A first look at carsharing in Croatia: World Streets Annual Country Reviews

Carsharing, a different way of owning and using a car — wherever you find it certainly got started one day with a stray thought, a dream even, often as not in the head of one person. Someone stuck in a car or sitting in a sidewalk café, looking at the traffic and letting their mind wander, and who then starts to talk about the idea. Then all you have to do is come back a year or two later and, if we are all very lucky, you may see that this idle thought has taken a few steps toward reality. Let us have a look at how the concept is just starting to unfold in Croatia, a country under attack from rapid, aggressive and utterly unthought-out automobilization. Carsharing. . . ?
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Victoria Transport Policy Institute Winter 2010 Newsletter

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.

News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Winter 2010 Vol. 13, No. 1

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.

Editor’s note:
All of the content of the extensive VTPI site including their extremely useful Online TDM Encyclopedia — http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/index.php — can be conveniently searched using the special New Mobility Knoogle Combined Search Engine that you will find in the left column here, which scans the content of the close to two hundred carefully selected Key Sources, Links and Blogs. You can also access it here direct by clicking http://tinyurl.com/knoogle-WS-key-sources

New Documents

“Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit” ( http://www.vtpi.org/raisetaxes.pdf )
High quality public transit consists of service sufficiently convenient and comfortable to attract travel that would otherwise be by automobile. This paper uses data from U.S. cities to investigate the incremental costs and benefits of high quality transit service. The analysis indicates that high quality public transit typically requires about $268 annually per capita in additional tax subsidy and $104 in additional fares, but provides vehicle, parking and road cost savings averaging $1,040 per capita, plus other benefits including congestion reductions, increased traffic safety, pollution reductions, improved mobility for non-drivers, improved fitness and health. This indicates that residents should rationally support tax increases if needed to create high quality public transit systems in their communities. Current planning practices tend to overlook or undervalue many of these savings and benefits and so result in underinvestment in transit quality improvements.

“Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines: How More Efficient Pricing Can Help Solve Parking Problems, Increase Revenue, And Achieve Other Planning Objectives” ( http://www.vtpi.org/parkpricing.pdf )
Efficient parking pricing can provide numerous benefits including increased turnover and therefore improved user convenience, parking facility cost savings, reduced traffic problems, and increased revenues. This report provides guidance on parking pricing implementation. It describes parking pricing benefits and costs, ways to overcome common obstacles and objections, and examples of successful parking pricing programs. Parking pricing is best implemented as part of an integrated parking management program. Current trends are increasing the benefits of efficient parking pricing. Legitimate objections to parking pricing can be addressed with appropriate policies and strategies.

Updated Documents

“Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http://www.vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf )

“The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be” (http://www.vtpi.org/future.pdf

“Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs” ( http://www.vtpi.org/tranben.pdf )

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Published Elsewhere

“Evaluating Carbon Taxes As An Energy Conservation And Emission Reduction Strategy,” Transportation Research Record 2139, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), pp. 125-132; at http://www.vtpi.org/carbontax.pdf
Carbon taxes are based on fossil fuel carbon content, and therefore tax carbon dioxide emissions. This paper evaluates British Columbia’s carbon tax, introduced in 2008. It reflects key carbon tax principles: it is broad, gradual, predictable, and structured to assist low-income people. Revenues are returned to residents and businesses in ways that protect the lowest income households. It supports economic development by encouraging energy conservation which keeps money circulating within the regional economy.

“Transportation Policy and Injury Control” Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, 2009. ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/362.full )
This short article describes a paradigm shift occurring in the field of transport planning, and its implications for traffic safety. The old paradigm assumed that “transportation” means automobile travel. The new paradigm recognizes a wider range of options and planning objectives.

“The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?” TRB Annual Meeting session video recording ( http://www.bethereglobal.com/trb_2010/shop/index.php?searchstring=litman&showresult=true&exp=0&resultpage=&categories=off&msg=&search=index.php&shop=1 ).

“Complete Streets” (EIP-25), Planners Advisory Service Essential Information Packets ( http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets/#25 ), American Planning Association ($30)
Complete streets accommodate all users. Over the past several years, communities across the country have embraced a complete streets approach to the planning, design, construction, and operation of new transportation facilities. In this Essential Info Packet, PAS compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources detailing best practices for planning and building complete streets, including the VTPI “Introduction to Multi-Modal Transportation Planning: Principles and Practices.”

