Editorial: The Seven Simple Truths of Sustainable Mobility (Come argue with me)

Sometimes in life things can be simple. Let’s look at one case.

Doubtless the most severe single problem holding us back in the hard up-hill struggle for “sustainable transport” in cities and countries around the world is that so far everyone seems to have a different definition and a different agenda.  Google offered 947,000 entries under this phrase this morning and all it takes is a quick tour of the Google News rubric to  get a quick education on the enormous range of interpretations of what the phrase means to different people, places and interests.

This is perfectly understandable given the enormous range of interests, circumstances, mind sets, and concerns involved. There are for example all those who are dedicated to improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists; others pushing in favor of more flexible and responsive public transport services; ridesharing and carsharing; BRT and its many variants; new roles for taxis and other entrepreneurial transport forms; more transparent decision making and real public consultation and involvement; health and safety; emission reductions; energy efficiency; noise reductions; and the long list goes on.

And then on the other side of the ledger there are the wide range of issues and approaches getting attention for both maintaining or radically transforming the role of the automobile in the city. Limiting access, speed reductions, tougher performance standards for suppliers, and arguably most important of all, full cost pricing across the board, whether for purchase, operation, access, parking, and at the end of its life disposal of the two tons of glass and steel I so joyfully bought years ago..

And at the same time there are all those other proposals and approaches which loudly claim to fly under the banner of sustainability but which in our view need to be put to tougher and more public tests. Many of these last call for very large investments of taxpayer money or property, and often are encumbered by considerable lag times before bringing even those benefits to the streets of even that city, never mind to the planet as a whole. (Motto: The bigger the project, the harder the sell, the longer and harder we need to look.)

True enough, the domain of sustainable transport is enormous. But we can make sense of it if we wish.

The first step is for us to get firmly in mind that there are no big bang solutions for sustainable transport. Not in a city anyway. No matter what its claims, no project, no matter how big, ambitious or expensive, can ever offer quality service to more than a few percent of the population. There is instead a very long and extremely varied list of available policies, services and measures: carrots and sticks.

So we really do need a unifying strategy to pull all these threads together in the public interest.

Moreover, we need a strategy that is going to work for the mega challenge cities of India, China and the developing world. For the wealthy cities of the OECD region. For small towns anywhere in the world. Because at the end of the day we all really want the same things (do we not?). We all want deep democracy and active citizen participation to shape their city. Efficient, affordable and fair transport for all. Safe, quiet, good-smelling neighborhoods. Happy, social, integrated, and respectful communities.

The seven truths of Sustainable Mobility:

If you look hard enough, you will see that there is only one overarching strategy that will do the job. It works like this:

Truth 1. We can’t have a sustainable planet without sustainable cities

Truth 2. Nor sustainable cities without sustainable mobility

Truth 3. The key to sustainable mobility is to ensure that every project, every investment, every step we take will end up by reducing motor vehicle miles or kilometers travelled (VMT, VKT) both in that place and overall.

Truth 4. Moreover these reductions have to be achieved strategically, quickly (in the one to five years directly ahead) and at scale. (Otherwise it fails the responsibility test.)

Truth 5. The policy response involves a strategic combination of generous carrots and rigorous sticks, which will of course be different from city to city and country to country, but even with all the necessary variations to accommodate the uniqueness of each place the central lines of the strategy will be the same:

Truth 6. We do not have to venture into uncertain territory to achieve these objectives. After the last two decades of on-street experience in leading edge cities around the world, we know all we need to know about both (a) the sticks (economic, regulatory and other instruments to reduce, sequester and control traffic, etc.) and (b) the carrots (all those other ways of getting around which need in each case to be woven into a mobility system of affordability, enhanced life quality, time savings and real choice).

Truth 7. When we reduce VKT/VMT notably and rapidly through the best available means and proven strategies, here are the main benefits
a. We help save the planet: through resource savings and GHG and related  emissions reductions.
b. We proportionally reduce today’s crushing dependence of imported fossil fuels.
c. We create a more human and livable city.

