Correspondents/Eyes on the Streets update:

We are about to enter into the second month of World Streets existence, and are almost a week into the construction of our new World Streets Sentinels Map, so let me take a few minutes of your time to try to update you quickly on where this is heading from this point on.

1. Moving target: if you are a little confused about how all of this is supposed to work here at the beginning, let me assure you that you are not the only one. What we are setting off on here is a collaborative communication learning process, the basic underlying philosophy and broad goals of which are I hope pretty clear (see today’s opening editorial), with the rest to evolve as we move ahead and learn. I am comfortable with that and hope that you will be as well.

2. Peer-to-peer: I have always considered that one of the goals of a really successful public interest contribution is that it is wide open – i.e., that it provides materials, clues and tools which can help enable good things to happen without necessarily the provider of the tools of the initial ideas for ever emerging as the necessary central fulcrum of everything that the initial push might set off. This is definitely one of the objectives of World Streets, and I hope that you will take this as an invitation to run with any of this with your own ideas and initiatives. Of course I have to hope that whatever it is will be consistent with the basic philosophy we so strongly believe in, but in any event I am confident that the quality of the fundamental ideas and philosophic principles is sufficient to guarantee that this will pretty much have.

3. Correspondent contributions: As originally promised this is a no obligation activity, and I propose that in the first months the pattern that will suit you best will be the one that we mutually learn as the project advances. Again the sections Contributor Guidelines and Correspondents are useful as background reading which I can heartily recommend prior to posting or commenting if you will. I might add that we have particular interest in contributions which will fall under the categories including Honk!, the infamous Bad News Department, Toolkit , outstanding new projects or programs, people or groups that are making a difference, and basically anything that might be going on in your city or area of interest which has universal interest and potential application.

4. Eyes on the Street map. This is a pretty good microcosm for the rest. It is intended to illustrate in a striking manner the way in which we are attempting to combine the global and the local. There are a couple of ideas that we are looking at integrating into both this map and the project overall:

Local identification: Each city symbol needs to link to a specific person and a specific place. When you click a city, take Pune in India as example, this will take you direct to Sujit. I have tried to take him at his exact address in his neighborhood, 383 Narayan Peth, but I am going to need a little help from him in order to pinpoint the exact location of his home. I hope that we will be able to do this for all of our cooperating colleagues. (You will hopefully appreciate in this context why I have so doggedly insisted on the initial identification encompassing both the name of our cooperating colleagues and the city/country affiliation. Also In this regard, kindly you make sure I have your exact street address so, as close as possible to attaching it to your listing.)

Green Map: I am also playing around with the concept of linking each city to a Green Map (See http://www.greenmaps.org). As part of this, have already placed links not only in going but also in Barcelona, Seattle, Cape Town and one or two others.

Traffic cams: Another possibility that I intend to have a closer look at is that of finding the nearest traffic cam so that the visitor can get some kind of feel for what the streets actually look like at different points in time in that place.

4. Expanding World Streets coverage: We already after less than a week have more than 40 kind colleagues who have indicated that they will be pleased to exercise this item street function in their city and more broadly. I would hope during the course of April, the second month our new journal, to bring this up to ensure coverage of something like 100 world cities, i.e. cooperating colleagues.

Geographic: More coverage of Africa, the Middle East, the former parts of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, Latin America and Asia are definitely called for as priorities. And I think we should be very ambitious about coverage in both China and India.

Gender: One of the basic pillars of this project is that we need to engage more women in the process of planning and decision-making. Thus far of the first 40 correspondence coming in, only eight are women. To rectify this, I intend to adjust the outreach in these next ages to give heavy reference to qualified female colleagues, so if you have nominations for me please be sure that they will be immediately activated.

Sorry to have tied up so much of your time with this, but I think it is important that we get off to a strong start and a shared understanding of the best way to go about all this. Of course as always your suggestions, corrections, and ideas for doing better are enormously well.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

Honk! Curitiba’s Bus Rapid Transit


From Elizabeth Press and our friends from Streetfilms: Curitiba’s Bus Rapid Transit. Click here for video.

Curitiba, Brazil first adopted its Master Plan in 1968. Since then, it has become a city well known for inventive urban planning and affordable (to the user and the city) public transportation.

Curitiba’s Bus Rapid Transit system is the source of inspiration for many other cities including the TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia; Metrovia in Guayaquil, Ecuador; as well as the Orange Line of Los Angeles.

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Shared Space progress in the UK

Report from Ashford UK.

Where Ashford leads in urban planning and street design, others follow – that seems to be the message after it was revealed that more than a dozen UK towns are also adopting shared space concepts to help improve their streetscapes.

Last month it was reported that Staines, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hereford and Edbinburgh were all considering redesigning their urban streets using the principles of shared space which have been successfully introduced in Ashford over the past year.

Now further research has shown that more than 12 other UK cities and towns are also interested in adopting the shared space concept.

These include Oxford, the Suffolk towns of Felixstowe and Ipswich, Poynton and Macclesfield in Cheshire, Torquay and Babbacombe in Devon, Stromness on Orkney, two separate locations in Blackpool, the Essex town of Colchester and various sites in Dorset.

Local authorities in most of these locations are believed to be in the early stages of design development as part of local regeneration projects; however Blackpool Council is about to begin construction work on a shared space scheme covering two sites in the bustling seaside resort.

New Inn Hall Street, in the heart of Oxford’s congested city centre, has been earmarked for redevelopment using a shared space approach similar to that adopted in Ashford.

In November, Ashford completed the first phase of its award-winning shared space project to transform its 1970s ring road into quality, two-way streets in which drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have equal priority. The scheme has opened up the town centre to make it more attractive to residents, businesses and visitors.

The £15.6m scheme has been implemented by Kent County Council and forms part of a £2.5bn public and private sector investment programme for Ashford.

Unnecessary street furniture, road markings and traffic lights have been removed and the speed limit cut to 20mph. Road surfaces have been replaced with high-quality materials, wider footpaths and low kerbs, to create a distinctive streetscape, while artists are transforming the public space along the road into an attractive tree-lined environment.

Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, the agency overseeing Ashford’s growth programme, said she was delighted that the town had created a blueprint for other towns to follow. “The scheme has made our town centre more attractive to residents and visitors and it’s playing a vital role in unlocking the commercial development potential of Ashford.”

Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter said: “The scheme looks absolutely fantastic. It’s just what Ashford needs. It’s very modern and contemporary, and very well designed. This is the first stage. We have got to build other highway schemes when we get the funding from the Government or developer contributions.

“It’s a completely different experience. It’s a shared space where people change their behaviours – both motorists and pedestrians. The professionals say it does make drivers and pedestrians more cautious and has worked in other countries.”

Urban design expert Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who was involved in the shared space project in Ashford, said he was not surprised that so many town planners were waking up to the potential of using the shared space approach to revitalise their public places.

“While it is true that no two schemes or circumstances are ever alike when comparing the needs of different places, planners in town halls across the UK are beginning to realise that designing street projects based on shared space principles is the way forward.”

Source: http://www.ashford.gov.uk/news_and_events/latest_news/more_towns_follow_ashford.aspx

Mission Statement – – >

Say good-bye to Old Mobility

Plan Zero – also known as “old mobility” or “no plan in sight” – with its stress on more supply, more vehicles and more infrastructure as the knee-jerk answer to all our mobility problems — has been the favored path for conceptualizing, decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is well-known and easy to see where it is leading.  Aggressing the planet, costing us a bundle, draining the world’s petroleum reserves, and delivering poor service for the majority . . . Plan Zero is a clear failure. It’s time for directive, coherent, effective action without waiting around for reprieve or good news from some evasive short term fix of distant technology promise.  It is time to move to a New Mobility Agenda and fifteen pragmatic, affordable, near term steps to sustainable transport,  sustainable cities and sustainable lives. Continue reading