Normally your editor tries very hard to keep all postings here focused on the important topics which you will find introduced in our original Mission Statement of 2009, but here exceptionally is a more personal short story which raises some puzzling problems. And I may not be the only one in our extended sustainability family who has run up against this particular weirdness. Continue reading
Memorandum: First background on book in process to appear end-2013.
No ExcuseS, Sir!
(A tale of cities, indolence, complexity and finally . . . simplicity)
Introduction: No Excuses is a book in progress by Eric Britton about cities and people, and how we get around in our day-to-day lives. It is about the failure of a generation — but also how with a little imagination and a lot of willpower we can do it better on all scores, and in a way that is fairer for all.
If we say it is about cities and not transport, it is because the focus is not on the usual transport infrastructure, technology or big investments of hard-earned taxpayer money. That is the old way of looking at it, the mindset that effectively dominated transport policy and practice in the 20th century and which is just starting to lose its hold today. Good things are happening but still in far too few places. These are the places and projects, and the people and strategies, that No Excuses is all about. Continue reading
Here please find a selection of articles taken from the archives of World Streets, each of which reporting briefly on a concept or event that I as editor and author consider to be worthy of the attention of our several thousand international readers. I am reviewing these for ideas, materials and clues in support of a book in progress under the title “The Third Transportation Revolution: Cities, Indolence, Complexity and the Equity Agenda”. More will be posted on this project shortly.
We do not normally “do” roads here in the pages of World Streets, our primary focus, even fixation, being not on vehicles and highways but rather on streets and people. But we would be foolish to forget that making full and continuing full use of our peripheral vision is critical if we are ever to understand context and to be able to see broader patterns. So from time to time we do, usually with the help of others, have a look at the roads end of our business. Continue reading
In yesterday’s feature which was intended to inform the exchanges at this week’s TRB session concerning the eventual creation of a continuing program to support and expand ridesharing as a central sustainable transport policy, the point is made that the project should concentrate whatever resources it can stump up on ridesharing, as opposed to traditional public transport which has its own institutional and support system (for better or worse) while ridesharing from a policy and institutional perspective is still an orphan. But Simon Norton begs to differ: Continue reading
Something like ten percent of our lonely planet’s population are today thoroughly locked in — or at least think they are — to an “automotive life style”. While in barely two generations the earth’s population has tripled, the automotive age has, step by silent surreptitious step, changed the way we live — and in the process made us prisoners of just that technology that was supposed to make us free forever. That’s a bad joke and bad news. But there is worse yet, and it comes in two ugly bites. For starters, in addition to the ten percent of us already hapless prisoners of our cars, another twenty percent of our soon seven billion brothers and sisters are standing in line eagerly in the hope of getting locked in as quickly as possible. And as if that were not bad enough, the consensus among most of the experts and policy makers is that our goose is forever cooked, and there is little anybody can do about it. Well, maybe not. Spend some time this Monday morning with Paul Mees, as he attacks this received belief and suggests . . . Well, why don’t I just get out of the way and let Paul speak for himself. 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 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.
World Streets gives considerable time, space and thought to the whole complex tissue of the relationships that exist between people and cars. Auto-dependence and freedom of choice. People and the ways in which they access and use cars. Their reasons for owning a car. And when it comes up, people vs. cars. Robin Chase, one of the founders of Zipcar has given a lot of thought to this too, and today shares with us some ideas about the inevitability of choosing cars.
John Whitelegg, Editor of World Transport Policy and Practice, offers up a lead editorial in the latest edition of the Journal which was published today and is freely available here. His proposal makes particular economic sense at a time of great economic uncertainty, and of course not only in the UK. His core recommendation: (a) Cancel systematically all public investments that do not pass the sustainability test. What goes? (b) £10 billion for unnecessary road building. (c) £32 billion for uncalled for high speed rail. And (d) elimination of all but a handful of domestic aviation subsidies and investments. And with those frugal savings, the new government team can really go to work to guarantee the sustainable transport agenda.
We firmly believe that the move to sustainable lives is a very personal matter. For that reason every article that appears in World Streets is accompanied by a short bio note and photo identifying the author. We want you to know who they are and what they look like. These are not autonomous or institutional pieces; everything that appears here has a name and face behind it. Today we have assembled for your viewing pleasure small photos of 160 of our authors and collaborators. There are more and of course we really do need to have each identified by name and country. In time.
The people whose faces you see here come from France, Italy, South Africa, Britain, China, Sweden, Finland, England, Singapore, and Uganda — just to identify the top two rows.
* * * Click images for enlargements. * * *
Do you notice a fair proportion of women among our authors? That is no accident. Indeed it is one of the primary challenges of our entire program under both World Streets and just behind it the New Mobility Agenda: to, in a purposely contentious word, feminize the sector. From the top down. Up to now we are managing about 30% female participation here; that is good but not good enough. So give us some time to work on it. (And in the meantime have a look at Http://tinyurl.com/ws-women for more on this.)
Age profile of our collaborators? Broad! On the one hand we have contributions from some of the most important original senior thinkers, innovators and doers in the field. That’s very good. But we don’t stop there. We work very hard to ensure that we are also continually bringing in a large number of talented young people, and in the process helping to prepare the future leaders.
What do all these people do in life (when they are not writing for Streets?)? As you can imagine their activities cover a very wide span indeed. They are university professors, policymakers, international civil servants, transport system operators, scientists, inventors, doctors and public health workers, a couple of mayors, graduate students, journalists, filmmakers, community workers, activists, and the long list goes on.
Here is one thing they all have in common: in everything they do for and with World Streets, and indeed in many other parts of their work and lives, they act as volunteers and responsible citizens. That it turns out is necessary in this case since from the beginning our decision was to run World Streets “off the economy”. It was our guess that this was going to be the best way to set this off from the rest and to get the job done. A different paradigm encouraging different thinking. So we decided not charge for anything, not to take advertising, and, symmetry obliges, we do not pay for anything. You can bet that none of our collaborators are going to get rich through this association — but you can also bet that there is great satisfaction on their part.
And since this is about sustainable transportation and sustainable cities, it would seem fair for us to know at least something about how these people actually get around themselves and their day-to-day lives. They are, I can tell you from personal acquaintance with many of them, quite fit lot and this is no accident. A number of these people cycle and walk for transport every day. (That reminds me, we should carry out some kind of small survey of our authors and collaborators in order to see if we can learn something about their transportation habits.)
What sets them off from the rest? As editor and oft-times collaborator in projects in many parts of the world, I have been able to get to know many of them quite well indeed, often over some years. What can I say about them that might not be immediately apparent from the pictures? The phrase comes to mind from the wonderful film that we shared with you all earlier this week on courage and leadership when the former mayor of Bogotá, Antanas Mockus, who when confronted by the press concerning his lack of political allies and links with the power structure, he countered by saying ” Soy un hombre independiente”, I am an independent man. Yes that’s it – they are independent men and women. (See film here – http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2010/05/lessons-in-leadership-profiles-in.html.)
