This white paper by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, just issued the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, looks at the potential for Pay as you Drive (PAYD) insurance both in general and in the specific case of British Columbia. With Pay as you Drive – i.e., “context sensitive insurance” – what you pay for this big-ticket item is conditional on not only distance travelled but also time and place. The concept has been around for decades but has started to gain traction in the last half dozen years. Let’s have a look. Continue reading
We very much like this article that has just appeared in motoring.asiaone.com, in that it provides an example of how good new mobility ideas that have enjoyed a certain success in one place — in this instance the long time carsharing project of the City of Bremen — can start to make their way into other cities and parts of the world. Will this actually work out for Shanghai? Well at least it’s a start. Continue reading
As the whole world knows, the Scots are an ingenious lot. And in a highly creative response to my yesterday’s “Unfair, unsafe and unwise . . . ” call for collaborative ideas for car control, one anonymous Scottish expert has just sent in the following technical illustration showing how they are able to slow down traffic and otherwise create a better smelling and more natural environment in Scotland. He recommends it as an efficient, affordable, warm and often delicious sustainability strategy. It has worked for a long time in Scotland and will, they guarantee, work well on your roads and streets too in the future. Auld Lang Syne. Continue reading
The Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice is the long standing idea and print partner of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda. The summer 2010 edition appears today, and in the article that follows you will find the lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg, along with abstracts of the principal contributions. (For a more complete introduction to WTPP click here.) Continue reading
This is the second article in a series coming in from Nepal, showing how the combination of traffic restraint and the push toward the creation of pedestrian- friendly areas is giving results in their capital city. The reader should bear in mind that the traffic situation on most of the city streets is extremely chaotic and dangerous, above all as a result of the explosion of fast-moving two wheelers. The city also suffers from major air quality problems due to a noxious combination of heavy traffic, dirty engines, thin air, natural meteorological factors and its location in the high Kathmandu Valley.
- Charina Cabrido, Clean Air Initiatives for Asian Cities. Kathmandu, Nepal.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) recently closed the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square from all kinds of vehicles as part of the government’s initiative to preserve the monument zones and reestablish the World Heritage Site as pedestrian friendly area. This aims to secure the safety of people walking in the city.
In Kathmandu, large portions of the population prefer to walk. In fact, 18.1 percent of daily trips are made entirely on foot, and of the nearly 56.5 percent of the commuters who use different modes of public transport, a large percentage walk as part of their daily commute.
However, inadequate planning has lead to many unnecessary fatalities and injuries. According to a study conducted by Kathmandu Valley Mapping Program (KVMP), pedestrians account for up to 40 percent of all fatalities in Kathmandu City in 2001.
The Clean Air Initiatives for Asian Cities and Clean Energy Nepal proposed for the implementation of exclusive zones for non – motorized transit within congested urban zones based from the results of its walkability survey.
What KMC has done is something that we must applaud. Urban cities with improved land use and transportation planning deliberately include pedestrianising streets to contribute to good health and quality of life. Based on a study made by the WorldWatch Institute, a short, four-mile round trip of walking helps reduce 15 pounds of pollutants in the air that we breathe.
Heritage Walk Project in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square
The heritage walk project in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square motivates people to take action to improve Kathmandu’s air quality. It reminds us that walking is the most socially inclusive mode of transport and is available to most people, regardless of age, gender, education or income. When you walk, you contribute to the creation of a healthy environment by reducing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and creating a safer, more social and liveable community.
It also creates a good impression for many visiting tourists in this country that there are safer and quieter roads that is designed entirely for the people. Pedestrian facilities that create safe and attractive environments with a range of amenities will encourage walking and attract visitors to these areas.
Pedestrian-friendly urban design is one of the key enabling conditions for effective transit systems. It tends to lower crime rates and accidents. With the segregation of people from vehicles, the safety of pedestrian and transportation abilities are greatly improved.
The concept of pedestrianisation is relatively simple, its benefits almost immediately apparent, but its implementation is hardly easy. This is not only part of KMC’s turf, it is everybody’s responsibility that road security practices are being followed to ensure that safer and quieter roads bind us all.
Background article from the Kathmandu Post, 17 April 2010:
To conserve Basantapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, the local administration on Saturday announced a ban on vehicular movement within the area. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles will, however, be allowed to ply there.