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
* “Raise My Taxes, Please! Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall”
* “Carfree Design Manual”
* “Accessibility, Mobility and Automobile Dependency”
“Report from TRB”
“Fun With Research: Higher Fuel Prices Increase Economic Productivity”

* * * * *

Current Projects

Canadian Tax Exempt Transit and Cycling Benefits
“Cost Estimate of Proposed Amendments to the Income Tax Act to Exempt Certain Employer-Provided Transportation Benefits from Taxable Income” ( http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/PBO-DPB/documents/Costing_C-466_EN.pdf ).
Proposed Canadian legislation C-466 would exempt from income taxes employer-provided commuter benefits up to $1,800 annually for transit and park-and-ride expenses, and $250 for cycling expenses. This study evaluated the fiscal impacts of this legislation. It concluded that net tax revenue foregone would be negligible overall, and the reduced vehicle traffic should provide economic benefits leading to increased productivity and therefore tax revenues.

To support this legislation send letters to:
Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
21st Floor, 110 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
A model letter is available at http://www.vtpi.org/files/C466.doc .

Drive Less, Pay Less: Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Performance Standard ( http://www.ceres.org/Page.aspx?pid=1157 )
VTPI is working with a coalition of transportation and environmental organizations to develop a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) vehicle insurance performance standard to help regulators, insurers and consumers identify truly effective PAYD policies. This standard defines specific requirements for policies to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings. For more information see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mindy-s-lubber/drive-less-pay-less-win-w_b_391373.html .

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Upcoming Events

“Multi-modal Transportation Economic Evaluation: Cut Costs and Improve Mobility” at the Urban Transportation Summit, Toronto 3 March 2010 ( http://www.strategyinstitute.com/030210_uts8/dsp.php )

“Parking Innovation Workshop” at the American Planning Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 11 April 2010 ( http://www.planning.org/conference/program/search/activity.htm?ActivityID=138154 ).

“Smart Driving: Evaluating Mobility Management” at the Edmonton International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety, 28 April 2010 ( http://www.trafficsafetyconference.com ).

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Useful Resources

“Preventive Medicine; Special Supplement on Active Communities for Youth and Families: Using Research to Create Momentum for Change,” Vol. 50, Supplement 1, January 2010; at ( http://www.activelivingresearch.org/resourcesearch/journalspecialissues ). This special, free journal issue contains articles describing new research on the relationships between land use policy, urban design, travel activity (walking, cycling, transit and vehicle travel), body weight and health outcomes.

“Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report” (www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/index.php/site/memberservices/C529.
This comprehensive study by the Alliance for Biking & Walking reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars. While 10% of U.S. trips are by bike or foot, and 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, yet biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. The report indicates that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. International comparisons indicate that the U.S. investments less in biking and walking and has less biking and walking activity than its peers.

“Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America” by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp. 79-104; at http://www.nctr.usf.edu/jpt/pdf/JPT12-3Pucher.pdf.

“Child and Youth Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning: Guidelines and Literature Review” ( http://www.kidsonthemove.ca ) is developing guidelines for municipal transportation and land-use planners as tools to create communities that meet the needs of children and youth – and everyone else.

“Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual” ( http://nelsonnygaard.com/Documents/Reports/Abu-Dhabi-StreetDesignManual.pdf )
This innovative Manual provides guidance to planners and designers on ways to create more walkable communities. It introduces the concept of the pedestrian realm as an integral part of the overall street composition. It uses extensive illustrations, examples and instructions to help designers, planners and decision-makers implement a new vision of urban development. It responds to the needs of a rapidly-growing city that desires to preserve cultural traditions and design features, provide natural comfort in a hot climate, accommodate diverse populations, and achieve sustainability objectives.

“Who Owns The Roads? How Motorised Traffic Discourages Walking And Bicycling,” by Peter L. Jacobsen, F. Racioppi and H. Rutter, Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, pp. 369-373; ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/369.full.html ).
This article examines the impact of vehicle traffic on walking and bicycling activity. It indicates that real and perceived danger and discomfort imposed by traffic discourages walking and bicycling, and interventions to reduce traffic speed and volume can improve public health by increasing walking and bicycling activity.

