“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.

# # #

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

Letter from Kathmandu: Promoting walking as sustainable transport in cities

Does anyone notice anything a bit strange in these two photos of traffic in Kathmandu Nepal on any typical day. To the left we have boiling Asia-style traffic propelling speeding high carbon males. While to the right we see a woman and a girl making their way as best they can by foot. Hmm. Continue reading

Bottom line: Roads are for vehicles. Streets are for people. (No matter where you are in the world.)

Your editor was on automatic pilot this early morning, reading with half an eye the International Herald Tribune/New York Times as is his habit, and behold there in the Letters to the Editor column were a series of words which at first glance he thought he had written himself. (More coffee clearly needed.) Wrong, it was Lee Schipper commenting on an earlier Times piece on “Building Cambodia’s roads”. I quote:

Building Cambodia’s roads

Regarding the article “Cambodia’s routes to riches” (Jan. 19): While rural roads connecting major population centers are important for development, Cambodians rely mostly on bicycles, small motorbikes and their feet for transportation. This majority of travelers is usually the first sacrificed for cars and trucks. New roads tend to cut through smaller villages and lead to the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists, who are rarely considered by the road-building authorities.

Striking a balance between development, auto-mobility for the minority of Cambodians with cars, and the livelihoods of the majority, ought to be more important than opening tourist centers. Is this the only way for Cambodia to develop?

Lee Schipper, Ph.D. – schipper@wri.org
Project Scientist, Global Metropolitan Studies, UC Berkeley
Senior Research Engineer, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford Univ.

# # #

Most of us who have managed to make our way to the right side of these issues have for some time made the vital distinction between roads and streets, for which the Executive Summary is: (a) roads are for vehicles and (b) streets are for people. And once you have figured that out, all kinds of good things can follow. (And you can find quite a bit more on this here by clicking http://tinyurl.com/ws-street

Thanks Lee for reminding us once again — and as we gear up to make our collective voice heard in Haiti this is one of the key points we need to make, make early, and make in a way that our voices get heard.

Eric Britton

Sustainable transport survey identifies five types of travellers

A new study from Germany of attitudes towards transport and mobility has identified five groups of travellers. The groups differ significantly in their choice of transport, distance travelled and the impact their transport choices have on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

- by ClickGreen staff. Published Sat 30 Jan 2010 16:50 http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/research/trends/121060-sustainable-transport-survey-identifies-five-types-of-travellers.html

The transport sector is responsible for a large share of urban air pollution and for nearly a fifth of the GHG emissions from the European Economic Area member countries.

According to the European Environment Agency, the increase in CO2 from transport could threaten the ability of the EU to meet Kyoto targets. In the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy, transport is identified as a priority challenge.

Sustainable mobility options can be made more attractive to the European public through soft policy measures, such as public awareness campaigns and marketing for public transport.

However, their success depends on targeting different groups that exist within the public.

The study interviewed 1,991 citizens living in three German cities on their use of and attitudes towards transport. The analysis indicated that there are five different ‘mobility types’ of people:

1. Public transport rejecters. These believe public transport provides little sense of control or excitement. They are not open to change and see access to mobility as very important.

2. Car individualists. Similar to public transport rejecters, but are open to change and consider privacy more important.

3. Weather-resistant cyclists. Positive towards bicycles and will cycle even in bad weather.

4. Eco-sensitised public transport users. Positive towards public transport and are highly influenced by their environmental conscience.

5. Self-determined mobile people.
Perform the highest percentage of trips by foot; they do not consider mobility important and are not open to change.

Each group comprises around 20 per cent of the participants surveyed. Unsurprisingly, the public transport rejecters and car individualists produce the largest total GHG emissions from transport use (both public and private), at over 2000 kg of CO2 equivalent each per year.

The remaining three groups all have total GHG emissions under 1000 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year. Self-determined mobile people have the lowest total GHG emissions from transport use, at just over 500 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year.

Residents in suburban areas used cars more often. However, there were no significant differences in distance travelled and level of GHG emissions between those that lived in suburban, inner-city and city-district areas. Young people in single households and two-or-more-person households covered the most distance by car and had the highest GHG emissions. Pensioners had the lowest.

