New Mobility Hubs: Connecting the dots

The next generation of urban transportation is about connecting the dots, bringing diverse innovations together in ways that work better for users than the single occupancy vehicle alone.
– Sue Zielinski reports from Ann Arbor MI USA.

Sue Zielinski introduces the New Mobility Hubs program, an initiative of City Connect, Ford Motor Company, the University of Michigan SMART project and local partners, with ongoing projects in N. America, Germany, India and South Africa.

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Recognizing that neither alternative fuels nor pricing alone will save the day in this rapidly urbanizing world, a groundswell of transportation innovation is arising worldwide. However these innovations are too rarely linked in way that can provide a convenient, practical, affordable door-to-door trip for the user. The next generation of urban transportation is about connecting the dots, bringing diverse innovations together in ways that work better for users than the single occupancy vehicle alone.

Connecting the Transport Dots Regionally and Globally

Imagine a day, when steps from your door, or even from inside your home or office, you could enter a vital network or grid of New Mobility Hubs, places near you that connect a whole range of transport amenities including buses, trains, streetcars, clean fuel taxis, auto rickshaws and car share or bike share vehicles, and in some cases, day care, satellite offices, cafes, shops and entertainment.

In more connected communities this is all brought together by a cell phone or pda that offers real-time information on arrival and departure times and availability, as well as access to other information. The pda also allows you to quickly and easily pay for these affordable modes and services with a single wave past the reader. You can transfer seamlessly from one mode of transportation to the other, informed of schedules and options all the way, using the best mode for the purpose, gaining access to car share at one hub, and dropping it off at another to pick up a waiting bus or train. It’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s affordable, and it’s 21st century.

For the user, hub networks connect an integrated set of services, products, and technologies door-to-door, addressing the “last mile” challenge. For the developer and operator, hub networks are scalable, starting by linking what exists and adding and enhancing as budget and will materializes. Since the key is connecting rather than competing interests, the process and the product includes rich and poor, a range of backgrounds and needs, and urban and suburban. For government leaders, this achieves social, environmental, and economic goals. For businesses in the emerging New Mobility Industry, this offers innovation opportunities that generate Open Source Transportation, spur Public Private Innovation, and supply the emerging market for sustainable urban transportation globally.

New Mobility Hub Networks exist or are being developed in Bremen, Toronto, Chennai, Cape Town, D.C., Atlanta, Ann Arbor and more.

Click here for more.

Susan Zielinski, Managing Director, SMART, susanz@isr.umich.edu,
Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation, www.um-smart.org
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

The One Per Cent Solution

The goal is to put World Streets on a solid financial footing, to ensure its continued high quality contribution through 2012. After the first year of highly acclaimed daily publication, we are off to a strong start but are going to need outside support to continue. Fortunately, we have a plan:

* Before you take this any further, you may wish to have a look at what our readers are saying about World Streets and how it is fitting in with their daily work routines and quest for new ideas and perspectives. Click here for more – http://tinyurl.com/ws-readers.

Contents
1.The One Percent Solution
2. Program summary (Opens in own window)
3. Ten reasons why
4. Next steps
5. Afterword: Why one per cent?
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1. The One Percent Solution

To support the work behind this four-year collaborative project, we have decided to turn to a certain number of cities, public agencies, transporters, consultants, foundations, certain private sector groups, and others known to us and leading the way through their own actions and efforts, and invite them to step forward and contribute a very small portion of the finances needed to cover the costs of the Journal.

Specifically, we are proposing an annual contribution from each on the order of one percent of our operating costs. Let us explain this somewhat unusual idea.

2. Program summary

To be quite sure that our case is fully understood, we would ask you to spend a few minutes with the following four-page PowerPoint summary which has been prepared to provide a brief but comprehensive overview of what this project is all about — and which you can access directly here – http://tinyurl.com/ws-sum. (Opens in own window.)

Thank you for taking the time to do this. It makes it easier for us to give you the full context.
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3. Ten reasons why you should pitch in your per cent:

1. Because it is the right thing to do. (And it is simple and cheap.)

2. It demonstrates that you give credence to critical vital climate/transportation link and the need for acting no — and not waiting about for some kind of long term deus ex machina that may or may not solve your and the planet’s problems.

3. It is, or at least it can be, extremely time efficient for you and your team. The publication component of this four-part package can be channeled to your staff and associates in a way that consumes no more than a few minutes of their time. However it is also put before them in a form in which they can easily consult and expand their search for projects, concepts and tools they would like to know more about.

4. It does not bore — to the contrary, it challenges and energizes the minds of its readers. It will make your smartest people smarter yet.

5. It gives you an efficient way to track some of the things going on at the leading edge not only in your own country or regional grouping. Its genuine worldwide, North/South, East/West (and South/North) focus, reporting from source, brings to your attention projects, ideas and clues that otherwise you are just about certain to miss.

6. By stepping forward you provide proof that you are part of the growing movement that is in the process of turning sustainable transportation from a marginal activity with a basically rhetorical feel-good spin, into the defining mainstream of 21st century transportation policy and practice at the leading edge.

7. By your initiative you are making World Streets available to others in your city or region and, in the process, creating an extended sense of common purpose which is largely still missing in most places.

8. By doing your bit, you are helping make these ideas and materials available to cities, researchers, activists, and others all over the world, including many others who otherwise cannot even afford this one per cent.

