Bike sharing project at Makerere University Kampala, Uganda

World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda are strong and consistent supporters of bike sharing projects created in university settings, particularly uganda makerere universitywhen planned and implemented on the basis of collaboration with students and faculty. We have reported on the excellent bike sharing project at Taiwan National University, and today we are pleased to share with you information just in from the Bike Sharing Project at Makerere University in Kampala Uganda. Projects like this not only improve mobility and environment for all within the target area, but also serve to prepare future leaders.

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Weekend Musing: One more reason why Africa does not matter

africa map“In a fair world it should be unthinkable to ignore the needs of close to one billion of the poorest people on the earth living in its second-largest and second most-populous continent. A part of the world with already one-third of the population living in cities, most of whom in slums, and with a flow of people from the country side continuing at record rates.”

- From Cities, Transport and Equity in Africa: Unasked Questions Continue reading

World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 19, No. 2

Rural access, health & disability in Africa

A Special Edition of World Transport, Spring 2013

africa bike hosptial transportTransport, health and disability are interlinked on many levels, with transport availability directly and indirectly influenc­ing health, and health status influencing transport options. This is especially the case in rural locations of sub-Saharan Af­rica, where transport services are typically not only high cost, but also less frequent and less reliable than in urban areas.

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Cities, Transport and Equity in Africa: Unasked Questions

In a fair world it should be unthinkable to ignore the needs of close to one billion africa-girls-in-trafficof the poorest people on the earth living in its second-largest and second most-populous continent. A part of the world with already one-third of the population living in cities, most of whom in slums, and with the flow of people from the country side continuing at record rates.

The transportation arrangements in most people’s daily lives in Africa come in several flavors, few of them appetizing: ranging from world-class traffic jams making it close to impossible to negotiate the streets of the larger cities for hour each day, to at the other extreme no provision for vital survival transport (water, wood for fires, food) for the remainder of the continent. Continue reading

What happened with Kampala’s first-ever Car Free Day in 2011

It started like a dream, and became a reality. After the long awaited workshop in April this year, some major steps have been taken so far in Kampala. By the end of the workshop which was organized and financed by Kampala Capital City Authority in association with Goudappel Coffeng, Goudappel Africa and Iganga Foundation, a pilot project was prepared by the same partners. With its artistic impressions, Kampala looked like a heavenly city, with the people friendly infrastructure in place. Continue reading

Bike-Share Thriving in Africa

Bike sharing, despite all that is going on world wide in many places, is still very much a new concept that still harbors many unknowns. Including  a very wide range of “business plans” as needed to get them started and keep them going. Associate editor, Gail Jennings, reports on how bike sharing looks from an African perspective. Continue reading

AFRICA: ‘Bicycles Are For Good’

Gail Jennings reports from Cape Town.Politicians may tell us that bicycles are a sign that we are not advancing,” says Patrick Kayemba, managing director of the First African Bicycle Information Organization in Uganda, “but we ourselves have seen that cycling is a socio-economic tool. It works now – we don’t have to wait for someone to rescue us with better public transport, better this, or better that…” Continue reading

North/South perspectives: When a cyclist is not a cyclist is not a cyclist

If you look at that Sempé time-phased cartoon of the other day in World Streets, “A Short History of Social Mobility“, the lesson that leaps out at us is that what we are seeing in terms of cycling in the richer parts of the world is a phenomenon that in both economic and social terms is very specific to those places. And if by contrast we are looking for more universal lessons, especially for people in the poorest developing countries where there is a crying need for better, more affordable mobility, we may need to look elsewhere. Let’s hear  what our friend Ezra Goldman has to say on this score after an enjoyable week with the cycling buffs in Seville for the annual Velo-City global bicycling bash. (Followed at the end with a few words on our a-borning Africa Streets collaborative project. ) Continue reading

On the road with one of Cairo’s first female taxi drivers

Source: BBC News, 27 Sept. 2010

Source: BBC News, 27 Sept. 2010

We cannot of course be sure if you are following all of our web of key themes that together create the bedrock of World Streets, but two of these that are most important to us are (a) the importance of “pattern change” and, of course our old friends will say, (b) the role of women as not just passive passengers in a system designed by and mainly for men, but also active drivers of the changes that we now need to put in place to have mobility systems which are both sustainable and just as well as efficient. With this in view, let’s share with you this morning  a very short video just in from the BBC in which one of Cairo’s new female taxi drivers shares with us some of her views on her job and the attitudes it evokes in the people around on the street. Continue reading

Why Africa Streets is necessary (via Africa Streets)

Why Africa Streets is necessary Here is a map showing the locations of the last eighty readers who checked into World Streets this morning. It is typical of what we see day after day in this  collaborative international forum.  Hmm. Where is Africa on this map? It would not be a big deal if either (a) the matters covered by W/S were only of interest and use to the countries that consult the site as you can see here, or if (b) the African continent were well covered by other and … Read More

via Africa Streets

Africa Streets Mission

The mission of Africa Streets is to create an open public platform in support of sustainable transport and sustainable and fair communities across this great and needy continent. Unconstrained by bureaucracy, economic interests or schedules, Africa Streets is being launched as a wide open international platform for critical discussion and diverse forms of cross-border collaboration on the challenging, necessarily conflicted topic of “sustainable transportation and social justice”.
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Message from South Africa: How our public transport system compares with the rest of Mama Africa.

South African travel writer Sihle Khumalo knows African public transport intimately, but is more accustomed to his own private wheels in his home town of Jozi. He took time out recently to explore his own backyard by public transport, from Soweto to Sandton…

Having travelled by public transport in more than 10 other African countries, it was only natural that I explore my own backyard using taxis and the newly launched Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System – better known as ReaVaya. Amongst other things I wanted to see how our public transport system compares with the rest of Mama Africa.

My plan was pretty straightforward: take ReaVaya from Soweto to the centre of Johannesburg and then a taxi to Sandton. On a Friday afternoon, a day before my trip, I decided to walk from my office – which is in downtown Johannesburg – to buy myself a ReaVaya ticket.

In Gandhi Square, at the Metrobus ticket kiosk, I was told by a gum-chewing lady that she only sold tickets for Metrobus and not ReaVaya.

‘Isn’t Metrobus and ReaVaya both own and managed by the Johannesburg Metro?’ I asked, while trying to hide my shock

‘My brother I said I only sell Metrobus tickets.’ Before I could interject, she continued: ‘If you want a ReaVaya ticket go to Commissioner Street.’

A bit peeved, I decided that I was going to buy the bus ticket in Soweto the following day.

On a sunny Saturday morning, armed with all the info I had gathered from the informative BRT website, my wife drove me to Soweto. On entering Soweto, I noticed that young trees had been planted (better late than never) along Chris Hani (former Old Potchefstroom) Road. Since it was already after 10am, we were caught in a non-ending funeral procession of cars heading for the cemetery. Sowetans just can’t wait to bury the dead, I concluded. After passing Maponya Mall, we turned right into Klipspruitvalley Road and voila, there it was, Emfuleni bus station.

I could not miss the red structure in an island separating the lanes that were running in the opposite direction. After jumping out of the car and waving goodbye to my family, I noticed that – although there was a pedestrian crossing – cars (especially taxis) were not slowing down to give me a right of way. It took a while, and only another funeral procession had past that it was it safe to cross – into the modern bus station.

