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.”
When it comes to both old and new mobility, Australia offers an interesting case. Along with a group of countries that may seem surprisingly mixed at first glance, and which would include of course the perennial United States with the spacious Canada right in its footsteps, but which also a number of the Nordic countries and in particular Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland who have followed the toxic combination of personal wealth and ubiquitous cars to the extent in which it has in many ways locked them into an all-car no-choice system, the Australian mobility pattern is right up there with the “best” of them. But life moves on and in every one of these countries you will now find a growing number of individuals and groups who are questioning the old ways. Have a look at this sample of leading edge new mobility thinking in Australia. We find it both refreshing and instructive.
Moving People: Solutions for a growing Australia
* Note: the full 81 page report is available at http://www.ara.net.au/UserFiles/file/Publications/Moving_People_report.pdf
National land transport policy issues and directions
Australia’s current land transport systems are not sustainable in economic, environmental or social terms. To substantially improve the sustainability of Australia’s land transport systems, national land transport policy for at least the next decade needs to be framed around outcomes:
a. Congestion management: to manage congestion costs, improving economic competitiveness and quality of life in our cities;
b. Environmental improvement: to achieve substantial cuts in transport greenhouse gas emissions;
c. Social inclusion: to ensure adequate accessibility options are available for all Australians (and international visitors);
d. Health & safety: to make the transport system safe and encourage healthier transport choices; and,
e. Energy security: to increase our energy security by reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels.
This report focuses primarily on the people elements of the land transport task.
The key Policy Objectives that are required to improve the sustainability of our transport systems are:
• Changing the modal balance for transport away from such a high dependence on motor vehicles;
• Improving the environmental performance of all transport modes but particularly of cars and trucks; and
• Ensuring that travel opportunities are available to all, irrespective of personal circumstances.
These three policy objectives can be translated into six major Program Directions:
i. Reducing the demand for travel
a. Land use planning (increased density, co-location)
b. Maximising opportunities for walking and cycling
ii. Achieving a shift to lower carbon transport modes
a. Cars to public transport, walking and cycling
b. Trucks to rail
iii. Improving vehicle utilisation
a. Higher car occupancy
b. More efficient freight movements
iv. Reducing vehicle emissions intensity
a. More efficient vehicles
b. Smaller passenger vehicles
c. Alternative fuels
d. Intelligent transport systems
e. Better driving practices
v. Increasing mobility opportunities
a. Provision of reasonable base public transport service levels
b. Using existing public transport opportunities (e.g. school and community buses) more effectively
vi. Creating a more sustainable freight network
a. Focus on freight movement to ports, hubs and to connect key manufacturing/distribution centres
A seven point national plan
These initiatives would be encouraged by the following National Land Transport Seven Point Plan.
1. Increased investment in public transport. (see Sections 2.7 and 4)
2. Freight capacity investment and efficiency improvements (see sections 3.2.3 and 3.2.7)
3. Road pricing reform, and reallocation of road space to prioritise low emission modes (see Section 3.2.3, 3.2.7 and 5.4)
4. Improved accessibility for all with the establishment of Regional Accessibility Planning Councils, behavioural change programs. (see Sections 3.2.1 and 3.2.5)
5. More compact, walking and cycling friendly urban settlements. (see Section 3.3)
6. Improved fuel efficiency. (see Section 3.2.4)
7. Improvements in transport research and information—implementation of a National Transport Research Program (see Section 5.2)
The public transport role
Australian public transport systems and services must play a larger role in future national land transport solutions, as a key means of improving the sustainability of these systems. Service improvements must be delivered in an efficient manner, to assure value for money to governments and the community.
Public transport system and service development should encompass:
• delivering improved customer service;
• investing in network extension and service
• enhancements; making better use of existing infrastructure;
• driving improved land use and transport planning; and,
• maximising value for money for Government.
The report outlines a range of ways in which Australian public transport services can be improved to enable the sector to enhance the sustainability of Australia’s land transport systems. It also identifies ways in which public transport service efficiency can be improved.
Following the lead now being provided by COAG, Federal and State funding support for the implementation of substantially improved public transport systems and services should be dependent upon both the existence of State integrated strategic planning systems, including land use and transport systems, and also upon the existence of programs that help to assure efficient service delivery is achieved. Benchmarking can help to provide this assurance and should be part of the assessment criteria for any funding request to the Federal Government to assist upgrade public transport systems/services.
The case for federal funding
The sustainability issues confronting Australia’s land transport systems are very significant and growing in magnitude. They affect all Australians. While the cities are the areas of greatest concern, regional and rural areas also confront many of the issues (e.g. the road toll, greenhouse gas emissions, social exclusion, economic competitiveness related to infrastructure provision and energy security). Because of the scale and geographical spread of these issues, national policy and program responses are required for effective solutions. This must, involve the Federal Government showing leadership and working in partnership with others. Some issues require a specific Federal policy and program response. The sheer scale of the financial requirement means that state-based budgets wil not be sufficient to equip Australia’s cities with adequate transport services.
The recently announced Federal provision of over $4 billion towards a number of transformational urban public transport initiatives under the Building Australia Fund, on recommendation from Infrastructure Australia, demonstrates that the Federal Government recognises the importance of transformational change. The December 2009 COAG Communique supports this acceptance.
Programming for outcomes
Federal government involvement in land transport must contribute to the resolution of a number of national issues that are severely impacted by land transport services/ system performance. The following national land transport program structure is proposed.
The chart indicates the alignment between the critical national land transport issues and the proposed outcome-based response programs. A program structured along these lines encourages an integrated, “modally-agnostic” approach to the pursuit of solutions to land transport problems, which is important for achieving transformational change—as distinct from an approach that is simply more of the same. Program elements in each area would need to include a wide range of measures for maximum effectiveness. This would include measures associated with (for example) infrastructure improvement, system regulation, and operations management, etc. A clear set of national key performance indicators should be developed and monitored, to measure progress against these critical policy goals.
Because of the long time period that will be required to implement many of the changes (especially those related to developing more compact urban land use patterns), long term funding commitments will be fundamental to the achievement of effective outcomes. Rolling five year Federal funding commitments, with provisions to guarantee minimum flows, will be vital to driving transformational change. These should support State/ Territory (and local government in some cases) five year plans.
The national interest issues discussed in this report require transformational change, not simply “more of the same”. The focus for Federal funding support should be on capital assistance to projects that lead transformational change and improve the national interest outcomes identified in this report. In some cases this assistance will be the majority of the funding required for a particular initiative. In others it will simply be top-up funding, to support private sector funding. The top-up could be in recognition of identified external benefits from the initiatives in question that the private sector is unable to capture as in some port projects.
The Federal Government should not involve itself in the operation of land transport systems that are currently State/Territory or local government responsibilities but should influence the development direction of those systems in ways that contribute to better outcomes when assessed against the national interest issues raised in this report. In providing funding support along such lines, the Federal Government needs to assure itself that outcomes represent social value for money and that funding recipients do not simply substitute Federal money for State/Territory/local government money. The use of performance benchmarking, a comprehensive planning approach and subsequent performance monitoring can protect against these risks.
An important consideration in structuring Federal financial support for land transport infrastructure is whether to adopt a formula-based approach to distribution of funding allocations (primarily to States and Territories) or to rely on a bid process, where bids are submitted in accordance with pre-specified criteria and allocations are made to those proposals which best meet the criteria, irrespective of geography. The latter approach characterises the Infrastructure Australia approach. The former is closer to the basis for current Federal allocations of land transport financial assistance (basically road funding). An argument for including at least an element of formula funding within a Federal financial assistance program for land transport is that to do otherwise would unfairly penalise a jurisdiction that has put in additional past effort at its own expense and currently has a smaller backlog than others, simply because of greater effort. It is proposed that a part of Federal land transport financial assistance should continue to be formula-based and part be based on transport-plan based project submissions.
Sustainable funding—road pricing reform
A reformed transport pricing regime should become the basis of a sustainable approach to national land transport policy.
A reformed road pricing system should cover all vehicle classes and all costs attributable to road use.