9. As a colleague and supporter, you and your team are in a position to work with the editorial staff from time to time to let the world know about your leading projects and accomplishments.

10. And finally, if you do not step forward to do this, who will?

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4. Next steps

Get in touch and we can talk about your contribution and about how to make World Streets work best for you.

At the same time you will be a good world neighbor, helping others as you help yourself. The other half of sustainability is generosity. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Finally we want this to be simple and for our part we have a number of ideas about how these sponsor relationships can be organized so as to have substantial impacts on the city or sponsor in question. But all of that in due course. For now get in touch and we can work out the details.

Eric Britton
Managing Editor

8-10, rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris France
editor@worldstreets.org | +331 4326 1323 | Skype: newmobility

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Afterword: Why one per cent? A sustainable transport lesson learned

This is a deeply symbolic figure in the context of the worldwide struggle to sustainable transportation – a world in which there are no Big Bang solutions. Rather our day to day reality is the challenge of highly complex, ever shifting, kaleidoscopic, almost often genuinely chaotic situations of many parts. These are the kind of real life situations that require the identification and then the careful orchestration of very large numbers of mainly quite modest actions and measures which, when rolled into a strategic multi-layer package of policies and services can make that big, transformational difference.

Carsharing is an excellent example of this complexity, though far from the only one. After more than a decade of work and presence on the front lines of policy and practice in the field (see www.carshare.newmobility.org for details), we can state with conviction that carsharing constitutes a vital building block for the move to sustainable transportation. Let me say that again in other words because this is a critical point.

Again . . . It is altogether unlikely that any place on this gasping planet is ever going to move toward a truly sustainable mobility system in the very short delay envisaged by our project unless there is a good dose of carsharing in its local solution package. Now this is an important point, which few cities and agencies have grasped thus far. And of course, it changes everything.

But that is not the end of the carsharing story. The other half of this mature vision of suitable transport in and around cities is that, even when carsharing is up and working to its full potential, it is only going to account for no more than one or two percent of all trips in the service area. Some seize this point and conclude that this shows that carsharing is not very important in the overall scheme of things. Wrong! It is critical. We have stated it in these terms for years: “Carsharing is the hammer on the last nail in the coffin of old mobility”.

And, dear reader, that is exactly the nature of the complex building blocks and packages that make up sustainable transportation reform: they complement, they complete, and they synergize. And there are hundreds of them.

An excellent analogy of what we now hope to achieve in gathering support for World Streets.

6. Recent visitor map:

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How Soon Will Cutting Transportation Emissions Save Money?

From the rough and tumble world of US transportation politics, Elana Schor of DC.STREETSBLOG.org takes an independent look at the Moving Cooler report, and tries to help those of us who do not necessarily understand DC-speak what it means for the real world.

Elana Schor, Washington DC, Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Anyone who kept tabs on the House’s climate change bill last month recalls much acrimonious ado about the plan’s impact on average American pocketbooks. The GOP tossed out cost estimates that turned out to [2] be manipulated, while nonpartisan projections showed the bill actually saving [3] money for low-income families.

But the unfortunate truth [4] about the House climate bill is how little incentive it provides for reducing the carbon footprint of the nation’s transportation sector, which accounts for about 30 percent of total U.S. emissions.

So how much would it cost to seriously tackle transportation emissions, through transit expansion, land use, and strategies to encourage less driving? A new report [1] released this morning by a coalition of government agencies and environmental groups offers a groundbreaking answer to that question.

The Moving Cooler report, as it’s known, divided an array of emissions-reduction tactics into bundles, reflecting the likelihood that several of them will be instituted at once as part of a larger climate effort.

Pictured above is the chart that depicts the “long term/maximum results” bundle — in plain English, a package deal of congestion pricing, high-speed rail, expanded transit and inter-city passenger rail, car-sharing, more HOV lanes, and increased highway capacity to clear bottlenecks.

The estimated savings from those proposals begin to outweigh the costs of implementation around 2016, according to the report, which was co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.

But for other bundles of tactics, the savings from reducing emissions are more immediate; for others, they are more far-off. What about a package focusing on improving the efficiency of transportation systems, with highway expansion, speed limit reductions, and freight capacity boosts, but less attention to transit and rail?

That bundle would begin to save money by around 2022, the report found, with total savings reaching a peak of $80 billion per year in present-day dollars. Adding transit and rail to the mix nearly doubles the estimated savings, as the chart depicted above shows.

Another bundle of tactics focused on those that can be implemented right away at a low cost, though some of them also face considerable political opposition: congestion pricing, urban parking restrictions, transit fare reductions, and eco-driving. That package saves money almost immediately, the report’s authors found.

Implementing the report’s full array of solutions would result in estimated emissions reductions of as much as 24 percent every year. If that could be achieved, by 2050 the transportation sector would have provided one-fourth of the total greenhouse gas cuts required under the House climate bill. Of course, that’s a tremendous “if.”

The process starts, as one panelist involved in the report noted today, by recognizing that transportation has a major role to play in the climate bill and making it a prominent part of the discussion — more prominent, even, than the debate over [5] how long to wait before re-writing federal transportation policy.

