European Mobility Week 2015: Why not Penang?

European mobility week 2015 - page banner

Since 2002 European Mobility Week has sought to influence mobility and urban transport issues, as well as improve the health and quality of life of citizens. The campaign gives citizens the chance to explore what the role of city streets really is, and to explore concrete solutions to tackle urban challenges, such as air pollution. Local authorities are strongly encouraged to use the Week to test new transport measures and get feedback from citizens. It is also an excellent opportunity for local stakeholders to get together and discuss the different aspects of mobility and air quality, find innovative solutions to reduce car-use and thus emissions, and test new technologies or planning measures.

Below you have the list of the 822  cities thus far signed in to support the 2015 week event, as of 27 August 2015. To discover more about how participating cities have used the campaign to enhance their sustainable transport policies, visit the best practice guides.

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Preparing your next Car Free Day: Check out the fundamentals. The First Car Free Days Challenge: Toledo Spain, October 1994

World CFD website top banner

Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two  decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.

velib-guyWhy do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.

To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.

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A Short History of Car Free Days: Origins, Timeline, Progress

“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.”

Here is how the Car Free Days movement got started and has taken shape over the last 21 years.  This is the second in a series of articles which we update and post annually just prior to the September rush to get the latest batch of Car Free Day projects off the ground. We hope that these pieces and the references you find here are going to prove useful to those responsible for making a success of their Days in 2015. Getting a CFD right and making it a real success is no easy task — good knowledge of what has worked and not worked in the past should serve you well. Continue reading

European Mobility Week 2015: Participating Cities


European mobility week 2015 - page banner

Since 2002 European Mobility Week has sought to influence mobility and urban transport issues, as well as improve the health and quality of life of citizens. The campaign gives citizens the chance to explore what the role of city streets really is, and to explore concrete solutions to tackle urban challenges, such as air pollution. Local authorities are strongly encouraged to use the Week to test new transport measures and get feedback from citizens. It is also an excellent opportunity for local stakeholders to get together and discuss the different aspects of mobility and air quality, find innovative solutions to reduce car-use and thus emissions, and test new technologies or planning measures.

Below you have the list of the 822  cities thus far signed in to support the 2015 week event, as of 27 August 2015. To discover more about how participating cities have used the campaign to enhance their sustainable transport policies, visit the best practice guides.

Continue reading

Preparing your next Car Free Day: Check out the fundamentals. The First Car Free Days Challenge: Toledo Spain, October 1994

World CFD website top banner

Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two  decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.

velib-guyWhy do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.

To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.

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Somebody asked me this morning . . .

chinese running horses smallSomebody organizing a conference in the coming months on the future of transport in cities called in this morning to ask me, for the nth time in the last two decades, why is it that what appears to any thinking person as an excellent, even more than that, vitally necessary concept such as sustainable development in all of its many forms is proving so notoriously ineffective —  to the extent that despite all the articles and books published, conferences held, agencies created, university programs, scientific progress, and even convincing real-world innovations, actions and projects, the bottom line indicators of our gross UNsustainability (greenhouse gas production, climate change and its devastating impacts, continuing mindless resource bulimia, etc.) continue to progress steadily in the wrong direction. By many indicators we seem to be getting smarter, at least at the leading edge.  So why are we losing the war?

I hesitated to roll this around in my mind and then told my respected colleague that I would have to have a second cup of coffee and stare out into space a bit, and promised to ring back in an hour or so if that was okay by her. (It was.)

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Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Summer 2015 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 fine continuing contributions Todd.

Vtpi Litman Canada

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POINTS OF LIGHT PROFILES : PENANG MALAYSIA

panang - Lim Mah HuiDr. Michael Lim Mah-Hui

The gentleman on the bike, Dr. Michael Lim Mah-Hui, is a city councilman in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. With an international background in economics, finance and public policy, he also has a long time interest in the challenges of sustainable development, livable cities, equitable transport, land use and historical preservation. He is active both as an elected councilor but also as a concerned and active citizen. He is in this, in his own words, for the long haul.

In a recent presentation to the City Council of Penang Island “Bicycling as One Component of a Comprehensive Transport Plan” — he wrote:
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A BRT FOR PENANG (Great Idea but Mind the Gap)

BRT lane in latin america - itdp

BRT – Bus Rapid Transit – a well-known transportation strategy which since first pioneered Curitiba Brazil in 1974 has seen many successes, and a fair number of disappointments. Fortunately all these projects are quite well documented, such that a real shared learning experience is underway.  Today there are more than two hundred cities on all continents with working BRTs, of a huge variety of variations. All of that is well known and abundantly covered by the literature.