Possible options to structure such a charging system include:
1. a use-based charge to cover carbon costs (the current Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme curiously proposes offsetting the carbon price for cars by excise offsets for three years, a system that is at odds with the purpose of emissions trading);
2. a usage-based charge to cover the costs of road construction and maintenance attributable to lighter vehicles;
3. tonne kilometre charges for the additional road damage attributable to heavy vehicles;
4. a use-based charge to cover the external cost component of accident costs;
5. use-based charges to levy vehicles for air pollution costs; and,
6. a congestion pricing scheme to make users accountable for the congestion costs attributable to their road use, by time and location. Existing fuel excise and registration charges would be abolished and replaced by the above charges. There would need to be an Intergovernmental Agreement to implement such a system, because the incidence and scale of revenue flows would differ substantially from the current arrangements.
The national land transport policy framework outlined above, which focuses mainly on people movement, is based on:
• identification of the critical national land transport
• issues that require a national response for their resolution;
• formulation of a comprehensive, outcome-driven approach to national policy/program structure; implementation of a set of planning processes that feed the policy/program structure in an integrated manner;
• concentration of Federal land transport assistance funding in seven categories to promote outcome achievement.
The proposals should place Australia in a strong position to provide a world class 21st century land transport system.
# # #
This report is a collaborative publication produced by the three leading groups representing the public transport industry in Australia (the Australasian Railway Association, the Bus Industry Confederation and the International Association of Public Transport–UITP).
It has been jointly authored by John Stanley (Adjunct Professor, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney) and Simon Barrett (Managing Director of L.E.K. Consulting, Australia).
The report is targeted at key policy makers in Commonwealth and State Territory Governments, with an interest in, or responsibility for, transport policy and related areas.
* For further information: Prof. John Stanley at email@example.com
* Again: the full 81 page report is available at http://www.ara.net.au/UserFiles/file/Publications/Moving_People_report.pdf
Okay, dear reader. If you want to get to the bottom of this update on how Paris’s famous Vélib’s are being integrated into the city’s mobility and land use plan at a fair level of detail, you will have to make your way through this largely untouched machine translation of an article just published by the Vélib team here in Paris. Courage!
(If you want to know you will know. If you don’t, you won’t.. .)
Vélib’ in Paris “eco-neighborhoods”
The month of April puts sustainable development in the spotlight for a week. On this occasion, you can learn about eco-neighborhoods with Vélib’. How do they favor motorized traffic? What is the mobility of tomorrow? Eco-neighborhoods are part of the climate plan of the City of Paris, which aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.
What is an eco-neighborhood?”
While Vélib ‘has participated in the increase in cycling in the city, sustainable neighborhoods begin to bloom in the capital. The users of Vélib ‘could well be among the first to borrow the bike paths of sustainable neighborhoods, which are biased to motorized traffic and public transportation. The construction of an eco-neighborhood based inter alia on the best life and living together. The urban setting has to be warm and alive and for this, sustainable mobility, natural heritage, security is taken into account, as well as biodiversity, water management, noise and air pollution. Building a sustainable community based mainly on the HQE (High Environmental Quality) rewarding the preservation of the planet and a better quality of life (noise, air quality, water …).
A sustainable community is thought of as environmental and energy challenges, but also by economic and social criteria. Eco-building, renewable energy, revegetation techniques are widely used in the context of eco-neighborhoods.
Vélib’, soft modes and sustainable neighborhoods: what is the mobility of tomorrow? Anne
According to Anne Faure planner present at the conference on mobility and eco-neighborhoods, organized last February 16 by the association Zukunftstrasse in partnership with the Club of cities and territories bicycle, motorized traffic is a fundamental criteria in the construction of an eco-neighborhood. For her, Vélib ‘has given visibility to cyclists.
The concept of eco-neighborhood was first developed in the countries of northern Europe. According to Anne Faure, the Grenelle Environment has encouraged its development in France where the projects sustainable neighborhoods are still very recent. “One can cite the examples of the BIA Good Grenoble or Lyon Confluence, these neighborhoods are close to the center and well served by public transport, the soft modes are also very present. Meanwhile, there is a proliferation of small projects in France, “she said.
According to Anne Faure, so that these new neighborhoods are truly eco-neighborhoods, it is necessary that they be served by public transport and car traffic and parking are limited. It is a difficult objective to implement but the view is changing. “Indeed, we must know that 40% of average emissions of greenhouse gases are produced by the building and 40% from transport. Other sectors, which include industry, only 20% “she adds. The BIA of Rungis and the Batignolles district in Paris trying to develop such soft methods. The Confluence area in Saint-Denis and the reconquest of warehouses in the Ile-Saint-Denis also take into account the overall problems of displacement. “But in France the focus is on the building with techniques such as thermal insulation, while in Germany the first experiments in the primary endpoint was a city without a car,” said Anne Faure.
The planner said that the construction of an eco-neighborhood refers to the principles of sustainable development based on economic issues (including development of commercial and non-polluting activities), social (including construction of housing and utilities) and environmental (focus attention on managing energy, water and waste). She said the principle of eco-quartier is a first step towards a new vision of the city: “This is of course to shatter the limits of eco-districts across the territory of the city. For this, we need these neighborhoods is easily accessible to everyone, so they serve as a model.
The eco-city tour of Paris’s Vélib’
Beyond the planned actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the City of Paris acts on the environment: adaptation of buildings, revegetation of Paris, creating green spaces, roofs, shared gardens … Sustainable Neighbourhoods part of this process. They are emerging especially in the outskirts of the city, on vacant urban land or concerted development zones (CAZ). Gare de Rungis (13th), Boucicault (15th) and Claude Bernard (19th) … Velib ‘invites you to visit the eco-neighborhoods of tomorrow, Cycling. Browse a few of them with iVélib ‘.
* The district Fréquel Hondarribia in the 20th district was awarded in November 2009 by the Department of Ecology to support eco-district, in the Category Sobriety energy. Station Vélib ‘No. 20016
* 1st eco-neighborhood in the capital, the Batignolles in the 17th district will be divided into three sectors: BIA-Cardinet Chalabre BIA Clichy Batignolles area Saussure. Station Vélib ‘No. 17110
* Planned for 2012, the BIA Pajot, located in the heart of the 18th district, will pilot an eco-neighborhood in Paris, where the architectural heritage will retain his place. Station Vélib ‘No. 18010
* Launched December 6, 2009, Macdonald warehouse, located Porte d’Aubervilliers, is the largest geothermal project of its kind in Paris and covers an area of 200 hectares. Station Vélib ‘No. 19032
Examples from abroad
In Europe, there are many sustainable neighborhoods, including the Netherlands,
Ava-Lanxmeer in Culemborg, Sweden, B001 in Malmo Hammarby in Stockholm, and Finland, Helsinki Vikki.
In the UK, BedZED is a neighborhood built in south London, between 2001 and 2002. Covering an area of 1.7 hectares, it accommodates 100 apartments, 2 500 m² of offices and shops, green spaces, an auditorium, a health center, a sports complex and a creche. Since its establishment, and compared to conventional homes, this eco-district has reduced its energy consumption for heating by 88% and electricity by 25%.
In Germany, the Vauban district in Freiburg im Breisgau was rehabilitated in 1996 according to strict standards QEH. Nearly 3 000 homes and 600 jobs have been created. The homes are powered by solar energy and produce more energy than they consume. The area has been developed for an optimal sun exposure, with environmentally friendly materials and roofs are vegetated. Automobile traffic is reduced and the space reserved for outdoor games and soft travel.
Switzerland also has many eco-neighborhoods, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern.
Projects are underway in Austin, Texas, United States, and Wuhan, China.
Green Neighbourhoods (Quartiers verts)
The City of Paris has been engaged for several years a new policy of sharing public space. Green neighborhoods have been created.
The first of them, completed in 2003, Alesia Tombe Issoire, covers an area of 65 hectares and was built to improve safety and comfort of residents. The continuity of bike routes has been optimized, and speed of traffic has been limited. Much has also been devoted to the greening of the area, with the planting of 45 trees and 14 planters.
In the 12th district, the district Aligre favors soft travel with a velocity at 30 km / h, parking reorganized, or the creation of bike paths. Shrubs and planters were installed to revegetate the area.
* For more click http://www.paris.fr/portail/deplacements/Portal.lut?page_id=7414
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The transportation sector has around for a long long time. And over all those centuries and years of heavy hurtling dangerous traffic we have learned some lessons and done some things that, well if you really think about it, do not always add up. Here is one of those old ideas that Gary Lauder, co-creator of the Socrates Society at the Aspen Institute, takes four and a half speedy minutes to demolish for us. The humble stop sign. Or in this case the humble two million dollar stop sign. Oops!
