hedgehog and the Fox (“the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”). Given the huge information overload with which we live in this highly strung twenty-first century, it is absolutely critical that we play the hedgehog and stick rigorously to our topic. But… at the same time the many sided reality is that our topic by its very nature requires us also to be a fox. Thus are the contradictions and challenges of maturity. Continue reading
Michael Kimmelman 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
[Have a look at this good historical piece by Christopher Gray which appeared in today's New York Times under their Streetscapes/Traffic Wars rubric.]
IN the future, perhaps our time will be known as the first decade of the Bicycle Wars, with righteous armies fighting over traffic lanes, bike paths and sidewalks, indeed over the very purpose of the streets themselves. Like many wars, it’s a question of territory, and the pedestrian has been losing for years. Continue reading
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
David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times, generally a mid-American Conservative with all that implies. But he can surprise. Today he took a whack at the convolute matters of cognition, context and eventually the choices we make. From the vantage of our sector of responsibility here, if we are not able to operate at this level of cerebralilty, we will never make the transition to not just an “examined society” but also a sustainable world. So we better start making better use of the space in the back of our brains as well.
At the end of the day our transport sector, no matter where it is, is shaped by the perceptions of the main players, the opportunists, planners, decision makers and the public of what is there and what is it that people want and need. And if it is a mess in your country or city,well that’s because these perceptions are simply not clear enough. Read what Nate Sliver of the New York Times has to say when there is a collision between the experts and common sense on one much discussed transportation topic. Interesting things happen when smart people from the outside poke their noses into the transportation box. As we say: “you never know where the next good idea is going to come from”. Continue reading