In order to achieve these ambitious – but completely doable – goals, we have to open up more choices and better and fairer mobility for all those in and around our cities who are at present NOT well served by the old (20th century dominant) own-car, no-choice pattern (bearing in mind that this is a majority of all citizens). And we need to understand and orchestrate the very large number of often very small measures and actions will make up the new mobility system into coherent packages of measures

If these are in fact true claims, they constitute an agenda, which brings us to the question: An agenda for whom? Let me answer without hesitating.

• For every mayor and city council on the planet
• For every public agency that is involved in these issue at the local, national or into level
• For every NGO , consultant, specialized research and public interest group
• For every foundation and source of funds that can help execute, improve and reinforce this common agenda.
• For every bank and financial institution that funds public projects in this and related fields.
• For every individual citizen who wishes to take active part in this radical change for their community and for the planet.

(BTW, did you find yourself anywhere on that list? You really should be there.)

Conclusion: We can’t do it just with the carrots. And we certainly can’t do it without the sticks. We know what they are, how they work, and how to bring them on line.

So what is holding us back?

Your turn:

(See reader comments below and  on the New Mobility Cafe at http://tinyurl.com/NewMobCafe)

19 thoughts on “Editorial: The Seven Simple Truths of Sustainable Mobility (Come argue with me)

  1. Hi Eric,

    This is great, but for Truth 7 I would insert, before* the current points, something like:

    a) Happy, social, integrated, respectful communities
    b) Safe, quiet, good-smelling neighbourhoods

    *A lot of people still do not believe that humans are causing global warming (tough beans) and related/more importantly the “green” thing is over-rated and over-used as a hook for New Mobility. Also most people don’t care about where their oil comes from. Sure the following points are acceptable but who is this Seven Simple Truths list for? The public… or policy makers? They have many of the same priorities in relation to the points I suggest but policy makers also have to meet various environmental goals but to do it effectively get their constituents to help using a different angle (e.g. 1% of the 40-odd% of the people in Copenhagen cycle because it is “green”, most do some because of relatively well-applied sticks and carrots).

    – T

  2. Dear Eric,

    Thanks – I agree, you will need sticks as well.

    In Asia this was acknowledged initially by Singapore who had as first tight controls on the number of vehicles and their use. This was then followed by Shanghai which also has fairly tight quota of 7000 new vehicles per month.
    Lately, Beijing has joined the “sticks” waggon by imposing an albeit weak quota of 20,000 cars per month. In addition I have been at meetings over the last months where several governments referred to their plans to develop Congestion Charging prices. (China and Indonesia).

    It appears that in this case you might not be that radical in terms of your recommendations, although I would assume that you, I and a lot of other readers of this forum would like to see a much faster roll-out of both the carrots and the sticks parts.


  3. It’s difficult “to argue” with you, because you laid out the argument so clearly, succinctly, and cogently.

    Oftentimes, when people raise the concepts of sustainable transportation, they talk about the advantage of “increasing choices” through investments in walking, biking, and transit infrastructure (and sometimes but not enough, programming).

    Choice is a big hook, and was the big hook used by the Labour Government in the UK on so many issues. But expanding options doesn’t mean that better choices are made, nor does it mean that scarce resources are necessarily used more efficiently and cost effectively.

    I counter that the issue isn’t “choice,” because given the choice most people will still drive, but that the issue is “optimality” of “throughput” and the cost-effective utilization of (scarce) transportation infrastructure.

    It’s a take off of the point that Jane Jacobs made once when asked about this question. When someone asked her about congestion and there not being enough capacity, she said something like “you asking the wrong question. The question isn’t ‘why aren’t there enough roads?’ but why are there so many cars?”

    So yep, I consider “sticks” necessary as well as more focused ways of addressing mobility choice through “design” — both in linking land use and transportation planning policies and in focused transportation demand management planning and implementation systems.

    There is a really good piece in Fast Company magazine that just came out about “Active Design”:


    In the U.S., Arlington County, VA (Master Transportation Plan) and Seattle (Urban Mobility Plan) have particularly good transportation plans that focus on optimal mobility and people throughput, instead of a more traditional mobility focus on enabling faster motor vehicle travel through the use of the traditional LOS methodology to justify road expansion projects.