How can we end this? Here is who we are: Chinese and Americans, Swedes and Indians, French and Germans, English and Irish, Japanese and Koreans, Dutch and Australians, Serbs and Croats, Finns and Turks, Filipinos and Malaysians, Austrians and Czechs, Danes and Canadians, Brazilians and Mexicans, Argentines and Slovenes, Russians and Poles, Swiss and Chileans, Portuguese and Taiwanese, Indonesians and Kazakhstanies, Greeks and Icelanders, and more.
We are this. We are an ad hoc, unplanned, independent, uncontrollable, United Nations of concerned citizens. We are assuming our responsibilities. And we are going to win!
Editor, World Streets
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:
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. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Scientist, Global Metropolitan Studies, UC Berkeley
Senior Research Engineer, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford Univ.
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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.
Five times since late evening of the fatal Friday 18th in Copenhagen, I have attempted to get out a strong editorial on this important subject, sustainable transport included, but thus far I have yet to crack my task. Be patient and in the meantime remember what kind old Henry Ford once so famously wrote: “Of all the kinds of work I known, thinking is the hardest. And that’s I guess why people do so little of it”.
But should you be at all curious to follow my tortured path, during all of which I was trying hard to find a way to be at once both lucid and useful, if you click here you will find my first late Friday night attempt. If I may, there are a few thoughts in there that still may be worth a minute of your time. However upon careful inspection I decided to back away from the early versions of the posting because I found it too verbose, muddy, too roughly reasoned and still incomplete.
But above all I found that in its first iteration it was too openly, one might even say arrogantly critical, and not sufficiently positive. At this point we need to lay off the criticism and carping, that’s the past, and now get put our heads and hearts together to see what needs to be gleaned from all this terrible experience (the word is not too harsh) for the future. Which is after all ours to grasp.
Have a look at the revised version here in the next few days. I am confident that you will find it better and hopefully even of some use as we struggle to pick up the pieces from COP15.
World Streets is not the only one deeply apprehensive about the outcome of COP15. Lester Brown, Founder and President of the Earth Policy Institute, and a friend and colleague of many years, was interviewed by the Guardian yesterday, and since he cuts so close to the chase on the climate emergency issues which provide the metric for our high concern about immediate-term transportation reform, we reproduce it here in full.
Source: Countdown to Copenhagen. The Guardian. 3 Nov. 2009
We only have months, not years, to save civilisation from climate change
International agreements take too long, we need a swift mobilisation not seen since the second world war
For those concerned about global warming, all eyes are on December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. The stakes could not be higher. Almost every new report shows that the climate is changing even faster than the most dire projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their 2007 report.
Yet from my vantage point, internationally negotiated climate agreements are fast becoming obsolete for two reasons. First, since no government wants to concede too much compared with other governments, the negotiated goals for cutting carbon emissions will almost certainly be minimalist, not remotely approaching the bold cuts that are needed.
And second, since it takes years to negotiate and ratify these agreements, we may simply run out of time. This is not to say that we should not participate in the negotiations and work hard to get the best possible result. But we should not rely on these agreements to save civilisation.
Saving civilisation is going to require an enormous effort to cut carbon emissions. The good news is that we can do this with current technologies, which I detail in my book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Plan B aims to stabilise climate, stabilise population, eradicate poverty, and restore the economy’s natural support systems. It prescribes a worldwide cut in net carbon emissions of 80% by 2020, thus keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations from exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm) in an attempt to hold temperature rise to a minimum. The eventual plan would be to return concentrations to 350 ppm, as agreed by the top US climate scientist at Nasa, James Hansen, and Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC.
In setting this goal we did not ask what would be politically popular, but rather what it would take to have a decent shot at saving the Greenland ice sheet and at least the larger glaciers in the mountains of Asia. By default, this is a question of food security for us all.
Fortunately for us, renewable energy is expanding at a rate and on a scale that we could not have imagined even a year ago. In the United States, a powerful grassroots movement opposing new coal-fired power plants has led to a de facto moratorium on their construction. This movement was not directly concerned with international negotiations. At no point did the leaders of this movement say that they wanted to ban new coal-fired power plants only if Europe does, if China does, or if the rest of the world does. They moved ahead unilaterally knowing that if the United States does not quickly cut carbon emissions, the world will be in trouble.
For clean and abundant wind power, the US state of Texas (long the country’s leading oil producer) now has 8,000MW of wind generating capacity in operation, 1,000MW under construction, and a huge amount in development that together will give it more than 50,000MWof wind generating capacity (think 50 coal-fired power plants). This will more than satisfy the residential needs of the state’s 24 million people.
And though many are quick to point a finger at China for building a new coal-fired power plant every week or so, it is working on six wind farm mega-complexes with a total generating capacity of 105,000 megawatts. This is in addition to the many average-sized wind farms already in operation and under construction.
Solar is now the fastest growing source of energy. A consortium of European corporations and investment banks has announced a proposal to develop a massive amount of solar thermal generating capacity in north Africa, much of it for export to Europe. In total, it could economically supply half of Europe’s electricity.
We could cite many more examples. The main point is that the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is moving much faster than most people realise, and it can be accelerated.
The challenge is how to do it quickly. The answer is a wartime mobilisation, not unlike the US effort on the country’s entry into the second world war, when it restructured its industrial economy not in a matter of decades or years, but in a matter of months. We don’t know exactly how much time remains for such an effort, but we do know that time is running out. Nature is the timekeeper but we cannot see the clock.
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You may find some interest in the comments which follow his piece which you can call up at the end of the Guardian pieces at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2009/nov/03/lester-brown-copenhagen
While the focus and approach of World Streets and the New Mobility/Climate Emergency Project behind it, is quite different from the views set out above, we certainly do share Mr. Brown’s sense of high urgency. And some considerable despondence concerning what is likely to come out of Copenhagen.
Not that there are not going to be many people and groups working very hard to secure come kind of reasonable outcomes, but as we tried to point out in our editorial on this of 26 October, “Winning the World Climate Game: Brainwork challenge“, this is clearly a situation in which the ball (that is our planetary problem) is bigger than the court (our problem-solving mechanism, frame). So somebody better get out there and start to redraw the lines. (Stay tuned.)
With mounting visible evidence of the reality and extremely high cost of climate change, people in Taiwan increasingly feel the importance of being a part of the earth. And the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, has decided to do something about it.
Another busy month on World Streets with 10,676 visitors who dropped in to pick up and at least scan a total of 29 articles, touching on such exotic topics as sighing maidens (look right), singing escalators, cultural revolvers, fancy parking, new tools, sleeping policemen, miraculous technology, terrified oilmen, a brave lizard, COP15, women as leaders of the policy debates and key decision-making positions, and of course a lot on our old friends carbon and climate. Support World Streets, one of a kind.
One full month of World Streets in one click:
* Click here to directly address on-line October postings
* And here for the PDF covering the full month.
