Building knowledge and support: New Mobility Focus Groups

Group problem-solving and collaborative tool development have been among the key objectives of the New Mobility Agenda since its creation in 1988. Our thesis was and is that there are a growing number of able people and clever innovative projects around the world that are leading the way — and that it can be useful if we here at World Streets can help to open up peer dialogues and better link and support them. The tools we have developed and continue to make pretty good use of are, by today’s standards, very simple, but they do work.

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“The Weekly Carnage” (A template for your city)

True democracy is only possible with the daily participation of vigilant and active citizens. Periodic elections and public administrations are of course critical building blocks for a democratic society; but without an active citizenry the full benefits of democracy evade us.  As active citizens we are obliged to act as “a thorn in the side of possibly hesitant administrators, politicians and businessmen in denial; and through our joint efforts, energy and personal choices, placing them and ourselves firmly on the path to a more sustainable and more just society.”

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Watery Future for the City of Light

One of the amazing/complicating things about the world of mobility in cities is that it is one of those slices of daily life where everything touches something else and then something else again. Which means that nothing ever obliges us by standing still long enough so that we can fix it fast, once and for ever. It’s all about process.

So here is a report from today’s New York Times on a pretty exciting waterfront  project here in Paris for which World Streets’ editor was interviewed this week  and about which, when you get right down to it, is pure New Mobility Agenda. As you can see he managed to patch in some of our common concerns here (see closing section below), along with some words on the importance of value capture and tax reform, followed up by a good closer from Todd Litman in Vancouver. You will recognize and I hope appreciate it.

Sustainable mobility: Step by step. Step by consistent persistent step.

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Honk! The greenest thing about the budget was knotted around the Chancellor’s neck

Strong environment reporting from the UK.(From the editor)
To move to sustainable transport in our cities, we need to create a strong citizen consensus for change — a tough call since the issues and necessary remedial approaches tend to be quite complex and unfamiliar to many of us who are so accustomed to what we see out on the street every day that it effectively tends to freeze our minds. While there have for years been examples of outstanding environmental reporting, the mainstream media by and large have not yet been brought around to our side. However this is changing, and while certainly more slowly then one would wish we are increasingly hearing from a growing culture of investigative journalists and commentators who are showing that they are ready to dig in and deal with these complexities.
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W/S Open Dialogue: Should public transport be free? (v. 1.0)

World Streets is pleased to announce publication in the months and maybe more ahead of  a series of articles and other media to introduce and investigate this idea in-depth in these pages.  We would ask our readers to bear in mind that there is a great deal more to this approach than may at first meet the eye. So let’s see what we get when we stretch our minds together on this perhaps surprisingly important and, we believe, ultimately practical sustainable city concept.

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Why Africa Streets is necessary (via Africa Streets)

Why Africa Streets is necessary Here is a map showing the locations of the last eighty readers who checked into World Streets this morning. It is typical of what we see day after day in this  collaborative international forum.  Hmm. Where is Africa on this map? It would not be a big deal if either (a) the matters covered by W/S were only of interest and use to the countries that consult the site as you can see here, or if (b) the African continent were well covered by other and … Read More

via Africa Streets

Velo-City Global 2010 Conference opens in Copenhagen

From Morten Lange, Reykjavík on his way to VeloCity 2010.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 22 June, the 2010 Velo-City Global Conference opens in Copenhagen, and will last for 4 days. I can warmly recommend taking a look at the program and abstracts available at the web-site, I trust that also for people not attending the conference, the programme and abstracts can supply useful pointers to people working in interesting fields, regarding cycling and the South.

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Transportation modeling: Is it art, or science?

Transportation modeling provides us with a means for examining different futures. But is it .  .  .  science or is it art?

Robert Bain asked this question to a British academic transport list (UTSG) last week and got an interesting range of responses which he has written up with an analysis and commentary. He added to his invitation: “If you’re inclined to expand on your view(s) I’d be delighted to read your thoughts. Similarly, any references to articles or papers that touch on this issue would be gratefully received.” (Likewise here.)