    While Victoria State in Australia is the world leader in focused transportation demand management protocols, Arlington County, VA does a pretty good job in this area, although not exactly how it’s done in Victoria, due to budget constraints. However, at last year’s Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference, I was shocked to see a presentation by “little” Whatcom County, Washington, which does TDM programming at the level of what is done in Victoria, working with a consulting firm out of Europe.


    Like many “simple” arguments, there’s still a lot of complexity and nuance.

    Richard Layman
    Washington, DC

  4. This just in from Per Schillander OF the Swedish Transport Administration
    Yes, I agree, these are seven simple truths, worth repeating. But … maybe they are so simple they’re not useful in the ‘old mobility reality’? Let me pick an example (exception) for Truth number 3:

    Suppose you have a city, crowded with cars. How big proportion of the cars/VKT could remain in a future? 80, 50, 30 or zero per cent? Since the car have so many advantages zero is less plausible. Let us aim at 50 %, close to many calculations and visions. Suppose this city also have a large proportion (20 %) of traffic going through the city center. It’s easy to see the use of a new road “going pass” the city and many politicians may strive for that. Even in the future picture with 50 % less car traffic this new road may fit and make a good ‘net value for money’. The new pass-by road could ease the crowded city center and create new capacity, but also for PT and bikes. Isolated the road is bad, but in the future vision it make sense.

    This is not unusual, in fact a standard wish/demand from city councils today. As I try to sketch it could be wise to build a new road, with (limited) increased capacity IF (and only if) it fits into a plan for new mobility and rebuilding a city center. I believe there are many examples of this kind of city shaping in our part of the world. The hard task is, as I see it, to sketch a sensible picture of the future city, relate it to the demands of today and make the politicians understand it. What could be built and what should not?

    Best Regards
    Per Schillander

    • Dear Per,

      This is a brilliant question (below) and I have posted it as a comment to World Streets as well as here. And thanks, I am very happy to have my best go at it, because you are getting right into the guts of the issues.

      If you have just made me the mayor of Stockholm, Cairo, or Beijing, here is how I would go about my job.

      1. I would accept your expert recommendation and set a target to reduce the number of car owning households in the city proper voluntarily by 50% in the next five years, targeting the first 10% reductions already in 2012.

      a. I would not present myself for reelection unless my targets are met (or at least come very very close).

      2. I would further mandate that this transfer will take place by choice, a citizen’s choice. That is to say, it’s my job as mayor not only to cut low occupancy own-car travel in our city, but also to provide “better than own car” options for all. I am confident that by working with the best I can achieve that and that in the process half the households in my city will sell off that unnecessarily expensive car, save money, save hassles, and get to where they want to go more quickly than if they hung on to their elephant.

      3. What this last (better than car) refers to is of course an integrated cocktail of multiple modes and choices, and it is my job to make sure that my cocktail is better, faster and cheaper than hanging on to your car (in most cases).

      4. Sticks: While on the one hand I will be making life just a bit more constrained for car owner/drivers year by year (fair enough since they in the past have benefited from huge public subsidies for inefficient and unfair use of the public infrastructure), my staff and I, together with a wide range of transport providers and others concerned will use the full available toolkit. My tools for doing this would include:

      a. Steady transfer of street space to more space efficient modes

      b. Full cost pricing for parking throughout the city, along with steady cuts in on-street parking (in stages like the rest of course) as we transfer that space to better uses.

      c. For drivers travelling through the city center to get to their destination, the first step will be to reduce the speed limit to 50 kph (30 mph) on the main axes, with aggressive enforcement by all available means.

      d. I would also seriously consider enacting road user charges on these through axes (though not using last generation technologies since things are moving very fast in this area pushed by technology advances)

      e. I would put an end to all road construction and widening, and use the money allocated or planned for them for advancing the New Mobility Agenda in my city.