A friendly young man wearing a ‘volunteer’ reflector vest showed me where to buy the ticket, which set me back five hundred cents. He also explained where, once my ticket had been checked, I must stand while waiting for the bus.

Within 10 minutes the bus arrived and, for a Saturday morning, I was surprised at the number of the people going to town. There were only a handful of empty seats. I sat next to Nana – a beautiful, fat black woman. She did not even wait for me to get comfortable in my seat. By the time we got to the next stop, approximately 5km down the road – right opposite Orlando Stadium – we were talking like long-lost friends who had just met: hitting high fives and laughing out loud.

The bus was clean and tidy and the seats were comfortable. Nana, in a tight black dress, explained that the red chairs were called priority chairs and reserved for pregnant women, disabled people and people carrying babies. I was still nodding, showing how impressed I was by the BRT, when our conversation was interrupted by the ticket inspector.

Once the formalities were over, Nana continued.

‘Taxi drivers are unhappy with BRT because most people are not using taxis anymore. The reason for that is besides cost – taxis charge R7.50 from Thokoza Park to town whereas BRT cost only R5.00 – the buses take half the time taken by taxis. On weekdays, I used to leave my place at 6am and now with BRT I leave my house an hour later and still make it to work on time. Ja this BRT has really hit the taxi owners hard. Maybe they should introduce a special fare or discounts on certain days.’

Before I could say anything, she beat me to it…‘Nowadays taxi drivers even allow passengers to eat in the taxis, something that they never ever allowed before the introduction of this BRT.’

Within half an hour, we were in town. I was already so impressed that I could not help but think that if I lived in Soweto I would definitely use my car to drive to the office in Main Street anymore. This is exactly what South Africans have been waiting for – a safe, convenient and reasonably priced public transport system – I concluded as I jumped off at the corner of Rissik and Market roads.

The city centre has seen a revamp in the past couple of years, hence trendy eateries such as Ninos, Cappellos and Darkie Café have opened and seem to be doing well, with middle-class people – mostly black diamonds – enjoying their meals there. Instead of going to a restaurant, though, I opted to pop into the Carlton Centre.

After paying R8, I, together with some German tourists, took a lift to the 50th floor. This was the first time I was going to have an aerial view of Johannesburg from the Roof of Africa, as the 50th floor is known. It suddenly struck me that everyone visiting Jozi for the first time should take a turn here in order to get the proper orientation and perspective of South Africa’s biggest city. After absorbing an incredible view of the landmarks, it was time to head for Noord taxi rank, which made the headlines a while back when taxi drivers assaulted a woman for wearing a miniskirt.

I walked through Smal Street through to King George Road. As to be expected of most city centres in South Africa, there were loads of black people walking up and down and not even one white person in sight. Some people were having their hair plaited right on the busy pavements. Just when I thought I had seen it all, there was a shop – just before the taxi rank – which was selling uqanduqandu (an African version of Viagra, which apparently works wonders by keeping the middle leg, in a heavily dilated manner, pointing towards the magnetic North until sunrise). Maybe in 20 years time, when I am in my mid-50s, I might need it, I thought to myself.

I spent more than 30 minutes walking around in Noord taxi rank looking for Sandton-bound taxis. As a typical male, I do not ask for directions at the first sign of not finding what I am looking for. I walked around in circles looking at people boarding taxis heading not only to other South African cities and towns but also to neighbouring countries, such as Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Eventually I decided to swallow my pride, but the first five people I asked had no clue where taxis heading for Sandton were parked. It was eventually a middle-aged man wearing a Jacob Zuma 100 % Zulu boy T-shirt who took me out of my misery. The taxis I was looking for were in Central Taxi Rank, which happened to be three blocks away.

Thus after crossing three sets of traffic lights I came across the MTN-branded Park Central, from where taxis travel to different suburbs. Quite honestly I had never heard about this taxi rank before.

In no time, thanks to the Sandton signboard, I saw which taxi I had to take. Against my good judgement I selected a back seat, which meant I had to squeeze myself between two young thin girls who spoke with a fake American accent. Although all three persons, excluding myself, were thin, it was a very tight squeeze.

As if this were not enough, when the taxi left the rank, it became apparent that we were about to encounter a new problem: the cost from the City Centre to Sandton is R9, but all of us were carrying only R20 notes. And as the driver was speeding along Twist Street, he was also trying to calculate the change due to the passengers. He was such a multi-skilled guy that, while doing all of this and changing lanes, he still had the time for a chat on his cellphone.

By the time the taxi, 25 minutes later, dropped me at the corner of Maude and West streets in Sandton, I had reached two conclusions…

Firstly, that as much as South Africa’s public transport system is better than that of other African countries, we still have a long road to cover before we can claim to have a world-class system.

And secondly, it is a no-brainer why Sowetans have deserted the taxis. Give me BRT anytime. Although with taxis you stand a good chance of being squeezed between two beautiful sexy things wearing miniskrits. That explained why, I thought further, there was a shop just outside Noord taxi rank that was selling uqanduqandu.

# # #

Thanks to the author and Mobility Magazine Africa for their permission to simultaneously publish this excellent article.

About the author:
Sihle Khumalo is the author of two books – Dark Continent My Black Arse, and Heart of Africa – which tell of his travels by public transport throughout Africa.

For more information on the Rea Vaya BRT, visit

And for more from World Streets on Rea Vaya:
* “Take a ride where the drivers aren’t rude to you” –
* “Transport Realities in South Africa: Slow, but maybe a start” –

Children, Transport and Mobility in Africa Sharing experiences from Ghana, Malawi and South Africa

2010 is the Year of Africa on World Streets, and here you have the first of what we intend will develop into a engaging series of articles, ideas and information on problems, attitudes, responses, barriers and the ingenious work-arounds that African children and adults are so often obliged to find on their own.

This publication was funded by The Africa Community Access Programme (AFCAP) to help us better understand how children look at and deal with day to day challenges of transport and mobility in three African countries.

Sharing Experiences of Young Researchers in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Recent research has shown that some of the common challenges faced by children walking to school in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa are the long distances travelled and the domestic chores that must be completed before setting out. This can result in lateness or untidy appearances, both of which can be punishable by lashing, whipping and duties such as weeding. Children are also scared of wild animals (snakes and dogs) and bandits that they may encounter on their journey.

The University of Durham led research project ‘Children, Transport and Mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa’ focused on main three issues:

1. The mobility constraints faced by girls and boys in accessing health, education, markets and other facilities.

2. How these constraints impact on children’s current and future livelihood opportunities.

3. The lack of guidelines on how to tackle them.

The principal project aim was to generate knowledge that can serve as evidence to help change transport policies and practices, especially where these have impact on the educational and health opportunities for children and young people.

The journey to fetch water:

The idea for the book came from the young researchers themselves. They wanted a vehicle for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider audience. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on their experiences as young researchers in the different contexts in which they had worked. The result is very much their own work, indeed most of the book was written by the young researchers, in their own words.