The five ‘mobility types’ have a strong predictive power for transport choice and associated GHG emissions. This approach has proved more predictive of transport choice than geographic or socio-demographic approaches. Focusing on mobility types could be a starting point for soft policy measures by helping select and prepare information for the different groups.

# # #

One point about those five mobility types if I may. They look rather German to me, perhaps Nordic. The categories in Delhi, Denver or Dar es Salaam will doubtless look a bit different. There is a lot of culture in mobility, never mind climate, geography, economics and the rest. Still, food for thought.
* Waiting for the bus in Cape Town. Credit: Mobility Magazine

Note: The ClickGreen report does not indicate its source, but we shall look for it and report here when we find it as a Comment to this article. In the meantime of course comments and further references most welcome.

The editor

(From our 2009 archives and worthy of your attention) "Transport Refugees – Victims of Unjust Transport Policies"

The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.

[Back on July 22nd of this year we published some extracts of this important thinkpiece, which has recently become a subject of vigorous discussion in our Sustran Global South Forum, specifically in the context this time of the continuing push by certain authorities to ban rickshaw pullers in Dhaka from plying their trade. This tendency of many authorities to try to concentrate on buying and building expensive imported technologies, instead of innovating, improving and working with what they have ,is something of a phenomenon we are seeing in many parts of the world, North and South. Spend a bit of time here with Sudhir and Bert. It will not be time wasted, pointing us to valuable lessons good not only for Dhaka, but Detroit and Dar es Salaam, Dortmund and Djakarta, and beyond. (And if your time today does not allow you to read the full article here, may we urge you to check out their World Streets 22 July summary here-.)]

Transport Refugees – Victims Of Unjust Transport Policies

- Sudhir Gota and Bert Fabian, Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

Becoming “refugees” in our own cities

According to international refugee law , a refugee is someone who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution “on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group”. Authors draw parallel from the term “refugee” in order to emphasize the growing social discrimination and exclusion of vulnerable road users while making transport decisions.

The authors have investigated various documents and news reports to argue as to how we are increasingly becoming victims of our own solutions and thus becoming refugees in our own lands. In the subsequent sections, the authors have tried to explore various issues in order to prove this facet, while the WHO (2009) in the latest study provides a very good summary of victimization of vulnerable people.

“Our roads are particularly unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists who, without the protective shell of a car around them, are more vulnerable. These road users need to be given increased attention. Measures such as building sidewalks, raised crossings and separate lanes for two wheelers; reducing drink-driving and excessive speed; increasing the use of helmets and improving trauma care are some of the interventions that could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. While progress has been made towards protecting people in cars, the needs of these vulnerable groups of road users are not being met”

The externalities of transport

Outdoor air pollution alone causes an estimated 800,000 deaths each year. Research from the East & West Center based in Hawaii, U.S. on commuter’s exposure to PM 10 while walking in Hanoi (2006) are as high as 495 µg/m3. The Health Effects Institute hospital and household studies in Ho Chi Minh City (2007) found a strong link between air pollution, especially ozone and NO2, and health impacts on young children in the form of acute lower respiratory illness.

In a 2009 survey, one in every five people in Hong Kong said they were considering leaving the city because of the air pollution. One in 10 was either seriously considering leaving or already in the process of leaving. Also results indicated that severest health effects aggravated by air pollution are associated with income with poor people as major sufferers.

The WHO in a 2009 study estimates around 150,000 deaths occurring in low-income countries each year due to climate change from four climate-sensitive health outcomes – crop failure and malnutrition, diarrheal disease, malaria and flooding. 85% of these excess deaths were found in younger children.