      5. I accept that I will have fierce and at time insulting resistance from not only the car lobby and many local business people (at first, until we have prove our approach is also good for business). I am prepared to take that heat. But there will also be initial resistance from many honest citizens who are car owner/drivers and have not only have become accustomed to using their cars without constraint (Freie fahrt für freie buerger) and have as a result organized their lives around their car. But these people will be able to hold on to their cars if they deem them necessary, it is just that the cost and time in transit will be gradually increased over the five year transition phase. And in any event as the advantages of the new arrangements become clear, many of them will buy into the new mobility for reasons of their own.

      6. And in parallel as we start to clear lanes and streets of their old use patterns, we will be bringing in new modes and travel options that in their totality prove a “better than car” transportation option for the city.

      7. Then when I have been elected mayor again, I will start the whole process over. After all, this is a democracy and the people voted for me to do just that.

      I realize that I have not responded to all your questions Per, but I would hope that the above sketch would deal with the highlights – at least as I see them.

      Vote Britton for Mayor.

  5. You should remeber that Per is employed by the road builder organisation in Sweden ;-).
    But research tells us that if we want a sustainable transport system we have to decerease transport volumes and not increase them.

    We have just finished a rather large research project for the Swedish Transport Administration on induced traffic. And one of the conclusions is that if we build new roads, we always have to check for induced traffic. And if this is not acceptable, and so it of is in the view of sustaianbility, you must offset the volumes on other parts of the system.

    HAve a nice weekend!

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  7. Great points, but I’m not sure this seven truths apply to all countries, particularly when it comes to the following:

    1. “Imported fossil fuels”. many countries, and the industries they rely on now, will be, at least partially, the promoters of innovative methods to get the technology we need, being that based on fossil fuels (imported or not) or renewable energy. Of course this has to be taken into account with any changes in relative prices of transport and ownership of transport means.

    2. When talking with many stake holders and policy makers, particularly in Latin America, their main concern is time saving, due to the loss of productivity these countries experience in having people to spend more than 4 hours in getting to work (back and forth).
    Of course, the saved emissions are also important, but at this point they are more on the political side, and don’t really mobilize decisions. Perhaps with credited NAMAs we could see a switch from this in the future.

    My two cents.


  8. Okay, I will argue with you, if it pleases you, Eric.

    One the whole a great start for a discussion. Except for Truth 3, where VT (vehicle trips) are probably a more important metric than VMT or VKT, and Truth 6, where you suggest that we know everything need to know, which might be correct in a ‘technology’ sense but is clearly not the case in a behavioural and decision-making sense.

    Why VT? We should break ‘unsustainable transport’ into two parts: the use of vehicles during off-peak, non-congested times; and the use of vehicles during peak, congested periods. The amount of externalities that an incremental trip causes in each of these two different parts are significantly different. Cutting out three short trips (low VMT) during peak might be as effective as cutting one long one (high VMT) off peak. Reducing the mulitiple impacts of congestion is more about getting the vehicle count (VT) reduced, than it is about reducing the amount of distance travelled.

    What about the ‘everything is known’ mantra? I suggest this is one of the biggest hurdles to making progress. If we would just stop believing this for a moment, perhaps we would start to define the sort of applied research that would help us reach a target. In fact, if we got around to setting some targets, and really worked towards achieving them, we might also be much better off.

    Having just begun marketing to actual commuters the concept of ‘express carpooling’ (see http://www.raspberryexpress.com) I can say that I think the most challenging thing we do not know is how to communicate with potential users. We can define the functionality of a new system, but do we a) really know commuters would use it, and b) know how to get into the commuters’ heads so that they are even aware of the new alternative? (By the way, if anyone has suggestions for me about this, I am open to hearing them).

    Kind regards from Auckland, New Zealand.

    Paul Minett

    • Thanks Paul. I like your comments and your challenges very much. It is in this way that we will be able to bring this far closer to the bone. A couple of remarks in turn:

      1. Is VM/KT the key? I really do feel it is, because as we reduce these totals both locally and systemically, we in fact accomplish the rest — but only if the sticks are accompanied in a powerful and timely way by the necessary and many carrots.