A foreword from the young researchers: 4
A foreword from the adult researchers: 6
1.1. The journey to school 11
1.2. The journey to the market, shops and town 12
1.3. The journey to the health centre 12
1.4. The journey to fetch water 13
1.5. The journey to fetch firewood 14
1.6. The journey to the farm 15
1.7. The journey to the maize mill 15
1.8. The journey to church 16
2.1. What did we like about the project? 18
2.2. What did we find challenging about the project? 20
2.3. What skills have we learnt and what has the impact been? 21
2.4. Particular challenges encountered by girls 23
2.5. “Surprises” or things we didn’t expect 24
3.1 Ghana (Forest Zone) young researchers 26
3.2 Ghana (Coastal Zone) young researchers 26
3.3 Malawi young researchers 27
3.4 South Africa young researchers 27
4.1. Individual Interviews 29
4.2. Focus Group Discussions or Group Interviews 30
4.3. Diaries 31
4.4. Accompanied walks 32
4.5. Observation or Counting by looking 33
4.6. Pictures 34
4.8. Life Histories

About this booklet:

This booklet arose from a workshop in Ghana, held at the end of the research project, bringing together some of the young researchers from the three countries.

The idea for the booklet came from the young researchers, who wanted a medium for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider public. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they and the other young researchers had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on the experiences of being a young researcher in the different contexts in which they had worked.

The result is very much the young researchers’ work. Most of the booklet was written by the young researchers themselves, in their own words. Some sections were written collaboratively between the young researchers and adult facilitators, who helped them to bring their ideas together. The adult researchers have added occasional footnotes where they felt clarification was needed. We hope you enjoy the result and find it useful!

Download the beautifully illustrated book here:
(Acrobat pdf 2.2 MB)

Find out more about the Children, Transport and Mobility Project here:

Production of the book has been funded by AFCAP


Ghana: Cyril Agbley, Daniel Aidoo Borsah, Emmanuel Cornelius Ampong, Exinovsky Ntim Asare, Emmanuel Owusu Danquah, Evans Egyir, Euodia Kumi-Yeboah, Emmanuel Teye Owusu, Lawrencia Tabuaa, Charity Tawiah, Dorothy Tawiah, Victoria Yeboah.

Malawi: Manes Banda, Alie Bwanali, Tendai Chiwawula, Lawrence Godfrey, Mary Kamphangwe, Dalitso Kaunda, Gift Kawanga, Bernadetta Kuchonde, Christopher Lyson, Ludovicco Magola, Esther Malimusi, Christopher Mbeza, Anthony Merrick, Brasho Moff art, Towera Mwaungulu, Smart Ng’oma, Alinafe Ntewa, Tionge Phiri, Georgina Pwere, Thokozani Tembo, Nenani Thinbo, Micklina Welesani, Monica William, Tisunge Zuwaki.

South Africa: Nokulunga Bara, Poniswa Protect Chauke, Buhle Dambuza, Noluvo Diko, Xhalisile Elliot, Kholwakazi Joseph, Nthahla Kelem, Tholakele Kelem, Vuyiseka Keyisi, Esrom Kgapola, Hope Lehabe, Zintle Mapetshana, Nelly Mathebula, Nosiphiwo Mbanzi, Sannie Molefe, Matshidiso Motaung, Zimkhita Moyakhe, Mzoyolo Matsili, Ntlatywa Mlondolozi, Matthews Mothupi, Zanoxolo Mseswa, Thembinkosi Msimanga, Mandilakhe Mtambeki, Sinathi Ndamashe, Felicia Ntuli, Odwa Noraqa, Christina Ramongane, Noah Setshedi, Wisdom Shuma, Ncumisa Thungilizwe.

All the photographs used were taken by the young researchers or the adult researchers during the project.

Year 2010 started in Copenhagen on Friday, 18 Dec 2009 And now World Streets gears up for 2010 (Special edition)

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has given us ample reason to reflect not only on the climate/ governance and the climate/transport links – the latter which we have taken as a pillar of transport policy for some years now – but also on our own contribution here at World Streets to the strategic re-thinking and institutional re-tooling process that must now be engaged. A challenge for which every fair person, lively mind and capable pair of hands is needed. Continue reading

Letter from the editor: 2009? And what the hell was that all about?

The following was sent yesterday by the editor as a private communication to a small group of long time colleagues, as a kick-off to and call for collaboration in the new year ahead. Since the reaction has been so immediate and positive I have decided to post it to World Streets, as part of our transition strategy and general preparations for the year ahead. Comments more than welcome. Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets (Shown: Our editor at his desk as he reflects on 2009.) Continue reading

Map: Who is reading World Streets where today?

* * Click map for higher definition version * *

The above map reports the last eighty locations checking into World Streets on the indicated date.

The last time we looked at the records we saw that World Streets was being picked up by readers in: Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.


But just in case we are suffering from a bad dose of hubris, here is a list of the places in which, to the best of our knowledge, Streets had NOT yet been read or at least downloaded from here:

Afghanistan, Albania, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Comoros, Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville), Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor Timor-Leste, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Heard and Mc Donald Islands, Holy See, Honduras, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jersey, Jordan, Kiribati, Korea, Democratic People’s Rep. (North Korea), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mayotte, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Burma, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Palau, Palestinian National Authority, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Pitcairn Island, Qatar, Reunion Island, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Príncipe, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Sri Lanka, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Sudan, Suriname, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Swaziland, Syria, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tibet, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City State (Holy See), Venezuela, Virgin Islands (British), Virgin Islands (U.S.), Wallis and Futuna Islands, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Hmm, a round 173 countries. To us this serves as an eloquent reminder of all the work that needs still to be done.

And what do they read about when they come here:
Bicycles. Bicycle sharing. Bike/Transit Integration. Bus Rapid Transit. Buses. Car diets. Car free days. Car Free Planning. Car rental. Carpooling. Carsharing. Community Buses. Demand Responsive Transit. Digital Hitchhiking. DRT. Dynamic risesharing. Enforcement. Flextime. Free Public Transport. Full cost pricing. Green driving. Green parking. Hail & Ride. Hitchhiking. HOV Strategies. Infrastructure, Integrated Fare Systems. Jitneys. Land Use. Lane diets. Leading by example. Level playing field tax/write-off policies. Light rail. Media. Mini/Midi Bus. Mixed Use. Multi-modal strategies. New Mobility HUBs. Paratransit. Public Bicycle Systems. Public spaces. Ride Sharing. Road architecture. Road diets. Road pricing. School projects. Share taxis. Shuttle Services. Slugging. Small Bus Systems. SOV Strategies. Space sharing. Speed Reductions. Street Codes. Street Reclaiming. Street sharing. Tax policy. Taxis. Telecommuting. Telework. TDM. TOD. Traffic calming. Transit Encouragement. Transit malls. Transit Priorities. Universal design. Value Capture. Vanpooling. Vehicle Virtual HOV Use Restrictions. Walk to School. Walking. Workplace sharing. xTransit.

But when you boil it down at the end of the day, this all comes to SHARING in transport: gets us there best and fastest, great for our pocket book, good for neighborliness, and a lease on life for our poor planet.

Check it out at World Share/Transport Forum at .

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PS. Your editor is updating the above as reader reminders come in.

PARK(ing) Day in Cape Town (Not everybody loves it equally)

A few weeks back, a local police vehicle – which had been circling for a while – came to abrupt halt on a no-stopping line in front of me in Fish Hoek, and asked if my colleagues and I had permission to be in our parking bay*. The nearby businesses were complaining, you see; by occupying our bay, they said, we were preventing others from doing so, and this meant, no doubt, that their daily takings would suffer.

- By Gail Jennings, Cape Town, South Africa

The thing is, though, that around 40% of South Africans suffer every day precisely because they need to find a parking bay. The only way they can get about – constrained either by lack of public transport, or by an inability to conceive of taking shared transport – is by private car.