Programme chief of the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square Conservation Programme that falls under the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), Harikumar Shrestha, said on Saturday that the fresh restrictions will come into effect from Sunday. The authorities will also impose a ban on political meetings and other gatherings in the area. Cultural programmes, however, are permitted.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City had earlier imposed a ban on vehicular movement there, but it was not implemented largely due to lack of cooperation from locals and other stakeholders.
According to Shrestha, a meeting between representatives of Nepal Police, Traffic Police, Kathmandu Metropolis and the District Administration decided to impose the restrictions. They felt that vehicular movement and encroachment in the area were posing a threat to monuments there.
“The move also comes at a time when tourists visiting the historic site are facing difficulties due to vehicular movement there,” Shrestha said. He requested residents, local clubs, organisations and political parties to help the authorities create a “hassle-free” environment for tourists.
The authorities have further come up with alternative routes for vehicles to ease the traffic congestion that will result after the move is implemented. While vehicles coming from New Road and Ason will pass through Indrachowk, Suraj Arcade and to Phyphal, those coming from the opposite direction will follow the same route to reach New Road.
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About the author:
Charina Cabrido is an environmental researcher, a writer and a cycling advocate who is working for sustainable urban transport in Kathmandu, Nepal. She is currently associated with the Clean Air Initiatives for Asian Cities, an organization that is active in 8 country networks and over 170 organizational members to promote and demonstrate innovative ways to improve the air quality in Asian cities through partnerships and sharing experiences. Charina currently leads the Walkability Index Survey in Kathmandu to promote improvements in pedestrianisation infrastructures and services. She is also active in developing mass education, awarness and media campaign related to Air Quality Management issues in Nepal through the Clean Air Network Nepal.
In the pages of World Streets we lean heavily to giving attention to concepts and policies which promise near-term relief from the worst abuses of old mobility. But this does not mean turning our backs on longer-term thinking and strategies, as long as they do not contravene the basic sense of priorities which are needed for a consistent and effective sustainability policy. Here is a brief article that appeared in this week’s Time magazine which reports on views, pro and con, about the possibility of converting some significant chunks of Paris’s urban highway for uses by people, instead of cars.
On a recent Sunday in Paris, stroller-pushing parents, rollerbladers and cyclists eased their way up and down an unusually tranquil stretch of the Seine’s left bank. Normally this road is filled with thousands of cars zipping along, but once a week it is transformed into an oasis of calm as part of an experiment by City Hall to see what happens when cars are banned from Paris’ riverbanks. So far the experiment, which has been going on for the past few years, is proving popular. Delphine Damourette, 31, a Montmarte resident whose cobblestoned neighborhood is a rollerblader’s hell, says the traffic-free Sundays give her a taste of her city as she most loves it — during summer vacation, when Paris slows down, cars disappear, and pedestrians reclaim the Seine. “It would be great if Paris were like this all year long,” she says. Soon, she may get her wish.
If Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has his way, by 2012 the 1.2 miles of left bank expressway between the Musée d’Orsay and the Alma bridge will be permanently closed to automobiles, while traffic on the right bank will be slowed, all with the goal of turning the urban highway into a “pretty urban boulevard.” The estimated $50 million project — dubbed “the reconquest of the banks of the Seine” — calls for the development of 35 acres of riverside, with cafés, sports facilities and floating islands. “It’s about reducing pollution and automobile traffic, and giving Parisians more opportunities for happiness,” Delanoë said at the April 14 project unveiling. “If we succeed in doing this, I believe it will profoundly change Paris.”
But Parisians have already been through several years of policies — some drastic, some less so — aimed at ending the automobile’s reign in the capital. Are they ready for another transformative transportation project? Deputy Mayor for the Environment Denis Baupin, who as transportation chief from 2001-2008 launched tramways, bus lanes, bike paths, the Vélib’ public bikeshare and other schemes — all while weathering virulent criticism and monikers like Khmer Vert — thinks they are. “If we can talk about reconquering the banks of the Seine today, it’s because we first had the Sunday [closures] … which allowed people to acclimate to the idea that it was possible, pleasant and positive,” he tells TIME. “Mentalities have changed, and desire has grown for a city that’s going somewhere, that’s transforming and becoming more ecological.”
