Category Archives: Safety

Getting away with M U R D E R

In memoriam 2013.

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

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 usa ghost bike photoand 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, “public servants”) responsible for what goes on under their direct control.

Who is doing this job in your city?

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Too old to drive? So now what?

elderly drive statsAt what point in life are we,  you and I, “too old to drive”? When that fatal day comes, what do we do next? This is one of the unhappy surprises of contemporary life, but there is no reason that this need be personally devastating. It is after all foreseeable. In recent years we are starting to see  programs emerging to help people foresee or deal with this painful transition, which for many is almost paralyzing where they live in places in which there are no decent alternatives to car travel. World Streets intends to present a series of working papers and thinkpieces on this topic over the course of 2014. This article by Adrian Davis is the first in this series. Continue reading

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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Come out and claim the road – by Sunita Narain

india bicycle dovesI write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car when cycling. The car fled the scene, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, strangers helped me and took me to hospital. I got treatment. I will be back fighting fit.

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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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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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Current conditions for cycling STOP Britain cycling!!!

France-paris-velib-tourTransport in cities is a steep uphill affair. If we ever are to transform the quality of the mobility arrangements in our cities, there are certain basic truths about it that need to be repeated again and again. By different people, in different places and in different ways.  Until we win.

Cycling in most cities:  You and I know it. It is broke. It cannot be “fixed”.  It needs to be reinvented from the street up. All of which is easy enough to say, but what in concrete terms does that mean? This article which appeared in the Guardian a few days back by Peter Walker,  reports on the testimony of Dave Horton a cycling sociologist who pounds the table on five basic truths of cycling in cities. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Hard-earned road lessons from Britain

The British journalist, editor and cycling activist  Carlton Reid is in the process of finalizing a “massive free e-book” due for publication this Spring at http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/. His book provides valuable study the pasthistorical background on how we in Britain and the United States got into the present no-choice single-mode road systems that have provided the authoritarian main model for the fast (and less fast) developing countries as they rush to urbanization. The lessons of history, if learned, can, we are told, help us better understand the present and on that firm base decide what we wish to become in the future. So with thanks to Carlton Reid let’s see if we can learn this particular hard  lesson from Britain: Continue reading

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

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Behind the Rape in the Bus Over at India Streets today – http://www.facebook.com/IndiaStreets – the distinguished Indian journalist and writer, Vidyadhar Date, posts an article entitled “Rosa Parks, The Power of Resistance and the Rape In The Bus In Delhi”. … Continue reading

Signals, Perception, Behavior : Questions, Blurs and Hints

In transportation circles, most often in Europe but not uniquely there, we often hear the term “behavior modification”, which is usually brandished as something brain2that somebody else has to learn to do and cope with. More often than not this matter of behavior modification when it comes to how, when and where people drive cars, but we can also hear about it with reference to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers and street denizens. And as we can see from the results, this matter of behavior and modification turns out to be quite a challenge. Continue reading

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The long wait at the many unnecessary traffic lights in Germany may soon be over. Communities nationwide are exploring the use of alternative traffic control systems, such as roundabouts and zebra stripes, to resolve the traffic light’s growing issues of … Continue reading

Editorial: Why are we losing the sustainability wars? In transport, in cities, in our lives? Because we are . . .

Consider these irrefutable unpleasant truths:

There may be successes and improvements in this project, in this  place, in this way, but when we look at the bottom line — i.e., the aggregate impact of our transport choices and actions on the planet  — it is clear that we (that’s the collective “we” including all of us who have in some way committed to or accepted this great responsiblity, this author certainly included) are failing, big time. And if we are frank with ourselves, we can see that this is quite simply because . . . Continue reading

Evaluating Public Transport Health Impacts

In the last days on the Sustran Global South Forum, Gregorio Villacorta of Metro of Lima (Peru) posted the following question to the group: “We would like to find some paper about road safety and social inclusion relationated to Metros, or other massive public transport.” In the usual good spirit of Sustran there were immediately several communications offering to lend a hand. This one from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is one that we think is well worth sharing here. Continue reading

From the editor: Safe Streets? Who cares?