The other 60% suffer for quite the opposite reason: they don’t need a parking bay, they rely on public transport, which currently is unreliable, unintegrated, unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible, unsustainable, and just plain unpleasant. And it’s not even public transport, come to think of it – it’s commuter transport, workwards in the morning, homewards in the evening, and little flexibility in-between.

Should businesses not perhaps be complaining about this, that they’re accessible only to people with private cars? In our world that’s heating up, depleted of fossil fuels, with dimished urban and quality open spaces, increased road deaths, congestion, road rage and lack of access to health care, education and economic opportunities, use of the private car as we know it – and its space-hungry requirement of parking bays – is on its way out.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we hang on to what we know for as long as possible, resisting a change to what we regard as less convenient; less flexible; less, well, personal, ways of moving around.

But as Jeremy Cronin, deptuy minister of transport, puts it: ” We have to respond to the challenge of access not with cars or more freeways [or more parking!], but with with intelligent public transport, non-mortorised transport, accessiblity and urban redesign.

‘In South Africa we are blessed and cursed with the reality that at least 60% of households don’t have cars. And while that’s a good thing, it’s also a terible thing for those who don’t have the car, because it makes them immobile.

‘The struggle to achieve the right to moblity is inextricably linked to the struggle for public space, for decent, safe, dignified and accessible public space.’

The car is the least space-efficient, least socially equitable and least environmentally responsible mode of transport, yet it is currently given preferential treatment.

Which is why on 18 September, I – and thousands of people worldwide – temporarily transformed my (paid-for) parking space into a public park as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.

I shared my sunny ‘park’ bench with other civic-minded souls; with passing dog-walkers, who welcomed a rest en-route home; with butchery workers who were otherwise planning to spend their lunch hour on the hard sidewalk in the damp and icy shade; and with shop owners who took a coffee break while unpacking stock. I even ordered a pizza delivery from one of said businesses, and watched over a number of bicycles parked in ‘my’ bay next door (you can fit about 10 bicycles in the space of one car).

In cities around the world, inexpensive street parking results in more traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution, and the strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human environment. Our public spaces are public assets, yet we allocate an estimated 70% of our urban open spaces to privately owned vehicles.

The unprecedented urban growth taking place in developing countries reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions of new urbanites, suggests the United Nations Population Fund, 2007. ‘Cities have enormous potential for improving people’s lives, but inadequate urban management, often based on inaccurate perceptions and information, can turn opportunity into disaster.’

South African cities, and cities as a ‘lifestyle concept’, for want of a better way to put it, historically developed because rural people wanted to be closer to economic opportunities, other people, food, markets, and a sense of being where it’s all happening. Yet with sprawling, low-density, spatially segregated cities such as Cape Town, quite the opposite has happened. Social exclusion, long commute distances, high transport costs, poor-quality urban environments, isolated, dangerous and inaccessible parks, dwindling resources…

To quote Jeremy Cronin once more, there are several key factors in our society that continue to actively reproduce inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. ‘And one of these is the fact that spatial configuration of our society in which where you live impacts dramatically on the cost in time and money that it takes you to access work, education and any of your basic constitutional and other rights.’

Low-density, sprawling neighbourhoods are more likely to need motorised transport (the densities are not enough to support viable, unsubsidised public transport) and contribute to social isolation. And excessive traffic and high-speed freeways can separate communities and make sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, more difficult to use.

Higher-density neighbourhoods, on the other hand, with a good mix of land-use and inter-connectivity, facilitate walking and cycling, sustain public transport and are generally safer (because there’re more eyes on the street).

If Cape Town is to become a city within which it is easy to access opporunities, be they opportunities for health-care, education, work or leisure, the city must break away from its current radial movement pattern that focuses on the central city, and create a strong network of cross-city roads, public transport and walking and cycling routes that connect and link homes, work places, shops and social facilities.

Urban planning has been used to startlingly effective degree to engineer social injustice. So it’s not too much of a stretch to see how quality, safe, affordable, accessible and largely sustainable mass public transport (such as the proposed Integrated Rapid Transit – IRT – system), better pedestrian and bike-commuting facilities, and more urban spaces in which butchery workers can sit and share their lunch, can lay the foundation for a sounder economy and more sustainable, equitable society.

• Yes, we did ;-)

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Gail Jennings is the editor MOBILITY magazine, a quarterly pro-sustainability transport magazine with a focus on public planning, public transport, road safety and the democratic use of road and other public space. Visit or

Climate change imperils 3,351 coastal cities worldwide (Two-thirds of which in the Global South)

Why have we pegged the action program of the New Mobility Agenda to (a) the ongoing process of climate emergency and the unbearable destruction of our planet and cities that goes with it and (b) to the imperative need to get large scale improvements in the two to five years directly ahead? For this reason . . .

UN-Habitat: Few coastal cities to be spared by climate change

All too soon, the harsh reality of climate change is upon us and the facts are becoming common place. But at a time when over 50 percent of humanity lives in urban areas, UN-HABITAT’s new State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/9: Harmonious Cities sets out to determine which cities are in danger and which communities might well be drowned out.

In the 20th century, sea levels rose by an estimated 17 centimetres, and global mean projections for sea level rise between 1990 and 2080 range from 22 centimetres to 34 centimetres. The low elevation coastal zone – the continuous area along coastlines that is less than 10 metres above sea level – represents 2 per cent of the world’s land area but contains 10 per cent of its total population and 13 per cent of its urban population.

There are 3,351 cities in the low elevation coastal zones around the world. Of these cities, 64 per cent are in developing regions; Asia alone accounts for more than half of the most vulnerable cities, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (27 per cent) and Africa (15 per cent). Two-thirds of these cities are in Europe; almost one-fifth of all cities in North America are in low elevation coastal zones.

Concerned about the prospect of large scale devastation, in his foreword, Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations states that, “Cities embody some of society’s most pressing challenges, from pollution and disease to unemployment and lack of adequate shelter. But cities are also venues where rapid, dramatic change is not just possible but expected.”

Aimed at policymakers and planners, the new UN report warns that few coastal cities will be spared.

In the developed world (including Japan), 35 of the 40 largest cities are either coastal or situated along a river bank. In Europe, rivers have played a more important role in determining the growth and importance of a city than the sea; more than half of the 20 largest cities in the region developed along river banks. Quoting a report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the authors note that the populations of cities like Mumbai, Shanghai, Miami, New York City, Alexandria, and New Orleans will be most exposed to surge-induced flooding in the event of sea level rise.

In Asia, 18 of the region’s 20 largest cities are either coastal, on a river bank or in a delta. 17 per cent of the total urban population in Asia lives in the low elevation coastal zone, while in South-Eastern Asia, more than one-third of the urban population lives there. Japan, with less than 10 per cent of its cities in low elevation zones, has an urban population of 27 million inhabitants at risk, more than the urban population at risk in North America, Australia and New Zealand combined.

The report points out that by 2070, urban populations in cities in river deltas, which already experience high risk of flooding, such as Dhaka, Kolkata, Rangoon, and Hai Phong, will join the group of most exposed populations. Also, port cities in Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and India will have joined the ranks of cities whose assets are most exposed. Major coastal African cities that could be severely be affected by the impact of rising sea levels include Abidjan, Accra, Alexandria, Algiers, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Durban, Freetown, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Luanda, Maputo, Mombasa, Port Louis, and Tunis.