“A Study on the Impact of the Green Transport Mode on Public Health Improvement,” KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1, Korea Transport Institute, May 2009, pp. 6-8 ( http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/world-brief01.pdf ).
This study found that commuters who switch from automobile to walking or cycling for eight weeks experienced significantly reduced lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity and improved cholesterol counts. It estimated that commuters who use active modes achieve annual health and fitness benefits worth an average of 2.2 million Korean Won (about $2,000). They found that incorporating these values into transportation policy and project evaluation significantly affected outcomes, resulting in higher values for policies and projects that increase active transportation among people who otherwise achieve less than 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.

“Transitway Impacts Research Program” ( http://www.cts.umn.edu/Research/Featured/Transitways ) investigates how high quality urban transit systems affect travel activity and land use development.

“Analysis Finds Shifting Trends in Highway Funding: User Fees Make Up Decreasing Share” (http://www.subsidyscope.com/transportation/highways/funding )
This analysis of Federal Highway Statistics found the portion of U.S. highway funding paid by motor vehicle user fees has declined significantly. In 2007, 51% of highway construction and maintenance expenditures were generated through user fees (fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls) down from 61% a decade earlier. The rest came from other sources, including income, sales and property taxes.

“Estimates of the External Costs of Transport in 2007” KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 3, Korea Transport Institute (www.koti.re.kr), July, pp. 8-10; at http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/World-Brief03.pdf .
This study estimates that during 2007, South Korean household expenditures on transportation totaled 11.4% of GDP, and external transportation costs (congestion delays, accident damages and pollution emissions) totaled 5.4% of GDP. The study compares South Korea’s transport costs with other countries and indicates changes over time.

“Transport: External Cost of Transport In Switzerland” ( http://www.are.admin.ch/themen/verkehr/00252/00472/index.html?lang=en ). This comprehensive research program by the Swiss government provides detailed estimates of various transportation costs, including infrastructure, accidents and pollutants.

“International Fuel Prices 2009” ( http://www.gtz.de/fuelprices)
The 2009 International Fuel Prices report provides an overview of the retail prices of gasoline and diesel in more than 170 countries, discusses pricing policies, presents case studies on the impact of high and volatile fuel prices in 2007/2008 in developing countries and provides access to numerous additional resources.

“Rethinking Transport and Climate Change” ( http://www.transport2012.org/bridging/ressources/files/1/96,Rethinking_Transport_and_Climate_Chan.pdf ) and “Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Transport” ( http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Paradigm-Sustainable-Urban-Transport/new-paradigm-transport.pdf ).
These two new reports by the Asian Development Bank conclude that current transportation planning practices are unsustainable and discuss policy and planning changes needed to create more efficient and equitable transport systems.

“Transit Benefit Ordinance” ( http://www.transitbenefitordinance.com). This new website provides specific information on how municipal governments can encourage or require larger employers to offer transit benefits.

“Carfree Design Manual” by Joel Crawford, International Books ( http://www.carfree.com/cdm ). This comprehensive and attractive book, featuring hundreds of photographs and drawings, describes the theory and practice of carfree (and car-light) urban planning.

“How Free Is Your Parking?” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_O6dR7YfvM&feature=player_embedded )

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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: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

"Should car advertising be more heavily regulated, etc., etc." More on, this time from Canada

Yesterday’s feature article under this title generated a number of immediate comments and responses from readers in Australia, Canada and Germany, including the following announced “Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising”, a “stakeholder approach” to dealing with these thorny issues. We produce it here in its essentials together with URLs for further information. But does it actually do the job?

Richard Campbell from Vancouver Canada wrote in this morning as follows: “There are similar standards in Canada that just came into effect. http://www.adstandards.com/en/MediaAndEvents/newInterpretationGuideline.aspx. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws.