Who is reading Streets?
And here you can see where the last eighty visitors came from. Our typical pattern, with those huge white swaths in Africa and the former Soviet Union counties. That said, things are heating up nicely in China, Taiwan, and much of South-east Asia. Stay tuned.
Join in: Do your bit for our cities and our planet
Would you like to propose an article , topic or author for the November edition? If so, don’t hesitate to contact our editor:
* Tel: +331 4326 1323
And oh yes, we answer out mail.
Paying our bills:
We have not yet found the sponsorship needed to keep the journal afloat in 2010. The situation is rather grim, so if you would like help us brainstorm on this, please get in touch. I am sure that with energetic collaboration we will solve this problem and go on to do better yet in 2010. I kind of think the planet needs us. And I hope you agree. Don’t be shy now. Get in touch. Lend a hand. After all, it’s your planet.
When is “an important safety advance” perhaps not that safe after all? Is the answer to accidents between large, powerful and fast-moving motor vehicles and anyone else, pedestrians, cyclists and straying children and small animals included, to load on the technology to save us from ourselves? Or might it be something else, perhaps like slowing the cars on all our streets, is a better way to tackle this particular problem?
We of course vote for the latter, because we know from long experience that there are always drivers who are going to go as fast as the conditions permit. That’s a fact and since this is the case, we have to slow them down through appropriate street architecture. Now let’s read what our World Streets Sentinel, April Streeter, has recently written on this subject.
* Thanks to Ms. Streeter for her permission to reproduce. For the original piece, click to http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/volvo-makes-car-that-brakes-for-kids.php
Volvo Makes A Car That Stops For Pedestrians (and Next, For Bikes)
by April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden on 10.26.09
We talk a lot about cycling at TreeHugger, and cyclist safety. But the truth of the matter is we’re all vulnerable pedestrians at one point or another, and speed still kills. But as Copenhagenize reports, Volvo, those Swedish safety experts, have been working on a system that recognizes pedestrians as they walk in front of a car’s front end, and if the car’s speed is under 25 kilometers per hour, automatically puts on full brakes.
Volvo may not be the best at snappy marketing monikers – the safety system is called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection, and will be included in the next S60 sedan as an optional add-on in the $3,500 “premium package.” The system is far from perfect — it doesn’t work at night, and it doesn’t recognize bicycles — but Volvo says it will continue to improve upon the design.
* Click here to view the Volvo video –
The system is a radar hidden behind the car grill and a video camera mounted by the rear-view mirror. While the radar spots objects at a distance, the camera hones in to identify where the object is say, a lamppost or a little kid. If the system identifies a person and a potential danger, an audible warning is accompanied by a flashing red light, similar to a brake light, designed to prompt a driver to brake. If the driver doesn’t brake, the car brakes automatically.
Because pedestrians are definitely the most vulnerable members of the traffic fabric, Volvo engineers have focused on creating a system (10 years in the making) that could reduce accident rates — 16% of all traffic-related deaths in Sweden are pedestrians, according to the Copenhagenize post, and 11% of all serious injuries in accidents are pedestrians. In fact, those safety-focused Swedes have a national goal that “nobody should be killed or seriously injured on the road transport system.”
“Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 25 km/h. If the car is travelling faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75 percent. Considering the large number of pedestrian fatalities that occur, if we manage to lower the fatality risk by 20 percent this new function will make a big difference.” Volvo’s Thomas Broberg said at motorward.com.
An even more interesting statistic is this — Swedish research into collisions finds that 93% of accidents that occur happen because the “driver was occupied with something else other than driving.”
Of course, there is the argument that smarter cars will equal dumber drivers. We vote for simply slowing down city traffic – when you are driving more slowly you have time to react to the unexpected, such as the child darting out in front of you. But would slower cars and trucks equal more road rage and more hatred for the human elements on our “complete” streets?
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In this slot at the end of contributed articles, we generally try to place a few sober words that will permit our readers to know a bit about the author. But this time the temptation is too great, so now you have a short bio note in April’s own words.
“April is a former bilingual cocktail waitress who left the warm beaches of Hawaii to pursue an upstanding career as reporter on the new and exciting digital world for MacWEEK magazine in San Francisco. When she finally couldn’t stand the thought of writing about one more wireless local area network router, she recast herself as an environmental and sustainability journalist for Tomorrow magazine in Stockholm, Sweden. A few years later, she escaped the Scandinavian chill to become editor of Sustainable Industries magazine in Portland, Oregon. But eventually, the lure of endless months of darkness and sleety rain beckoned her back to Gothenburg, Sweden where she today is a freelance writer and Hatha yoga teacher forever on the lookout for a good/local/organic/sustainable/fair trade Swedish burrito.”
This hefty seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool for researchers and policy makers world-wide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references for you to take it further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.
News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Autumn 2009 Vol. 12, No. 4
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. VTPI also provides consulting services.
“Where We Want To Be: Household Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http:vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf).
This paper investigates consumer housing preferences and their implications for future urban development patterns. Market research indicates that households increasingly prefer smart growth features such as location accessibility (indicated by shorter commutes), land use mix (indicated by nearby shops and services), and transportation diversity (indicated by good walking conditions and public transit services), and many will choose small-lots and attached homes that offer these features over large-lot sprawl homes that do not. The current stock of large-lot housing should be adequate for decades, but the supply of small-lot and attached housing will need to approximately double by 2025 to meet consumer demands.
“Evaluating Transit-Oriented Development Using a Sustainability Framework: Lessons from Perth’s Network City” (www.vtpi.org/renne_tod.pdf ), by Professor John Renne.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is compact, mixed-use development that facilitates walking, bicycling, and use of public transport through its urban design. This chapter from the book ‘Planning Sustainable Communities,’ presents a method to evaluate TOD sustainability based on outcomes, including travel behaviour, local economic development, natural environment, built environment, social environment and policy context. The study applies this analysis framework to five rail transit precincts in Perth, Western Australia to test the feasibility of data collection and analysis.
“Who Is Really Paying For Your Parking Space? Estimating The Marginal Implicit Value Of Off-Street Parking Spaces For Condominiums In Central Edmonton,” (www.vtpi.org/jung_parking.pdf ), by Owen Jung.
This master’s thesis (economics) uses hedonic pricing to estimate the marginal effect of each additional structured parking space on condominium prices in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The analysis indicates that the value of a parking space is statistically significant but substantially less than the typical cost of supplying such spaces. The results suggest that retail prices do not fully reflect the parking costs. This adversely affects housing affordability because developers must charge more per unit, and to the degree that the additional parking costs cannot be recovered by higher prices, are likely to provide less housing, leading to a higher market-clearing price, particularly in lower price ranges.
“Making the Most of Models: Using Models To Develop More Effective Transport Policies And Strategies” ( http://www.vtpi.org/FerWig_Modelling.pdf ) by Peter Furnish and Don Wignall
This paper discusses how simplified transport models in evaluating transportation policies and programs. An example of a simplified model is described to illustrate the use of this type of modelling for policy and strategy development purposes.
“Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy: Recommendations and Research” (188-page report) and “The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America” (36-page summary report) by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute Convergence Partnership ( http://www.convergencepartnership.org/transportationhealthandequity )
These publications, written by leading academics and advocates, discuss key issues related to health, equity and transportation. They identify specific transportation policies and programs that can improve public health and quality of life, particularly for vulnerable communities. Includes an introduction by Representative Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
‘Mobility as a Positional Good: Implications for Transport Policy and Planning,‘ by Todd Litman, in “Car Troubles: Critical Studies of Automobility and Auto-Mobility” (Jim Conley and Arlene Tigar McLaren eds), Ashgate ( http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754677727 ). Introduction at http://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Car_Troubles_Intro.pdf . Chapter summarized in http://www.vtpi.org/prestige.pdf .
This book, with chapters written by various researchers, uses social theory, specific case studies and policy analysis to examine issues related to automobility.
“Parking Solutions: Essential Info Packet, Planning Advisory Service” http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets), published by the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Service. Includes papers by various authors including Todd Litman if VTPI.
These packets include:
• ‘Parking Solutions’ (130 pages): six documents that describe modern approaches to parking management.
• ‘Shared Parking” (133 pages): more than thirty documents concerning shared parking, parking in-lieu fees, parking requirement reductions and exemptions, and downtown district special parking requirements.
• ‘Green Parking Lot Design” (66 pages): three documents that describe ways to improve parking lot environmental performance including landscaping, stormwater management and reduced heat island effects.
• ‘Permeable Pavement and Bicycle Parking’ (38 pages): five documents concerning the use of permeable parking lot pavement materials and five documents concerning bicycle parking requirements and design.
“Investment Of Commonwealth And State Funds In Public Passenger Transport,” 31 July 2009, Rural And Regional Affairs And Transport References Committee, Australian Senate; at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/rrat_ctte/public_transport/report/report.pdf . Todd Litman’s comments are at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12320.pdf .
This study identified various benefits of public transportation and recommended various reforms to increase the value of transit investments.
‘Creating Safe and Healthy Communities,‘ by Todd Litman, in “Environments: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies,” ( http://www.fes.uwaterloo.ca/research/environments/index.html ), Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 21-43.
‘Integrated University Parking & Access Management Programs’ by Dennis Burns and Todd Litman, in “Parking Management – Planning, Design and Operations” (Volume 3 in the Parking 101 Series, 2009), International Parking Institute ( http://www.new.parking.org/products/parking-management-pdo ).
Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
“Rea Vaya (‘We are Moving’) In South Africa” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41414 )
“Sidewalk Design Vehicle” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41262 )
“Universal Design – Accommodating Everybody” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41097 )
“Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/40461 )
“Moving Cooler Report: Solutions and Criticisms” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/39945)
Recent presentations by VTPI:
“Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Implications of Population Aging on Transportation and Community Planning” presented at, Exploring Age-Friendly Environments, Winnipeg, Canada.
“Capacity Building for Young Professionals,” professional development classes in Argentina. This enjoyable visit to Buenos Aries involved teaching transportation and land use planning principles to a class of smart, enthusiastic young professionals. Muchas gracias to my hosts!
“Sustainable Transport Performance Indicators,” presented at Toward Sustainable Transport System for Green Growth in the North Pacific, sponsored by the East-West Center and Korean Transport Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii.
“Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For New Urbanism,” to be presented at The Congress for the New Urbanism’s 2009 Transportation Summit ( http://www.cnu.org/transportation2009 ) to be held in Portland, Oregon, 4-6 November 2009.
This Summit will advance new ideas for creating compact, walkable communities that provide residents a high quality of life while preserving the natural environment. It brings together 150 to 200 expert engineers, planners, public officials and design professionals to present ideas and work toward reforming transportation standards that obstruct urbanism.
“Bicycle Friendly Planning,” to be presented at the International Cycling Symposium for Gumi, South Korea, 18 November 2009.
“Transportation and Health: The Evidence and the Opportunities,” to be presented at the American Public Health Association 137th Annual Meeting, Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM, in Philadelphia, PA. ( http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/Session27792.html ).
“The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?” (P10-0710)
Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 10-14 January 2010, Washington DC (http://www.trb.org ).
This session will debate the role of VMT reduction targets to help achieve climate change emission reductions and other planning objectives .
Todd Alexander Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Canada
Marlon G. Boarnet, University of California, Irvine
In opposition to the use of VMT Reduction Targets as an effective GHG reduction strategy: (P10-0723)
Alan E. Pisarski, Consultant
Samuel Staley, Reason Foundation
“Economic Impact Of Public Transportation Investment,” American Public Transportation Association ( http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/economic_impact_of_public_transportation_investment.pdf ). This report describes methods for evaluating the economic development benefits of investments in public transportation.
“Non-Toll Pricing: A Primer,” ( http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08044/cp_prim6_00.htm ). This short document by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration describes various innovative pricing reforms, including efficient insurance and parking pricing.
“What Policies Are Effective At Reducing Carbon Emissions From Surface Passenger Transport? A Review Of Interventions To Encourage Behaviroual And Technological Change,” ( http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/ResearchProgrammes/TechnologyandPolicyAssessment/0904TransportReport.aspx ) by the UK Energy Research Centre.
“On-Street Parking Management and Pricing Study” ( http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/303/149 ).
This study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority reviews the city’s existing on-street parking management programs, considers innovative strategies and technologies for improved parking management, and discusses residential parking management issues, including the use of parking revenues to support neighborhood transportation enhancements. It includes several peer city parking management case studies. It provides recommendations for comprehensive neighborhood parking management to improve parking conditions and support policy goals.
“Walkability and Health; BC Sprawl Report 2009,” ( http://www.smartgrowth.bc.ca/Portals/0/Downloads/sgbc-sprawlreport-2009.pdf ).
This study by Ray Tomalty and Murtaza Haider evaluates how community design factors (land use density and mix, street connectivity, sidewalk supply, street widths, block lengths, etc.) and a subjective walkability index rating (based on residents’ evaluation of various factors) affect walking and biking activity, and health outcomes (hypertension and diabetes). The analysis reveals a statistically significant association between improved walkability and more walking and cycling activity, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower hypertension. The study also includes case studies which identified policy changes likely to improve health in specific communities.
“Moving Cooler: Transportation Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” ( http://www.movingcooler.info ).
This report, sponsored by a number of major transportation, business and environmental organizations evaluates several dozen climate change emission reduction strategies, including their emission reductions, implementation costs, impacts on vehicle costs, and equity impacts. It estimates the emissions that could be reduced under a range of assumptions about how they are implemented.
“Real Transportation Solutions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions” ( http://www.transportation1.org/RealSolutions/index.html ).
This report by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials identifies various ways to reduce transportation climate change emissions.