According to latest WHO estimates, nearly 1.27 million people die in road traffic crashes every year. In addition, road crashes cause between 20 million and 50 million non-fatal injuries every year and are an important cause of disability. Important aspects to be noted are:

• High share of “vulnerable group” in the traffic accidents. In fact, in low-income countries of South East Asia over 80% of those killed are vulnerable road users

• Over 90% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries which has 48% of vehicles

• 32% of countries in world have national or local level policies on walking and cycling

• 50% of world’s population lives in countries which do not have speed limits on urban roads (of less than or equal to 50 kph) and for the countries which have some sort of speed limits, enforcement is very poor (in a rating evaluation only 9% of countries scored 7 or more in the range 1-10)

• Projections suggest that road traffic fatalities would be the fifth leading cause of death by 2030 with an estimated 2.4 million fatalities per year

Data from many cities (Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, India and Philippines) suggest that average ambient noise levels range from 50-100 with 112d b being maximum. Research on noise pollution is indicating that it causes more deaths when compared to heart disease. There is growing evidence that noise pressure levels exceeding 50 db(A) during night time are related to the development of high blood pressure and exceeding 65 db(A) during day time increases the risk for heart attacks in men. Research (footnote 6) indicates that, In a German city “Cologne”, for every third household moving out of city, noise and air pollution in the city was a crucial reason. It is to be noted that people walking, cycling and using public transport face the highest exposure thus are at greatest risk.

Urban sprawl induced development

Asian cities undergo a “push-pull” phenomenon. Many people are abandoning the cities in search of better quality of life and environment and moving out of such cities (push), on the other hand, there are still a high number of people migrating into such decaying cities in order to make a living (pull). Also, the trend of ‘slush and burn development’ is on the raise in many Asian cities. Private real estate developers are developing various periphery business districts and new commercial areas while abandoning the old decaying sections of the city in order to generate the economic boom. This kind of development needs to be understood in context of poor people.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization report points out that the overwhelming majority of the hungry live in the developing world with 65% of them in just seven countries – India, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Majority of such poor migrate to cities and live in slums next to major corridors. Some reports indicate that Asian cities currently accommodate nearly 60% of total world’s slum population. In Delhi, approximately 45% of population are clustered into slums and live in inhuman conditions and have to face transport discrimination daily.

Sometimes the cleansing, densification and beatification process carried out for city development (sometimes solutions such as transport focused development which induces sprawl along public transport routes) creates more victims then solutions. Major benefits accrued by land because of such transport development are squeezed by rich people thus further marginalizing the poor.

Reports from Mumbai indicate that 1,5000 million INR Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) is being opposed the very expert committee which was authorized by government. Reports indicate that the reason being possible damage to the livelihood of local people as well as the burden it will add to an already-densely populated area. Some reports indicate that from a city like Chennai alone about 100,000 people will be shifted out of the city as part of a clean-up. A news report quotes Jeb Brugmann as saying

“I have studied migrant communities in several places and one thing that stands out is that they all have a unique psychological profile — they are risk-takers with a strong entrepreneurial drive. Shifting these people to the margins, cutting them off from resources and opportunities is only a recipe for revolution,”

Several research papers have documented the impact of rail system on Bangkok land market. It is true that Bangkok has seen some transformation because of improvement in public transport facilities. But not many people have documented the impact of such projects on vulnerable people. ADB’s Urban Transport Project in Bangkok has documented some impact of the ADB’s urban transport project. Nearly 1220 households had to be relocated. The Performance Evaluation Report notes that

1. Increase in commercial area around the corridors ( exploitation of land for commercial reasons)

2. Of every 100 vehicles on the roads that benefit from the project road, 45% of the persons in them are estimated to be bus passengers.

3. Although the information is patchy, the main conclusion is that the relocation has not improved the lives of the relocated people because of project. The main issues were increased travel distances to work and separation from relatives. There were indications that a portion of the resettlers had become worse off: 49% had economic problems, and 44% took more time to travel, with only 9% taking less time.

With such increasing challenges, research from India and China indicate that people spend more on transport then on housing, health and education. With increasing prices, people tend to consume less food in order to afford higher transport costs.