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Article reprinted with permission from Streetsblog Capitol Hill: http://dc.streetsblog.org

URL to article: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2009/07/28/how-soon-will-cutting-transportation-emissions-save-money/

URLs in this post:

[1] Moving Cooler: http://movingcooler.info/

[2] turned out to: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/04/mit-scientists-republicans-misusing-my-climate-change-paper.php

[3] actually saving: http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=AP&date=20090622&id=10043858

[4] unfortunate truth: http://washingtonindependent.com/49985/public-transit-loses-to-polluters-in-climate-bill-subsidies

[5] the debate over: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2009/07/27/a-make-or-break-week-for-transportation-begins-on-the-hill/

"Solving humanity’s most pressing problems". Comments?

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge
“Each year a distinguished jury awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems and the 2009 results are in!”

(All text and graphics here taken from prize announcement at http://challenge.bfi.org )

From Buckminster Fuller Challenge release:
Congratulations to the winning proposal by the Smart Cities Group at the MIT Media lab: Sustainable Personal Mobility and Mobility-on-Demand Systems.

2009 Grand Prize Winner: Sustainable Personal Mobility and Mobility-on-Demand Systems

And here it is:

* For full article click to http://challenge.bfi.org/home

Your comments are warmly invited here.

Thinking out loud about the World Naked Bike Ride.

If you have narrow notions about how people should get about in cities, World Streets is probably not the place for you. We take a big house approach. It’s the only way to go. Which means that every day brings its fair share of surprises, rattling in more often than not without advance notice from many different places, different kinds of people, with a huge span of ideas, values and concerns. Look what slipped through the door late last night. New Mobility without frills.

– Charles Montgomery reporting from Portland OR USA




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Report: Carsharing in the United States 2009

This just published four thousand dollar (EUR 2,995.00) report, in its own words: “Provides Insight into the External and Internal Factors Affecting Consumption and Trends”. The table of contents and list of figures provide a checklist of what they consider worth looking into. Check them out here.
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Public Bikes – How big a system? And why?

One of the complaints currently being voiced in the UK press about the new public bike start-up in the city of Bristol is that it is too small, insufficiently visible and generally hard to get at – and that it thus fails to achieve the level of massive use that is necessary if what you want is a city transformation project. Is that what your public bicycle project is supposed to do? Transform your city?
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Walking to School – Italian style

“Piedibus” — “Walking Bus” in Italian — is the first article posted from our newly-born sister publication, Nuova Mobilità. And to open up our minds to the big and varied world out there, here it is in the original Italian — with a convenient one click link to a workable if not perfect machine translation into English. If you want to know, you will know. Buon appetito.

– Enrico Bonfatti reporting from Bergamo, Italy

* Click here to read the Italian original. (In own window)

* Here for the rough English machine translation:

* And here for our article of 22 July introducing and explaining plans for the Nuova Mobilità sustainable transport daily in Italy.

Editor’s note:

This is the category — children, schools — which is very important as a new mobility tool on a number of grounds and is therefore one to which we shall be getting considerable attention in the months and years ahead.

This first posting on Piedibus in Italy will shortly be followed by reports from “Walk to School”, “Safe Routes to School” and similar national programs in Europe and North America, and, to the extent to which we can find them, in other parts of the world as well.

It is truly impossible to get too much of this great idea. So thank you Enrico Bonfatti from Nuova Mobilità and to you Massimo Vassallo from Piedibus were taking be time and trouble to report to us on these developments in Italy.

Some handy international references:

* International Walk to School program- www.iwalktoschool.org/
* UK “Walk to School” initiative — www.walktoschool.org.uk/
* International Walk to School in the USA — www.walktoschool-usa.org/
* Safe Routes to School – http://www.activetrans.org/walkandroll
* Safe Routes to School (Canada) – http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca/
* Feet First Walk to School (New Zealand) – http://www.feetfirst.govt.nz/
* To search all our Key Links & Sources for related sites – here

Tools: Combined searching all World Streets key links

There are a number of powerful tools you can access here, mainly through the left toolbar. But since this site is still insufficiently indexed for clarity (stay tuned!) here is one you may have missed. A combined search engine that with a single click searches the contents of all 135 (at last count) Key Links & Sources identified as among the outstanding sources of information on matters of interest to our readers.

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Perils for Pedestrians comes to Paris to learn about Vélib

Perils for Pedestrians is a monthly cable TV program dedicated to improving the quality of the pedestrian environment in the US and Canada. Perils’ director John Z. Wetmore came to Paris to interview some of the locals to get their views on bicycles, public space, and Vélib’ for a series for North American cable television.

– John Z. Wetmore reporting from Paris

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Update: World Carshare month on World Streets

Three quarters of the way through World Carshare month, a quick resume of action and accomplishments thus far, along with a small shopping list for our active collaborators of work to be completed in the weeks ahead, hopefully.

Quite a reasonable flow of materials and comments have come in as a result of this first attempt on our part to see what happens if we provide a specific topic focus for one month of attention and collaborative inputs under World Streets. If you click here or under the corresponding item on the toolbar just to the left, you will be able to call up all of the articles and commentaries received under this topic heading to date.

Interesting reading if you wish to know more about this great way to get around, and as you certainly know there is always ample space for your comments and questions. This being one of the potential advantages of this kind of wide open collaborative knowledge-building operation.

We would draw your attention to the following map which records the location of visitors coming into the world carshare program site over the last 24 hours, and which gives a very good idea of the physical geography of carsharing. The overall pattern you can see here is pretty much consistent with what normally comes in through our World Carshare site. The continuing heavy concentration in Europe and North America, with the ANZ countries jogging just behind. The developing East Asian axis, the occasional ding from Saudi and the Emirates, but for the most part the Middle East, Africa and even Latin America dead as doornails. We present this latest map here as food for thought.

Next steps:

We are staying right at the heels of the 462 registered members of World Carshare, and intend to encourage and push as best we can in order to bring over to our World Streets readers more information, in the form of:

* Country profiles

* World Carshare supplier inventory update

* Commentaries on critical issues for Carsharing

Two points to close out this brief note:

First, as with bike sharing projects as well, it is our long held and continuously reinforced position as students of carsharing operations around the world that the key inhibiting factor to more and better services continues to be in the insufficient understanding of city administrations and local government concerning the benefits of these two great ways of reducing traffic and its associated environmental and other damages. There is very definitely a real international brief to do something about this.

Second, we can be absolutely sure that the carsharing postings and inputs here will continue well past the end of this month,; however once we have a more complete view of this month’s accomplishments, we will be reporting on that as well.

Carsharing: A new mobility transport mode that every city and community on the planet should be looking at for near term implementation. Carsharing is ready to go. What about your city? What about you?

Transport Refugees – Victims of unjust transport policies

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

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

The term “refugee” term if used in the context of transportation would most often be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that it is our own transport systems which make many of us “refugees” in our own cities.

The social discrimination and exclusion of large groups of people from fair transport in many places creates an unbalance in society which leads to further victimization. The growing externalities of inadequate transport further aggravate the poor quality of life of what is in many places a very large group of people. Not some kind of marginal hence to some trivial minority.

Let us consider the following statistics from the latest report on road safety just out from the World Health Organization : “We are responsible for our future” (click here for article and details of this report on World Streets):

i) 1.27 million people are killed in traffic crashes every year.

ii) In addition, road crashes cause between 20 million and 50 million non-fatal injuries every year and are an important cause of disability.

iii) In low-income countries of South East Asia over 80% of those killed are vulnerable road users (the poor, the weak, the very young, the very old, the disabled).

iv) Outdoor air pollution alone causes an estimated 800,000 deaths each year.
v) 150,000 deaths occurring in low-income countries each year due to climate change

vi) Research on noise pollution is indicating that it causes more deaths than heart disease.

Clearly our present transport arrangements are daily becoming more and more injurious to the health of the people. However despite this visible reality, when it comes to planning transport and investing in the sector we consistently neglect the needs of such people. In fact, we manage to do worse than simply neglect.

Let’s take an example: the current debate in India on an “engineering marvel” in Mumbai city – a sea bridge of 4.7Km length costing approx 366 million USD. This bridge is fully “access controlled” and prevents the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, two and three wheelers in the heart of the city.

Instead of making the systems “barrier free and accessible to all”, we in fact treat disadvantaged people as barriers to mobility and thus set out to make the system “free from such barriers”. This is our public policy.

There is something seriously wrong with a system which invests huge resources on physical infrastructure, and which isolates the victims from the beneficiaries and impoverishes them in the process.

This unfortunate trend is duplicated in many other Asian countries which prevent the growth of non motorized transport under the pretext of “fighting congestion”.

Another worrisome trend is the exploitation of land by improving its value by such infrastructure, which makes the poor citizens refugee migrants in their own cities. They are obliged continuously to migrate inside city from one place to another in search of cheaper housing, thereby imposing upon themselves sacrifices of transport , time and quality of life.

Worse, many cities in our poorer countries have transport systems which are “gender insensitive” — which creates inequalities in the society by preventing the employment accessibility by offering them limited accessibility.

Transport Refugees constitute such people who are often made “invisible” when we plan, execute and finance transport systems.

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For more discussion of transport refugees, click here to http://cai-asia.blogspot.com/2009/07/transport-refugees-victims-of-unjust.html

About the authors:
Bert Fabian has worked on transport and environmental issues in the last 10 years and has been with the CAI-Asia Center for 7 years. He enjoys the outdoors and cycling in his spare time.

Sudhir Gota – a former highway designer has abandoned designing roads to work on sustainable transportation issues. He enjoys doing research.

Both are from Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

Thoughts on a shared bike project in the UK: Part I

A newspaper article generally critical of the new bikeshare scheme in Bristol UK cites the city’s abundant hills and a general absence of bikes and stations as obstacles to success. We decided to publish the original piece (fair use) here, and then invite the team responsible for the project to state their case. What is actually going on in Bristol?

A Paris-style bicycle scheme in Bristol? Now there’s an uphill slog

* Click here for Guardian article by John Crace of Tuesday, 22 July 2009.

On a rainy morning, few takers for country’s first citywide ride-and-go plan:

It’s a miserable morning in the centre of Bristol. The rain is tipping down and only a halfwit would think of hiring a bike in this weather. So count me in.

Ride-and-go cycle schemes are a familiar part of the cityscape on mainland Europe. Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin all have well-established cycle networks, but somehow Britain has always rather lagged behind.

There are small local schemes in Southport, Cardiff, Hammersmith and Fulham, in London, and only yesterday Blackpool’s opened for business. But the closest we have to a whole-city scheme is in Bristol – Britain’s first designated Cycle City – where Hourbike operates with some support from the council.

The deal is straightforward. You register for a one-off fee of £10 and for that you get a code that lets you turn up to one of the cycle hubs and ride a bike. The first half-hour is free, any time over that works out at about £1 a hour (the idea is to undercut local car parking charges) and you can return the bike to any of the hubs dotted around the city.

Through the drizzle, I punch in the code, the electromagnetic lock is released and I have control of Daniel. The bikes all have names which are cuter than the cycles themselves because they are on the streets 24/7 and the idea is to make them solid and anonymous so that people don’t nick them.

So Daniel and I are ready but where to go for a test cycle? There are three other hubs in the centre and a couple more on the edge of the city near the University of the West of England, but I’ve no idea exactly where as there isn’t a map. Never mind. Andy, the street cleaner, should be able to help out. “There’s one outside the Royal Infirmary,” he says, “but I can’t say I’ve seen anyone using the bikes at either place.” Are you round this way often? “Every day”.

So I head off to hospital and soon discover another reason – apart from the weather – why no else is on a hire bike: it’s almost impossible to go anywhere in Bristol without going up a hill (I wonder if I’ll see any locals with colossal Tour de France-style muscled thighs). At the infirmary there’s a couple of bikes corralled at the hub, but still no sign of riders. Jim, a hospital technician, says he has never seen one.

There’s a bus stop next to the hub and no sign of a bus. Jo has been waiting for at least 10 minutes. Would she fancy a go on a bike? “It sounds like a good idea,” she says, “but I don’t think so.”

But it’s all downhill from here. “Maybe another time.”

I cycle round aimlessly for a while longer looking for another Hourbike but then reckon enough’s enough and tie Danny up for the day and head home.

It’s still early days. There are large parts of the city that still aren’t covered, though the bigger problem is winning punters’ hearts and minds. Tim Caswell, the managing director of Hourbike, which started the Bristol scheme earlier this year, refuses to be discouraged. “We’ve got about 300 people registered so far,” he says. “And with the help of the council we’re looking to increase the number of hubs and bikes so we’ve got most of the city covered. This is the way forward and we are committed to it.”

Getting it right is easier said than done. You can’t really pilot them by sticking a couple of bikes in the centre of town and hoping for the best, because people won’t see the point. It’s only when the full infrastructure is in place that it works. So you’ve got to be prepared to invest – and so far, especially with local government feeling the pinch, councils have tended to play safe by doing nothing.

“There’s a tendency to think there’s only one model,” said Phillip Darnton, who chairs Cycling England, an independent body set up by the government to promote pedal power. “Not everything has to be on the scale of the Paris Velib or TfL’s proposals for London. These are both large schemes aimed at significantly reducing commuter congestion: towns such as Southport, which has also just opened a cycle-hire scheme, are looking more to recreate the ambience of the seaside town, so they need something much less intensive.”

Even so, Britain does not have the best track record when it comes to promoting cycling. A bike hire scheme in Cheltenham has just closed and the London mayor, Boris Johnson, has managed to get on the wrong side of several councils with his plan to tear up several of their car parking bays to install cycle hubs and rob them of some revenue – so there’s still a lot of politicking to be done before London comes on stream.

So how come we’re so rubbish at cycle schemes and mainland Europe has been so successful? “It’s partly cultural,” said Marie, a Paris resident. “Cycling is seen as normal in France, whereas in Britain it’s often more about macho types in Lycra. But it’s also because people are less afraid of cycling in Paris because our drivers are so much better than yours.” Now there’s a thought.

# # #

* Click here for reader comments to Guardian article. If you are interested in bike sharing or bikes in cities for that matter, these diverse voices make an interesting read.

* And here for the Hourbike promotional video

Next: We will now invite Tim Caswell, the managing director of Hourbike, the group responsible for this project, along with the city of course who are in fact the owner of this project, to hear what he has to say about the project and more generally his views of bikesharing in Britain, including perhaps why thus far the UK has lagged well behind the first tier countries.

W/S August Dialogue: Italy and Nuova Mobilità

The idea of taking a central theme for an entire month of focused collaborative dialogue is working out quite nicely with the choice of carsharing as our July topic showing the way. With not quite two weeks left to “complete” this first series of exchanges, we are now gearing up for the rest of the year. Next stop on World Streets 2009: Italy and Nuova Mobilità. Benvenuti a tutti.

Here is the provisional list of topics to which we propose to give particular attention in the monthly focus sessions over the remainder of this year – subject to your feedback and advisory comments.

1. New mobility in Italy (August)
2. Sustainable transport in Africa: What next? (Sept.)
3. Public Bicycle Systems: World developments and planning (October)
4. Climate emergency: The role sustainable transport (November)
5. Women in Transport: Necessary pattern breaks (Dec.)

Other topics waiting in the wings for 2010: quite a long list at the top of which, again subject to your ideas and feedback, are: China, Green shared taxis, BRT, planning for the urban poor, and new mobility strategies for rural and suburban areas.

World Streets will of course be publishing day after day interesting and useful articles on all these topics and many others as outstanding projects and topics are brought to our attention by our Sentinels and other international collaborators. None of us can afford to wait; the climate emergency demands immediate and sharp action. Which requires information and then knowledge. And that is where World Streets comes in.

Next stop on World Streets: Italy and Nuova Mobilità.


The reasons for giving this collaborative Italian project early priority are three-fold: (a) Its usefulness to fill a gap as a trusted neutral Italian language source with one-click links to information and perspective on the full range of leading new mobility developments worldwide. (b) Our good fortune in finding an Italian team willing to work with us on a volunteer basis for the half-year or so it is going to take to get it off the ground. And finally (c) the way in which we hope that, in time and with work, the Italian project will develop into a first-cut technical and organizational template ready to aid other language/country versions to follow in the year ahead.

1. New Mobility for Italian readers

Italy provides an interesting and in many ways quite typical example of how the diverse strands that we call sustainable transport or new mobility are (or are not) being woven together to create better transport and better cities within a country or language area. Now as you will be seeing, the new mobility concept is in fact gradually taking hold in Italy, but it is still very much in a minority position and when implemented for the most part occurs on a project by project basis — and only here and there with a broader unifying strategy. On this last score there is still plenty of room for progress. (But to be perfectly frank, there are few places in the world which have thus far really started to put all the pieces together.)

Italy has a strong claim for immediate treatment on the grounds that we have had the good fortune to collaborate there with Italian colleagues lead by Enrico Bonfatti who showed up fully bilingual, understanding the underlying concepts and ready to get to work on them. Over the last two months we have worked with them day by day to lay a base for the first World Streets’ spin-off, Nuova Mobilità, which you can now visit, work with and profit from at http://nuovamobilita.blogspot.com/

Nuova Mobilità has two functions within Italy:

Window on sustainable transport in the world:
First, to provide a window on the world of new mobility for those Italian readers who are more comfortable working in their own language. To do this, the editorial team selects daily articles from World Streets and other sources which they feel will be of particular interest to the Italian reader. They then both translate and adapt them for the Italian context, with adjustments and contextual information to make them more informative for the Italian reader in search of new ideas, leads and approaches.

Window on sustainable transport in Italy:
But Nuova Mobilità also has an important “internal” function within Italy as well, namely that of providing a central information and exchange point for outstanding projects and programs, and problems and barriers inhibiting change, that are going on in various cities and parts of the peninsula. There are a number of programs and web sites already active in the sector in various places, but most of these focus on a specific problem or approach — for example cycling, public transport, carsharing, school transport, climate issues, environmental concerns more generally, for specific cities, etc.– Nuova Mobilità can serve as a valuable clearing house function, with its global/local orientation.

Editorial independence:
Like World Streets, Nuova Mobilità retains complete independence in terms of editorial content and the views expressed. Moreover, the program is informed by a consistent set of guiding principles which you will find spelled out in the Mission Statement here.

2. Nuova Mobilità: Template for future country/language editions:

One of the main potential contributions of Nuova Mobilità is that it is put before you not as a plan or a promise, but as an operational working entity already in place and there to serve as a pioneer and concrete example for other country/language editions. Of course it can be improved in many ways, including technically, and that is part of the task of both the Italian team and the collaborators at World Streets. But Nuova Mobilità exists, it is there, it works, and it is already in place to perform valuable functions.

It is our view that despite the enormous reach of the internet and the availability of ever-better (and free) machine translation services, native language coverage is needed by many people in many places. The reality is that it is not all that easy reading every day in a second or third language. Most of us do best working in our mother tongue. The task of full and rapid comprehension of a fair body of materials that come in day after day, already difficult enough for most topics, becomes even more challenging in a new area such as this which continuously brings in many new, less familiar concepts, and along with them a new and fast-evolving vocabulary, thus adding yet another level of complexity to the challenge of understanding what is really going on.

Thus it is our firm intention to find other language/country partners to work with them to build on the Italian example which can be exported in its entirety to serve as a sort of first-stage template for future language/country editions.

To this end, we are already in preliminary discussion with eventual Spanish, French and German language partners the possibility of building on this example with new dedicated websites and supporting programs in the months ahead. But the list of countries and languages of course need not end there. Nor should it.

# # #

For more information on Nuova Mobilità:
Contact: Enrico Bonfatti, editor@nuovamobilita.org
http://nuovamobilita.org
Skype: nouva.mobilita
Mission statement: http://nuovamobilita.blogspot.com/2009/06/nuova-mobilita-mission.html

To read Nuova Mobilità in bare bones but pretty workable machine translation into English: http://tinyurl.com/ws-nm-english

# # #

Now all that remains is for us to hear from you on these and possibly other candidate topics. For that you may wish to click the Comment link just below.

New Series: How can Streets save the world auto industry?

The world automotive industry churns out new cars, buses and trucks at a clip of about 70 million vehicles per year. And whatever the difficulties facing certain manufacturers in countries and regions in which they are located, and whatever may be your personal preferences, it is not about to go away. What can World Streets do to help?

For starters we can tell you about the streets, the very place in which all those vehicles you design and produce have to make their way. And if you tune in here you will see that the world’s streets are changing fast, and in their new life they are very different from the ones that you planned for and cohabited with in the past. It will be important for you now to dig very deep to have a sophisticated understanding of what the streets of the (very near) future are going to look like. Because that’s where your product and your business is going to make it, or break. And the winners will be the first ones out of the gate.

Cars, buses and trucks are part of our mobility future. In addition to the new ones that are coming in at that healthy deca-million clip, we currently “enjoy” an inventory on the order of not far from one billion motor vehicles of all types and sizes in various parts of our gasping planet, not including, famously, the rising swarm of motorized two wheelers that are baffling planners and policy makers in cities around the world.

Of course 99 out of 100 of these vehicles burn fossil fuels, and most of them not very efficiently at that. The environmental and climate implications of this cocktail are of course enormous.

But, like it or not, motorized automobiles are part of our future and thus it would be cosmically silly to turn our back on them for reasons of personal preference or hopes that they might just go away.

For this reason the realities of automobiles, including the ways in which they are designed, produced, marketed, packaged, paid for, owned, used, and eventually disposed of are a very important component of the New Mobility Agenda. It is thus our intention to give this our full attention, and as of next week we will begin to post the first articles in this important series.

A hoped-for dialogue and synthesis between old and new mobility. Stay tuned. Better yet, jump in and be a part of it.

Share your ideas with the editor here via editor@worldstreets.org.

Thanks to http://strangenewsnow.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html for the original of our well tempered image above.

Integrate cycling with public transport

Cycling and public transport are complementary modes of travel. As shown best by cities in northern Europe, the integration of cycling and public transport helps reduce environmentally harmful car use while making our cities more livable.

– John Pucher of Rutgers University, USA reports:


Cycling is ideal for trips up to about 5 km, while PT is the most environmentally friendly way to cover long trips. Here are some ways in which we can make that mission-critical cycling/public transport connection.

1. Different kinds of bike-PT coordination:

* Provision of bike parking at rail transit stations (usually) and bus stops (much less common)

* Bike racks on buses (usually on front)

* Permission to take bikes on PT vehicles (usually rail), and special provisions for accommodating bikes on vehicles (racks, hooks, reserved space, or special bike cars)

* Provision of short-term bike rentals at train stations (PT bikes)

2. Examples and extent of implementation

* Focus in Europe and Japan is on extensive parking at rail stations, often including guarded, covered parking and full-service bike stations (e.g., over 350,000 bike parking spaces at Dutch train stations, over 740,000 bike parking spaces at metro and suburban rail stations in Tokyo)

* Focus in North America is on bike racks on buses, with over 2/3 of US buses and 3/4 of Canadian buses equipped with racks; very few buses with bike racks in Europe.

* Bikes often allowed on light rail, metro, and suburban rail, but not during peak hours on most systems

* Bike parking at rail stations increasing greatly in quantity and quality throughout Europe and North America, esp. since 1990

* Trend toward full-service bike stations in Europe: at 67 Dutch train stations and 70 German train stations in 2007; just starting up in USA and on much smaller scale; mega bike stations in Japanese cities

* Public transport bikes (OV-Fiets at 156 Dutch train stations; Call-a-Bike at 16 German train stations)

3. Impacts on cycling

* Focus of studies has been on impacts on public transport use, with cycling found to be much cheaper feeder mode than cars (bike and ride vs. park and ride) for increasing catchment area of rail services

* Most studies report high usage rates of bike parking and bike racks, as well as increased satisfaction of surveyed cyclists, indirectly suggesting that these measures encourage cycling. On average, 90% of the bike parking spaces at Dutch railway stations is occupied by bikes, and at some stations, the number of bikes far exceeds the number of bike parking spaces.

* 40% of Dutch suburban rail users cycle from home to the station, indicating the importance of bike and ride

* One Dutch study measured impacts of various kinds of improved bike parking at rail stations and bus stops in a few pilot projects and found increased transit use and bike trips to access transit stops, suggesting that it probably increased overall cycling levels; the same study reported a positive impact of short-term bike rental programs at Dutch train stations (public transport bikes), raising the bike share of egress trips from stations to activity destinations.

John Pucher, pucher@rci.rutgers.edu
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey USA

Suggested references:

Hegger, R., 2007. Public transport and cycling: living apart or together? Public Transport International. 56 (2), 38-41.

Martens, K., 2007. Promoting Bike and Ride: The Dutch experience. Transportation Research Part A. 41, 326-338

Pucher, J., Buehler, R., 2009. Integration of bicycling with public transport. Journal of Public Transportation. 12 (3), autumn 2009 in press.

Rietveld, P., 2000. The accessibility of railway stations: the role of the bicycle in the Netherlands. Transportation Research Part D. 5, 71-75

TRB, 2005. Integration of Bicycles and Transit. TCRP Synthesis Report 62. Washington: Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences

Taxis for sustainable mobility

Taxis are a vital actor in the New Mobility Agenda. There can be no doubt about that. However, for various reasons – historical, institutional, jurisdictional, work and ownership patterns –they are often hard to bring into a unified big picture. For this reason, World Streets is pleased to share with you this announcement of the International IRU Taxi Forum in the run-up to COP15 in December. More will follow.

International Road Transport Union, Geneva, 17 July 2009

The 3rd International IRU Taxi Forum to focus on latest car technologies and innovative industry practices that make taxi services even greener.

Prior to the United Nations COP15 Climate Change Conference, the 3rd International IRU Taxi Forum on “Taxis for clean air” will be held in Copenhagen on 9 October 2009. Participants will explore the potential and opportunities of latest car technologies and innovative industry practices for greener taxi services, with the view to expedite the introduction of the greenest vehicles and best industry practices to achieve sustainable mobility for all.

