World Streets, together with a number of our readers and supporters, including city cyclists and others working in the sector, have decided to take a public position on obligatory National Cycling Licenses. And that around the world the appropriate agencies and legislative groups, city by city and country by country, will step forward one at a time and when they are ready to pass into their law a requirement that certain road users must take and pass a rigorous National Cycling License examination.
World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda are strong and consistent supporters of bike sharing projects created in university settings, particularly when planned and implemented on the basis of collaboration with students and faculty. We have reported on the excellent bike sharing project at Taiwan National University, and today we are pleased to share with you information just in from the Bike Sharing Project at Makerere University in Kampala Uganda. Projects like this not only improve mobility and environment for all within the target area, but also serve to prepare future leaders.
As we are seeing in these pages Penang in general and Georgetown in particular are giving serious attention to the possibility of creating a public bicycle system for the city. As a first step they have issued a Request for Proposals which is shortly to come online. This is a great thing because there are many reasons to create conditions for safe and agreeable cycling on city streets across the state.
This posting is part of a stimulating dialogue in which two contrasting views of the role and practice of city cycling are discussed. Because the issues examined here are in many ways universal and fundamental to the success of a city cycling program, including the on-going early Spring of a much needed cycling Renaissance in Penang, we are pleased to be able to share this first article with our readers. (PS. We need more creative disagreement between informed people such as this. If everyone agrees too quickly mediocrity invariably results. Sustainability is hard and challenging work.)
BICYCLING WITHIN A COMPREHENSIVE TRANSPORT PLAN,
TO SOLVING TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Dr Lim Mah Hui, Address to MPPP Council Meeting, October 25, 2013
We must start to draw up a bicycle strategy, policy and plan and this must be integrated into town planning. It should be coherent, not piece-meal and ad hoc. It must be bottom-up and not just top-down, i.e., the bicyclists must be intimately involved in the planning. The plan must include a budget
I write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car when cycling. The car fled the scene, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, strangers helped me and took me to hospital. I got treatment. I will be back fighting fit.
One of the principle objectives of the Sustainable Penang 2013/New Mobility project is to seek out examples where leading cities in other parts of the world have taken the initiative explicitly to move from a car-dominated, basically no-choice transportation model (“Old Mobility”) to a better mix of mobility options and more choices for everybody, what we call the New Mobility Agenda.
In this report from Anna Holligan in yesterday’s BBC News we have in a few pages some of the shaping elements of the story about why cycling has become such an important transportation option in Dutch cities and outlying areas. Penang could not only learn a great deal from better understanding the Dutch bike model, but also have in hand both the information and guidelines on how to adapt this approach to George Town and others towns and cities in Penang. That information is available, and a good place to start might be the Dutch Cycling Embassy at http://http://www.dutchcycling.nl/. But there are many others.
One of the main strategic underpinnings of New Mobility Agenda, and certainly of everything that appears here in World Streets, is that if we are ever to reinvent transportation in our cities, as we so badly need to do, we must in the process free ourselves from our old ways of seeing, thinking and doing things. For example, when you think “bicycle” . . .
Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, in a wide-ranging conversation with Faizal Khan reporting for the excellent Walkability Asia ( Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities), spells out clearly the inevitability of a non-motorised transport code in India through shocking figures and revealing facts. “We need zero tolerance policy for accidents. This menu of action needs support. Our right to walk is not negotiable.” And on this Roychowdhury is entirely right. On this score we must be entirely intransigent and as part of this to keep pounding away on this important point of citizen activism on every available occasion, until we get the concept of zero tolerance written into the law and respected on the streets. All our streets! Continue reading
In this issue of World Transport we once again focus on intelligent solutions to future transport that have the potential to shift us into a way of thinking and doing that avoids transgressing planetary boundaries. Tomas Björnsson draws attention to the urgent need for improved cycling facilities in southern Sweden that cost a small fraction of what is spent on highways. Martin Schiefelbusch shows how rural transport problems can be solved by community transport initiatives. Stephen Knight-Lenihan reveals the extent to which desirable sustainability objectives can be undermined by a lack of will at national level. His account of the situation in New Zealand will resonate strongly with the situation in many other countries. The article by Serena Kang describes a “flexible bus utility model” that has the potential to more closely match the supply of bus services with the demand for those services and thereby increase levels of use of public transport.