In seeking to take back the Seine, though, City Hall has started a new fight on one of the most historic battlegrounds in Paris for competing visions of the capital. The 1967 creation of the right bank expressway was part of a wider plan to crisscross the capital with high-speed roads, reflecting former President George Pompidou’s belief that “Paris must adapt itself to the automobile.” That philosophy hit a roadblock in 1975 when grassroots opposition successfully blocked plans for an elevated left bank expressway that would have passed in front of Notre Dame.
The victory was a benchmark for France’s nascent green movement and constituted “the last gasp of the Los Angelesation of Paris,” says Eric Britton, Paris-based economist and founder of the transport think tank New Mobility Agenda. “It was the beginning of another idea about how to handle mobility, transport infrastructure and the environment in general.”
Yet 35 years later, more than 30,000 cars still zip down the Seine expressways every day, and for critics of Delanoë’s idea, like French radio commentator Marion Ruggieri, they are “no less than the umbilical cord of the capital for everyone working and living in the suburbs.” Worried about how closing the river’s banks to traffic will affect those who depend on their cars to make a living, Ruggieri told France INFO radio, “Bertrand Delanoë wants a museum city, petrified in its clichés, reserved to tourists and the privileged, all this in the name of pollution.”
Other detractors scoff at City Hall’s claims that traffic diverted by the project will be absorbed into the upper quays and that drivers’ commutes will only increase by 6 minutes. Environment deputy mayor Baupin, however, is confident that, when forced to, people will change their habits. It’s already happened. Thanks to municipal policies such as lowering speed limits and replacing thousands of parking spaces with wider sidewalks and bike and bus lanes, daily car trips in Paris were reduced by 450,000 from 2001-2008. The hope is that by making the river banks automobile-free, more drivers will leave their cars at home and use the east-west-running bus lines, metro, and RER commuter trains along the Seine — all currently under expansion.
But in the end, they may have no choice. “This thing is inevitable, the reclaiming of waterways is happening worldwide,” says Britton. “Major cities like Bordeaux and Lyon have banned automobiles from their river banks in recent years and invested millions to develop green promenades, tramways and other transportation alternatives — projects widely embraced by residents today after initial skepticism. Outside of France, transformations have taken place even in industrial cities like Bilbao in Spain — which since the 1990s has cleaned up the infamously polluted Nervión river and moved its port downstream to reclaim its banks — and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, the country’s busiest port, where the city has transformed shipyards and military complexes into green space and leisure areas.”
Baupin believes that all these examples point to a permanent shifting of the tides. “Not a city in Europe would build the Georges Pompidou expressway today,” says Baupin. “The movement has finally reversed.” Technically that won’t be confirmed until Paris City Council votes on the project in July. But with the right bank to still be partially occupied by cars whatever happens, Baupin and the Greens won’t be fully satisfied. “This is only a step,” he says. It seems the banks of the Seine haven’t seen their last battle yet.
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About the author:
Jeffrey T. Iverson has been reporting from Paris as a TIME Magazine contributor since 2007. Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, he graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in French Studies and Journalism in 2005, and today writes on a variety of subjects including Paris city politics for TIME, Paris Magazine and other publications.
We put in traffic lights and stop signs in order to make our streets safe. We convert from two-way streets to one-way streets in order to permit cars to move more rapidly down them. And in almost all cases these decisions are made not on the basis of a broader systemic understanding of the traffic network as a whole, nor from an explicit philosophy as to what the basic underlying values and priorities should be, but always piecemeal, ad hoc, and one of the time. All of which renders the networks of most of our cities ripe for rethinking and redesign. Here is one view from London.
Hell is a gyratory system,
so let’s celebrate the return of cheerful anarchy to our roads
- Stephen Bayley, from The Times
It is the end of the road for the detested one-way street. Transport for London, perhaps the biggest manager of one-way systems in the world, at last acknowledges a truth painfully proved by harrowed pedestrians, bruised bicyclists and infuriated drivers: one-way systems do not work. Cities have been wastefully sacrificed to the false gods of efficiency and rationality. Now we want our cities back.