Subsidizing the rich at the cost of the poor and the underprivileged

In 2008, increase in fuel prices severely affected governments that subsidized fuels. Fuel subsidies cost annually about 0.1-15 billion USD across various countries. The Indonesian government acknowledged that “with the increasing fuel subsidy, the government’s ability to fund programs which are oriented to the improvement of lives for the poor has dramatically reduced. These programs include education, health facilities, National Program for Community Empowerment, small business credit facilities, and the development of infrastructure. On the other hand, the fuel subsidy is mainly consumed by those who are not targeted by the program. As much as 40 percent of high income families benefit from 70 percent of the subsidy, while 40 percent of the lowest income families only benefit only 15 percent.”

The Elite and poor Neighborhoods in New Delhi

A recent walkability survey in Delhi by CSE, points out the deficiency in investment planning. It evaluated pedestrian facilities in a low income neighborhood with a high income neighborhood and found that- In Govindpuri (low income neighborhood) where about 100 persons walk per five minutes during peak hour had poorly designed if any foot facilities and in Aurangzeb Road (high income neighborhood) lined with ministerial bunglows, where only 3 persons were seen walking in ten minutes during the morning peak hour, has well designed and spacious footpaths.

Banning Cycle Rickshaws in New Delhi

In May 2006, the High Court of Delhi passed an order directing the municipal government to stop granting licenses for cycle rickshaws on Delhi roads, complete a ban on use of cycle rickshaws in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area, and introduce compressed natural gas buses in the area to replace the rickshaws. The reason citied was high congestion caused by cycle rickshaws. Estimates suggested that cycle rickshaws save more than 10 million motorized trips daily across the capital. Infuriated by the authority’s unjust intervention, many NGO’s fought the battle in judicial courts.

Many studies were quoted in the exchange. According to the latest reports, the Delhi High Court took an exception to the ‘unrealistic approach’ of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in banning cycle-rickshaws in parts of the capital and slammed it for not fixing a limit on the number of cars a person can possess.

It suggested – ‘We find the guidelines are unrealistic. Why are you so enthusiastic in banning cycle-rickshaws? Why don’t you issue guidelines limiting the number of cars a person can have in the city?’

Though the court battle is still on but the condition of cycle rickshaw drivers have deteriorated over time due to harassment by authorities and fellow motorists. According to a survey by ITDP, the majority of cycle rickshaw drivers (54%) were landless laborer and over 30% were small/marginal farmers with majority of them illiterate. Their earnings from running the cycle rickshaw was around 2$-6$ per day.
It is to be noted that there has been no reports on reduction in congestion at the places where ban took place.

Banning Cycle Rickshaws in Dhaka

One of the main reasons of Cycle rickshaw growth in Dhaka has been the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), decision on September 1, 2002 to ban two stroke auto-rickshaws. The demand for informal public transport and short trip lengths (<5km)

DUTP – 1998 report showed that the Rickshaws took only 38% of road space while transporting 54% of passengers in Dhaka. The private cars on the other hand, took up 34% of road space while only transporting 9% of the population.

HDRC study captured the before and after impacts of Cycle rickshaw ban. Few of the conclusions are presented below

a. Average monthly net income of rickshaw pullers decreased by 32%, from 3,834 to 2,600 taka

b. The amount of money sent back to their villages also declined following the ban. Before the ban, on average rickshaw pullers spent 64% of net income and sent the rest (36%) to his village. Following the ban, the amount spent in Dhaka decreased by 27%, while the amount sent to the village decreased by 41%.

c. Pullers compensated for loss of income by reducing food consumption, particularly of fish, meat, and cooking oil: for NMT pullers overall, 85.9%d ecreased their consumption of fish, 87.5% decreased consumption of meat, 65.1% decreased consumption of cooking oil, and over half (55.3%) decreased consumption of vegetables.

d. There was an increase in the number of income earners in the family from 1.24 to 1.37. This suggests that some children have been taken out of school to compensate for lost income, or that the burden on wives of the pullers have further increased as they must earn money as well as do all the family and household labor.