It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions. Here is the complaint procedure: http://www.adstandards.com/en/ConsumerComplaints/theConsumerComplaintsProcess.aspx

Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising

Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) maintains the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code), the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada. The Code sets the standards for acceptable advertising and forms the basis for receipt and review of consumers’ complaints about Canadian advertising. The Code is augmented by Interpretation Guidelines that are designed to enhance industry and public understanding of the interpretation and application of the clauses of the Code.

On September 24, 2009, ASC published and implemented Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses #10 or #14: Motor Vehicle Advertising. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws. It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions.

Developed by a working group, the motor vehicle advertising guideline initiative was led by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), in conjunction with ASC, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Association des agences de publicité du Québec.

The working group was convened following the adoption of legislative provisions obligating the SAAQ to “in collaboration with automobile manufacturers, advertising agencies and highway safety stakeholders …establish guidelines aimed at prohibiting any advertisement that portrays a road vehicle and conveys a careless attitude with respect to road safety by presenting situations that encourage reckless, dangerous or prohibited practices or behaviour.” The auto advertising issue was of interest to other Canadian jurisdictions, several of whom joined the working group (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Transport Canada.) The working group’s adoption of the Guideline was supported by all Canadian jurisdictions.

The positive cooperation from the other stakeholders meant that the guidelines could be built on the existing self-regulatory structure, thereby avoiding the need to adopt more binding measures. (Our emphasis.)

* Click here for the new Guideline: http://www.adstandards.com/en/MediaAndEvents/newInterpretationGuideline.aspx

Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses 10 or 14: Motor Vehicle Advertising1

(Editor’s note: These are the “eight questions” referred to above.)

4.1 When evaluating complaints about advertising involving depictions of motorized vehicles that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety), Council will take into account the following questions:

a. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration of the vehicle convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits?

b. Does the depiction of a vehicle’s handling ability involve potentially unsafe actions such as cutting in and out of traffic, excessively aggressive driving, or car chases in a residential setting?

c. Does the depiction appear realistic or does it appear to be unreal, as in a fantasy-like scenario that is unlikely to be copied or emulated in real life?

d. Would it be reasonable to interpret the depicted situation as condoning or encouraging unsafe driving practices?

4.2 When evaluating complaints involving depictions in automobile advertising that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety) or Clause 14 (Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals), Council also will take into account the following questions developed and endorsed by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association:

a. Is the vehicle operated in violation of applicable laws or beyond reasonable speed under the circumstances taking into account the portrayed road, weather, traffic and surrounding conditions (e.g. children in the area,) or over usual speed limits in Canada?

b. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration and braking of the vehicle, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits or to otherwise operate a vehicle unsafely or illegally?

c. Does the depiction of racing and rallies, and of other competition environments, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages, convey the impression that production vehicles could be driven like racing or competition vehicles on a public roadway?

d. Is the advertisement encouraging or endorsing vehicle use that is aggressive, violent or injurious toward other road users, or that denigrates or disparages cautious behaviour when using a vehicle?

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Editor’s commentary:

This proposal strikes these eyes as a possible step in the right direction; however we fear that calls for “reasonable behavior” will be about as well accepted by the main actors involved in this sector as it would be in the more aggressive edge of the financial community.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Self-regulation? Getting agreement from the “main stakeholders”? Whoa. You or I can say anything but the only thing that counts is what we do.

We do not see that anything of worth can be achieved in this domain unless there are real teeth to it. Where are the teeth? Where is the responsibility? Where is the good governance needed as a framework for working democracy, healthy entrepreneurship and society?

I don’t think that we can responsibly run away from this one.

Eric Britton,
Editor, World Streets

Question: Should car advertizing be more heavily regulated? Or taxed? Or mandate compensatory advertizing? Or or . . . ?

Our sustainable colleagues over at Nuova Mobilità, our Italian-language sister publication, have shown more consistent aggressiveness concerning debating the issues of car advertising then we (which points out the advantages of diversity) — but from time to time we too consider that it is useful to give this some thought and dialogue. N/M picked up the following quite contentious article on the subject today from the Guardian, which we are also pleased to share with you for your information and comment. (Ours appear at the end of this article).

Want to promote cycling? Cut back car adverts now

– Tom Bogdanowicz, guardian.co.uk. London. Wednesday, 17 February 2010.