“A Conceptual Framework For The Reform Of Taxes Related To Roads And Transport” ( http://apo.org.au/research/conceptual-framework-reform-taxes-related-roads-and-transport ), School of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University for the ‘Australia’s Future Tax System’ review by Treasury, Canberra.
This report examines how transport services in Australia should be priced and transportation facilities funded. It discusses various economic principles related to efficient prices and taxes, estimates various transportation-related external costs (road and parking facilities, congestion, accidents, energy consumption and pollution), evaluates current pricing efficiency and recommends various reforms to help achieve transportation planning objectives.
“Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities” ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/WalkingTheWalk_CEOsforCities1.pdf ).
This study by Joe Cortright of CEOs for Cities evaluates the effects of walkability on housing prices using the used Walkscore ( http://www.walkscore.com) and 95,000 real estate transactions, controlling for house (size, number of bedrooms and baths, age) and neighborhood characteristics (proximity to the CBD, income, and accessibility to jobs). It found that, each walkscore point increase was associated with a $700 to $3000 increase in home values, after controlling for other observable factors, so for example, shifting from a 50th to a 75th percentile walkscore typically increases a house’s value $4,000 to $34,000, depending on the market.
“Are TODs Over-Parked?” ( http://www.uctc.net/papers/882.pdf ).
This study by Robert Cervero, Arlie Adkins, and Cathleen Sullivan investigated the degree to which residential developments near urban rail stations are “over-parked,” that is, more parking is provided than needed. It found the mean parking supply of 1.57 spaces per unit was 31% higher than the 1.2 spaces recommended in ITE Parking Generation, and 37% higher than the weighted-average peak demand of 1.15 parked cars per unit at 31 residential projects near BART rail stations. The analysis indicates that increased parking supply tends to increase vehicle ownership: an increase of 0.5 spaces per unit is associated with a 0.11 additional cars parked per unit at the peak. Parking demand tends to decline with improved pedestrian access to stations and improved transit service frequency.
“Applying Health Impact Assessment To Land Transport Planning” ( http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/reports/375.pdf ).
This report by the NZ Transport Agency describes Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a process to inform decision makers about the likely positive and negative effects of a proposal on public health and on health inequalities in order to avoid unintended consequences and to make informed decisions. This report recommends transport policy and planning practices to protect and promote public health.
“Transportation Demand Management: A Small and Mid-Size Communities Toolkit” ( http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/programs/documents/FBC_TDM_toolkit_web.pdf ).
This toolkit provides guidance on implementing TDM programs and strategies in smaller and medium-size communities. It includes an introduction to transportation demand management (TDM) and what it takes to implement a TDM strategy. There are 10 TDM case studies of small and mid-size communities. The toolkit shows how to start a TDM initiative and how to turn it into a comprehensive program, offering helpful resources.
Co-Benefits Asia Hub Website ( http://www.observatory.ph/co-benefits_asia ) provides information on climate change emission reduction strategies that provide additional benefits related to environment (e.g. air quality management, health, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity), energy (e.g. renewable energy, alternative fuels and energy efficiency) and economics (e.g. long-term economic sustainability, industry competitiveness, income distribution).
“Getting More with Less: Managing Residential Parking in Urban Developments with Carsharing and Unbundling” ( http://www.citycarshare.org/download/CityCarShare2009BestPracticesReport.pdf ).
This new report describes examples of residential developments that rely on unbundled parking and on-site carshare services to significantly reduce parking requirements. Provides guidance to developers and planners on applying these strategies.
“CityTalent: Keeping Young Professionals (and their kids) in Cities,” ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/CEOs_CityTalent_Kids.pdf )
This new report by CEOs for Cities helps urban leaders understand, support and scale the behaviors of multi-generation urban families. Researchers studied parent concerns of safety, space and schools developing concepts to counter them through density, public space and using the city as a classroom.
“The Challenge of Sustainable Mobility in Urban Planning and Development in Oslo” ( http://www.toi.no/getfile.php/Publikasjoner/T%D8I%20rapporter/2009/1024-2009/1024-2009-nett.pdf )
This report provides detailed analysis of transportation and land use development trends in Oslo, Norway. It indicates that smart growth policies and investments in alternative modes (particularly high quality public transit) can reduce per capita vehicle travel and energy consumption. It discusses this decoupling of economic development and VMT.
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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: email@example.com. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560
Tomorrow, October 24th, our friends over at 350.ORG have organized the biggest day of global political action in the history of our gasping planet – the International Day of Climate Action. World Streets thinks this is a great and practical activist tool which we are pleased to support; we invite you to check it out right here and perhaps get involved too. The planet needs every one of us.
Backdrop:Read Bill McKibben’s recent blog post, “The Science of 350, the Most Important Number on the Planet” – here
On October 24, millions of people across the globe will participate in the most widespread day of environmental action in history, attending over 4,500 simultaneous events in more than 170 countries. Organized by the grassroots campaign 350.org, participants are mobilizing to urge world leaders to support a clear solution to the climate crisis: reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.
350 is the most important number in the world–scientists have told us that it’s the most carbon dioxide we can have in the atmosphere, and now we’re making sure everyone knows. We’ll be taking photos from all the events, projecting them on the big screens in New York’s Times Square, and delivering them to major media outlets and hundreds of world leaders in the coming weeks. The combined noise from these events will ensure that world leaders who gather next month at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen to create the world’s new plan on climate change will hear our call. They will know that when negotiating the fate of our planet, there is a passionate movement out there which will hold them accountable.
To help you take part in tomorrow’s international day of climate action, they are:
* Lifting public awareness on the need for an international climate treaty to reach 350
* Assembling a coalition of hundreds of organizations committed to this vision of a more sustainable world
* Connecting you with others in your community and across the planet who are building this movement
* Providing on-line resources and tools that make pulling together an event easy
* Linking your October 24 event with hundreds of other actions at iconic places around the world
* Leveraging the day of action for meaningful political change
From capitol cities to the melting slopes of Mount Everest, even underwater on dying coral reefs—people are holding rallies and visual demonstrations aimed at focusing attention on the 350 target. Highlights include over 200 events across China; major rallies at iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef; 350 scuba divers holding an underwater protest in the Maldives; 200 events across the Middle East; and 350 Masaii children hosting a traditional dance on their parched fields in Kenya.
Photos and video footage of events all over the world will be broadcast on giant screens at a culminating event in New York City’s Times Square at 3:50 pm (EDT) on October 24. Footage and photos will also be available for media use at 350.org.
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This positing represents our action participation and support of this great project idea. Have a look and consider how you might wish to join in or otherwise put this network to work.
* Click here for full details: http://www.350.org/plan
* To find an event in your area – http://www.350.org/map
* To organise your own event – Check out their 9 step action plan – http://www.350.org/9steps
* World Streets support action page: http://www.350.org/node/11209
“Transport is not a party to CO2 talks. Local, regional, and national transport stakeholders – planners, mayors, transit operators, developers, walkers, bikers are only there if they are invited by their delegations or as part of a true blizzard of interesting side events. But SIDE events. The power lies elsewhere.”