      2. Enrique Rebolledo suggested yesterday that we also give attention to offering modes and services that will reduce TMT (Trip Minutes Travelled). I could not agree more, but I do not want to create too many levels of complexity here (after all the title is something about a small number of “simple truths” which when taken together can get us moving on a better path for policy and practice in our challenging sector. And I really do believe that if we dig far enough into our new transportation and policy philosophy we will be cutting down TMT as well.

      3. As to your point about the ‘everything is known’ mantra’, once again I agree with your caution but stick to my guns here. That is not to say that we do not have plenty to learn, but good new mobility projects — and your work on Express Carpooling is right in the middle of this philosophy/policy — what is interesting about them is that in almost all cases you can look around for best available experiences, query them closely, adapt for local conditions, and off you go. Now in all cases these are services, arrangements with an almost immediate feedback on performance, meaning that you learn and adjust as you go along. (After all this is 2011 and we are on the leading cusp of a century of logistics). That is harder to do when you are working on a third massive ring road construction or a new metro project that will come on line in only 15 or more years. Under the New Mobility Agenda and this new wave of projects and services it is built on, we can handle both learning and bad news, because when there is bad (or good) news we have the huge advantage of getting it early. And time to adjust. But this all presumes of course not only that we are responsible and brave, but also able to learn.

      Thanks so much Paul and believe me I await with real interest the next generation of Express Carpooling projects (bearing in mind that a generation now is 18 months, eh?)


      • Hi Eric
        I agree with your point that if we significantly reduce total VM/KT we will probably have reduced all the other metrics that people have been discussing. Unfortunately you confuse this point with something about carrots and sticks, which is too vague to win the argument, which is about the key to sustainable mobility.

        Your Truth 3 says (so we are reminded this far down the page) “The key to sustainable mobility is to ensure that every project, every investment, every step we take will end up by reducing motor vehicle miles or kilometers travelled (VMT, VKT) both in that place and overall.”

        So far several of your correspondents have suggested this is an oversimplification. I have suggested the total number of trips. Another has suggested the total time. Another asked for clarity about which ‘V’. Another suggested some distance is okay if it has broader gains.

        So the question is, if we are to agree with your seven simple truths, can we agree with your thruth 3 the way it is written? Does it help us (achiee our goals) to simplify everything down to this single metric?

        I am assuming you put up the seven truths and asked us to argue with you because you have some purpose for the list…perhaps to produce a primer for city and state officials so that they will better understand this space.

        So, for the sake of the argument I am going to suggest you should consider modifying truth 3. It is far too much of an oversimplification.

        In addition to the points already made, the whole vehicle-based sustainable transportation field (better engines and fuels) believe that replacing a vehicle mile powered by fossil fuels with one powered by renewable energy is a valid part of sustainable mobility.

        I do not have a nicely reworded alternative to offer for Truth 3, but I do suggest there is a danger in promoting the view that reducing VM/KT is THE key to sustainable mobility.

  9. Eric:

    I believe you should have specified what kind of vehicles should be reduced in miles traveled. It would be good to have the VMT increased for some types of vehicles.

    Reducing VMT of cars and trucks “quickly” seems an impossibility without an oil crunch or economic meltdown.

    Dennis Manning – PRT advocate

  10. Good, for the most part.

    I have issues with;
    Truth 3 (…reducing motor vehicle miles or kilometers (VMT, VKT) traveled) I think about a PRT system operation, where a person starts out going North in order to get to a destination that is, in fact, South. The vehicle must travel 1/2, 1, 1 1/2 mi in the wrong direction before heading back in the right direction. Or, heading in the right direction for the most part and having to back-track some distance to the chosen destination. I submit that you are looking for a variety of qualifications that don’t necessarily mean less VMT, VKT. How about, LESS TIME TRAVELED? SAFER? LESS ENERGY USED? LESS POLLUTION CAUSED? MORE COMFORT? LESS INFLUENCE FROM ADVERSE WEATHER OR OTHER TRAFFIC? BETTER ACCESS? NO, OR LITTLE WAIT FOR TRIP? (statistically very significant in attracting ridership) MORE CONVENIENCE? (ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES) [A partial list, I’m sure!]