After a consultation in 2006 Tottenham Court Road — and soon Piccadilly, Pall Mall, Gower Street and the notorious Wandsworth one-way system (a congealed eternity of hot metal and annoyed people) — will return to two-way traffic. So a ruinous experiment is under final notice after 50 years of fuming. A culture that thought speed a measure of success and volume a measure of prosperity is being driven down the off-ramp.
This is a powerful metaphor for the new, more liberal, reasonable, responsible, lightly governed future that we are told awaits us. Certainly the one-way past created absurdities we could do without.
What is more existentially exasperating than a No Entry sign? This graphic of universal urban frustration was standardised by the League of Nations in 1931 (the year that the same ineffectual busybodies merely tut-tutted about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria).
Roads are not natural; they are inventions. And sealed roads to carry heavy traffic are inventions as typical of the 19th century as the typewriter and the diesel engine. MacAdam created the information superhighway of Victoriana. One-way streets were the final, and now obsolete, refinement of the road as a communications medium. They remain as dread memorials to vanished concerns, alien values and hopeless, irrelevant targets.
The concept began with good intentions. Albemarle Street in Mayfair became uni-directional in 1808 when crowds attending Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lectures at the Royal Institution made traffic-planning necessary. But the modern theology of traffic management dates back only to 1963 when Colin Buchanan, a town planner, published his ruinously influential report Traffic in Towns.
Wheeled traffic has been successfully mingling in towns and cities since the Etruscans, but Professor Buchanan took great exception to the idea and intended, with great athletic earnestness, to separate people and cars, the better for us to prosper by accelerator. The official attitude to cars in 1963 was curiously similar to Victorian ideas about prostitution: a mixture of acceptance and disgust.
With a fixity of purpose perhaps inviting Freudian interpretations, Buchanan wanted flyovers, clearways and pedestrianisation. Out went the clutter of accumulated townscape. Towns were to be cleansed of intimacy, hazard and surprise. In came Mr and Mrs Citizen swooping at high speed along urban motorways in a bizarre dystopia where your Cortina “saloon” would drive you to a Ballardian destiny in a tower block (where unspeakable crimes might be perpetrated).
In towns, the false god of the one-way street was an agent of change that proved catastrophic. This, of course, was the very moment that other visionaries thought it wise to, quite literally, decimate the railway system in the interests of “economy”. The M25 between Junctions 8 and 9 northbound on a Monday morning is their memorial. And the hell of Wandsworth, Vauxhall Cross or Hammersmith is Buchanan’s.
One-way systems are wrong because they are counterintuitive and seek to impose a spurious logic on human behaviour, something always at its most interesting when irrational. There is surely something very nasty in the concept and expression “gyratory”. It suggests circles of Hell and invites the conjoined idea of futility and an endless quest for an impossible goal.
To enter any gyratory system — often survivable in a car, more precarious on a bike, but suicidal on foot — is to go on bargaining terms with urban aggression and the one-dimensional solutions of the traffic engineer. In pursuit of something that looks good on a graphic, but does not work on the ground, sinister gyratory systems generate millions of unnecessary miles and thousands of tons of pollution.
And people hate them. Best to reinstate the Darwinian struggle of the two-way street and re-create cities that respond to the cheerful anarchy of individual purpose, not a chilly master plan. This is a prospect pleasantly hinted at in a new exhibition. The architectural publisher and bike evangelist Peter Murray has created a series of enamel plaques mocking London’s one-way system. Of Fitzrovia he says it “fails in its aspirations to speed the traffic, but succeeds in confusing cyclists and traffic alike”.
One-way was designed to “reduce congestion”. In true conformity with the Orwellian model, it did the opposite. One-way ? “Wrong way, go back” as the signs say on US freeways. I’m glad to say we are.
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About the author:
Let me quote the author directly from his website you can find at http://www.stephenbayley.com/: “Stephen Bayley was once described as ‘the second most intelligent man in Britain’. This is controversial and very possibly untrue, but what is indisputable is that – as the author of more than ten books, nearly thirty exhibition catalogues, countless articles, broadcasts and newspaper columns – he is one of the world’s best known commentators on modern culture. Tom Wolfe said of him “I don’t know anybody with more interesting observations about style, taste and contemporary design.”