The UK spends £500m a year on car ads and fetishises auto-ownership – no wonder cycling is stuck in the slow lane

Step out of your home and what do you see? There is a subliminal and overt message on the streets and in the media to buy cars and use them. You’ll find it on TV, on your computer, in the newspapers you read. It makes the promotion of any other form or transport, such as cycling, an uphill struggle regardless of how convenient, healthy and sustainable it may be.

The advertising spend on the promotion of motor vehicles in the UK exceeds £500m a year. And, by and large, it works: car ownership has grown steadily since the 1940s and, after the current economic crisis abates, it will likely continue to do so.

In sharp contrast, the promotion of cycling and walking is almost non-existent. When Transport for London ran a TV ad promoting cycling it was a unique occasion. The number of cyclists on UK roads has dropped sharply since the 1940s, and London stands out as a rare example of a city where cycling has doubled in six years.

While the government encourages us to walk, ride bikes and use public transport, it knows that car advertising is persuading us to do the exact opposite. Instead of sharing one car, households buy two or three so that everyone can express their own personality through their vehicle. If you believe the advertising, your car will make you more attractive, more popular and more successful. How many car ads show the reality of being stuck in traffic or the frustration of searching for a parking space?

Cycling gets the occasional media boost when team GB sweeps the Olympic medals or cycling in London soars, as more people realise it’s faster around town than driving. But very few companies pay big money for bike ads, so newspapers don’t have cycling sections – with notable exceptions, such as this blog – and there is no cycling equivalent of Top Gear.

The outcome of all that PR for cars is more sales as well as more congestion, more pollution and a greater demand for scarce parking spaces. There would have been no need for the congestion charge in London if not for the success of the auto industry’s publicity machine and the popularity of motoring programmes.

Reversing the trend of ever-increasing car ownership and use is not as difficult as it seems. If governments were to limit car advertising, as they did with alcohol and tobacco when the health impacts were recognised, people would take decisions about their mode of transport based on common sense rather than the promise of open highways, high speeds and glamorous locations. Common sense might well encourage cycling or walking for more journeys.

The survival of cycling as a transport mode and its growth in London is a tribute to its convenience and simplicity. Surveys show that one-in-five of us would like to cycle. If the barriers to cycling were removed – such as perceived danger and a lack of cycling infrastructure – cycle journeys in the UK might increase tenfold to the levels seen in Holland or Denmark. The benefits are obvious: more cycling and walking would help prevent health problems as well as climate change.

Holland is lucky to have invested in cycling before car-oriented planning created a road system that discourages cycle use. The UK, unfortunately, has seen several decades of car-centred planning. But, as London shows, the UK can still join the virtuous circle. Local traffic management schemes can be redesigned to allow cyclists through them and urban gyratories can be removed.

If reduced auto promotion stemmed the growth in car ownership as well, we could see more people cycling and drivers might discover that the roads were less busy and parking spaces easier to come by. In fact, there is little choice; Britain’s urban population continues to grow – unless we enable people to cycle and walk more, and stop persuading them to use cars, we face gridlock.

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About the author:
• Tom Bogdanowicz is campaigns and development officer for the London Cycle Campaign

* Source: guardian.co.uk. http://tinyurl.com/yb7ssh9

* Reader comments here: http://tinyurl.com/yznghcu

From the editor: A Personal Reflection:

It is not exactly that recourse to the law is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but it – that is the crude hammer of the law – is certainly the last refuge of citizens and political leaders who are not able to come up with a better and softer path to get the job done. Which is to say that we approach matters like this with a heavy heart, but then are ready to hear the arguments from both sides, all while not forgetting what sustainability and social justice are all about.

The bottom line: As an essentially naïve person, I always tend to confound or confuse (or wish hopefully about) advertising as having primarily an information function. Of course when any of us has a point we wish to make, there is also a human tendency to try to make that point in a way which renders it agreeable for the public you are trying to get on your side. At one point of course this can become a matter of more even than simple cajoling , namely attempting behavior modification, and this brings us in front of an ethical choice, or maybe better a dilemma.