[This presentation is part of the TED "Ideas worth spreading" series. And if Gary speaks too quickly for you (he does really rattle on at quite a breathtaking pace), you always can call up sub-titles, though thus far only in Bulgarian, English, and French.]
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Thanks to Robin Chase for the good heads-up on this. (Robin muses well at http://networkmusings.blogspot.com. Her latest postings regularly appear in our “Latest from the world’s streets’ rubric which you will see if you scroll down a bit in our left hand resource column/section here.)
This carefully compiled seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool and up to date source guide for researchers and policy makers worldwide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references you will find handy to take these entries further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues.
All of the content of the extensive VTPI site including their extremely useful Online TDM Encyclopedia — http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/index.php — can be conveniently searched using the special New Mobility Knoogle Combined Search Engine that you will find in the left column here, which scans the content of the close to two hundred carefully selected Key Sources, Links and Blogs. You can also access it here direct by clicking http://tinyurl.com/knoogle-WS-key-sources
“Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit” ( http://www.vtpi.org/raisetaxes.pdf )
High quality public transit consists of service sufficiently convenient and comfortable to attract travel that would otherwise be by automobile. This paper uses data from U.S. cities to investigate the incremental costs and benefits of high quality transit service. The analysis indicates that high quality public transit typically requires about $268 annually per capita in additional tax subsidy and $104 in additional fares, but provides vehicle, parking and road cost savings averaging $1,040 per capita, plus other benefits including congestion reductions, increased traffic safety, pollution reductions, improved mobility for non-drivers, improved fitness and health. This indicates that residents should rationally support tax increases if needed to create high quality public transit systems in their communities. Current planning practices tend to overlook or undervalue many of these savings and benefits and so result in underinvestment in transit quality improvements.
“Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines: How More Efficient Pricing Can Help Solve Parking Problems, Increase Revenue, And Achieve Other Planning Objectives” ( http://www.vtpi.org/parkpricing.pdf )
Efficient parking pricing can provide numerous benefits including increased turnover and therefore improved user convenience, parking facility cost savings, reduced traffic problems, and increased revenues. This report provides guidance on parking pricing implementation. It describes parking pricing benefits and costs, ways to overcome common obstacles and objections, and examples of successful parking pricing programs. Parking pricing is best implemented as part of an integrated parking management program. Current trends are increasing the benefits of efficient parking pricing. Legitimate objections to parking pricing can be addressed with appropriate policies and strategies.
“Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http://www.vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf )
“The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be” (http://www.vtpi.org/future.pdf
“Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs” ( http://www.vtpi.org/tranben.pdf )
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“Evaluating Carbon Taxes As An Energy Conservation And Emission Reduction Strategy,” Transportation Research Record 2139, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), pp. 125-132; at http://www.vtpi.org/carbontax.pdf
Carbon taxes are based on fossil fuel carbon content, and therefore tax carbon dioxide emissions. This paper evaluates British Columbia’s carbon tax, introduced in 2008. It reflects key carbon tax principles: it is broad, gradual, predictable, and structured to assist low-income people. Revenues are returned to residents and businesses in ways that protect the lowest income households. It supports economic development by encouraging energy conservation which keeps money circulating within the regional economy.
“Transportation Policy and Injury Control” Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, 2009. ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/362.full )
This short article describes a paradigm shift occurring in the field of transport planning, and its implications for traffic safety. The old paradigm assumed that “transportation” means automobile travel. The new paradigm recognizes a wider range of options and planning objectives.
“The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?” TRB Annual Meeting session video recording ( http://www.bethereglobal.com/trb_2010/shop/index.php?searchstring=litman&showresult=true&exp=0&resultpage=&categories=off&msg=&search=index.php&shop=1 ).
“Complete Streets” (EIP-25), Planners Advisory Service Essential Information Packets ( http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets/#25 ), American Planning Association ($30)
Complete streets accommodate all users. Over the past several years, communities across the country have embraced a complete streets approach to the planning, design, construction, and operation of new transportation facilities. In this Essential Info Packet, PAS compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources detailing best practices for planning and building complete streets, including the VTPI “Introduction to Multi-Modal Transportation Planning: Principles and Practices.”
Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
* “Raise My Taxes, Please! Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall”
* “Carfree Design Manual”
* “Accessibility, Mobility and Automobile Dependency”
“Report from TRB”
“Fun With Research: Higher Fuel Prices Increase Economic Productivity”
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Canadian Tax Exempt Transit and Cycling Benefits
“Cost Estimate of Proposed Amendments to the Income Tax Act to Exempt Certain Employer-Provided Transportation Benefits from Taxable Income” ( http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/PBO-DPB/documents/Costing_C-466_EN.pdf ).
Proposed Canadian legislation C-466 would exempt from income taxes employer-provided commuter benefits up to $1,800 annually for transit and park-and-ride expenses, and $250 for cycling expenses. This study evaluated the fiscal impacts of this legislation. It concluded that net tax revenue foregone would be negligible overall, and the reduced vehicle traffic should provide economic benefits leading to increased productivity and therefore tax revenues.
To support this legislation send letters to:
Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
21st Floor, 110 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
A model letter is available at http://www.vtpi.org/files/C466.doc .
Drive Less, Pay Less: Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Performance Standard ( http://www.ceres.org/Page.aspx?pid=1157 )
VTPI is working with a coalition of transportation and environmental organizations to develop a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) vehicle insurance performance standard to help regulators, insurers and consumers identify truly effective PAYD policies. This standard defines specific requirements for policies to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings. For more information see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mindy-s-lubber/drive-less-pay-less-win-w_b_391373.html .
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“Multi-modal Transportation Economic Evaluation: Cut Costs and Improve Mobility” at the Urban Transportation Summit, Toronto 3 March 2010 ( http://www.strategyinstitute.com/030210_uts8/dsp.php )
“Parking Innovation Workshop” at the American Planning Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 11 April 2010 ( http://www.planning.org/conference/program/search/activity.htm?ActivityID=138154 ).
“Smart Driving: Evaluating Mobility Management” at the Edmonton International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety, 28 April 2010 ( http://www.trafficsafetyconference.com ).
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“Preventive Medicine; Special Supplement on Active Communities for Youth and Families: Using Research to Create Momentum for Change,” Vol. 50, Supplement 1, January 2010; at ( http://www.activelivingresearch.org/resourcesearch/journalspecialissues ). This special, free journal issue contains articles describing new research on the relationships between land use policy, urban design, travel activity (walking, cycling, transit and vehicle travel), body weight and health outcomes.
“Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report” (www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/index.php/site/memberservices/C529.
This comprehensive study by the Alliance for Biking & Walking reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars. While 10% of U.S. trips are by bike or foot, and 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, yet biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. The report indicates that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. International comparisons indicate that the U.S. investments less in biking and walking and has less biking and walking activity than its peers.
“Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America” by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp. 79-104; at http://www.nctr.usf.edu/jpt/pdf/JPT12-3Pucher.pdf.
“Child and Youth Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning: Guidelines and Literature Review” ( http://www.kidsonthemove.ca ) is developing guidelines for municipal transportation and land-use planners as tools to create communities that meet the needs of children and youth – and everyone else.
“Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual” ( http://nelsonnygaard.com/Documents/Reports/Abu-Dhabi-StreetDesignManual.pdf )
This innovative Manual provides guidance to planners and designers on ways to create more walkable communities. It introduces the concept of the pedestrian realm as an integral part of the overall street composition. It uses extensive illustrations, examples and instructions to help designers, planners and decision-makers implement a new vision of urban development. It responds to the needs of a rapidly-growing city that desires to preserve cultural traditions and design features, provide natural comfort in a hot climate, accommodate diverse populations, and achieve sustainability objectives.
“Who Owns The Roads? How Motorised Traffic Discourages Walking And Bicycling,” by Peter L. Jacobsen, F. Racioppi and H. Rutter, Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, pp. 369-373; ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/369.full.html ).
This article examines the impact of vehicle traffic on walking and bicycling activity. It indicates that real and perceived danger and discomfort imposed by traffic discourages walking and bicycling, and interventions to reduce traffic speed and volume can improve public health by increasing walking and bicycling activity.
“A Study on the Impact of the Green Transport Mode on Public Health Improvement,” KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1, Korea Transport Institute, May 2009, pp. 6-8 ( http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/world-brief01.pdf ).