Sharifa Begum et al. did research on income and poverty aspects of cycle rickshaw drivers and concluded that

a. urban rickshaw pullers in Dhaka come from very poor economic backgrounds consistent with the characteristics of chronic poverty

b. rickshaw pulling provides a route for modest upward mobility for those chronic rural poor who come to the city for work.

c. rickshaw pullers are susceptible to systematic health risks; deteriorating health, combined with health shocks, can impose a significant burden on the urban poor, dragging down the pace of upward mobility during their lifetime.

d. rickshaw pulling represents an unsustainable livelihood, as the initial welfare gains taper off with length of involvement in the sector.

e. intergenerational mobility of rickshaw-puller households is constrained by very limited schooling and the poor range of occupational choices for children.

Before and after studies conducted on some roads proved that there was no travel time gain for fuel dependent vehicle was achieved due to rickshaw ban but instead over the years the travel times for buses did undergo significant deterioration with a 26.1% increase of travel times. Also for shorter trips, there was significant increase in travel time due to non availability of transport-mode.

It can be derived from various research reports that banning cycle rickshaws do not serve any purpose and instead efforts should be made to improve the life of such people by offering them security and benefits. Banning is not a solution as it does not improve the congestion of city, road safety and life of such drivers but instead restricts the accessibility, mobility and increases motorization and environmental damage.

How about the old & persons with disabilities?

There are nearly 207 million aged (65 or>65 years) people in Asia (constituting approx 6% of total population). With mandatory retirement age of 55-60 years , and with huge proportion of older people being poorest people all their life with no savings , aged people become dependent on families as governments in many countries don’t play an active role in providing benefits across various dimensions. From the transport sector, in many countries it does not provide any relief but acts as a catalyst in aggravating the problems. Consuming polluted air for major part of life and travelling in torturous transport services over the later part of the years inflates the problems. Inefficient public transport services with encroached non-motorized facilities by traffic leaves them with little options. Research indicates that very few old people access public transit services in developed countries but its opposite in Asia.

The old people who manage to use public transport facilities often find themselves in mercy of crowded fellow passengers for getting a seat. Deprived of accessibility and mobility over the years, people are left to fend themselves from high motorization externalities.

Some Asian governments provide little transport-finance incentives such as

1. The Government of India has provided a 50% discount for bus transportation for older people (in one state free transportation is allowed on city buses)

2. In Nepal, the elderly get a 25% discount on transportation courtesy Nepalese Municipal Authority.

3. For the elderly in Thailand, only half price is charged for third-class journeys from June to September

Reports suggest that only about 15% of the loco motor disabled in India are able to use public transport. The term “barrier free” movement is yet a vision in Asian cities (exceptions include some developed cities such as Hong Kong and some Japanese cities). Experience from Philippines suggests that only 2 percent of children with disabilities have access to elementary education with the major barrier being “absence of accessible transportation”.

The following is an excerpt from the Persons with Disabilities Act from Malaysia, Philippines and India –

Malaysia (2008) – Access to public transport facilities – “Persons with disabilities shall have the right to access to and use of public transport facilities, amenities and services open or provided to the public on equal basis with persons without disabilities”

Philippines - Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (National Law), Accessibility Law in 1983: purpose of enhancing the mobility of persons with disabilities by requiring public utilities to install facilities to make transportation accessible. Enactment of Republic Act 7277 provides in Section 25 thereof for a barrier-free environment

India (1995) – the act emphasizes the need for access of children with disabilities to school. It further suggests

a. adapt rail compartments, buses, vessels and aircrafts in such a way as to permit easy access to such persons;

b. adapt toilets in rail compartments, vessels, aircrafts and waiting rooms in such a way as to permit the wheel chair users to use them conveniently.

c. installation of auditory signals at red lights in the public roads for the benefit of persons with visual handicap;

d. causing curb cuts and slopes to be made in pavements for the easy access of wheel chair users;

e. engraving on the surface of the zebra crossing for the blind or for persons with low vision;

f. engraving on the edges of railway platforms for the blind or for persons with low vision;

g. devising appropriate symbols of disability;

h. warning signals at appropriate places.

Though many cities provide subsidies in tickets, in-accessibility of public transport terminals and vehicles proves to be a major barrier. Even with the passage of such laws, transport in many cities is yet to become disabled friendly.