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This week’s image

This week’s cover image for our new World Streets site appears with warm thanks to Beatrice Jarvis, a young British choreographer, photographer and urban researcher. You can visit her website and see her photographs in Urban re-passages at :

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Get your copy of “World Streets Weekly Edition” (Or, if you prefer, the daily or monthly edition)

Three-step Executive Summary:
1. Log into World Streets/Open Edition at
2. On top right, you will see a To Subscribe box, where you plug in your email.
3. Minutes later you will receive a welcoming email, offering you the following one-click choices
• Email format – Select to receive in HTML or plain text.
• Delivery window – Select daily or weekly delivery.
From there on you will find clear step by step instructions to note your preferences. But now if your time permits here is a bit of background with more subscription details, if you wish:

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Africa Streets Mission

The mission of Africa Streets is to create an open public platform in support of sustainable transport and sustainable and fair communities across this great and needy continent. Unconstrained by bureaucracy, economic interests or schedules, Africa Streets is being launched as a wide open international platform for critical discussion and diverse forms of cross-border collaboration on the challenging, necessarily conflicted topic of “sustainable transportation and social justice”.
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Knoogle Key Sources, Links and Blogs (via Africa Streets)

This is one of the first postings to our collaborative Africa Streets project which is just getting underway, in part as a celebration of the first ever World Cup being held in Africa. A great deal of work remains to be done before it can claim to be a useful tool. You are invited to join in with comments and suggestions. It is a great and needy continent.

– – – > Click here to search all Key Sources, Links and Blogs from Africa Streets

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“The First Step in the New Mobility Agenda is . . . not to take that step at all”

Editorial: Transportation vs. Access vs. (New) Mobility:
This troubling triad has been around for a long time and continues to haunt many of us to this day. Even here at World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda, our puzzling over the rightful combination and interpretation of these three in many ways related concepts is a matter of several decades. Let’s see if we can open up this important topic for creative discussion.
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Parking slots are like . . . toilets?

This is supposed to be the fatal ten day stretch during which your valiant editor has promised to be out there pounding the pavement to secure sources of finance so that we can keep World Streets going. But every day interesting ideas and proposals for projects keep slipping in over the transom, some of which just too hard to resist. Here is today’s slip in his otherwise firm resolve. Sorry. Simply irresistible.
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What was wrong with "Old Mobility"

In order what needs to be done to create a healthier and better performing set of transportation arrangements, World Streets make a consistent distinction between what we call “old mobility” and “new mobility.” The difference between the two is quite simple. And substantial.

Old mobility was the form of transportation policy, practice and thinking that took its full shape and momentum starting in the mid twentieth century, at a time when we all lived in a universe that was, or at least seemed to be, free of constraints. It served us well in many ways at the time, albeit with exceptions, though we were blind to most of them most of the time. It was a very different world back them. But that world is over. And it will never come back.

The planet was enormous, the spaces great and open, energy abundant and cheap, resources endless. The “environment” was not a consideration, “climate” was the weather, technology was able to come up with a constant stream of solutions, builders were able to solve the problems that arose from bottlenecks by endlessly expanding capacity at the trouble points, and fast growth and the thrill of continuing innovations masked much of what was not all that good.

37 things that were wrong with Old Mobility

It does not work well in the realities that constitute the 21st century, because it is . . .