This study found that commuters who switch from automobile to walking or cycling for eight weeks experienced significantly reduced lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity and improved cholesterol counts. It estimated that commuters who use active modes achieve annual health and fitness benefits worth an average of 2.2 million Korean Won (about $2,000). They found that incorporating these values into transportation policy and project evaluation significantly affected outcomes, resulting in higher values for policies and projects that increase active transportation among people who otherwise achieve less than 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.
“Transitway Impacts Research Program” ( http://www.cts.umn.edu/Research/Featured/Transitways ) investigates how high quality urban transit systems affect travel activity and land use development.
“Analysis Finds Shifting Trends in Highway Funding: User Fees Make Up Decreasing Share” (http://www.subsidyscope.com/transportation/highways/funding )
This analysis of Federal Highway Statistics found the portion of U.S. highway funding paid by motor vehicle user fees has declined significantly. In 2007, 51% of highway construction and maintenance expenditures were generated through user fees (fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls) down from 61% a decade earlier. The rest came from other sources, including income, sales and property taxes.
“Estimates of the External Costs of Transport in 2007″ KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 3, Korea Transport Institute (www.koti.re.kr), July, pp. 8-10; at http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/World-Brief03.pdf .
This study estimates that during 2007, South Korean household expenditures on transportation totaled 11.4% of GDP, and external transportation costs (congestion delays, accident damages and pollution emissions) totaled 5.4% of GDP. The study compares South Korea’s transport costs with other countries and indicates changes over time.
“Transport: External Cost of Transport In Switzerland” ( http://www.are.admin.ch/themen/verkehr/00252/00472/index.html?lang=en ). This comprehensive research program by the Swiss government provides detailed estimates of various transportation costs, including infrastructure, accidents and pollutants.
“International Fuel Prices 2009″ ( http://www.gtz.de/fuelprices)
The 2009 International Fuel Prices report provides an overview of the retail prices of gasoline and diesel in more than 170 countries, discusses pricing policies, presents case studies on the impact of high and volatile fuel prices in 2007/2008 in developing countries and provides access to numerous additional resources.
“Rethinking Transport and Climate Change” ( http://www.transport2012.org/bridging/ressources/files/1/96,Rethinking_Transport_and_Climate_Chan.pdf ) and “Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Transport” ( http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Paradigm-Sustainable-Urban-Transport/new-paradigm-transport.pdf ).
These two new reports by the Asian Development Bank conclude that current transportation planning practices are unsustainable and discuss policy and planning changes needed to create more efficient and equitable transport systems.
“Transit Benefit Ordinance” ( http://www.transitbenefitordinance.com). This new website provides specific information on how municipal governments can encourage or require larger employers to offer transit benefits.
“Carfree Design Manual” by Joel Crawford, International Books ( http://www.carfree.com/cdm ). This comprehensive and attractive book, featuring hundreds of photographs and drawings, describes the theory and practice of carfree (and car-light) urban planning.
“How Free Is Your Parking?” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_O6dR7YfvM&feature=player_embedded )
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About the author:
Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560
Plan Zero – also known as “old mobility” – with its stress on supply, more vehicles and more infrastructure as the knee-jerk answer to our mobility problems, has been the favored path for decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is well-known and easy to see where it is leading. Responsible for something like 1/5 of all greenhouse gas emissions, costing us a bundle, draining the world’s petroleum reserves, and delviering poor quality tranpsort for the majority . . . Plan Zero is a clear failure. Time for Plan A: The New Mobility Agenda. Continue reading
One of the keys to sustainable transportation is to gain high quality mobility for people while reducing overall traffic. One way for doing this is to figure out how to get more people into fewer vehicles, efficiently. Fortunately there are many ways of doing this, not all of which take a lot of time to build and cost a bundle. Here is one example: casual carsharing. And despite the fact that it may seem a bit odd and marginal, as Galileo Galilei so famously put it: “E pur si muove” (roughly, “they do seem to be getting there”). The key to new mobility is to seek and combine large numbers of what may appear at first glance appear to be “small” things. Here’s one that works.
This is the full unedited text of the 18 October 1994 presentation by Eric Britton to the Ciudades Accesibles Congress in Toledo Spain organized by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works, Transport and the Environment, with the participation of Car Free Cities Initiative of the EuroCities program and the Direction General XI of the Commission of European Communities.
“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.”
Here is how the car-free days movement got started and has taken shape over the last 15 years. You will find the full story in the World Car-Free Days Consortium website at www.worldcarfreedays.com. * And the latest car free day news here. Continue reading
John Whitlegg, founder and editor of our sister publication, the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice makes a frontal attack on the need for radical overhaul of our transportation arrangements to move them closer to something that is sustainable and just. He takes the European Commission to task for utterly failing to develop a viable “Vision for the future of EU transport” — and offers a vision of his own. Continue reading
The climate agenda is getting high political and media attention worldwide, and there are many shaping events scheduled for the months immediately ahead. That is good. But in our view the overall agenda for sustainable transport system reform at all levels is timid, incoherent and in large part irrelevant given the real priorities. Well, what is relevant then? How can we link new mobility and climate to get the level of innovation and reform that is critical in the years immediately ahead?
Message to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009:
- For comment, see below.
over the next 10 to 15 years.”
- President William Jefferson Clinton, in announcing the
Clinton Climate Initiative, Los Angeles, 6 August of 2006
There is a largely unexpected, and to now essentially ignored, synergistic link between the drive for urgent climate reform and the potential contributions of sustainable transportation reform in the two to four years immediately ahead. It turns out that these two most vital policy areas can be made to reinforce each other mutually. This is, we believe, an idea that is, thus far, not very high on the agenda, but one that is well worth exploring. Let’s take a first cut at this today to see if by working together we can move it up on the list of priorities for Copenhagen.
Here are an even dozen things we know for sure about transport and climate that we would like to share with you to set the stage on this:
1. Public policy is catastrophically underperforming in terms of technology and human impacts on climate, all sectors in.
2. President Clinton was unquestionably right when three years ago he targeted: “80% GHG reductions . . . over the next 10 to 15 years”. However in the three years since . . .
3. This level of aggressive response has not been broadly picked up by most of the agencies, institutions and interests concerned, the great majority of whom have tilted to a much longer, more leisurely, more passive conversion strategy. (Keynes was never righter in his “In the long run . . .” statement than here.)
4. That is an enormous strategic and moral error, one that that now needs to be corrected as a highest priority.
5. The transport sector, all in, accounts for on the order of 20 +/- 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is thus among the highest priority target for reform.
6. Our sector has one very special characteristic that is not generally appreciated, including by the experts — and that is that of all the main sectors involved it is the easiest in which to achieve high impact, near term results.
7. This being the case, we propose that immediate near-term sustainable transport system reform be taken a very high priority in the climate policy debate, including among other things since we are well positioned to function as a sort of “learning system” for the rest.
8. Our responsibility in our sector is in the immediate term, i.e., targeting and attaining significant (two digit) GHG decreases in the two to four years immediately ahead.
9. The main instrument of transport system reform lies in the strategic and radical reduction of motorized traffic (vehicle miles/kilometers travelled). This is 100% unambiguous. There is no other path.
10. Based on the results of the last years we are most demonstrably failing in this mission.
11. However, we have over the last several decades, as the result of experiences and achievements in many parts of the planet, learned exactly how to achieve this. This is thus not a case of wishful thinking or playing with uncertainties or pious hopes, but rather a situation in which we can now apply all that we have learned and in the process bringing the many bits and pieces into a coherent strategic policy frame (packages of measures). We can do that!
12. Moreover these sharp and fast GHG reductions will serve us well on many other scores as well (fossil fuel reductions, stronger economies, improved mobility for all, health, life quality, economic renewal, more broadly beneficial technology progress, etc. You know the list by heart.)
The trick is wise governance. The politics of transportation. And that is where all of us here come in. Let us write a joint letter to Copenhagen and all involved, and see if we can get a higher profile for the very short term reforms that we know to be possible in our sector. And so necessary.
In a first instance kindly get in touch either via the Comment section that follows just below or if you prefer in private to email@example.com We can then organize it as we have done with the 99 supporting statements that have come in over the last two weeks, and make it broadly known. Our first giant step to Copenhagen and sustainable transport, sustainable cities, and sustainable lives.