An assessment of the vulnerability of Alexandria, the most important economic and historic centre along the Mediterranean coast (the cities of Alexandria, Rosetta and Port Said) suggests that, with a sea-level rise of 50 cm, more than 2 million people would have to abandon their homes, 214,000 jobs would be lost, and the cost in lost property value and tourism income would be over US $35 billion, which does not include the immeasurable loss of world famous historic, cultural and archaeological sites.

Researchers studying the impact of climate change on Dhaka predict that the city will be affected in two major ways: flooding and drainage congestion, and heat stress. The elevation of Dhaka ranges between 2 and 13 metres above sea level. This means that even a slight rise in sea level is likely to engulf large parts of the city. Moreover, high urban growth rates and high urban densities have already made Dhaka more susceptible to human-induced environmental disasters. With an urban growth rate of more than 4 per cent annually, Dhaka, which already hosts more than 13 million people, is one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Asia, and is projected to accommodate more than 20 million by 2025. The sheer number of people living in the city means that the negative consequences of climate change are likely to be felt by a large number of people, especially the urban poor who live in flood-prone and water-logged areas.

The report points out that Lagos, with a total population of nearly 10 million inhabitants, lacks adequate infrastructure to cope with flooding. “Normal” rainfall brings flooding to many areas of the city, largely as a result of inadequacies in sewers, drains and wastewater management. Any increase in the intensity of storms and storm surges is likely to increase such problems, as much of the land in and around Lagos is less than 2 meters above sea level. Many low-income settlements are built in areas at high risk of flooding (many on stilts), largely because safer sites are too expensive.

Observing the worrying prospects for cities facing climate change, in her forward, Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UNHABITAT, calls on cities and national governments to address these challenges and opportunities by adopting innovative approaches to urban planning and management that are inclusive, pro-poor and responsive to threats posed by environmental degradation and global warming. She continues to say, ‘From China to Colombia, and everywhere in between, national and local governments are making critical choices that promote equity and sustainability in cities. These governments recognize that cities are not just part of the problem; they are, and must be, part of the solution.’

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“Take a ride where the drivers aren’t rude to you… ” BRT comes to Joburg (And then what?)

‘Have you heard of this BRT in Joburg? Are we going to get this thing in Cape Town?’ Xoliswa Mtshali is dusting my office bookshelves, moving copies of MOBILITY magazine around and looking at the photographs of TransMillenio in the latest issue. She’s spent the last week or so – like most other people in South Africa – watching news footage of the country’s first-ever BRT, Rea Vaya, which launched on 1 September. And friends of hers who live in Soweto have told her that the bus service is like nothing they’ve ever encountered before.

‘It’s cheap – not expensive like taxis. The music is not loud, they say. You can know when the bus will arrive… The bus doesn’t have to wait to be full before it goes…’

But the best, according to Xoliswa: ‘The drivers, they are not rude to you!’

As we’re talking, another ‘BRT update from Rea Vaya’ lands in my in-box. Today, talk is around emissions standards, and how the bus service will continue despite security threats. And the ruling-party ANC has criticized Soweto Taxi Services for allegedly intimidating taxi owners who support the Bus Rapid Transit system. Last week two passengers were injured by taxi gunmen, and a high-profile taxi leader was murdered.

Rather prosaically, Rea Vaya – which means ‘we are going’ in Sotho – is introduced on its website thus:

“In order to deal with the increasing transport problems faced in Joburg today, the City is pleased to introduce the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System.

“The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) is designed to provide a high quality and affordable transport system, which is fast and safe.”

And that’s exactly what it’s doing – but the impact of this is difficult to translate to anyone who’s used to quality public transport. Transport writers, engineers and officials are flying from all over the country to take a ride on the longest-awaited bus in South Africa’s history – returning with DVD upon DVD of photographs of every tiny detail, including the pedestrian paving and signage. There’s a festive, and slightly disbelieving air to it all, astonishing to anyone for whom timetables are old hat.

Adventurous travellers to the African continent boast of taking the ‘local transport’, but to everyday commuters with a deadline, this is nothing worth writing home about: waiting three-quarters of an hour for a minibus-taxi to fill up, never knowing when a minibus will arrive, dodging gun-toting drivers who’ve been known to kill in order to maintain their routes…

Rea Vaya’s website – which offers a fraction of the information something like Transport for London’s does – is a 21st century dream for South Africans with access to the net: route planners, timetables, maps, updates, photographs of work in progress.

Phase 1A is a 25km route from Soweto into central Joburg, with 20 stations en route. The full phase 1 will include seven routes of 122 km, 150 stations, and trunk, complementary and feeder services.

Sadly, when Cape Town does finally does get its first phase of the BRT (which as yet does not have a name), the route will go nowhere near the township where Xoliswa lives. The first route will travel between Cape Town airport and the central city. There is talk that perhaps in 20 years or so, in phase who-knows-what, Cape Town’s south peninsula might find itself on the BRT route – taxi-industry-negotiations permitting.

But to Xoliswa and other hopefuls: ‘The passengers will want it. We are the ones who must decide.’

For more information, visit

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By Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa.
Gail writes about issues such as social and environmental justice, energy and climate change, community-based projects, non-motorised transport, and edit Mobility Magazine (a quarterly transport publication for the southern African public sector).

Transaid: Emergency Transport in Northern Nigeria

Transaid is an international development organisation that seeks to reduce poverty and improve lives in Africa through creating better transport. Here is a partnership transport project they are working on in Northern Nigeria.
– Sustainable development and social justice? Think Africa! –

Transaid has been working as part of the PRRINN project in Northern Nigeria to help improve immunisation coverage for women and children in the states of Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina and Zamfara.

Transaid’s role has been to advise on appropriate management of the Ministry of Health’s transport to ensure adequate healthcare reaches those most in need. This project has now been expanded in three of the four states to cover all primary healthcare for mother’s, newborn babies and children (MNCH) extending the reach and impact of Transaid’s vital work.

The Problem
In this part of Northern Nigeria, less than 6% of children are fully immunised against life-threatening diseases and rates of newborn, maternal and child mortality are some of the highest in the world. Over 500,000 women die in pregnancy every year. A woman in sub-saharan Africa has a 1 in 13 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in the industrialised world*.

The millennium development goals which have been put in place to reduce extreme poverty aim to reduce child mortality by two thirds, maternal mortality by three quarters and to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Efficient and effective transport has a key role to play in the delivery of health services and is a vital link to enabling these goals to be realised.
*Statistic taken from ‘Maternal Mortality: Africa’s Burden. A Toolkit on Gender, Transport and Maternal Mortality’, vs4-04-2005

The Process
Transaid is providing technical assistance in relation to the transport elements of the project. Through the initial PRRINN project we have already begun to implement a transport management system to help improve health service delivery. We are also working with project partners and the government at state level to establish solutions to the problem of accessing health facilities in emergency pregnancy cases.

Plans are being developed for an emergency transport system to be put in place using members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW) to take patients for a small fee. This has already proven to be successful following a pilot in Jigawa state. We are also looking at the viability of other low-cost modes of transport such as the motorcycle and bicycle ambulance to improve access to emergency healthcare in hard to reach areas.