1. Based on an essentially closed system (looking at “transport” in isolation from the rest)
2. Hierarchical
3. Top-down
4. Centralized
5. Statistics based (historical)
6. Bounded
7. Reductive
8. End-state solution oriented
9. Authoritarian
10. Supply oriented
11. Oriented to maximizing vehicle throughput and speeds
12. Expert based
13. Engineering-based (i.e., working “within the box”, but with high technical competence)
14. Binary: i.e., either “private” (i.e., car-based) or “public” transport (and nothing of importance in between)
15. De facto car-based
16. Costly to the community (unnecessarily)
17. Costly to individuals (unnecessarily)
18. Resource intensive (unnecessarily)
19. Total dependence on costly imported fossil fuels (unnecessarily)
20. Highly polluting
21. Massive public health menace
22. Destroys urban fabric
23. Hardware and build solutions, technology oriented
24. Treats ex-car solutions as (very!) poor cousins
25. Offers poor service/economic package to elderly, handicapped, poor and young
26. Sharp divide between planning, policy and operations
27. Obscure (to the public) decision making processes
28. Focuses on bottlenecks impeding traffic flows (i.e., builds for > traffic)
29. Attempts to anticipate them and build to forestall
30. Searches for large projects to “solve” the problems
31. These large projects and the substantial amounts involved often lead to corruption and waste of public moneys
32. Still too much separation from underlying land use realities.
33. Inadequate attention to transportation substitutes or complements
34. Increasingly technical and tool oriented (this to the good)
35. Anachronistic,
36. Not doing the job that we need in 2005 and beyond!, and finally and worst of all. . .
37. Creates a climate of passive citizenry and thus undermines participatory democracy and collective involvement and problem solving

But this does not reflect the priorities and the reality of transport, our needs, and our potential in the 21st century, and above all in our cities which are increasingly poorly served by not only our present mobility arrangements; but also the thinking and values that underlie them. Our rural areas are likewise suffering and without a coherent game plan. We now live in an entirely different kind of universe, and the constraints which were never felt before, or ignored, are now emerging as the fundamental building blocks for transportation policy and practice in this new century.

It’s time for a change. And the change has to start with us. You see, we are the problem. But we can also be part of the solution. So off we go!

Some World Streets references to help dig in on this:

Sustainable transportation’s Dirty Secret

We badly need a new American transportation model (because the one you sent us is broke)

Why transport planners need to think small to tackle climate change

The Old Mobility impasse (PDF)

Honey, you got to slow down

What/who keeps holding back New Mobility reform?

The First Step in the New Mobility Agenda . . . is not to take that step at all.

Editorial: Transportation vs. Access vs. (New) Mobility:
This troubling triad has been around for a long time and continues to haunt many of us to this day. Even here at World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda, our puzzling over the rightful combination and interpretation of these three in many ways related concepts is a matter of several decades. Let’s see if we can open up this important topic for creative discussion. Continue reading

Cars and the no-choice syndrome

World Streets gives considerable time, space and thought to the whole complex tissue of the relationships that exist between people and cars. Auto-dependence and freedom of choice. People and the ways in which they access and use cars. Their reasons for owning a car. And when it comes up, people vs. cars. Robin Chase, one of the founders of Zipcar has given a lot of thought to this too, and today shares with us some ideas about the inevitability of choosing cars.

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The fine art of working with machine translations on World Streets.

To make the contents of World Streets more broadly accessible to friends and colleagues who work primarily in other language groups, we have linked the site to the increasingly well-performing Google machine translation engines that you will now find here. In each case all you have to do is click the language in which you wish to see the rough translation, and it will quickly appear on your monitor. But that, dear reader, is just the beginning of the story.

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Photographs, images wanted for new World Streets platform

If you click to our new World Streets home page here at you will see at the top this very attractive photograph of a bucolic scene which, while certainly pleasing to the eye, is not exactly consistent with the theme of the world’s only sustainable transport daily.

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World Streets is closing down the editorial department . . . . . . for the next week as we reach out for funding support.

As founder and editor of World Streets, I have three jobs. The first is to organize the production side of the journal and to find and work with collaborators around the world to produce challenging thinkpieces and articles which hew to the rigorous strategic lines we have set out to guide all our work (See  Strategy ). The second is to contribute as editorialist and author. And the third — this is the one I really do not like and am demonstrably not very good at– is that of securing the funding needed to keep this boat afloat. So for reasons of force majeur, I have decided to close down the editorial side of this enterprise for the coming week-plus, and concentrate on fund-raising. And here is maybe where you can help.

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