I, and I am almost certain you also, have reached the conclusion that advertising in public places and the media can be extremely useful in matters in which society is having a problem or two: smoking too much, speeding too fast, drug dependency, various forms of unfair discrimination, the long list goes on. No reasonable person can deplore the intelligent and in a surprising number of cases pretty effective advertising/information campaigns that have been run over the last several decades in order to modify behavior of large numbers of people and create really a better and safer society for all. Moreover I, and once again I bet you too, want to see more of this done wisely and effectively.

Now back to our topic, namely the at least highly dubious habits of the automobile industry advertising practices. And here I have to put my cards on the table and state that I am not an anti-car guy. I have had quite a range of cars over the years which by and large I greatly appreciated and I think have used wisely. On the other hand, we are all increasingly aware that as things stand today there are many situations in which “own-cars” are not always necessarily the best way to get around every day (particularly in cities of course). Anyway, we shall soon enough have a billion of them raring to go all over the planet, so it is our job as citizen-guardians of the concept of sustainable transportation to provide perspective and, if we can manage it, wise counsel as to what exactly is going to be their proper place in society. After all, that is what governance is all about.

For starters, anyone would have to be blind or soft in the head not to see the pernicious qualities of much of the car advertising that we presently have in our various print and electronic media. Much of this goes well beyond giving us simple information about their products, and with the help of very sophisticated media specialists and experts in behavioral psychology often combine to create pattern and attitudes which are far from being in the public interest.

The fixation with speed, the subtle ways of manipulating and implying speed as a personal (to some) if not a social value — and hey! everybody knows that speed kills — gives us a great place to start. Some of the rest is more puzzling and is going to be more difficult, so until we can sort this out, speed gives us a good training ground to get going and figure out how to handle the rest.

My position on this today then is that I feel there is every reason for the vigorous public debate in as many fora and places as can be reached. Tom Bogdanowicz’s points are worthy of reflection, and it is good to see him looking at all of this from the perspective of cyclists. And if you click here – http://tinyurl.com/yznghcu – you will be taken to the extremely lively commentary that his article has excited, and which also might find it useful to spend the time with.

I wish I could tell you that I have a way to wrap this up so that you can put it all behind you and move on to other things. But I cannot and so as resourceful citizens we have to keep thinking about it, talking about it, and pretty soon doing something about it.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

Profile: Robin Carlisle in South Africa. "A helluva lot of people don’t have cars. I have to look after them"

To move from the unfair and hopelessly inefficient deadlock that is old mobility toward sustainable transport and sustainable cities, we need concepts, dialogues, demonstrations, projects and programs. But none of this is going to happen if we don’t have the people: the warm, surely fallible but somehow thoughtful, daring and courageous human beings who are needed to bring all this about.We need more heroes, wouldn’t you agree? Our Profiles here on World Streets are intended to remind the world that whenever something good happens, it is because there are real live people behind it. Let’s take Robin Carlisle who is working for change in Capetown South Africa for example. Continue reading

Green Drinks: From Beer to Eternity? (Or more than a pretty web page)

When we first set up shop here in Paris some years ago, we thought a lot about creating lively and inviting environments for all kinds of people to get together and exchange ideas and learn from each other in our areas of common interest. But for the most part this took the form of the familiar mix of workshops, conferences, and of our various virtual get-togethers on the web. Then one day in 2007 we learned of Green Drinks, and thought to give it a go in Paris.

Introduction: Our goal back then was to create here in this big and busy city an inviting environment which would encourage serendipitous encounters which cut across the usual professional and disciplinary lines. For us it was important that participation be easy and open, and that it bring in young people and as many women as possible. And a wide range of different kinds of backgrounds and views. As luck would have it, a group of young Parisian professionals agreed to take over the actual running of the project, which they continue to do successfully to this day.

So on the occasion of your next trip to Paris if you want to take the temperature of the green agenda here in all its varieties be sure you check out the webpage at http://www.greendrinks.org//Paris. On the last Monday or each month, the action starts at 19h30 at the Café Epicerie, 38 rue Sambre et Meuse 75010 Paris. you can also check out the organizers blog at www.greendrinks-paris.org.

And oh yes, why don’t you give some thought to creating a Green Drinks in your own city. You just may surprise yourself? There are more people and more brains thinking about and working on these issues than most of us would ever guess. Try it and let us know how it works out.