Transport in cities is a steep uphill affair. If we ever are to transform the quality of the mobility arrangements in our cities, there are certain basic truths about it that need to be repeated again and again. By different people, in different places and in different ways. Until we win.
Cycling in most cities: You and I know it. It is broke. It cannot be “fixed”. It needs to be reinvented from the street up. All of which is easy enough to say, but what in concrete terms does that mean? This article which appeared in the Guardian a few days back by Peter Walker, reports on the testimony of Dave Horton a cycling sociologist who pounds the table on five basic truths of cycling in cities. Continue reading
The British journalist, editor and cycling activist Carlton Reid is in the process of finalizing a “massive free e-book” due for publication this Spring at http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/. His book provides valuable historical background on how we in Britain and the United States got into the present no-choice single-mode road systems that have provided the authoritarian main model for the fast (and less fast) developing countries as they rush to urbanization. The lessons of history, if learned, can, we are told, help us better understand the present and on that firm base decide what we wish to become in the future. So with thanks to Carlton Reid let’s see if we can learn this particular hard lesson from Britain: Continue reading
Carlton Reid is writing a book about roads history. He’s focusing on the period 1880-1905, 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
Each year our friends over at STREETSblog in New York City publish a heart-rending testimonial to the mayhem that automobiles have wrought over the year on their city’s streets and the cost in terms of lives lost by innocent pedestrians and cyclists. Putting names, faces and human tragedy to what otherwise takes the form of dry numbers, faceless hence quickly forgettable statistics is an important task. We can only encourage responsible citizens and activists in every city on the planet to do the same thing, holding those public officials (and let’s not forget, we call them “public servants”, and for excellent reason) responsible for what goes on under their direct control. Continue reading
Brief: “Cycling is the ‘Cinderella’ form of transport – ignored, mistreated, and yet to have its day. For the cost of one kilometre of urban freeway you could build 150km of bicycle paths, 10,000km of bicycle lanes or 100 well designed 30 km/h zones. Some 80 per cent young German adults think people don’t need a private car anymore.” All these factors, says the European Cyclists’ Federation, make it extraordinary that only 0.7 per cent of EU funding for transport goes towards cycling provision, when 7 per cent of European citizens use bikes as their main mode of transport. –>Click here for full article text
John Pucher (cycling guru and Professor of Transport Policy at Rutgers university) gave a public lecture on cycling in cities in LA earlier this week, introducing his new book “City Cycling” to an attentive audience. Kent Strumpell of the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee was there taking notes. Which he kindly shares with us here: Continue reading
What is it about what the English call a motor car that, when an otherwise perfectly decent human enters it and slams the door shut, somehow there is a total transformation of that person gripping the stirring wheel into something, into someone who is just a little bit less decent and a little bit less human. A consistent theme of World Streets is that over the last hundred years or so our cars have not only transported us but they have also in the process also transformed us. Oops. And in the process they have fatally (I chose my word) altered the dimensions of the space in which we live our daily lives, and in the same process made this thing that was supposed simply to transport us from A to B at our leisure, into a defining part of our daily lives — and indeed in some ways part of ourselves. A cruel critic might say, half Faust and half Frankenstein. Continue reading
Under our World City Bike program we have for several years now been looking at the yes/no sudden-death helmet issue in the context of public bike projects . If you click here you will find several postings that make an effort to report in a balanced manner (to the extent possible) on the issues, trade-offs and implications of creating legal requirements that force all cyclists to use helmets. An absolutely well-intentioned position which has turned out to be no less than the cold hand of death strangling nascent public bicycle projects in various projects around the world. Pity to spend all that public money on a nice bike sharing system and then find that they are not being widely used while honest citizens add pounds of fat to what should be their lithe frames. In the event, here are a handful of short videos from YouTube that take a pretty good whack at it from several perspectives. Have a look and decide for yourself.