It is a truly dreadful thing for anyone, me for instance, to lay on you anything as hackneyed as: a picture is worth a thousand words. But let me run the risk and show you a couple of pictures and leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. The topic is the first round of reactions to our start-up 2012 collaborative project aiming at clarifying the concept of Safe Streets from a strategic planning and policy perspective. Continue reading

Carlos Pardo: On Slow(er) transport?

I was thinking that, since the concept of “slow” has been around for a while, but applied to concepts such as food and “living” in general, one could think of applying it to transport policies and projects… that is, create the term “slow transport” or “slower transport”, but responsibly. Below are some notes that could generate ideas towards that direction: where the concept comes from, why and how we can apply it, and some obstacles or possible problems. I will be as brief as possible, since I could write for ages about this. My main concern would be to develop a (or yet another) way of justifying the promotion and development of sustainable transport. And my main worry is that we could just generate a new empty term related to urban transport (we have enough already). Continue reading

Roads vs. Streets: Wherein the greater danger?

Michael Blastland plays around with some statistics, usefully!, on roads vs. streets when it comes to accidents and safety  in this article that appeared in today’s BBC magazine. (Click here for his article in full and here for the  often quite stinging comments that it has triggered.)  Ours here is quite another focus, but it is interesting to keep our eyes open for short pieces like this.

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Combating the Myth That Complete Streets Are Too Expensive

 from Streetsblog DC takes a good look at this often-advanced view that, good as they may be for a wide range of reasons, the fact is that we just can’t afford complete streets. One more great reason not to change, eh?

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Safe Streets 2012 Challenge: Is there only one way to skin this cat?

Traffic in Frenetic HCMC, Vietnam from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

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The Safe Streets Challenge: 2012 – 2015

After considerable and at times quite contentious discussions over the last months with colleagues around the world through various discussion fora, social media, programs, conferences and personal visits, we have decided to make one of the principal themes of our work here at World Streets for the coming year that of Safe Streets.

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Missing in action: “Zone 30″ in WP in English???

Oops. I have been asked to open the plenary  on “Urban mobility: Achieving social efficiency” at next week’s Smart Cities conference in Barcelona (full details on which available here , and one of the central themes of the talk is the high importance of taking a strategic approach to slowing down and smoothing traffic in cities.   As part of my due diligence I decided to check out the Zone 30 and Twenty is Plenty entries in Wikipedia. Where I found to my disappointment: (a) that there was no entry on Zone 30 in English (and if in French, German, Italian and Dutch, not (yet) in Portuguese, Spanish, etc.) and (b) nothing at all on the important Twenty Is Plenty program out of the UK. 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

Weekend musing: The bicycle helmet rears its ugly head

Under our World City Bike program we have for several years now been looking at the yes/no sudden-death helmet issue in the context of public bike projects . If you click here you will find several postings that make an effort to report in a balanced manner (to the extent possible) on the issues, trade-offs and implications of creating legal requirements that force all cyclists to use helmets. An absolutely well-intentioned position which has turned out to be no less than the cold hand of death strangling nascent public bicycle projects in various projects around the world. Pity to spend all that public money on a nice bike sharing system and then find that they are not being widely used while honest citizens add pounds of fat to what should be their lithe frames. In the event, here are a handful of short videos from YouTube that take a pretty good whack at it from several perspectives. Have a look and decide for yourself.

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

Hopefully we have learned at least one hard lesson of life, and that is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And here right before our eyes we have a case in point with the Occupy movements that are sweeping Europe and North America, a public crisis that is most unexpectedly taking place on “public land”. And then suddenly, with no advance notice, everything starts to morph and the issues involved start to encompass not only the continuing unchecked egregious abuses of the financial community but also important (for democracy) issues of public  space — one of our consistent concerns here at World Streets. So in an effort to make sure that we do not miss the opportunity behind this crisis, we pass the word back to Andrew Curry so that he can build further on his article under this title earlier this week Continue reading

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

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