Now let’s hear what Edwin Datschefski who was there at birth and is the International Coordinator of Green Drinks has to tell us about how all this came to be.

Green Drinks: From Beer to Eternity?

A bunch of us who work in the environmental field used to meet up for a beer in London once a month. It was a nice gathering, and we always encouraged people to invite others, so you never knew who would be there and they were always interesting people and great connections were made and cool ideas were had. We started in 1990 and called it Green Drinks.

We used to call round the week before and tell people the date and venue, and for a while we tried mass faxing, but it was quite hard work and this was of course just in our spare time and “borrowing” office resources etc. so we were very pleased when email finally became widespread and we could set up an email list to send out reminders.

We also set up a fixed date (second Tuesday of the month) and venue so people could easily remember the rule and also put it in their diaries ahead of time.

In 2000 I set up a website greendrinks.org as an easy-to-remember URL and soon after that we realised a few friends from Oxford were having their own Green Drinks too so we listed them on the website. Soon there were quite a few listed on the website so I handed over organisation of the London Green Drinks to Paul Scott, who still runs it, in order to concentrate on the now-international website. When I say ‘concentrate’ bear in mind this is all stuff in my spare time, the odd hour here and there.

New York City joined as the first US GD in 2002 and as Green Drinkers travelled the world and relocated jobs, more sprung up. Today in 2010 there are 600 Green Drinks in 62 countries.

I specifically used biological thinking in the design of Green Drinks. I wrote the Green Drinks Code (http://www.greendrinks.org/Start) as a code of practice but also as a genetic code, the DNA of the organism.

Green Drinks is biological in that it is:

Distributed — there is no central organisation, each city organiser can do what they like and maintains their own list of members.

Viral — member-get-member is the basic principle — a simple concept spread by word of mouth.

Adaptive — each Green Drinks city has its own logo and traits, the ones that work best for its location — some are a little formal, some rather random, some have speakers to break the ice (like in Scandinvia and some US cities), most are just freeform. The freeform nature of most of the mingling is the key, and this can be enhanced by good hosting and introduction-making on the night.

I think the strangest thing about Green Drinks is that the goals are so vague and the benefits hard to quantify — but they are undoubtedly there. Sometimes people say we should get some charitable or government funding, but then others will insist that independence is far more important. Of course it’s not much of a proposal in conventional terms — ‘We need this funding so me and my mates can go have a few beers together’ …

I’ve upgraded the website a few times in recent years, and we are flirting with on-line social networking via Facebook, Ning, Twitter etc but there are countless online environmental networks, and Green Drinks is fundamentally about face to face interaction in a room.

I have never made any predictions or even plans about Green Drinks, but I would guess we will continue to expand though this may well slow as of course sometimes cities drop out and that has to be matched with new cities joining up.

I think Green Drinks has some good lessons for other types of organisation who want to grow, and staying informal and ad hoc is a key one of them. Go along to a Green Drinks near you to see how it works, or drop me a line if you think I can help with any ideas on your organisation design.

# # #

Edwin Datschefski is the International Coordinator of Green Drinks, www.greendrinks.org . Edwin’s latest book, The Total Beauty of Sustainable Products, is proving to be a contemporary classic, introducing everyone from students to CEOs to the delights and nuances of sustainable product development.

World Carshare Consortium 2010 Operations Plan: Coming to a bend in the road

Since 1998 we have actively supported the development of carsharing projects and programs in cities and countries around the world. Over that time the concept of sharing a car has grown from a largely unknown transport option, to the extent where today there are more than one thousand cities in the world where you can find a shared car this morning. The main instrument of our collaboration has been something we called the World Carshare Consortium. But as you will see here are a few changes in store for the way in which we run this part of our sustainable transportation initiative.

Short introduction:
The World Carshare Consortium which you can handily access at www.worldcarshare.org has been run on an open and free basis, much like World Streets, over all these years. However for reasons of hard economic realities we are now constrained to start to change that formula, which is the purpose of this posting. This may interest you, since it is relevant to how all of us can go about combining our knowledge, energies, and resources to advancing good sustainable transportation ideas. And good carsharing is certainly one of the best.