The President of the IRU Taxi Group, Hubert Andela, said, “The taxi industry is ready and willing to contribute to cleaner air in our cities by implementing the best and greenest technologies and fuels. It simply makes sense, as authorities, business and customers alike show increased concerns about the ecological footprint of their travels. However, a lot remains to be done by our partners from the manufacturing industry and fuel distributors. But above all, Governments should provide incentives to operators to use alternative fuels as well as greener vehicles to allow for their quicker penetration into the taxi market, especially in these times of economic crisis.”

According to a recent IRU survey, the taxi industry is investing substantially in greener fleets and operational solutions. In countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, hybrid cars already represent at least 3% of the market share, and an important number of taxis are running on alternative fuels in Brazil (86%), Bulgaria (70%), Germany (22%) or Sweden (18%).

Organised in partnership with the IRU’s Danish Member Association, Dansk Taxi Rad (DTR), the 3rd International Taxi Forum will feature leading representatives of the taxi industry, car manufacturers, electric vehicle promoters and intergovernmental organisations, who will address more than 100 participants from the taxi industry and national and local authorities in Europe and beyond.

* * *
* For the programme of the 3rd International IRU Taxi Forum, click here
* IRU Taxi/Hire car program – click here.

See IRU factsheets on
* Market penetration of fuels other than diesel and petrol in the taxi industry – here
* Market penetration of hybrid cars in the taxi industry – here
* Press contact: Juliette Ebélé, +41 22 918 27 07, Press@iru.org

More on carsharing in Japan: 2009

In the spirit of World Streets long term watching brief on carsharing developments  around the world, here is some current background on the status of carsharing from the land of the sun’s origin. And we are continuing to seek further details to give you a fuller picture of where it is and where it may be going.

In the meantime for more background 0n carsharing in Japan from World Streets, click here – http://goo.gl/m6XFcx

Continue reading

Carsharing start-up in Sao Paulo makes it an even 1000

When we completed a periodic cleanup of the World Carshare cities list to take out some redundancies this morning, we had it pared down to an even 999. Then the postman brought us this letter from . . . Sao Paulo.

From: “Felipe C. Barroso”
Date: July 17, 2009
Subject: Carsharing Launch in Brazil

Dear family, friends and colleagues,

After some six months of preparation, we launched yesterday (15/07/09) Zazcar a Carsharing Operation in Sao Paulo Brazil (www.zazcar.com.br ). It is the first of its kind in the country. To put up such an operation, something so new, a lot of help is needed. I write this e-mail to somehow thank all those involved in this project and its preparation, and recognize that without your knowledge and contribution we would be sailing in deep dark waters. Today, despite the challenge that we face, we feel confident thanks to hundreds of hours of software programming, brand and name polls, website and marketing campaign reviews, technology tests, call center training and much more with which you have collaborated. The result of all this belongs also to you.

Special thanks to my wife and family, who backed up the idea since it was presented and whose support was indispensable. Special thanks also to our partners, who embraced this project as their own.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank my team at Zazcar and Icaro Locadora, Daniella Barbosa de Almeida, Caroline Freire and Luciano Hernandes da Silva and the team at AGF. I’m sure you share the feeling of fulfillment and excitement I sense now.

Best regards,

Felipe C. Barroso
* Click here to check out Zazcar (and practice your Portuguese)
– – –

Editor’s note:
We hope to work with Felipe and the others behind this project to provide a more complete story, not only of their start up but also of the ins and outs of how you make carsharing work in a mega-city Brazil. Surely no easy task. It’s hard to be the first.

* Carsharing cuts CO2, there can be no doubt about that. And lots of carsharing is just what the doctor ordered.

* Protect our planet, Carshare. (Get where you want to go, save money, and meet your neighbors in the process. Win/Win/Win/Win. Hard to beat. )

100th Principal Voice message supporting World Streets

This is a day of big even numbers. The one hundredth World Streets Principal Voice comment came in from Mexico City today. The fact that it comes from a civil engineer with experience in a good range of economic and transportation situations makes it an all the more interesting read.

Supporting statement No. 100

I have found World Streets to be vital in keeping up with the latest and greatest in transport issues around the world. World Streets gathers all the newest reports and succinctly puts them in one place. At the same time, it adds valuable insights and ideas not found anywhere else; it is my “one stop shopping” news source. It deftly cuts out superfluous and inadequate information and is leading the way to make this world a leaner, greener place. It is essential that this news source continues to grow as we enter the “Third Wave” of major transport changes on our precious planet.

Tom Bertulis, PE
Senior Technical Advisor
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
Mexico City

We share Tom’s message with you because when we originally invited these comments, almost four weeks ago now, it was our goal to publish the first one hundred that came in –all of course without any editorial modification, letting each person speak with their own voice. This goal is now achieved .

May we encourage you to have a look through the full lot of statements (again most of them are very short), not so much on the grounds of the generally encouraging things they have to say about the quality of World Streets and the importance of our fining way to keep it going, but also because many raise a certain number of questions and challenges for us. And almost all, if you read carefully tell us about their hopes and aspirations.

Thank you Tom. And now encouraged by the quality of this feedback we have decided to keep on going and have set the message thermometer up to 200. So we are open for business and already half way there.

Number visitors signing in to support World Streets to date.

Number messages supporting World Streets to date

For the full messages, click here.