I was in Kyoto and others through Cop 6, then again Montreal and Bali. I will be in Copenhagen just before the beginning for a meeting of a special study on CO2 and transport in 2050, (There will be an open side event Saturday Dec 5, followed by a reception with a jazz group known as “Lee Schipper and the Mitigators”.)
What was notable about Kyoto was the little guys from the car industry through the “Global Climax Coalition”, a solid contrarian group at the time of mostly America car and fuel companies. They were wearing “badges of convenience”, in that case the “International Chamber of Commerce.” They contributed nothing to the discussion — although a few were helpful at the various transport-related side events I had organized for the International Energy Agency. General Motors and Honda participated in one side event in the Hague (COP 6) with constructive comments, as did Volvo Bus.
At Bali, I co-organized with the International Transport Forum an SRO event on transport, but mostly focused on tailpipes. Local councilors and others who do have political power were there, but only as observers.
And IMHO, while transport is crucial to solving the problem because over the long run transport – Co2 has grown more than other major sources—CO2 is just NOT a driving factor to total transport costs, externalities, or even variable costs.
Have a look here at our latest report, focused on Latin America but suggesting a total reframing of the problem – http://metrostudies.berkeley.edu/pubs/reports/Shipper-ConsidClimateChange-LatinAmer.pdf
Last year a major global NGO asked me to write a paper explaining how transport could be part of the CO2 process we call “Kyoto”, how the “North” could aid the “South”, etc. Hmm. I demurred.
Shall “we” pay ”them” not to be like us? Do we have some magic low-CO2 technologies? Can CO2-related money (i.e., CDM) possibly add up to anywhere near the trillions that go into roads and expensive metros systems? Will small change undo what mayors, transport ministers and other authorities have been unable to do, namely break the lock of the car on development? I wish it were so.
So maybe we are not ready and should not have high expectations, particularly with the US still in its usual state of disarray and denial, in spite of what I would term positive leadership from our new White House and departments of Transport and Energy and the EPA.
There is at least one bright hope on the horizon. The “Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport”, founded in a small meeting held in Bellagio Italy last May, with Cornie Huizenga, formerly director of Clean Air Initiative-Asia as the spearhead, is trying to find ways (and money) to reframe the whole process for transportation funding and policy. Details here from their launch last month in Bangkok. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/envdev1080.doc.htm
I am biased because of my association with this group and its founding, in a way in response to my continual harrumphing about the problems of transport and CO2. This group will be visible in Copenhagen and elsewhere in the future and gives me reason to be more optimistic.
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About the author:
After leaving the International Energy Agency to start EMBARQ, The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport in Washington DC 2002-2007, Lee Schipper moved back to the SF Bay area to split his time between Global Metro Studies, UC Berkeley and the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford where he works to this day.
I asked Lee what in addition to his desk work is he doing to help stem our planet’s miserable decline, to which he replied: I have 4 bikes and bike/train to work every day (presumably one at time). My wife and I split one car, 5000 km/year. One daughter (Lisa) is one of the world’s leading experts on climate vulnerability and adaptation – her father having failed miserably to help stem the rise in CO2. The other works on issues of refugees and anti-trafficking. I rest my case.
This is the second of a two-part article by Charles Komanoff, activist, energy-economist and policy analyst, looking at goals and tools for finding the right strategy for implementing some form of congesting charging measures in New York City’s crowded streets. He invites comment on his proposed “Balance Transportation Analyzer” tool.
Wanted: Crowd-Sourced Transportation Analysis
- by Charles Komanoff. Reprinted from NYC Streetsblog with the author’s permission
My recent post refuting David Owen’s attack on congestion pricing ignited a long, rich thread. Here’s one comment, from “Jonathan,” that struck a nerve:
[A] cordon-pricing plan … which doesn’t charge center-city residents could result in an increase in those residents’ automobile use. If the streets are free of outer-borough traffic, more of my Manhattan neighbors might drive to work, or simply make extra automobile trips within the cordon that without CP [congestion pricing], they would have made by subway or taxi.
Jonathan’s right: Any Manhattan cordon-pricing scheme will lead to an uptick in car trips that start and end within the charging zone. It’s one of those “rebound effects” that congestion-price modeling needs to account for, and which I’ve taken pains to incorporate in my Balanced Transportation Analyzer pricing model.
Indeed, I daresay that the BTA handles just about every issue ever raised on this blog about congestion pricing. How many transit users will switch to cabs? Will variable tolls really flatten rush-hour peaks? Won’t faster roads lure back the trips killed off by the toll (Owen’s conundrum)? And many more.
Technically, the BTA is a spreadsheet. But I think of it as a vast mansion, whose 46 interlinked “rooms” (worksheets) are stocked with precious data and ingenious algorithms for cracking open questions like these:
* How does congestion on weekends compare with weekdays?
* How sharply do traffic speeds rise as volumes fall?
* Which boroughs and counties stand to pay the most with congestion pricing?
* Will a cordon toll lead to more bicycling, and will that improve public health?
* Can decommissioning vehicle lanes increase congestion pricing’s benefits?
* Which will boost transit use more: lower fares or better service?
* How many fares does a cabbie get in a ten-hour taxi shift, with and without pricing?
Multiply that list a hundredfold and you get a sense of the BTA’s hidden treasures.
I say “hidden” because, except for a few mavens like “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, who calls it “the best [modeling] tool that I have seen in my nearly 40 years,” the Balanced Transportation Analyzer remains largely untapped by advocates. To me, it’s as if we’re all starving while this rich storehouse next door goes to waste.
Which prompts me to ask:
1. Why is the BTA so underused?
2. Is our community missing out on a valuable tool?
3. What should we do about it?
Let’s make this an open thread, with emphasis on what can we do together to make the BTA more accessible and useful to New York’s livable streets community. (The model is adaptable to other cities, so those of you not from NYC are also invited.)
As for Jonathan’s question: the BTA shows that over the course of a typical weekday, 72 percent of all vehicle miles traveled inside the Manhattan Central Business District are by cars, trucks and buses that have crossed into the CBD, either at 60th Street or across the Hudson or East Rivers, and thus would pay the congestion toll. The remaining 28 percent of VMT is mostly by medallion taxicabs (22 percent). Cars and trucks that stayed within the cordon zone and couldn’t be tolled accounted for just 6 percent of all CBD traffic. (All this is derived and shown in the table at the bottom of the BTA’s “Cordon” worksheet.)
This tells us that: 1) Even if “intrazonal” traffic rises sharply, as Jonathan fears, it will add relatively little VMT because it’s such a small share of overall cordon traffic to begin with; and 2) rather than fret over the free pass for intrazonal trips (which are impractical to toll with current technology), congestion pricing needs a strategy to stop a surge in taxicab use from filling the newly freed road space.