If you have any questions or require further background, a great starting point is the world carshare site itself, and in addition you can address them to the editor here at World Streets.

New Mobility Partnerships, Paris. 18 February 2010

Dear members and supporters of World Carshare,

After twelve years of long and faithful service to the concept of carsharing as a great and even noble way of getting around in our day-to-day lives, today is the day in which I am obliged to change the rules of the game for World Carshare. As most of you know, after more than a decade running this as a wide open shared enterprise, I do this with no little regret. But as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tze reminded us so long ago: after ten years of notoriety even the greatest poet in China should change his village and change his name. So in this Year of the Tiger and with his good counsel in mind, I will keep my name but today is the day we make a few changes in our village.

The new rules of the game: Rather than being free and open to all, from this day on our World Carshare will be run along, let us say, more “commercial” lines. No not commercial really, but nonetheless as I have indicated in an earlier note on the subject, for reasons of necessity we now have to get better at sharing the load. You understand of course that world carsharing simply cannot be a one-man job.

Now while my earlier calls for support have gone pretty much ignored by the great majority of the close to five hundred people currently signed in to this forum, happily several handfuls of you have stepped forward to help share the burden: something like two dozen individuals, a total of one carshare supplier, and as of yesterday a generous grant from one of our national partners who shares our belief that carsharing is something that is really worth supporting. These are good steps forward to help us make this work, but until all this work is fully and fairly supported, we now have to move to our new and somewhat more austere rules set. It works like this:

As of this morning, all standing subscriptions of our close to five hundred members are being canceled. In exact parallel with this, I am sending out letters of invitation to those people and groups who have recently been in touch either with individual (subscriptions) or collective support — or as volunteers indicated that they will continue to be ready to share with us their information and insights on the sector. In addition to this, we will continue to maintain free access to anyone coming in from the developing countries, unfunded local environmenal and similar public interest groups, and of course students and others of limited means and high interest.

Several of our number have indicated their willingness to work with us to identify and eventually secure more substantial support from public agencies in their country who share our interests. This would be extremely important to guarantee our future viability, and I hope that others of you will now get in touch so that we can discuss how we might work together to tailor and put this approach to work in your country. If we can get a handful of committed public sector partners behind this, we will be able to return to our former wide open working context, which to my mind is far the best way to get the job done.

The months ahead are going to be extremely active ones in our slice of the sustainable transportation puzzle. This work is going to be led by the communications within and collaboration from members of the consortium. I very much hope that you will be among us to take part in this process of building knowledge and consensus on a literally worldwide basis, and in an area in which both are much needed.

So there you have it World Carshare friends. 2010 is the Year of the Tiger and if we are going to make sustainable development work in our cities and daily lives, it will not be because we are docile little pussies. I hope to hear from you and that you will join us as part of the solution. I promise you, the world needs us.

Best from Paris — a city incidentally where when World Carshare just getting underway there were zero carshare operators and zero understanding of the part of the city as to what their role in this might be. And where today there are a handful of highly competitive firms offering more cars, more rides, to more people every day, and all that under the benevolent eye of city authorities who have got the message and have shown themselves ready to do their bit to bring these great services to more and more people everyday. And you can take my word for it, that was no accident.

Eric Britton


Some final words of background and a few reminders just in case it may have escaped your attention:

1. The World CarShare Consortium (1997 text):
“This free, cooperative, independent, international communications program supports carsharing projects and programs, worldwide. Since 1997 it offers a convenient place on the web to gather and share information and independent views on projects and approaches, past, present and planned future, freely and easily available to all comers.”

2. Why we support carsharing (1998 text):
“Why does The Commons support a concept that may to some appear to be so off-beat and marginal as carsharing? Simple! We think it’s a great, sustainable, practical mobility idea whose time has come and whose potential impact is quite simply huge. Carsharing: the missing link in your city’s sustainable transport system.”

3. Comments and accolades from readers of World Carsharewww.acknowledgments.worldcarshare.com

4. Ditto from one hundred and one readers of World Streets http://tinyurl.com/ws-101

5. Entries over last year on World Streets concerning carsharingClick here.

6. Who came into World Carshare today:

Carsharing: The last nail in the coffin of old mobility.

I rest my case.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets