“CAR21″: A Thinking Exercise (or New Ways of Owning and Using Cars in the 21st Century)

 

From the World Carshare Consortium:  I would like to offer a “thought experiment” with anyone here who may wish to jump in with their ideas. criticism and/or proposals — or perhaps only to pull up a chair and see what happens in a case like this. The short story is that I would like to see what, if anything, happens with a simple change of title and focus for this group — the World Carshare Consortium at http//worldcarshare.com + + World Streets on Carsharing at http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/sharetransport/carshare +  Facebook page on carsharing http://www.facebook.com/groups/worldcarshare/ + YahooGroups discussion forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WorldCarShare  — which for almost 15 years now has been focusing its attention strictly on the varieties of carsharing that are fast multiplying and taking an increasingly important role in the mobility options of people in cities around the world.  Carsharing has a brilliant, in many ways surprising and certainly very different future, which in fact is already well in process.  But there is more to our story than that. Continue reading

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

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

SLOWTH: Or why it is so very important (and so very easy) to slow down traffic in cities

It is the consistent position of this journal that much of what is wrong with our current transportation arrangements in cities could be greatly alleviated if we can find ways just to slow down. It is very powerful — and it’s just not that hard to do.  Get comfortable and have a look. Continue reading

The Transportation Majority. Can’t our politicians count?

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

Unfair, unsafe and unwise – a major crisis abuilding for sustainable transport in Britain

Dear British Friends and Colleagues,

Forgive me if I am being naïve, but based on what I am reading and hearing it strikes me that there is a major crisis abuilding for sustainable transport in Britain in the months immediately ahead — as a result of the coalition government withdrawing funding from a lot of mainly small and local (since they really have to be small and usually local and focused if they are to succeed) sustainable transport initiatives This strikes me as a caring if distant observer as unfair, unsafe and unwise. Continue reading

Car Free Days I: Origins, Timeline, Progress

“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 16 years.  This is the first of a series of two articles which we update and post annually just prior to the September rush to get the latest batch of Car Free Day projects off the ground. We hope that these pieces and the references you find here are going to prove useful to those responsible for making a success of their Days in 2010. Getting a CFD right and making it a real success is no easy task and good knowledge of what has worked and not worked in the past should be useful. Continue reading

Americans want alternatives.

Fair enough. We all want choices. That is no more than human nature, But when it comes to transport policy and practice in the United States at the highest level, the idea of real choices is no less than a revolutionary statement. Right from the mouth of President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, who continues to surprise and delight. (But now, vigilant citizens, let’s see where the $$$ go. There is no such thing as passive democracy.)

US Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’

By Leora Broydo Vestel, as printed in the Green Inc. — blog of the New York Times.
We propose that you check into their site from time to time. The Times has become a leading international voice for sustainable transportation. (We need more of them.)

The United States transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, recently caused a stir when he proclaimed that bicycling and walking should be given the same consideration as motorized transport in state and local transit projects.

“It’s what Americans want to do,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, of his emphasis on the role of bicycles and walking in good transportation policy.

Supporters, who continue to post notes of adulation and thanks on Mr. LaHood’s Facebook page, say the acknowledgment of biking and walking as legitimate modes of transportation is long overdue.

Critics, conversely, believe the secretary is taking the country in the wrong direction.

Mr. LaHood, formerly a Republican congressman from Illinois, spoke with Green Inc. about his reasons for introducing the new policy, the impact it will have on transportation financing, and why bike paths are a good bang for the buck.

Q. Bicycling and walking advocates had a very positive reaction to the policy change. But here at Green Inc., we heard mostly from critics who said it showed you were “delusional” or reflective of some sort of “Maoist” bent. What’s your response to the response?

A. My response is that this is what Americans want. Americans want alternatives. People are always going to drive cars. We’re always going to have highways. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system. We’ll always continue to make sure that those investments in the highways are maintained.