The plan currently advocated by Ted Kheel and myself does just that. It combines a 33 percent surcharge on all three taxi-fare components — mileage, waiting time, and the “drop” — with time-variable car tolls of $3/$6/$9 on weekdays and $2/$3/$4 on weekends (trucks pay double, reflecting their greater bulk, while medallion cabs are exempt from the toll but pay the surcharge). Under this Kheel-Komanoff Plan, intrazonal VMT is predicted to rise by approximately 120,000 miles a day — 40,000 by cars and trucks, 80,000 by taxicabs. But cordon VMT by vehicles coming from outside, and thus tolled, falls far more, by 450,000. This yields a net drop in cordon travel of 330,000 VMT, an 8 percent decline that, the model predicts, will boost average travel speeds within the CBD by around 20 percent.
The point of this post isn’t to advocate for a particular plan, however. It’s to show that rebound effects and other asserted congestion-toll pitfalls can be modeled and, with the right plan, accommodated.
The figures are based on 2007 traffic levels. Current volumes are probably slightly less. While a decrease in “baseline” traffic cuts into the benefits of congestion pricing, both the saved time and new transit revenue predicted for Kheel-Komanoff are still striking. And, yes, if you want to test our pricing plan (or your own) with reduced baseline traffic, the BTA even has a switch to adjust the volume.
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* Click here to read comments and reader contributions on Streetsblog
* Click here to read the original posting in Streetsblog
Charles Komanoff “re-founded” NYC’s bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives in the 1980s, helped found the Tri-State Transportation Campaign in the 1990s, and co-founded the Carbon Tax Center in 2007. Charles’s writings include books, articles, and landmark reports such as Subsidies for Traffic, Killed By Automobile, and the Kheel Report on financing free transit in New York City. Charles lives with his wife and two sons in lower Manhattan
Check out this video by Elizabeth Press of www.Streetfilms.org which explains the theory and some of the details the broad lines of New York City’s on-going program for protecting cyclists from traffic. You may wish to use it as a first checklist for your city’s efforts. This process of vivacious cross-learning from others is a hallmark of the on-going worldwide city bike revolution.
“Bike lanes: In some cities people are literally dying to have them and some people go so far as to mark their own. Here in New York City, it feels like every time I get on my bike there is a new bike lane – sometimes on the left, sometimes buffered, and sometimes completely separated from automobile traffic.
To understand these lanes, I had the opportunity to go for a ride with the NYC DOT bicycle boys. They explained the classes of bike lanes and showed off some of these inventive facilities.
You can use Ride the City to find a safe bike route in New York City and watch this video to see what lanes are used on your route.
A good video to view if:
- Your city needs bike infrastructure
- Your city needs more or innovative bike facilities and they are not doing experimentation in design
- If you want to show people in your neighborhood and community what is going on in NYC and the benefits to bike amenities.”
* Click here to call up this 5 minute video.
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Elizabeth Press came to StreetFilms in 2007 after four years as a producer for the independent TV/Radio program, Democracy Now! She received her MFA in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a focus on community media. While working on her thesis, Elizabeth spent a year teaching youth video in the Dominican Republic on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her videos have screened in festivals all over the world. You will usually find Elizabeth commuting on her second-hand spectrum bicycle.
As we gear up for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, it is fair to ask: how optimistic can one reasonably be concerning our ability at this critical juncture to meet the enormous challenges facing our planet , and our sector of responsibility, in time to make the needed big adjustments needed to make the necessary differences in the years immediately ahead? We weren’t even close in 1996. Will we be ready . . . this time?
Sustainable Transportation’s Dirty Secret – 1996
Sometimes it can help to recall the past. Listen for example to this one minute extract from a presentation given by the editor of this journal, at the time a consultant to the OECD Environment Directorate’s “EST – Environmentally Sustainable Transport” project, to a post conference evaluation session of the OECD senior project team on the occasion of a peer review of the accomplishments of the high level March 1996 Vancouver Conference, “Towards Sustainable Transportation”.
That meeting, in the words of the OECD post-meeting announcement, “brought together over four hundred policy-makers, governments and NGO representatives to assess the state of the art knowledge in reducing transport’s environmental impacts and to chart a path towards more environmentally sustainable transport systems”. And what exactly did those ” four hundred policy-makers, governments and NGO representatives” actually achieve, sustainable transportation-wise?
* Click here for the “Sustainable Transportation’s Dirty Secret” comment from 1996
That, in a few words, is Sustainable Transportation’s Dirty Secret. Worse yet, the sad truth is it does appear to be not just a transient anomaly but rather a sign of our times, of our generation, of our egregious (un)willingness to commit ourselves and get around to doing (a lot) better.
What have we done, learned since 1996?
Checking out the actual results for our sector’s performance over these last thirteen years, as charted by leading edge of the research community, the many related web sites and all the conferences on global warming, carbon dioxide build-up, ozone depletion, and the rest, one comes to a pretty simple, absolutely terrifying conclusion.
From an unbiased eco-perspective we are continuing to misbehave very badly indeed. And what is worse yet is that, rhetoric aside, there is little out there on the radar screen of transport policy and practice that promises much better. Indeed the numbers all suggest that things are going from bad to worse. Emissions targets are being timidly set, after a huge amount of hemming and hawing. And then flagrantly missed. What a bad, what an inexcusable, what a tragic joke!
Looking ahead to Copenhagen, what does this mean? If we bear in mind that that high level 1996 international meeting entitled “Towards Sustainable Transportation” might as well not have been convened at all. At least as far as what has actually been accomplished on their self-assigned mandate over all these intervening years. We have not only not moved “towards sustainable transportation”, to the contrary we have moved away from it, systemically and rapidly.
So I ask you, what are the differences between the way we are looking at all this today, and back in 1996? Have we made any notable progress over these thirteen long years? It is important to understand this.
So far, so bad. But let’s not satisfy ourselves with whipping the dead horse of the past. Let’s look ahead.
So what exactly do we need to do now to kick-start the system? (The system, incidentally being us.) Are we doomed to continue as “a generation of great talkers” and nothing more?
COP15 and the New Mobility Agenda
Will COP15 be any different when it comes to defining the future policy framework for what happens in the transport sector?
It could be, even at this late date.
This modest daily collaborative journal on the web — “Insights and contributions from leading thinkers and practitioners around the world” — which looks only at these issues but with the inputs and counsel of thousands of readers and colleagues around the world who really are able to help orient those coming to Copenhagen — all this expertise needs to be energized, brought into the preparations and understood as a critical part of the solution, if solution there is to be.
You and I, dear readers, need to come together put our heads and hearts together on this. What is not needed is more high rhetoric or running away from the real challenges faced if we are to turn our sector around in order to meet the pressing time targets which are now clearly before us.