The PRRINN-MNCH consortium led by Health Partners International, Save the Children and Grid Consulting, the State Ministry of Health in Katsina, Yobe and Zamfara. (Jigawa state is not included in the MNCH project)

The Results
The overall aims of the whole project are to improve antenatal care for women and the number of births attended by skilled medical personnel. The project also aims to increase immunisation levels so that 60% of children under one year old are fully immunised by 2012, decreasing the number of cases of life-threatening illnesses such as measles. It is hoped that health centres will serve 50% more women and children through better functioning and rehabilitated systems (including transport). The increase in trained staff at health centres and hospitals will also ensure greater accountability and responsiveness to patients and a more joined up approach to management at all levels.

The new PRRINN-MNCH project will improve the quality and availability of all maternal and child health services including antenatal and postnatal care, safer deliveries, care for newborn and young children, better nutrition and increased routine immunisation. Using Transaid’s transport management system vehicles will also be better managed and scheduled, increasing vehicle availability for emergency pregnancy transfers.


(If you want to know more about Transaid’s work in Nigeria please follow this link:,-increasing-access-to-healthcare-for-mothers-and-children,-prrinn—mnch-update-%E2%80%93-april-2009

Report from South Africa: Wheeling and Healing

One billion needful people live in Africa and when it comes to sustainable mobility they are not getting a lot of help from the wealthy North. It’s not that they need us to send them all our treasure, that’s not the point. It’s our example that counts. Let’s start to give dignity to sustainable, healthy behavior on our own streets and we will have done out part. Gail Jennings reports on biking pride and prejudice in South Africa.

Wheeling and Healing

- Gail Jennings, Eyes on the Streets Seniin Capetown

CAPE TOWN, Aug 5 (IPS) – Every weekday morning, a stylish procession leaves the offices of MaAfrika Tikkun NGO in Delft, Cape Town; bumps and jolts through the gravel entry gates; then hits the tar and scatters into every corner of the township…

“Those people, they are mos kwaai jong (now very cool) – they drive a bicycle now…” says an envious onlooker.

In an area portrayed by the press as crime-ridden, bleak and desperate, the MaAfrika Tikkun health workers cruise the streets between shacks and houses without anxiety, on their elegant, black, single-speed Africabikes, their wire baskets and backpacks filled with the accoutrements of home-based care.

“People say it looks like a bike from the past,” says Esmerelda Piers, who’s been working as a home-based carer since 2006. “Everyone wants one. We lock our bikes, but people see it almost like an ‘ambulance’ bike and they won’t take them from us.”

Piers was one of 108 MaAfrika Tikkun healthcare workers who received a bicycle in late 2008, donated by US-based project BikeTown Africa. The project aims to hand over a further 1,000 bicycles to health workers in 2009.

The carers make home-visits, dress wounds and ensure that people with chronic illness (such as TB, diabetes and HIV and AIDS) are taking their medication. They also monitor the growth and wellness of newborn babies.

Piers has lived in Delft for 19 years, and like most carers used to walk from patient to patient. “It is slow, and tiring, and sometimes you have to rush to get to the next patient,” she says. “If you want to take a taxi, you have to pay out of your own bag.”

South Africa’s national government pays home-based carers a stipend to visit a minimum of between four to ten patients a day (depending on the level of care needed). But sometimes carers don’t get to see everyone, says Beryl van den Heever, who manages the MaAfrika Tikkun team. “It can take a long time to wash and listen to just one patient. Sometimes carers were only getting to see five people properly.

“Now, our carers see 8-12 people a day, they spend more time with the patients, and they can respond to emergencies more quickly…”

Community-based health services such as home-based care play a vital role in enhancing public health and alleviating the pressure on health facilities, says Faiza Steyn, director of communications, of the Western Cape provincial department of health.

In the Western Cape alone, there has been an 83 percent increase in the number of NGO-appointed carers over the last year, and they have provided home-based care to more than 24,000 people during this time.

Home-based carers work mostly in three areas: what the department of health calls ‘dehospitalisation’, patients who have been discharged from hospital but still need care; adherence support, particularly for chronic and TB, diabetes, hypertension and psychiatric illnesses; and health education campaigns.

Charles Rosant, in his third month as a home-based carer, tells of how he visited a patient who had no food in his home. “How can I ask him to take his medicines with no food?”

“It is being able to help like that that makes be stand up every morning,” says Rosant – who got on his bicycle and sped to the nearest shop to buy bread for his patient. “With walking, I would have only gone back to him the next day.”

On another occasion, the Delft team were able to rally additional carers when they needed to create a ‘makeshift ambulance’ to carry a patient to hospital. “We would never have got so many people together so quickly otherwise,” says Piers.

But they don’t move so quickly that they’re no longer able to stop, chat and remain part of the community. ‘We ride slow enough to people to come out of their houses and ask us questions,’ says Piers. ‘We can still give advice “on the move”.’

In terms of energy expended over distance, a casual rider can travel four times the distance by bicycle as on foot, says Bradley Schroeder of BikeTown Africa, and carry up to five times more goods. And in terms of speed, it takes about as much effort to walk at four km an hour as it does to ride at 16 km an hour. Bicycles also have lowest operating costs of all transport modes.

Sixteen kilometres is the average distance Trudy Makerman travels each day, to complete her rounds as a carer – from home, from patient-to-patient, and back home again.

Makerman is a healthcare worker in the fruit farming district of Robertson, Western Cape. Together with Stoffel Klein and Nicolene Regue of Robertson’s Rural Development Association, she travels long distances – 10-20 km – on steep gravel roads to visit babies and people with chronic illnesses.

In November 2008, the Association received a delivery of bicycles from national government programme Shova Kalula. Since then, the team has been able to visit between 500 and 550 patients a month (and spend more time with each of them – as they don’t have to rush off on foot to the next farm), compared to the 100 to 200 patients they saw when they walked.

“Walking there was not the big problem,” says Makerman. “It was the eindpad [the walking back], once the day was hot. (Their working days start at 8 am and end at 12.30.) We were tired by then, from the work. I would want to rest before visiting the next patient, I did not always have the energy for them.”

Her bicycle also enables her to leave home later in the morning, and get back home earlier, giving her more time with her family (and herself).

“My bicycle is just right for me,’ says Makerman. ‘People can shout that I am too old [she is 43] and why don’t I get a car. But for me, my bicycle takes me away from my stress. It is good for me and good for my patients. All health workers should have one!”

Piers also finds personal benefit in her bicycle. ‘I go to see friends and cousins in Belhar, in Bellville, I go shopping, I visit my cousins… each time, I save at least 30 rand ($3.50) in taxi fare.’

And she takes her children with her, but only on her older bicycle – “My nine-year-old and my six-year-old, they both fit on the bike, but I won’t use my work bicycle for this!”

“But you know, it is not about the bicycle,” says Piers – unaware that she is echoing the title of that famous autobiography. “Some people want to become carers because they will get a bicycle, but for us, the bicycle is just the cherry on the top. When someone thanks me for a job well done, I know why I am doing this. And the bicycle helps me do it better.”

Credit: Gail Jennings of Mobility Magazine in Capetown and IPS.

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One of the fundamental themes of World Streets is South/North transmission of ideas and examples. Here is one that any community in the North will do well to think through for themselves.

The editor

World Streets needs to do better

John Ernst, a long time sustainable transport colleague and ITDP Vice Director, Southeast Asia, writes that he finds World Streets pretty good value thus far, but he regrets that most of our content thus far seems to be focusing on what is going on within the advanced edge of the OECD region.

Letter from the editor

What can I say in response but yes indeed — so what if we now put our heads together to bring in content from other parts of the world . . . after all, that’s where most of the people are and where the future is going to play out in the mega-numbers.

