Slaughtering, stinking engines of iniquity

Carlton Reid is writing a book about roads history.  He’s  focusing  on the period carlot ried roads not build for cars - cover1880-1905, which saw the Bicycling Boom and then – pop – the start of Motoring Mania.  Examining tangents, finding new areas to explore, digging out deeper and more convincing evidence to show that cyclists had far more influence on government road policies than previously thought. Not just previously thought by the public at large, but by social history and transport academics, too.  In today’s W/S article  he shares with us some of the historical quotes he has uncovered, which relate in important ways to the matters which concern us here. Let’s have a look at a selection of these. Continue reading

2013 Book announcement: NO (MORE) EXCUSES

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.

uk-bus-queue-no excusesIf 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

Do It Like The Dutch & Danes: Guide To Becoming A Bike Friendly Mecca

Why are some European cities cycling mad? And how can other cities copy their infrastructure? ECF spoke to Kalle Vaismaa, co-author of the book “Best European Practices in Promoting Cycling and Walking”. (Article source: European Cyclists’ Federation ECF)

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World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 18, No. 4

The three articles in this Autumn 2012  issue make an important contribution to transport de­bate and point clearly to different ways of viewing some of the key public policy issues currently underpinning transport and urban planning thinking. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Why things are not good for UK citizens — and how to make them better

- By John Whitelegg

We are not doing very well in the UK on things that matter to most people.  We are the 6th richest country in the world and yet we come very near the bottom of most rankings on things like child poverty, inequality, pensioner poverty, excess winter deaths, teenage pregnancy, NEETS, percentage of electricity generated from renewables, levels of cycling and quality of public transport.  None of this is necessary and it is safe to assume that local and central government did not set out to achieve these poor quality outcomes.  So what is going on?

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Public Bikesharing in North America

NEW REPORT: Public bikesharing—the shared use of a bicycle fleet—is an innovative transportation strategy that has recently emerged in major North American cities. Information technology (IT)-based bikesharing systems typically position bicycles throughout an urban environment, among a network of docking stations, for immediate access. Trips can be one-way, round-trip, or both, depending on the operator. Bikesharing can serve as both a first-and-last mile (connector to other modes) and a many-mile solution.  Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2010 and Morning in America

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010 sitting here in Paris, my thoughts not unnaturally turn to my native America. And since our view here is from the street I have to think a bit unhappily about why is it that we in this great country do not seem to be able to let go of “old mobility” – i.e., whenever you spot a problem you build something to solve it (also known as the Edifice Complex) – as the highest-possible cost, least civil, one size fits all solution to our problems of efficient transport and fair access in and around cities. Of course we Americans invented old mobility a long time ago — and at the time it seemed like such a logical and dynamic solution to the connection challenges of a vast growing nation. As indeed it was. But suddenly it’s 2010, the twentieth century is long behind us, and if we look carefully at the low quality of what we are seeing on our city streets across the nation it would strike one that perhaps it is time to rethink OM from bottom to top and come up with something a lot better. For example New Mobility, which without our having to define it here is the basic strategy and value set that is behind the far more successful city transport arrangements we can see in hundreds of leading cities around the world – and none of them sadly are American.

Why and how have we arrived at this sad state of affairs? Well, let me ask a foreigner working in this field who has long lived in and long admired America to tell us about what he thinks is going on. Sometimes when you are lost it helps to stop the car, roll down the window, and ask for some directions. Let’s try. Continue reading

“Where do good ideas come from?”

As our regular readers know well, World Streets is in the collaborative idea-building business to define, reinforce and advance the New Mobility Agenda on streets and in cities around the world. So whenever we hear about something or someone who can help us sharpen our vision and tools, we are a willing audience. Today we are pleased to share with you a sharp five-minute brainstorming presentation that the popular science writer Steven Johnson has recently made on exactly our topic. You can buy his intriguing book under this title if you click here. But for now, sit back and let’s hear to what Steven has to share with us on idea-building. Continue reading

Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

The author of this careful and quite extensive book review of the battle for America’s streets is Karthik Rao-Cavale, a graduate student at Rutgers University and an associate editor of our sister publication, India Streets. He writes: “This review was originally written for a class I am taking with Prof. John Pucher here at Rutgers University. I am putting up this review here even though the book reviewed talks mainly about the United States, because I feel that the lessons learned are most immediately applicable to developing world. It is a lengthy read, but I hope you will enjoy it.”

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Locked in Suburbia: Is there life after Autopia?

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