We know that what is needed are far more thoughtful, more innovative, more layered (“packages of measures”), more open, more dynamic, more deeply committed, and more courageous approaches to the challenges of sustainability in a frankly non-sustainable world — a world of people, habits and political arrangements that to all appearances are not yet quite ready to make the fundamental changes that are needed for the planet and in our daily lives.
We clearly need leadership — and not only leadership by rhetoric, but leadership by example.
The New Mobility/Climate Emergency Project: Plan B for sustainable transport. Now!
Now is the time to really start to dig in on this. Look! We know what we have to do, we really do know how to achieve it, and there is no excuse not to start right now to do it. Let’s put worldwide transportation systems reform into the top rank of the COP15 agenda. Now is the time to do this. No excuses!
What are you going to tell your grandchildren that you did when it was time for action to save their future? That you worried a lot? Come on now.
Your faithful editor
PS. Here in closing is a remark and proposal I made to that meeting by way of activation and follow-up — click here for the one minute audio file. It was a call for an aggressive transfer to leadership by more women. It was not well received. Check it out here to see why.
“One of my great interests is time reallocation in an urban system. All I mean by this is that when I walk across parts of London which I do most weeks it is quite clear that the amount of time I stand still and do not move as traffic hurtles past is very large. I estimate it is about 50% of my journey time. That means that even in a congestion charge best practice world my time is being stolen to reward drivers with time savings. I want the theft halted and the system re-prioritised to reward pedestrians and cyclists.”
- John Whitelegg, Editor, World Transport Policy and Practice
John Whitelegg is visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, and is founder and editor of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice. John is a local councillor in Lancaster, and Leader of the North West (of England) Green Party. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
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Some references by the author:
Critical Mass: Transport, Environment And Society In The 21st Century ISBN Number: 0745310834
* Chapter 5 “What time is this place”
* Chapter 6 “What place is this time”
* Chapter 9 “Transport and Equity”
Time Pollution, The Ecologist 23, 4, July/August 1993, pp 132-134. – www.eco-logica.co.uk/pdf/TimePollution.pdf
High Speed Trains: Fast tracks to the future, (Whitelegg, J. Hulten, S. and Flink, T. eds) Leading Edge Press, Hawes, North Yorkshire (239pp)
Short Takes is a new series from World Streets. One hundred or less well chosen words, putting before us a single soaring point well worth bearing in mind as we struggle toward more sustainable and livable cities.
Have a candidate for publication? Contact our editor via email@example.com
This is the first of a two part series by New Yorker Charles Komanoff, an activist, energy-economist and policy-analyst, taking on the loud (and so far powerful) opposition to the concept of bringing road pricing to provide some relief to New York City’s crowded streets.
We are pleased to reprint this short piece with the author’s permission, as published last week in the pages of our diligent Streetsblog New York colleagues, on the grounds that this debate has implications that stretch far beyond that great city’s crowded streets.
We particularly recommend that you take a few minutes to review the Comments that follow this piece. Many of which are informative and quite thought provoking. They provide a good idea of the mental landscape in that city. Click here to view those comments.
Paradox, Schmaradox. Congestion Pricing Works.
- by Charles Komanoff
We’re used to seeing bizarre patterns of thinking on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages, but an op-ed in Friday’s Journal took it to a new level: “How Traffic Jams Help the Environment.”
Still more bizarrely, the author was New Yorker writer David Owen, promoter of the commonsensical idea that urban density is energy-efficient, hence big cities are green.
For some reason Owen has taken a dislike to congestion pricing, and it has led him to construct an elaborate Rube Goldberg argument to prove that congestion pricing leads to more driving:
If reducing [congestion] merely makes life easier for those who drive, then the improved traffic flow can actually increase the environmental damage done by cars, by raising overall traffic volume, encouraging sprawl and long car commutes.
What a lovely paradox … and how ridiculous, as Owen could have discovered by giving London’s congestion pricing experience (or Stockholm’s or Singapore’s) more than a cursory glance.
As any student of urban traffic now knows, London’s cordon pricing scheme cut traffic within the charging zone an average of 15 percent, raised travel speeds 30 percent, and greatly expanded bus ridership and cycle commuting — with little increase in traffic outside the zone or other negative effects. (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/Impacts-monitoring-report-2.pdf)
Nearly seven years on, the reasons are fairly obvious:
* Raising the price to drive into the center of London made car commuting less attractive.
* The gain in driving speeds attracted some new trips but not so many as to cancel the lost ones.
* Bus transit benefited from a virtuous cycle in which improved speeds attracted riders, further reducing traffic and also financing service improvements which attracted still more riders, further reducing traffic, etc.
* Ditto for cycling, though here the synergy was via safety in numbers.
All this was intuited back in the day by Transport for London staff, including Jay Walder, who has subsequently become the new MTA chief. The only uncertainty was the extent to which new car trips attracted by the time savings would undercut the reduction in trips from the congestion charge.
As it happened, some “induced traffic,” as Owen might have termed it, did materialize, but at far less than the one-for-one rate he assumed in his article. Without it, the drop in traffic might have been 20 percent or more. But the actual equilibrium, a settled 15 percent reduction in cordon traffic, was robust enough to achieve the desired results: faster travel by every mode, greater use of transit, and less VMT (vehicle miles traveled). Congestion pricing is indeed green.
To trace Owen’s error, look no further than his hypothesis: “If reducing [congestion] merely makes life easier for those who drive …”
Emphasis added; the “merely” is quite important. When the reduction in traffic is caused by a congestion charge, life is not just easier for those who continue driving but more costly as well. Yes, there’s a seesaw between price effects and time effects, but setting the congestion price at the right point will rebalance the system toward less driving, without harming the city’s economy.
What’s that right price point, then? It’s not quite rocket science to figure it out, though it does take some thinking (not to mention continual tinkering if exogenous reductions in road capacity erode the original congestion benefits, as TfL reported recently). It’s a subject Ted Kheel and I have in fact been thinking about for quite a while now, and if you would like to do some thinking about it too, start with our Balanced Transportation Analyzer — http://www.nnyn.org/kheelplan/BTA_1.1.xls –and contact us with questions or criticisms (email: kea AT igc.org).
In his piece, Owen linked former Londoner and current MTA honcho Walder with the idea of congestion pricing. One can’t help wondering whether he or the Journal intended it as a pre-emptive strike against a possible renewed push for congestion pricing in New York City. Whatever the motivation, it’s disappointing to see a writer who has rightly urged Americans to “live closer” peddling the defeatist — and false — notion that the price of urban virtue is eternal gridlock.
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* Click here to read the original piece in Streetsblog (with Comments)
Charles Komanoff “re-founded” NYC’s bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives in the 1980s, helped found the Tri-State Transportation Campaign in the 1990s, and co-founded the Carbon Tax Center in 2007. Charles’s writings include books, articles, and landmark reports such as Subsidies for Traffic, Killed By Automobile, and the Kheel Report on financing free transit in New York City. A math-and-economics graduate of Harvard, Charles lives with his wife and two sons in lower Manhattan