Recent news reports from Indonesia suggest that “Instead of requiring level footpaths and ramps, lawmakers voted unanimously this month to demand disabled people wear signs announcing their condition so motorists won’t run them down as they cross the street.” Though the reports are yet to be confirmed by authors, but if this is true then it indicates further marginalization of persons with disabilities.

And the women?

Marginalization of women in transport can be understood from the fact that gender specific travel data is rarely collected at national and local levels and with such a mindset, rarely it may happen that the “women” were involved in the project design thus making the modes, mindset and infrastructure are rarely feminist sensitive. The transport challenge faced by women stretch across various dimensions such as safety, equity, accessibility and mobility. Transport opportunities often forces women to make restricted choices in employment as they have limited options in accessibility. For example, in one of surveys conducted in Dhaka, About 58% of women regarded the present bus service as overcrowded and accessibility difficult.

Sharifa et al. researched that many of rickshaw drivers in Dhaka who had switched jobs ( due to variety of reasons) had reduced monthly income. The wives of such drivers showed increase in incomes thus indicating more stress and hard work. Experience from Pakistan also indicates the similar story. Reports indicate that “uncivilized behavior” of some of the public transporters and unavailability of public transport are the main reasons for restricted trips.

One of the interesting findings of Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration Study (1996) was that the trip production rates of women over the years (contrary to the logic where people expect increase) have decreased. In 1980, trip production rates were 2.17 (women) and 2.28 (men) which changed to 1.78 (women) and 2.40 (men). Perhaps due to growing inefficiencies in the transport system, the women were the victims with restricted mobility whereas mobility of men increased.

In one of the surveys in Delhi, it was found that women either travel by foot (54%) or use buses (39%) for work purpose. Important thing to note here is the incidence of women spending 2-3 hours in commuting (17%). This creates high impact as they not only need to undergo longer work hours but also work at home and manage the family chores. Sad part is that they are wasting more time travelling lesser distances then men because of the inefficient transport systems.

What about the people living on streets? Research from Delhi indicate that at any given time, there are 10,000 homeless women in Delhi who live on streets as there are insufficient shelters (3) available for use by homeless women. Such women are not only exposed to the increased risk of illness and starvation associated with life on the street, but also heightened vulnerability to violence.

Does our transport system help them or victimize them further?

Clearly our transport system has become more and more injurious to health and inequitable. Over the years, we have tried to compartmentalize and segregate many of the problems of transport and tried to derive piecemeal / quick fix technical solutions without much success. Congestion costs as accessed by various researchers from various cities range from 1-8% of GDP. Current transport and city design severely restricts the accessibility and limits people earning capability.

Already the citizens are avoiding non motorized trips and shifting to motorized trips in order to escape the discrimination in accessibility and mobility. Several researchers have established that Asian cities which are conducive for walking and cycling with large number of trips with length less than 5 km are increasingly accessed by motorized modes. The cities are yet to invest huge amounts of money on pedestrian accessibility as they are yet to acknowledge pedestrians as road users. Thus it can be concluded that In spite of decades of investment on roads and infrastructure, cities are yet to realize solutions. The problems have magnified and so called solutions have become counterproductive.

There is a huge disconnect between policies, practices and proposed solutions. Past decades of inefficient policies have made us victims of our own solutions. Transport services in cities instead of providing relief; aggravate the problems and causes marginalization of vulnerable group. Increasingly people are getting dissatisfied and becoming “refugees” in their own cities. Thus top of pyramid solutions create more unrest and victims and the need is to plan and provide solutions for vulnerable people.

Transport Planning focused on such refugees would provide equitable solutions!

# # #

The orginal article will be found here – http://cai-asia.blogspot.com/2009/07/transport-refugees-victims-of-unjust.html

Note – this study quotes many websites, research papers and news articles. Please contact the authors in case you would like to have the full references.

About the authors:

Bert Fabian has worked on transport and environmental issues in the last 10 years and has been with the CAI-Asia Center for 7 years. He enjoys the outdoors and cycling in his spare time. Email: bert.fabian@cai-asia.org

Sudhir Gota – a former highway designer has abandoned designing roads to work on sustainable transportation issues. He enjoys doing research. Email: sudhir@cai-asia.org

Both are from Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

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