Category Archives: Old Mobility

World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 20, No. 1

This issue of World Transport Policy and Practice opens the journal’s 20th year UK- Alan-Babit-Trmour-enhanced-red light downof  consistent commitment to sustainable transport, which embraces the urgent need to cut global emissions of carbon dioxide, to reduce the amount of new infrastructure of all kinds and to highlight the importance of future generations, the poor, those who live in degraded environments and those deprived of human rights by planning systems that put a higher importance on economic objectives than on the environment and social justice.

The lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg  reports on the wrong-headed intensification of the mobility paradigm which is now firmly locked into a very strong, highly destructive  infrastructure fetish.  Articles by Jeff Kenworthy (Australia) , Nguyen Thi Cat Tuong (Vietnam), John Baptist Gauci (Malta), and the team of Mary Surridge, Cathy Green, Dynes Kaluba and Victor Simfukwe (Zambia) complete this latest edition of the Journal.

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Penang report excerpts: Pedestrian Overpasses

6.1           Pedestrian Overpasses

 A pedestrian overpass allows pedestrians safe crossing over busy roads without impeding traffic.

malaysia penang ped overpasses stairsThere was a time that these grafted bits or road-related infrastructure seemed to make sense. A mark of that time was the implicit assumption that “traffic” meant  cars and that it made perfect sense to give them priority over pedestrians, cyclists and anybody else who might wish to cross a busy road. That time has now passed.

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Dead End in Brazil: Interview with Bolivar Torres, O Globo Brazil.

This is a video transcript of a 20 November 2013 interview with Bolivar Torres, Brazil Sao Paulo Traffic congestionBrazilian journalist with O Globo, a leading Brazilian newspaper.  Topic: Notably unsustainable transportation and trends in Brazilian cities — seen from an international perspective. What to do? How to move from today’s failing and inconsistent ad hoc policies which are not getting at the roots of the problems? Perhaps toward a New Mobility Agenda?  And what in anything might be introduced in time to improve traffic and life quality conditions for all during the coming World Cup and Olympics? (Much of this is going to be very familiar to Penangites.)

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The Sustainable Transport Conundrum (3)

poster sustainable transport dilemma  3

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The Sustainable Transport Conundrum (2)

poster sustainable transport dilemma  2

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The Sustainable Transport Conundrum (1)

poster sustainable transport dilemma  1

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Interests traditionally favoring Old Mobility

MM- interests traditionally favoring Old Mobility
* Click image to expand TO FUll size

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Op-Ed. Horrendous costs of motorized transport in (Indian) cities

Henrik ValeurEvery once in a while an article pops in over the transom, as happened this morning,  that provides us with a good, independent  checklist of the woes and, if not the solutions, at least the directions in which solutions might usefully be sought to our transportation related tribulations.  And this carefully crafted piece by Danish architect Henrik Valeur is a good case in point. His independent out of the box perspective leads him to making comments links and pointing out relationships which take him well beyond the usual transportation purview.  And if his immediate source of comment in this article is the awful, the quite unnecesssary situation on the streets of India’s cities, the points he makes have universal application. Healthy stuff for planners and policy makers. Let’s have a look.

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The Equity Initiative: 2011-2015

First step: Say good-bye to Old Mobility

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

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Old Mobility: Going, Going, Gone!

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

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

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Streetsblog: Doing its job year after year in New York City. In memoriam 2012

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

2013 Book announcement: NO (MORE) EXCUSES

Memorandum:  First background on book in process to appear end-2013.

 No ExcuseS, Sir! 

(A tale of cities, indolence, complexity and finally . . .   simplicity)

Introduction: No Excuses is a book  in progress by Eric Britton about cities and people, and how we get around in our day-to-day lives.  It is about the failure of a generation — but also how with a little imagination and a lot of willpower we can do it better on all scores, and in a way that is fairer for all.

uk-bus-queue-no excusesIf we say it is about cities and not transport, it is because the focus is not on the usual  transport infrastructure, technology or big investments of hard-earned taxpayer money. That is the old way of looking at it, the mindset that effectively dominated transport policy and practice in the 20th century and which is just starting  to lose its hold today.  Good things are happening but still in far too few places. These are the places and projects, and the people and strategies, that No Excuses is all about. Continue reading

Happy New Year . . . and what BTW is this “New Mobility Agenda” business all about?

To kick off the New Year, it would seem like a good idea for us to remind our uk-bus-queuereaders and contributors (and ourselves) of what we think this phrase means. This is important here since these three words are at the core of what World Streets is all about, as well as the main meat of our in-process  collaborative book for 2013, No Excuses, Sir!  A tale of cities, indolence, complexity and, finally, simplicity. Continue reading

Importance of Gender Parity in Transport Planning and Policy

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Bogota 21: Toward a world-class transit-oriented Metropolis (with commentary)

This report sponsored by Siemens under a program initi­ated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and De­velopment (BMZ) recommends “that about 4.2% of the national Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP), needs to be spent annually to develop Bogotá into a world-class transit-oriented metropolis”. The report has been  implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für In­ternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, active in Colombia for almost 50 years, and Siemens, a German global corporation present in Co­lombia for nearly 60 years.  And to see it for yourself,  click here for the full report that has just been released. http://despacio.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Bogota-21-english.pdf Continue reading

Life and Death of Urban Highways: New Report from Embarq

If the twentieth century was known for building highways, the twenty-first century may be known for tearing them down. A new report jointly produced by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and EMBARQ, The Life and Death of Urban Highways, re-appraises the specific conditions under which it makes sense to build urban highway and when it makes sense to tear them down. Continue reading

Whenever I hear the word revolver . . . I reach for my culture.