Will that work for you? Let us know. Eric Britton Some useful references
- United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) http://en.cop15.dk/
- Preparatory events: http://en.cop15.dk/calendar
- Copenhagen Agenda for Sustainable Cities (PDF, 2.7 MB)- http://mm.dk/filer/10principles.pdf
Will that work for you? Let us know.
Some useful references
Jack Nilles, an early pioneer in the field of telework starting back to the early seventies when work on the concept was just getting underway, reminds us that there is still plenty of work to be done in this corner of the New Mobility Agenda.
One of the best ways to increase sustainability through transportation is to change what is transported from something very heavy to something that is almost weightless. Think about it.
Does it make sense to move 1600 kilos of metal and plastic (plus one person) 50 km each work day instead of just transmitting the worker’s and colleagues’ thoughts? Why are hundreds of millions of people still stuck in the mindset of the days of Dickens when this is the 21st century? When three of five workers in the developed world are almost solely engaged in pushing information around for their livelihood—and when contemporary information technology allows this information to be sent instantly anywhere—what’s the point of requiring those workers to leave home, get in their cars (usually alone) endure traffic jams for hours daily in order to go to an office where they mostly send their information instantly elsewhere?
Why aren’t they teleworking instead of wasting energy and increasing global warming? At today’s levels of technology about 10% of workers in developed countries could be teleworking essentially full time, either from home or from somewhere within walking or cycling distance. Another 15% of workers could easily telework half time. The occasional-to-half-timers constitute another 25% of the workforce, for a total of 50%. That’s a conservative estimate.
Almost 70 million Americans could be engaged in some form of teleworking today; about half that number actually are so engaged, although less often than they could. Those American teleworkers will be reducing America’s contribution to global warming by about 72 megatons of CO2 and reducing American oil consumption by about 135 million barrels in 2009.
So why isn’t everyone actually teleworking if they could be teleworking? Here are the most common reasons/excuses:
Tradition. We’ve always worked at some place other than home (at least since the 20th century). That’s just the way things are. We don’t even think about it. It’s long past time to rethink that assumption.
Distrust. Says the boss: “How do I know they’re working if I can’t see ‘em?” This involves the quaint concept that the apparent busy activity of the staff means that useful works are being done. The facts are that, on average, teleworkers are more productive than the in-office staff.
Cost. Says the CFO: “We can’t afford the extra costs in these tight times.” The primary costs of a telework program are: planning, training and some additional technology. Once started successfully, telework’s bottom-line benefits tend to approximate one-fifth or more of the teleworkers’ salaries.
So telework helps reduce global warming and traffic congestion, saves energy, and improves the economy — and doesn’t require massive government expenditures, just a few kind words. And once started successfully, telework’s continuing bottom-line benefits to employers tend to approximate one-fifth or more of the teleworkers’ salaries. The start-up costs normally are repaid within a year. What’s not to like?
Jack Nilles, firstname.lastname@example.org
JALA International, Los Angeles, California
Jack Nilles is an erstwhile rocket scientist and interdisciplinary research director with experience in industry, government and academe. He coined the terms /telework/ and /telecommuting/ in 1973 as part of the first quantitative research project exploring the impacts of sending the work to the worker.
This handy resource on car free developments and new street design just in from our hard-working friends over at the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP). If you do not know their valuable work from an international perspective, click here to learn more.
Registered SUTP users can download this latest report by clicking here 1.11 Mb (after login). Unregistered visitors may click here for registration (at no cost) and then proceed to download after login.
From the report Preface
The idea of Car Free Development is gaining increasing attention around the globe. Designing streets for people, not just cars, is considered to be a key issue in efforts aimed at reducing car dependency and promoting low carbon mobility. Moreover, recent concepts summarised under the term New Street Design help to reconcile car traffic movement with the needs of pedestrians and the desire for attractive public spaces. These concepts significantly improve conditions for non‐motorised transport where completely blocking access for vehicles is impossible or undesirable.
In many developing and newly industrialised countries the level of car ownership still remains low compared to Western European or US standards. These conditions provide a unique opportunity to foster non‐motorised transport, to improve accessibility and to maintain economic viability. Avoiding the erroneous trend of car oriented city development pursued for many years in Western countries will benefit the vast majority of city dwellers in developing countries. In addition, it will contribute significantly to meet climate related CO2 mitigation targets.
This document aims at providing the reader with an overview of the latest available literature on Car Free Development and New Street Design. Moreover, it includes links to a wide range of related organisations and projects. We hope the information provided here will be useful for anybody interested in the subject.
For more information on our work, please see the last page of the document.
SUTP, Eschborn, June 2009
Traffic Calming—The First Wave
For several decades there have been efforts to use roadway modifications, such as humps and chicanes, to control motor vehicle speeds on streets whose primary roles are non-traffic ones (Hass-Klau 1990). Such traffic calming began in north-west Europe and by now is familiar almost everywhere.
Early traffic calming tended to focus on streets at the lowest levels of the roadway hierarchy to reinforce the primacy of access and pedestrian activity at that level. More recently, adaptations of traffic calming techniques have been applied to some streets at higher levels of the hierarchy, such as short stretches of shopping streets and the main streets of towns. An early Dutch traffic calming innovation, the Woonerf or “home zone”, involved a complete redesign of urban residential streets to make it clear to motorists that they were guests in a home environment. This was a precursor to the more ambitious shared space experiments.
Tempo 30 Zones (Or “Twenty’s Plenty”)
A variation on traffic calming is to simply signpost very low speed limits, notably 30 km/h (or 20 miles/h). Many European cities now have extensive Tempo 30 zones (Figure 1). Graz in Austria has been a pioneer, with a blanket 30 km/h speed limit over much of the city. Only major roads allow higher speeds of 50 km/h or more. Sweden’s “Vision Zero”, which aims to eliminate road deaths and minimise the effects of the “foreseeable crashes” between pedestrians and motor vehicles, has prompted more Tempo 30 zones in that country.
Shared Space (Or “Naked Streets”)
The shared space approach to streets emerged in the 1990s, pioneered by the late Hans Monderman in towns across the northern region of the Netherlands. Sometimes called “naked streets”, this approach is also seen as a second generation of traffic calming that has been spreading rapidly with trials underway in many countries. Shared space completely overturns the idea that urban road safety depends on predictability and on clearly defining who has the right of way (Hamilton-Baillie 2008). Shared space designs often remove most traffic lights, signs and kerbs. No particular user or movement has automatic right of way. This forces road users (car or truck drivers, bicycle users and pedestrians alike) to proceed cautiously and to negotiate their way forward, mostly through eye contact. Australian innovator, David Engwicht (2006), calls this “safety through intrigue and uncertainty”. If this is difficult to imagine, then the videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Sharedspace will help.
Low speeds are both a consequence of and a necessity for this social mode of negotiated motion. In high-speed traffic the human mind is not capable of negotiating with other road users through eye contact. We can only do this at or below about 30km/h. Both crash incidence and the probability of death or injury, even for pedestrians, are very low at these speeds (Shared Space project 2005). Trials have included main streets and intersections in town centres. Surprisingly, travel times hardly suffer because, although top speeds between junctions are much lower, there is much less stopping at intersections.
Even though shared space includes motor vehicles, they become very much part of the public realm at low speeds. Monderman made clear that shared space design is only for the parts of the network that can be designated as public realm. His vision of an expanded public realm includes many surprisingly busy streets. However, it does not include those major arterial roads on which high speeds remain important. These remain traffic space.
Accidental Shared Space
The informal emergence of shared space street dynamics can be seen when pedestrians and/or slow vehicles dominate a street space, leaving motorists little choice but to proceed on a negotiated and cautious basis. This is common in inner urban streets of many developing countries (Figure 2). It can be seen also on the narrow streets of Singapore’s Little India area. Such “chaos” is of course widely lamented, with pedestrians and other road users blamed for indiscipline. Moreover, at times of low pedestrian activity, traffic speeds do rise and crash risk and severity can become very high. However, the imposition of traffic-focused design in such places would often be a mistake. A better option for these streets might be shared space by design rather than by accident.
Bicycle Boulevards/Slow Streets Network
Traffic-calmed “bicycle streets” on which bicycles have clear priority over motor vehicles are common in German cities, among others (Pucher and Buehler 2008). A number of North American cities, notably Berkeley, California, have successfully used bicycle boulevards to enhance their network of safe, low-stress routes for bicycle users. Bicycles enjoy relatively uninterrupted journeys along these streets, whereas motor vehicles often face detours.
Surprisingly, it is also possible to create public realm and local access functions on very busy roadways that move a large volume of fast-moving traffic. Multi-way boulevards are one way to do this. The Boulevard Book by Jacobs et al. (2002) highlights their potential and provides guidance on design. The trick this time is to create slow spaces at the edges
Some of the most elegant and successful streets in the world, such as many of the avenues in Paris, are multi-way boulevards. They are typically grand streets that have a central zone that is primarily traffic space. Then there is a tree-lined landscaped zone with walkways. This wide median separates the main traffic lanes from a smaller roadway next to another footway and the building line (Figures 3 and 4). In the best boulevards, this side-access street forms the low-speed public realm where traffic, bicycles and pedestrians can share the space safely. The authors argue that well-designed multi-way boulevards, such as Avenue Montaigne in Paris or the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, have good safety records, and the traffic lanes work better than equivalent space on conventional roadways. Many countries in Asia, including India, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, also have a tradition of multi-way boulevards. Some, such as CG Road in Ahmedabad, already work well while others could benefit from an effort to ensure low traffic speeds in the service lanes in order to include these lanes and their adjacent medians as part of the public realm.
“Road diets” is another innovation that allows public realm to be created with minimal impact on the utility of traffic space. As you may guess from the name, arterial roads have their traffic lanes reduced (and sometimes narrowed). However, a centre turning lane or turning bays are added, often with medians and an expansion of pedestrian and cycling space as well. In many situations, all this can be done without a loss of vehicle capacity.
Department for Transport (DfT) U.K. March 2007. Manual for Streets http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/ manforstreets
Engwicht, D. 2006. Intrigue and Uncertainty: Towards New Traffic Taming Tools. Creative Communities International (This is an e-book which can be downloaded via http://www.lesstraffic.com/index.htm).
Hamilton-Bailie, B. 2008. Shared space: Reconciling people, places, and traffic. Built Environment 34 (2), 161- 181.
Hass-Klau, C. 1990. The Pedestrian and City Traffic. Belhaven Press, London.
Jacobs, A.B., Macdonald, E. and Rofé, Y. 2002. The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Patton, J.W. 2007. A pedestrian world: Competing rationalities and the calculation of transportation change. Environment and Planning A, 39(4), 928 – 944.
Pucher, J. and Buehler, R. 2008. Making cycling irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Transport Reviews 28 (4), 495-528. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/01441640701806612
Shared Space project. June 2005. Room for Everyone: A New Vision for Public Spaces. Report of the European Union Iterreg IIIB project ‘Shared Space’. Available via http://www.shared-space.org
Shared Space project. Oct. 2008. Final Evaluation and Results: It Takes Shared Space to Create Shared Understanding. Report of the European Union Iterreg IIIB project ‘Shared Space’. Available via http://www.sharedspace. org
Svensson, Å. ed. 2004. Arterial Streets for People. Report of the ARTISTS Project (Arterial Streets Towards Sustainability). Available via http://www.eukn.org/urbanmatrix/ themes/urban_policy/urban_environment/La
Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.
This article appeared in the May number of JOURNEYS, a new LTA Academy publication (The Land Transport Authority of Singapore) and is reproduced here with their kind permission and that of the author. We felt that this is such a good survey it deserves wide circulation and international, and we are pleased to provide it here. To view the original article and illustrations, you are invited to click here.
Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.
What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.
The Battle for Street Space
The essence of a street is that it serves all these roles simultaneously—providing for traffic movement and access, and as public space for urban activities. However, mainstream roadway management has spent many decades seeking, like Le Corbusier, the “death of the street”. It tends to turn everything between kerbs into “traffic space” where motor vehicle movement is the design priority (Patton 2007).
Motorised traffic, slow modes and pedestrians are strictly segregated in both space and time. The role of streets as “public realm” has been largely restricted to the pavements (sidewalks) and to pedestrian zones. Most cities are desperately short of attractive public space and space for the networks needed by the gentle but vulnerable modes such as walking and cycling.
Since the 1930s, traffic engineers have routinely classified every roadway in a hierarchy according to the degree to which it serves either traffic movement or access. Major arterials and expressways which are at the top of the hierarchy are managed primarily for maximum vehicle mobility. Any access functions are carefully limited to contain “friction” with the mainstream traffic. Only streets at the lowest level of the hierarchy are used mainly for access. Furthermore, the planning process often seeks to remove as much activity as possible (and hence, the “public space” role) from roadways and their vicinity. The influential UK report of 1963, Traffic in Towns by Colin Buchanan, reinforced the idea that segregation was essential (Hamilton-Baillie 2008).
The roadway hierarchy has no place for streets that serve both traffic and multiple other purposes (Svensson 2004). Yet, traditional urban streets and main streets remain ubiquitous. They provide (inadequately) for both access and mobility and are sites of perennial conflict. Such conflict is especially obvious in the heavily used streets of many dense Asian cities. The conventional traffic engineering approach offers little guidance for such multi-role streets (Svensson 2004).
Expanding Public Realm without Evicting Motor Vehicles
Recently, a series of promising street management innovations has emerged that re- assert in new ways the multi-purpose nature of the street. (See Box Story “Innovations that Expand Public Realm in the Streets”.) They offer ways to increase the public realm without removing the motor vehicles or seriously undermining the utility of the motorised traffic system. Does that sound too good to be true?
These innovations exploit common insights and principles. First, they involve making a strong distinction between “traffic areas” or “highway” and public space or the “public realm” (Shared Space project 2005). Traffic areas are the realm of conventional traffic engineering where high-speed motor vehicle movement is primary, with its flow carefully segregated from slower users like pedestrians and cyclists.
Second, some of this redefined “public realm” can be shared. It includes new spaces designed for the peaceful co-existence of public place activities, slow movement by vulnerable modes as well as motor vehicles, especially those seeking access to the vicinity. The key to such co-existence lies in keeping speeds low, ideally to no more than about 30 km/h (Shared Space project, 2005). Low speeds mean that motor vehicles need not be excluded but those present will mainly be making access movements or on the “last mile” (or the first) of their trips.
Third, these innovations shift the boundary between public realm and traffic space, so that a surprising amount of what we now think of as traffic space becomes part of the low-speed public realm. In shared spaces and in other slow zones, such as Tempo 30 zones and bicycle boulevards, whole streets and intersections are converted to public space. In multi-way boulevards, public realm includes everything from the building line to the outer edge of the central, high-speed traffic lanes. This newly expanded public realm serves local motor vehicle access, slow-mode movement, public space roles and sometimes some through-traffic (with low priority and at low speed). Only the high-speed traffic movement is excluded and kept within traffic space.
Fourth, a key design goal is that both the public realm and traffic space should work better by being kept distinct (Shared Space project 2005). Cities still need high-speed traffic space of course, just as some pure pedestrian space must also remain. But a surprising amount of shared public realm could be reclaimed without diminishing total traffic capacity. The key is that most of the expansion of the public realm envisaged here would take over traffic space that does not work very efficiently anyway. For example, the capacity of many of today’s motorised traffic lanes is reduced by turning movements, kerbside drop-offs, parking, loading and other street activities. After transforming such spaces into public realm, the remaining traffic space can be re-designed more thoroughly for its traffic function. Moreover, the new public realm retains some traffic function, albeit at low speed, as a safety valve at times of extreme congestion.
A high percentage of traffic volume in most cities is carried by roads at the top of the roadway hierarchy. Much of the remaining traffic is in fact short-distance traffic, or is on the first or last “mile” of a longer trip, or is circling for a parking spot. Such traffic does not need high speeds. In fact, a slower environment is more appropriate for access movement. Furthermore, although public realm requires very low peak speeds, the approaches discussed here also usually reduce the need for stopping and starting, so that average speeds and travel times are often little changed. Therefore, reclaiming such space as public realm has less impact on traffic performance than one would think based purely on the percentage of traffic space “lost”.
Expanding the low-speed public realm would also allow us to be much more tolerant of a diverse range of small, vulnerable vehicles that currently do not fit easily into our transport systems. These include bicycles, in-line skates, skateboards, kick scooters, wheelchairs and many other “Personal Mobility Devices”.
Barriers to Change
As with most innovations, change will take more than a simple policy decision. In most countries, roadway management practices are deeply embedded in institutions, their missions, objectives, performance-measures and boundaries of responsibility between agencies; in professional guidelines, codes and design standards; and in traffic rules and road user education.