    Truth 7 …follows from Truth 3.

    Would you like a list for what holds us back?

    For a start;
    • Lobbying from existing transportation manufacturers.
    • Seeming agencies for better transportation systems that are, in fact, fronts for existing modes of transportation manufacturers.
    • Education of transportation experts is diametrically opposed to the understanding of and how to set up and manage revolutionary new concepts in transportation.
    • Developing system entities wanting the whole pie for themselves and not being able to join together for a common purpose. (Perhaps even killing chances for another entity)
    • Failure of groups to understand marketing and public relations.
    • Failure of various groups to understand or prioritize emerging concepts.

    I would be surprised if the folks on this site can’t come up with a whole lot more.


  11. On Behalf Of Chris Bradshaw
    Sent: Saturday, 26 February, 2011 19:05

    Ian Perry wrote on this date:

    > *The only truth we need to concentrate on is that we need to think of a new,
    > complete system that meets the needs and wants of all citizens better than
    > the present, dangerous, dirty, inconvenient systems we have – and how to
    > implement it so it runs along the existing system, until eventually
    > replacing it.*

    Yes, the focus needs to be on transportation and the human ‘needs’ it meets. Ian’s point above that we need ‘complete systems’ is right on: the age of the automobile has paralleled the dismantling of the sharing system of the public realm. Transit is a nice complement to high-density areas, both
    bringing an increase in intensity of human contacts to support the main goal of people living in proximity to each other: maximize commerce, minimize commotion (note the root part of the last word, implying the downside of excessive motion: speed, numbers).

    The car is the perfect complement to the age of self, where the individual seeks to enhance his own environment and reduce his ‘commerce’ cost, at the expense of the systems of safe public areas and space-efficient means of movement. The car has not only brought sprawl that spreads people out and
    reduces their potential for chance meetings, and has degraded the safety — both traffic safety and eyes-on-the-street safety — of those trying to continue to use the walking/transit shared infrastructure.

    A good example is the effort to increase the speed of cars. Short of on-board computers to replace human driving, speed comes with a cost of ever-increasing spacing between vehicles, for safety purposes. This means that as speeds increase, there is less room for each vehicle. Congestion, to put it in these terms, is nothing more than the number of ‘participants’ overwhelming the buffer space associated with the ‘design speed,’ forcing all to travel at a speed equal to the buffer space available at that moment.

    When we share the costs of road expansion to overcome this, we are paying for a private good (saving of time of a small number of individuals), rather than a public good (the most reasonable good for the maximum number of people). Just the act of using a car vs. walking, cycling, or transit, is
    for a private good: freedom from contact with others, as if that contact were primarily detrimental. But we still don’t know why people, seeking, but not finding (at rush hour) the time savings, still continue to attach themselves to the very means that stands in the way of returning to a low-cost, unsubsidized travel world of just a century ago.

    What we are losing in our rejigged idea of transit — rapid transit (vs. subways) — is that light rail and its sister, BRT, are designed to place speed and distance of travel over support of higher densities. “Transit” is supposed to be a shared-travel system that directly connects to the public
    realm to support equally shared public and semi-public (workplaces and retailing and community centres/place of worship). It can’t do that while being fast and having widely spaced stations serving low-density nodes. Existing higher-density centres outside the core tend to be avoided by LR
    and BRT, offering instead the opportunity — at widely separated stations — for a contrived form of density that must survive on peak-hours foot-travellers just a few hours a day, unless they are also near the intersection of major arterials, which mean they have to accommodate the place-deadening parking lots that the driving public demands.

    There seems to be no way to turn back the clock to a time before the
    automobile arrived and began redefining what is valuable in daily human
    existence. It is noteworthy that the societies that seem to be overtaking
    America’s and Europe’s lead in innovation, capital accumulation, and even
    education performance, are centred on cities that have retained the
    pre-automobile shared-space system (until just recently trying to embrace
    private-car ownership/worship.

    Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa

  12. “So what is holding us back?” you ask.

    Perhaps it is that while we have many examples of really fantastic small projects, and a few successful large city wide projects, is there a lack of a city wide transformation that was achieved results in a timescale that would ensure re-election through following sustainable transport policies?

    We can point to the problems that car dependency and over-use cause a city, and show the costs in environment, liveability and even the personal benefits like health, and yet while they may grasp the benefits, we have to believe that neither policy makers nor the general public really believe that real step-change is possible, and often each blames the other for lack of progress.

    How do we get past this blockage? Show them what is possible.

    Three questions:
    Is there a city that can be held as an example to show mayors that truly transformational results can be achieved in the short term using the full basket of new mobility policies?

    If there is no example, then can a government/leader of a city be found that has the leadership, courage, money and power to try?

    If this is what is needed, then where should we look and how can we find them?

    • Hi Eric, Rory
      We have entered Raspberry Express into the Living Labs Global Showcase competition. See http://livinglabs-global.com/Default.aspx for the competition and http://livinglabs-global.com/showcase/showcase/527/express-carpooling-to-reduce-traffic-congestion.aspx to view our entry.

      I tell you about this because it looks like an answer to Rory’s question: where should we look for these city leaders. The Living Labs Global is a group of 8 cities that are looking for sustainability solutions. Perhaps these eight could be candidates for a well-devised presentation about the seven simple truths and the strategy that underlies them. At the moment their modus operandi seems to be seeking silver bullets, and if you look at the transportation entries you would have to expect that bicycling is seen by many as the ‘one’. But there are some broader applications on offer, and perhaps a World Streets proposal would fit their needs?

      Certainly with the price of oil on the rise, there might be an increasing appetite to do something.

      Hope it helps.


  13. 1. Our measures must include whether people can in fact make the journeys they need and want to make. A big danger of systems based on carpooling and ridesharing is that they do not provide reliable transport for people without cars, and may in fact abstract revenue from public transport which does try to do so.

    2. I think that aspiring to car-like mobility for all is a bit optimistic. Public transport may be able to compete in these terms where there is heavy congestion (which would be avoided if most people switched to public transport), or where parking is a major problem, or for journeys which can use fast rail
    transport. But we need to reduce the expectations of motorists.

    To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can offer car-like mobility to some of the people all of the time (which is what we’re doing now, at huge environmental cost), or all of the people some of the time (which is what would happen if we designed cars out of our cities), but it is optimistic to hope to offer it to
    all of the people all of the time and we should not regard it as a flaw in a system that it does not do that.

    Simon Norton

    • Simon,

      I don’t wish to give the impression that I think I have an answer to every good point that you and the others are bringing up, but please let me share a couple of quick thoughts with you on the points you make this morning:

      1. When we speak of the importance of bringing in a much wider range of affordable and competitive non-own car options, it is not only the thin red line of carsharing and ridesharing. The gamut of available and proven new mobility services is very very wide, and of course includes improvements and innovations in traditional public transport services.

      2. And if the new or improved non-car services “take away” patronage from scheduled services, it is just because they offer better service to people. In this new context that should not be a problem, since the latter are part of the package and will be major beneficiaries of the new web of policy and practice in the sector. The New Mobility Agenda does not spell the death of traditional scheduled, fixed route transit,. To the contrary it creates the conditions of a new Spring of innovation and adjustment for public transport operators to help them find their place in the new and much different mobility requirements of a 21st century, and to many, at times 24 hour city.

      3. And oh yes, the goal is not just “car like” mobility — but “better than own-cars” in the new operating environment which will offer more space efficient, resource efficient, affordable and softer transport options.

      But at the end of the day, I feat that what I am seeing here is that my “seven simple truths” are perhaps not yet well enough expressed to convince. So I shall have to get back to work on it.

      For of one thing I am sure: if it can’t be expressed clearly convincingly on a single readable page, then it will never get done.

      Eric Britton


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