But, what Americans want is to get out of their cars, and get out of congestion, and have opportunities for more transit, more light rail, more buses, and some communities are going to street cars. But many communities want the opportunity on the weekends and during the week to have the chance to bike to work, to bike to the store, to spend time with their family on a bike.

So, this is not just Ray LaHood’s agenda, this is the American agenda that the American people want for alternatives to the automobile.

What’s happened around America is people are buying bikes and they’re using them for recreational purposes on the weekend and there’s no better family way for people to spend a weekend than riding their bikes on these biking trails.

This is what Americans want and we’re accommodating their needs to really find places to recreate. And what could be healthier than taking a 30-minute walk, which is recommended by every doctor in America, or hopping on your bike and riding four, five or six miles and enjoying the great outdoors?

Look, this is a win-win. This is a way for people to get out of their cars, a way for people to recreate, a way for people to get good exercise, and it’s what Americans want to do.


Q.In announcing the new policy, you used pretty forceful language, saying it was a “sea change” and “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.” The actual policy, however, is more benign in tone, saying, “well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of federal-aid project developments.”

Do you stand by your initial characterization of the policy?

A. I think that livable and sustainable communities is a game changer. It’s a game changer because it’s what Americans want. It’s a game changer because people do want to get out of congestion, they want to get out of their cars, they want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, they want to be able to recreate with their families.

And so it’s a game changer from the point of view that it’s a major component of livable and sustainable communities that provide alternatives to automobiles. And some of it is transit, some of it is light rail, some of it is street cars, some of it is good buses. But certainly a big part of it is the opportunity to bike or walk to the grocery store, to work, to the drug store or just spending time with the family and getting some good exercise.

Q. In terms of the way federal transportation dollars will be spent on the ground, is this a zero sum game? Does more money for biking and walking mean less money for motorways?

A. We’re always going to take care of our highways. As I said, we have a state-of-the-art interstate system that’s been developed over three or four decades. We’re not going to give up on our roads. We know people are always going to drive cars. They’re going to use their cars for long distances.

But as we develop our livable and sustainable communities program, biking and walking paths will be a major component of it. And they will get some significant dollars.

Q. In response to the policy change, a member of Congress said he didn’t understand how you get a bang for the buck out of a bicycle project. Why do you think they’re a good investment?

A. You don’t have to get a bang for the buck in every form of transportation. Certainly, transit, it provides a good bus or light rail or other kinds of transportation services. But, they don’t make money doing it.

This is a good bang for the buck because it provides alternatives to people, and good exercise, and for people who are very health conscious and for people who want to spend time with their families.

This is a win, win, win. It incorporates a lot of different opportunities for people and it’s a good bang for good health, and a good bang for a different form of transportation, and it’s what the American people want.

Q. Was there any particular reason you wanted to introduce the new policy now?

A. It has more to do with the fact that we’re rolling out our livable and sustainable communities as we travel around the country and I also was at a huge bikers’ conference in Washington, D.C., and we wanted to give them the chance to really understand that all of their hard work over a long period of time has finally paid off. There’s an administration in place now that has taken to heart their request for more walking and biking paths.

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Editor’s note:

Let us see if we can put this into perspective. Now, while it is very good to hear America’s Transportation Secretary taking an active, even enthusiastic stance in favor of bicycling and walking, and while it is great if not entirely unexpected news that the cyclists and pedestrians groups are strongly and vocally supporting this policy change (because it is indeed an important policy change), we also need to bear in mind that this is a small step.

What we need is for the Secretary to embrace the full range of the options which are opened up by the New Mobility Agenda, all of which need to be understood individually and, now comes the hard part, orchestrated in each place into a fully tailored unique mobility package so as to provide fair transportation for all the people who live and work in that place.

I ask myself this: what is it that we can do, you and I and others who care, in order to broaden the palate of transportation options which are needed in order to provide full and fair service for the entire population, bearing in mind that in most places more than 50% of the people who live there cannot or should not be driving their own car. I guess we just have to keep working on it. (We will !)

Eric Britton
Editor