Fortunately, little change is needed in conventional roadway management when it is applied to its appropriate domain i.e. the highspeed arterials and highways. It is only within an expanded public realm and at its boundaries that drastic change is called for. Standard practice must no longer apply to such spaces. Level of service (LOS) has no place here. Nor do conventional approaches to road safety, such as removal of “fixed hazardous objects”. Roadways that form part of the shared public realm should not resemble highways despite the presence of motor vehicles. Design principles for such streets, including signage and road markings, must be different from those for traffic space.
The public realm of streets needs a whole new set of procedures, guidelines and metrics of success. More research is needed to develop them. This is beginning to happen through experimentation in many countries (Shared Space project 2008; Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Jacobs et al. 2002). The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have revised their guidance manuals on street design (e.g. DfT 2007). Traffic engineers will need to adapt their problem solving to the special challenges of designing shared public realm. They will need to collaborate more with urban design professionals and urban planners, who will also need to take more interest in the streets that they have long neglected.
This article has provided a quick review of promising new ways to reconcile movement, access and place-making within our precious urban rights of way. New public space is gained through including low-speed access movement by motor vehicles within the public realm. It is this “public space dividend” that has been my focus. It may be too soon to tell if these ideas can deliver on their promise. We may only find out by trying them out.
This article was first published in the May edition of JOURNEYS, an Academy publication of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore(LTA). We thought that many of our readers might not have picked it up, so we are most pleased to reprint here with their kind permission and that of the author.
Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.
No matter how big or small all movements have their heresies and orthodoxies. In the domain of transport policy, questioning the primacy of motorized public transport over cycling and walking is like suggesting that the world may not be flat after all. The mercury rose and emails flew on the Sustainable Transport Sustran online discussion group earlier this week when Beijing’s announcement to make the city ‘a public transport city’ by 2015 hit the wire. One contributor questioned Beijing’s strategy, which was based solely on raising levels of rail and bus ridership to 45%. Once the mainstay of China’s urban transport system, the bicycle, didn’t even get a mention. Continue reading
The following question has been asked of the expert group on Monday in the “insider discussions” concerning transportation policy for the incoming Obama administration that are taking place under the aegis of the National Journal in Washington DC:
How Should EPA And DOT Reduce Transportation’s Carbon Consumption?
How can Washington regulate and reduce the transportation sector’s oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? What are the appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency? How should those roles be incorporated into the climate change legislation and surface transportation reauthorization that Congress is expected to tackle?
As a member of the panel I was invited to respond. My presentation follows.
Summary: “Ready. Fire. Aim!” Better not do that. So before we get off to the races with our answers and recommendations, let me suggest that we first step back a bit and make sure that we have a full understanding of the important underling issues and forces that need to be taken into consideration. And then once we have this in hand we may end up getting an entirely different set of responses. We need a carefully thought out consistent base for informed public policy in a very different world context. In order then: (1) Strategy; (2) Actions; (3) Actors.
First step. STOP! Remember? ” Ready! Fire! Aim?”
We certainly don’t want to start in the middle of such an important question — a big problem I might add we often encounter in many of these proto-transportation/environment discussions. It seems as if as soon as the discussion opens everyone in the room stands up and starts to trot out their favorite concept, project or technology — and then carry on as if their favorite pony somehow fits with the real priorities. As if all that were something that could be left to a shared implicit understanding. Well, it can’t!
So before rushing into discussions about roles and responsibility, legislation and reauthorization, important as they are, let’s see if we can first come to some sort of agreement concerning the basics that provide the foundation for all these questions and their eventual answers. Which is to say that we need a strategy fit for these times.
It’s 2009 and one thing of which we all are fully aware is that the conditions out there are very very different from anything we have ever known in the past. So this is unlikely to be a matter of fixing stuff and marginal adjustments here and there. We have to reinvent the sector in the most profound manner that we can. And for that we better know where we have to go.
So what are the basics of this new mobility system, this new paradigm for transportation policy and practice at all levels? We have to get a handle on the big issues, the big trends and the big priorities, before we start to rush in to answer this questions of detail. My proposal to shake things up a bit here before we start to get too comfortable with what we pre-guess are going to be the answers – starting by setting before you a sequence of eight defining policy statements or propositions which in my view constitute the true bedrock of the issues and the choices we now need to make.
(As you move down this list I invite you to make a mental or jotted note to the “yes or no” query in each case. It may be that you agree with some of these points, but not others. We can then ideally go down the revised list here or in some other forum and THEN have a shared basis for deciding what next. Without a strong foundation fit for our times, we will risk just playing at the edges with stuff which is not central to the challenges at hand. At enormous opportunity cost.)
Let’s have a look at our eight basic propositions:
Proposition 1. Climate emergency: The most urgent single policy challenge confronting us today in America and in every part of this planet, and requiring immediate and urgent action, is that of climate modification. The core of the problem lies in our continuing massive generation of life-threatening greenhouse gas emissions, which despite all the hot air and claims of success, continue to swell every day: every month, every year, and in every part of the world with close to zero exceptions. This is the bedrock issue of public policy today and we cannot afford to run away from it any more. (And yes step one is to recognize that we are running.)
• Peak oil: And if climate modification seems too abstruse for your taste, we always have the co-issue of peak oil, which has the advantage of hitting almost all of use directly where it hurts most, in the wallet. So if you prefer we can use this as our whip for immediate, large scale action and intervention, on the understanding that at the end of the day the two run in very close parallel. And since that is the case we will continue to use GHG as the guiding metric in this case, for all the reasons that are set out here.
• Yes (i.e., Accept as probably valid) or no (not sure or possibly just wrong)?
Proposition 2. Global policy goal: The over-arching goal of public policy across the board should therefore be massive GHG reductions. (See Prop. 4 below for more background on this point.)
• Yes or no?
Proposition 3. Transport share: The transport sector accounts for roughly 25 +/- 5% of this total load (And something like twice that when it comes to fossil fuel consumption.) . It is thus a priority target for public policy.
• Yes or no?
Proposition 4. Sustainable transportation: Turns out that we are in luck. Happily, GHG reductions work as an excellent surrogate for just about everything else we need to fix in our sector as well: namely, giving us a strong strategic framework and leverage to attain all of the necessary preconditions of sustainable transport, This includes reductions of traffic and its consequences, rationalization of speeds, fossil fuel savings, energy independence, affordable mobility, personal and public economics, public health, social equity, etc. Drive down GHGs and we are well on the way to achieving the rest. (Now, it does not automatically solve all our specific sustainable transportation problems, but it does give us the robust envelope of priorities and conditions within which to make our specific choices.)
• Yes or no?
Proposition 5. Time window: The critical time window to achieve these reductions is the 2 to 4 years directly ahead. (Hey! the period of the first Obama administration or your own period in office.) And less we forget, planetary stresses are so severe that any failure to put off these near-term large-scale reductions will have disastrous consequences.
• Yes or no?
Proposition 6. Scale: How big should the reductions be in this suddenly very short target period? Whatever it is it must be bold. It must be on that scale to have the level of impacts that are required to avoid the worst. It may have to be as high as 20 to 50 percent for the four year period. But of course the exact target will depend on place, etc.
• Yes or no?
Proposition 7. Traffic reductions: The only way to achieve the scale reductions required in that tight timeframe is through achieving corresponding scale cutbacks in motor vehicle traffic, and more specifically in terms of VMT/VKT (vehicle miles/kms travelled) reductions. (There is NO OTHER WAY TO DO IT. And don’t think that this is going to be a purely negative policy. To the contrary with a well thought- out policy we can get more and better mobility with a lot less traffic – and that has to be our overarching goal.)
• Yes or no?
Proposition 8. Feasibility: We are in luck. This is not utopian thinking. Our sector has so much fat in it that we are going to be able to slim it even at the very high levels which are needed. Using technology aggressively (that is IT and organizational skills) we are going to be able to get more bang per mile, more bang per gallon of the vehicles that are out there on the road. We are going to have more, better and fairer mobility with less traffic, less pollution, less energy, and less wasted public money. And it will be a policy with far more options and choices at that any period in the past. Did someone say . . . yes we can?
• Yes or no?
* * *
How are we doing? To this “insider” the least that I can say is that this simple list gives us the core of the strategy which we now need to articulate, then work to get some kind of strong consensus on (it won’t be universal, you will see), and finally put to work.
In summary whatever we give attention to in this high emergency context:
• Must be capable of achieving significant bottom line GHG reductions in the two to four years directly ahead.
• And offer a new combination of more mobility (access)0 and less traffic.
If your preferred technology or policy option passes these two tests, then it is an eventual candidate for short sting . And if not, not!
We now have a pretty good idea of what we need to do — next comes the task of figuring out how we are going do it. The means, the actions, policies, services, technologies, procedures, institutions, roles, pricing arrangements, legal frameworks, enforcement, finance and all the rest.
So, what are the sorts of things that we need to be giving attention to in this new paradigm. To get us going on this, let’s sketch some examples of the literally thousands of tools, technologies, measures, policies, services, instruments (economic and other) that can be combined to achieve our ambitious objectives. Here are a first handful of different approaches to get the discussions going.
1. Trip elimination/travel substitution
This is the most powerful single instrument we have at our disposal, though some of them, land use changes come to mind, are going to lie toward the outer edge of our target period. Still, there is a lot that can be done to bring them on line into our time frame. Bearing in mind that we are talking about the elimination of motorized trips here (think carbon transport), among the wide spectrum of choices available : trip planning, chaining, grouping, land use shifts, scheduling (4 day weeks for instance), teleshopping and tele- quite a few other things as well, and the substitution of electronic for physical travel (of which there is a huge variety of examples). Most of these are low cost , readily implementable, and if we get them properly orchestrated can be made into significant components of the overall new mobility reform strategy. We also have seen enough successful examples of their use in a wide variety of circumstances that this indeed not be an area of great uncertainty and failure. Plenty of solid experience and information out there to build on.
2. Move away from SOE (single occupancy vehicles) – and toward something better
There is a huge range of approaches for increasing load factors in the cars out there on the street, without impinging on free choice or increasing costs in unfair manners. To the contrary, once we get the policy frame right, the new arrangements will be “BFC” – better, faster, and cheaper for those who decide to shift over to them. Voluntarily mind you, and as much for anything else for economic reasons.
Here is a first sample of the sorts of things that are available to get us going on this: ridesharing, carsharing, taxi sharing, competitive public transit, and new forms of group service that are heavily reinforced by new information technologies and organizational forms.
3. Move from motorized to non-motorized transport
This process is already in place well engaged: cites at the leading edge are giving a greatly expanded role to and support of bicycles and walking. The examples are many, varied, clear and there for the taking and adaptation. The key being infrastructure modification, about which there are two key points to be made here. First, none of it is to require new construction, Rather the public space is taken from what previously were used (for the most part poorly) by high-carbon and also space-inefficient transport, and recycled to these no-carbon, space efficient, healthy and finally social systems of private transport. True auto-mobility if you will. Beyond this, the shirt from motorized to non-motorized transport has to be accompanied by a ballet legal measure favoring lighter slower transport, enforcement of the law, and fiscal and tax shifts.
4. New forms of public and shared transport
There is enormous room for improvement here since public transport has by and large been fossilized in what are basically early 20th century delivery and institutional patterns. Fixed route, fixed schedule. This is no substitute for car travel, but we now have to clean out the stables of laws, ordnances, practices, and open up the possibility of a true renaissance in the sector. Most of this is going to involved small and medium sized (and some large) vehicles with motors (and in the year immediately ahead mainly internal combustion engines, albeit of greatly improved performance in the three key areas (fuel efficiency, emissions, and costs)). The whole thing to be driven as is the case in almost all of these new mobility services by great gobs of information and communications technologies that are going to give the services the very high levels of performance that is possible once you set your mind to it. (The upper limit of new system construction is state of the art tramways, which we are seeing being built on the streets at reasonable levels of cost (though not always) and within our time frame (albeit at the upper limit).
5. Infrastructure adaptation
The key word for the new policy in our plan period is adaptation — not construction. There will be no time for any large new infrastructure road, bridge or metro projects, but enormous opportunities for adapting the infrastructure we already have in place. Our roads and streets are so unstrategically used today in most places that it is almost imposable to have done worse. (We must have been trying.) So as we reduce the number of moving and parked motor vehicles to replace them with more effective services, this will open up a renaissance of adaptations, opening up room for safe cycling, walking and public spaces, including eventually local parks and play and recreational areas. These parts of the streets become not just conduits as in the past, but even destinations. And the adaptations will include slow streets, complete streets, naked streets and all the rest.
Parking policy, practices and pricing will be important components of this fundamental overhaul. There are few places in the world today that have a completely rational parking policy – the only one that can help us attain the objectives of this Plan B transition strategy. And it is not just a matter of eliminating parking but also in making it more efficient. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are still going to have lots of cars in and around our cites, so we getter know where to stash them conveniently when not in use. Once again lots of IT in that.
6. Economic and fiscal instruments
The present pricing, fiscal and legal instruments in most part of the world favor, for historic reasons, private cars and motorized transport more generally. The playing field is not level, and there is enormous room for using these instruments to more toward full cost pricing. And full cost pricing, fair pricing is going to provide incentives for the better forms of mobility which are needed if we are to make the transition to a low carbon society with all that entails. And as we have seen with the vigorous debates and divergences encountered in virtually all congestion or road pricing proposals in this first decade of the new century, these are complex considerations which need to be handled with subtlety and care. But it can be done, and it should be done.
To conclude this section on actions and measures: the point is that there are a huge range of concepts and tools that are available to be put to work to shape the system in the years immediately ahead, so the question becomes not so much what but how to do it. Which brings us to our third and final section of this recommendation.
To open up this final section, let’s refer back briefly to the opening question: “What are the appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency?”
Big question, but rather than try to answer this universally and in an abstract sense here, let’s instead take and examine how this might workout in the case of a single and rather simple new mobility example: carsharing.
Here are a few useful truths about carsharing to get us going on this
• Carsharing is not by itself going to solve the problems of local transport in our cities, suburbs and rural areas. It is just one new mobility tool ,among many.
• The actual number of cars and trips ultimately is never going to be that huge. Carsharing is neither going to solve all our problems of local transport, nor will it save the US automotive industry.
• Carsharing is thus what we call a “one percent solution”, in addition to which it has this unusual lynchpin role. But even where we have it in place and working well, we are still going to have to figure out the remaining ninety nine percent. And that is what the New Mobility Agenda is all about.
• That said, it has a key role to play, namely as a vital linchpin in the pallet of new mobility modes. Carsharing serves in a dynamic sense to provide a bridging strategy for people, first to test how they might live without actually owning a car, or at least one less car. Or perhaps never to buy a car in the first place and still be able to drive when they need one. Carsharing is flexible and trying it requires little commitment or cost. But once in any given place a reasonable number of non-car mobility options begin to appear, the idea of carsharing begins to take a new shape. For some multi-car families it will allow them to shed one of their cars. For others once the full range of non-car options is in place, there will be people who are in a position to get rid of their own car altogether.
• As it happens there are more than one thousand cities in the world where you can pick up a carshare vehicle this morning. And that this number had doubled in the past three years alone. It is thus a fully operational system and on a high growth trajectory, which already provides some useful clues for the supporting role that these government agencies might execute.
• It is now fair to say and based on the wide range of experience already in existence, that every city and many smaller communities across the United States, including in rural areas, are potential candidates for carsharing. That carsharing until now something practiced in the main in the States by relatively affluent city dwellers, is also something that needs to be explored both for poorer people.
• So the question then becomes, what can these federal agencies do to bring about this important alternative mobility arrangement quickly, universally and well?
Rest of this section to follow.
Plan A, with its stress on supply, vehicles and infrastructure has been favored for decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is well-known and easy to see where it is leading. Responsible for something like 1/5 of all greenhouse gas emissions, costing us a bundle, draining the world’s petroleum reserves . . . Plan A is a clear failure. Time for Plan B. Continue reading
“The unprecedented urban growth taking place in developing countries reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions of new urbanites. 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.”
– State of World Population 2007, UNFPA.
“I regard the growth of cities as an evil thing, unfortunate for mankind and the world, unfortunate for England and certainly unfortunate for India…It is only when the cities realize the duty of making an adequate return to the villages for the strength and sustenance which they derive from them, instead of selfishly exploiting them, that a healthy and moral relationship between the two will spring up.”
– M. K. Gandhi