So let me share this with you as a challenge. And what do we need from all these places? Well, news on trials and innovations to support more sustainable transport where they are actually up and working, honest reporting on everything, and even from time to time when it is exemplary, information for our excellent and consistently troubling Bad News Department.

But we are at least getting read in other parts of the world. Take a look at the map showing the origin of people coming in to Streets this morning , and we note visitors in the last days from Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dubai, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Rumania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey. That has to mean something.

And in this spirit if you can help us bring in readers from these other places, it is surely a step in the right direction. Readers can become sources and writers rather quickly we have seen.

One idea that comes to mind immediately is to see if we can get your support for doing some Leadership Profiles – see for latest background on that — on outstanding organizations and programs in these parts of the world. Again, it is true that we tend to now most about what is going on in the OECD region, but profiles telling us what lading programs and groups are trying to do in China, India, Indonesia and all the rest will be very important and of high interest to us all.

And am I hearing someone saying Africa and the Middle East too? Yes, please.

Finally we are not exactly sitting on our hands and here is something that is still cooking, but may provide us with a key for John Ernst’s ’s good challenge for the future. We are working with our Italian friend and Eyes on the Street Sentinel in Bergamo in the north of Italy, Enrico Bonfatti, to develop an Italian language site – Nuova Mobilità — which takes World Streets as part of its content but then builds on it in several interesting and powerful ways to make it into a good and useful read to advance the sustainable transport agenda in Italy. You can check it out at, but please understand it is still work in progress and not yet ready for show time. But it is, as you will see, a strong start.

There are two main streams of content for a partner journal like this. The first is selected World Streets articles which Enrico Bonfatti and eventually others are adapting not only in terms of putting them into Italian, but also interpreting and adapting them so as to have meaning in the Italian context. The second stream is Italian content per se. (And of course we at Streets profit because some of this becomes material for selective publication here.)

Perhaps this can serve as an example for yet other countries and language groups. It is too early to say if we can get the right model for this, but it is to let you know that we are working on it and trying to develop it as a template for relatively easy adaptation. If you wish to talk about this in the case of your country or language group, it would be great to hear from you.

So kindly get in touch with your ideas and suggestions. You can do this either publically here, or if you think it better to me directly. Thanks for thinking about it. And of yes, keep your eyes on the street.

Eric Britton

PS. As part of this necessary outreach we have decided that the Streets theme for the month of August will be Sustainable Transport in Africa: Advancing the Agenda. About time, eh?

World Streets - Building a new majority.

Honk! Winter perils pedicab venture in Cape Town?

Will winter swamp new pedicab venture in Cape Town?

- Cape Town, South Africa. 8 June 2009

Winter arrived in Cape Town this week – and with it, the rain (50mm of it this afternoon alone). But unlike in most international cities, umbrellas do not spring up like mushrooms the moment the raindrops appear. Capetonians hunch their shoulders and scurry from one building shelter to the next, because here, the rain does not fall from above. It attacks from the side, from below, from all directions it seems – and only a newcomer would think an umbrella could mitigate against the galeforce-powered storms.

But this season, central Cape Town’s streets have been brightened by 10 newcomers: blue and yellow 18-speed pedicabs imported Colombia. They are equipped with hydraulic brakes, brake lights, indicators, hooters and seatbelts – even sunshields and flimsy rain covers. But that’s for the passengers…

Thus Bertie Phillips, project founder and CEO of Cyclecabs Cape Town, found himself spending the weekend in outdoor gear stores, shopping for rain ponchos – and hoping that the winter wind and rain will not dampen the spirits of the new cyclecab riders. Cape Town has neither an umbrella nor a commuter-cycling culture, so the bright yellow cycle-specific ponchos beloved by Europeans cannot be found here.

Pedicabs have long been a feature on the streets of cities from London to Bogota, but they have been slow to gain momentum locally – licensing and liability issues as well as that lack of cycling culture are the main stumblng blocks.

Transport planner Phillips has been planning the venture for some time, though. ‘I wanted to launch Cyclecabs for Velo Mondial 2006 [an international NMT conference hosted in Cape Town], but there was not enough time. I had the plan in the back of my mind and decided that with Fifa World Cup 2010, the timing was just right.’

The Cyclecabs took to the streets in late April, and have provided formerly unemployed recruits from the NGO Men at the Side of Road with the prospect of a business career. The eight riders are shareholders in the promising enterprise, and will soon have the opportunity to run pedicab businesses of their own under the Cyclecabs banner.

Riders have received a range of training, from riding the pedicabs and understanding the rules of the road to developing core business skills, which ‘is critical because it’s not just about creating jobs but empowering them as entrepreneurs’.

The original idea was that riders would be required to rent a pedicab each for a R50 daily fee, and build their own businesses – but the winter rains have delayed this next phase. Instead, riders will receive a weekly stipend of R250 as well as meals, to help them until spring time.

By Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa

Op-Ed: Can Cape Town’s new mayor drive improved public transport?

Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Dan Plato elected Executive Mayor of
Cape Town, South Africa, and has pledged to improve the state of public transport. The 48-year-old Plato replaces Helen Zille, who has taken up the position of Premier of the Western Cape after the April elections.

‘Our citizens want jobs, first and foremost,’ Plato reminded his electorate in his acceptance speech. ‘But it is not for the Cape Town local government to employ people and create jobs. We need a stable economy, and we need money to stream into Cape Town. We need to enable businesses to thrive.’

Currently, businesses are constrained by poor electricity supply, acute poverty, crime, municipal red tape – and poor public transport,’ he said. It follows, therefore, that improved public transport is one of the keys to job creation and a thriving economy – considering that only 40% of South Africans own private vehicles.

Now to a reader outside of South Africa, Plato’s pledge to improve public transport might seem an obvious pledge to make – especially ahead of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, now just under 365 days away. The developed world everywhere is focussing on improving public transport, as well as on getting more people onto bicycles or car- and ride-shares, and grappling with air quality, gridlock and cleaner fuels.

In South Africa, however, we have yet to create public-sector-led public transport (or sidewalks and bike lanes, for that matter…). Our transport needs are met (in the most loose application of the term ‘met’) either by private vehicles or by a militant, unregulated and unsafe minibus taxi industry (which moves about two-thirds of public transport passengers).

Yet South Africa’s promise to implement the first phases of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) before the World Cup have been mired in politics, between the opposition-led Cape Town and provincial/national government; and between all tiers of government and the minibus taxi industry (they believe they stand to lose their livelihood).

Cape Town thus far – to differentiate its scheme with those of other South African cities – insists on referring to an IRT (Integrated Rapid Transit) system rather than a BRT.

And instead of lobbying national treasury to have funding moved forward from 2010/11 to 2009/10 (to have a Phase 1A built for 2010), officials, we are told, have been making budget cuts instead, suggesting that a public transport system is not, in fact, a FIFA requirement… (FIFA has responded by saying that the organisation itself will transport fans and VIPs, although the mini-bus industry, of course, had hoped for that slice of the pie…).

‘The point with BRT is that it is not supposed to be glorified city bus service,’ says a frustrated national government transport official, watching the Cape Town situation unfold. ‘BRT is supposed to be a fundamental urban transformation, which creates liveable and walkable liberated zones. You will never get this with a city bus service that is shiny new vehicles and nothing else.’

‘It will be a tragedy for Cape Town to have a R4bn stadium and a R500m city bus service that calls itself a BRT….’

Plato and his team of transport officials have pledged that ‘the City will work closely with the national and provincial departments of transport to ensure the successful implementation of the IRT system,’ but Cape Town could end up with a compromised end product, or a loss of decision-making and implementation authority entirely.

The BRT system has now become a presidential and cabinet level issue. It is the first real transformative test since 1994 in the public transport sector. If South Africans do not fight for it now, we will still be fighting for it in 10 years’ time, as the challenges are not going to be solved with multi-million new freeways and minibus taxi upgrades…

By Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa

Transport Realities in South Africa: Slow, but maybe a start

By Gail Jennings, editor: MOBILITY

Transport planning and practice in South Africa has done little to enable people to become full citizens of our country, and access the economic and social opportunities available to us since 1994. Poor households spend between 20 and 30% of their household incomes on trying to get from A to B.

Mobility is central to our human rights, and access to economic opportunities, health care and education, friends and family, goods and services. Our mobility is still impaired by spatial segregation, under-investment in infrastructure and public transport, and the assumption that we are all current or future car-drivers. Many resources remain inaccessible to the people who need them most. In addition, rapid urbanisation and a growth in the size of the middle-class has seen more private cars on the roads, with declining air quality and increased congestion.

Yet in 2008, the transport budget was five times higher than that of 2003… What happened?

The Soccer

The long-overdue process of fixing South Africa’s public – and non-motorised – transport needed some sort of impetus, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup has provided just that. Increased mobility choices and improved motorised and non-motorised transport (NMT) infrastructure will be lasting legacy of the football tournament.

Spatial planning

South African cities – and Cape Town in particular – are recognising that transport is a ‘land-use issue’, not a ‘roads issue’ – and are talking about establishing integrated grid-based movement systems, densification, and consolidating and intensifing development on the accessibility grid.

‘We need movement systems that provide convenient and affordable access to a city’s resources and amenities for everyone,’ says Catherine Stone, Catherine Stone, Director: Spatial Planning & Urban Design, City of Cape Town.

‘A movement system must be structured to create a public transport orientated, equitable pattern of access so that all people can reach a broadly similar range of opportunities and facilities in the city.’

Non-motorised transport (NMT)

Many of the poor, and unemployed, cannot afford public transport, let alone private cars – and bicycles offer flexible, door-to-door low-cost mobility.

However, a lack of bicycle-friendly infrastructure, startlingly aggressive driver attitudes, cultural taboos, and an appalling road-safety record (as many people are killed on the roads each year as are victims of violent crime – about 18 000) deter many commuter cyclists.

Nevertheless, faced with the undisputable evidence that bicycles are a highly efficient, desirable and affordable mode of transport – and the prospect of football fans from countries that regard bicycle transport as the norm – policy makers are changing gear.

In 2008 the national government issued an NMT policy, and some provincial and local governments have done the same.

‘We want to promote modal choice’, says Ngwako Makaepea, National Department of Transport, Director: Transport Policy. ‘Bicycles are a realistic mode of transport, and they are vital for our anti-poverty strategies.’

Already, national government-sponsored initiative Shova Kalula (‘pedal easy’) provides bicycles to rural and peri-urban learners, farm workers and health workers, and cities such as Cape Town, Tshwane and George are implementing city-wide connected bicycle lanes. NMT activists in Cape Town are having some success as ‘watchdogs’ over the City’s transport planning department, conducting informal NMT audits on roads and infrastructure plans and advising on improvements.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

South Africa has looked to other developing countries for lower-cost, high-quality public transport, and has seen that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is replicable here.

BRT vehicles run along dedicated lanes, and offer commuters a safe, convenient and reliable service with a regular, all day and evening time table.

Construction of BRT stations are well underway in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, and although the systems are about far more than 2010, their first phases need to be operational by then.

‘Rea Vaya [Joburg’s BRT] is not so much a transport intervention as a quality of life intervention, says Cllr Rehana Moosajee, City of Joburg Mayoral Committee member for Transport.

There will be place for current bus operators in the system, although mini-bus taxis will be excluded from the trunk routes.

The BRT, however, hailed as the solution to many of our transport ills, is seen as the bringer of financial ruin by many in the mini-bus taxi industry. As providers of flexible, affordable, customer-driven transport for decades – when government failed to do so – many in the taxi industry regard public transport as ‘their’ territory. They’ve threatened – and implemented – strikes, violence, and ‘war’ if the BRT goes ahead.

Currently, the minibus-taxi industry moves about two-thirds of public transport passengers in South Africa, says Herrie Schalekamp, Centre for Transport Studies, UCT. ‘Consequently, interventions in the public transport market require substantial interaction with this industry if they are to succeed.’

Cape Town and Joburg have been in continuous negotiations with the taxi industry, and various memoranda of agreements have been signed…

The mini-bus taxi industry

‘However, considering this sector’s continuous opposition to change, a poor relationship between public authorities and minibus-taxi organisations, and evidence from international cases of similar interventions, the successful implementation of BRT and concurrent corporatisation of the minibus-taxi industry is not a foregone conclusion,’ notes Schalekamp ruefully.

Rail gets ready

Early 2009 saw the launch of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA), which combines the assets and employees of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation and Metrorail, with long-distance rail and intercity bus companies (which previously fell under Transnet). PRASA will invest R25 billion over the next three years to improve its service offering and restore of rail as vital component, focusing on passengers and reducing the over-reliance on road-based transport. Also on the horizon is greater integration between buses, taxis and rail, with a single ticket system across modes and municipalities/provinces.

Already Metrorail has offered hugely successful luxury express services, from Khayelitsha and Gordon’s Bay to Cape Town, and Tshwane and Soweto to Johannesburg. While good, safe and reliable service, and clean facilities might be the norm to our readers abroad, this is a relatively new ‘concept’ to South African public transport users. The service cuts travel time by about 30%!

‘Never in the history of Soweto have commuters been treated with such dignity and respect, says Sophie Mathabane, a private clinic nurse to takes the Express in Johannesburg. For many women, safety is the deciding factor in making this modal choice.

And then there’s Gautrain…

Gautrain Rapid Rail Link – with a maximum speed of 160 km per hour – will take a mere 15 minutes to travel between OR Tambo [Johannesburg] International Airport and Sandton Station…

“Gautrain is set to change the commuting habits of residents as well as their lifestyle choices such as where to live, work and play,’ says Jack van der Merwe, CEO of the Gautrain Management Agency. ‘It’s a catalyst for a new form of urban development where existing suburbs are becoming people-friendly high-density, economic cores and inner cities are being rejuvenated.’

The Link will inckude ten stations on an 80km route, between 5-8km apart. Trains will run every 12 minutes during peak hour. Passengers can transfer easily to other modes, such as BRT, taxis and trains.

The excitement we South Africans feel about Gautrain, the various BRT routes, and bicycle lanes, is bittersweet. We long to no longer feature as one a country with the world’s worst road crash statistics. We want safe, reliable, affordable, accessible, sustainable, shared transport choices – and why shouldn’t we?

As Schalekamp puts it, transformation of public transport in this country may yet be driven not by the public sector, or policy, or minibus-taxi operators, but by public demand for improved services.

On major city landmarks and numerous websites, the countdown to the 2010 FIFA World Cup kick-off ticks by the second… But for many South Africans, that countdown represents the arrival of one of basic human rights: access.

Gail Jennings is editor of MOBILITY in Capetown, South Africa.