We have long-held a theory at the New Mobility Agenda that you can never tell where the next good idea is going to come from. So you really do have to keep your eyes, ears and minds wide open, and learn where you can, where you can, from whom you can. For example, Volkswagen in the New Mobility Agenda? Well, what not? Let’s show you one great idea that you may not have seen the first time around and that we have just this morning plucked out from our archives.
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Op-Ed: What/who keeps holding back New Mobility reform?

If you get it, New Mobility is a no-brainer. However, while the New Mobility Agenda 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. There is plenty of competition for all that space on the street and  between the ears. We have a few potential sticking points here that need to be overcome first. Let’s have a quick look to get this exchange off the ground. After some years of talking with cities, and working and observing in many different circumstances, here is my personal shortlist 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

Honk! Getting off the ox (when it comes to cars and cities).

There is a bit of ancient Hindu  wisdom that goes, roughly: How can a man riding an ox and looking for an ox, ever find the ox.  The answer being of course, only when he gets off the ox. Thus it is in life, but for many of us it is somewhere between hard and impossible to ever get off the ox of our perceptions and set values. But there are, thankfully, creative people who can do this.

Here by way of a quick warm-up is one quick demonstration of this off-the-ox approach from the lively mind of Jean Tinguely of his Cyclograveur, in short a bicycle that, as you pant and pedal, paints beautiful (?!?) pictures. And now t for your weekend reading pleasure let’s have a look at what our friends over at Streetsblog have just reported on another more timely off-the-ox transportation project, this time by the ever-ingenious Chris Burden with his post-Tinguely road-wrapping machine, Metropolis II.  Off we go. Continue reading

The New Mobility Agenda gets a hearing in Barcelona with a “Come argue with me” session

This is to invite you to “attend” at least part of a session of a conference that is to take place next week in Barcelona on the topic of “Smart Cities”. You can find full information on the conference here, along with links to all working papers and videos that will be presented over the four days  The particular bit I would like to point you to is my keynote talk and challenge which opens the plenary on “Urban mobility: Achieving social efficiency”. A full set of working notes and background materials for my presentation is available here. As you will note I have serious reservations about pushing the concept of a “smart city”, which to my mind is a pretty loaded phrase, complete with tandem mindset. I invite your comments and critical remarks on any of the points that appear here, and I shall try to deal with them as possible. Thanks in advance. The final talk will be available on video, as will the presentations for all the speakers in this interesting session. Continue reading

The Transportation Majority. (And why can’t our politicians count?)

 Policy makers have given ample proof that they just don’t get it. They plan and spend hard-earned taxpayer money for a distinct minority of all citizens and voters. It is amazing that they still manage to get elected. What’s going on in their heads? Continue reading

Towards Carfree Cities X: What happened in Guadalajara from 3 to 10 September 2011?

From the Editor’s Desk:
This year’s World Carfree Network Conference was organized by the dynamic and fast growing city of Guadalajara, under the title Towards Carfree Cities (Hacia ciudades libres de autos), and with the support and management of two local activist groups, Ciudad Para Todos and GDL en Bici. I was invited to provide the opening keynote address on the topic of “Better Cities with a Lot Fewer Cars”, to kick off a weeklong festival of events, discussions, and presentations in the context of their program.  My chosen themes were (a) deep democracy and (b) the need for immediate action.  I was wonderfully received and learned a lot during my busy week with them. Continue reading

Car Crazy: Lee Schipper on the Perils of Asia’s Hyper-Motorization

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.)

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The Transportation Majority. Can’t our politicians count?

Public transport? Cycling? Walking? Car pooling? Car sharing? People stuck at home? Elderly? Handicapped? Poor?  People unable to get to a job? Or who have to take hours to get there and don’t have a choice? Spend my hard-earned money for them? Bah! Who needs it? Why bother if it’s just for a few marginal people? Let’s concentrate our attention and investments on the big problems, those of the majority of people. Us drivers and our cars. We are the transportation majority. Continue reading

City as a time capsule: Urban highway construction mania still booming in 2011

Transport planning and policy in Lahore Pakistan today, as reported by public policy consultant Hassaan Ghazali, looks like something that was dragged out of a moss-covered time capsule on a hot day: a tawdry reminder of the kind of old mobility thinking, interest-wrangling and mindless investments of hard-earned taxpayer money that challenged and in many cases helped destroy the urban fabric of cities across North America and in many other parts of the world half a century ago. Continue reading