The great thing about BRT is that, if you get it right, it not only serves as a high performance option to being stuck in traffic in your car, but that it also provides an opportunity for rethinking the street system and provide improved contusions for cyclists and pedestrians. But without a doubt the second most important contribution of BRT is that it takes space away from cars, while at the same time giving the drivers a better option.

BRT in Penang

BRT is a great and, I would say without hesitation, even necessary strategy for Penang. However a word of caution: BRT is not an option that you buy off the shelf and plop down on the street. It is something that a city and its team of advisors have to work very hard to study, tailor and implement to meet the unique specifications of your city.

So as part of our learning curve just in is an excellent article on a hotly contested BRT start-up (and shortly close-down) in New Delhi which is getting considerable attention not only there but in the transport world more generally. Today we share with you a report by one of the principal advisors to the project, Professor Dinesh Mohan of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, along with a few references that see all this from other perspectives.  (We thank the author for permission to reprint here.)

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52 Better, Faster, Cheaper measures that Penang could start to do tomorrow morning to reduce traffic accidents, strengthen the economy and improve quality of life for all.

We often hear that transportation reform in Penang is going to require massive public investments, large construction projects, elaborate technology deployments, and above all and by their very nature are going to take a long time before yielding significant results. This is quite simply not true. This approach, common in the last century and often associated with the “American transportation model”, no longer has its place in a competitive, efficient, democratic city  And we can start tomorrow, if we chose to.

couple crossing street in Penang trafficTo get a feel for this transformative learning reality let’s start with a quick look at a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture as a major means for reducing traffic related nuisances, accident prevention and improving quality of life for all.  These approaches are not just “nice ideas”.  They have proven their merit and effectiveness in hundreds of cities around the world. There is no good reason that they cannot do the same in Penang. Starting tomorrow morning.

(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)

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Op-ed: On the importance of a coherent planning vision

Most of what we are seeing in Penang when it comes to planning and policy in Penang is terribly familiar.  The bottom line until now at least is that overall you are not doing well, because you do not have a plan or a coherent vision to guide you.  That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are not alone.

Montréal has never really had a coherent planning vision – they simply react to developers’ proposals.

Montreal thinks bigIn fact Penang could hardly be more lucky because there is not only abundant information on the fast-growing number of well thought out examples of cities, projects and approaches that are showing the way for sustainable transport and sustainable cities. But there is also an even longer list of examples of cities that are getting it blatantly wrong. These should be understood and integrated into the thinking and planning process of the city, just as much as the attention which must be given to understanding and adapting “best practices”. If you look closely you will see there are patterns that repeat themselves again and again. It is important to be aware of them.

Here you have an example of the city of Montréal, while doing a fair number of good things in terms of transport, public space and environment, is at the same time  suffering badly from the lack of a well thought-out understanding of how transport issues cannot be treated without full attention to land use and the structure of the city. Again painful signs of Penang. And how did this come up?

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Op-Ed: Reforming Malaysia’s transport mess

malaysia penang heavy trafficThis Op-Ed has been contributed by Dr.Kua Kia Soong and provides a brilliant independent critical overview of what the title unambiguously suggests is “Malaysia’s transport mess”. While it examines the overall situation and climate from the vantage of Malaysia as a whole, it is no less relevant for the circumstances defining transport policy and practice in Penang. We thank Dr. Soong for his permission to publish the entire article as follows. This is an important piece to stimulate critical thinking and informed action in a sector which has been lagging badly and at high costs to the citizens of Penang and Malaysia. His closing sentence resumes the situation quite nicely: “The Malaysian public is tired of being told to be patient and that we can get our jam tomorrow… We want our jam today!”

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Greek Crisis: Why Greece’s Lenders Need to Suffer

Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy

These first excerpts from an article by Adam Davidson published in The New York Times Magazine on 28 July 2015 deserves the closest attention of anyone who wishes to have a balanced understanding of the events shaping what we call here the “Greek crisis”.

Bond traders goldman SachsThere is definitive proof, for anyone willing to look, that Greece is not solely or even primarily responsible for its own financial crisis. The proof is not especially exciting: It is a single bond, with the identification code GR0133004177. But a consideration of this bond should end, permanently, any discussion of Greece’s crisis as a moral failing on the part of the Greeks.

GR0133004177 is the technical name for a bond the Greek government sold on Nov. 10, 2009, in a public auction. Every business day, governments and companies hold auctions like this; it is how they borrow money. Bond auctions, though, are not at all…

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