INVISIBILITIES: Just because you can’t see them (or prefer not to) doesn’t mean they are not there.

In a city, as in life, we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. But when it comes to transport, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners and policy makers. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.

man sleeping under sidewalk - top half only

 

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Taipei Autumn 2015 New Mobility Videoteque

We live at a time when the people at the top who have to make or influence decisions in our sector are time-starved, over-burdened and, truth to tell, not about to spend a lot of time reading, or even listening or otherwise trying to ingest the great glaciers of data views and recommendations that are about to inundate and eventually freeze them solid for more thousands of years. But for those of us who see ourselves as change-agents, we need to find ways to capture their attention in order to widen their intellectual pallet in order to draw their attention to a range of new ideas and alterative problem-solving approaches beyond the ones that normally inform (and limit) their choices. Well, what about a series of attention-grabbing, lesson-purveying one-minute movies that can get them thinking in broader terms? And better than that, share with their families and colleagues. Might we have a look and think about this together? Continue reading

CHECK OUT SELECTED CAR FREE DAY VIDEOS/WORLD-WIDE.

eb CFD WS video library

Looking for ideas,inspiration for your 2015 Car Free Day? Check out the pretty extensive World Streets video collection at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R3tLUZO8_8&list=PL2120657BD0B30397 – more than forty cities in more than 20 countries on all continents.

You will see here the good, the bad and the ugly. But you may find that a bit of patience pays off. So get comfortable, pour yourself a cool drink, go to the movies and give the first dozen or so clips a chance. You will be rewarded for your diligence.
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Vision Zero: Good enough for Sweden, soon for Britain, and tomorrow for you!

 “Road traffic crashes are predictable and therefore preventable … the time to act is now. Road users everywhere deserve better and safer road travel” *

USA NYC Vsiion zero photoIn the calendar year 2014 two elderly pedestrians were killed on the A49 road in the vicinity of the small town of Church Stretton, Shropshire (population 4,700).  These deaths had a large impact on this small town, affecting many people and extending well beyond the boundaries of close family and friends.  Both of those killed were well known and both were physically active and going about their normal everyday tasks.

The WHO conclusion quoted above is clear and accurate. It is glaringly obvious that local residents in this quiet corner of Shropshire require a much stronger and deeper approach to road safety than is currently on offer.  This would come under several names e.g. a total system approach or a fundamental redesign approach or what is known in Sweden as Vision Zero.

Whatever name is used the principles are clear:

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From the Archives: To achieve Sustainable Transport, Militate for Full Gender Parity in all Planning, Decision, Investment and Implementation Bodies.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day:
Today, 8 March 2011 is International Women’s Day, the one hundredth anniversary of
this great and necessary idea. So what better occasion for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.

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Rethinking Car Free Days: On their Tenth Anniversary in Taipei City

Thank you Mayor Hau Lung-pin for this invitation to come to Taipei City this year to discuss  the celebration of the city’s tenth successive Car Free Day — and as part of this collaborative brainstorming process to draw on my experience of some seventeen years working with this, one hopes, transformative transportation approach to taming cars and traffic in different cities around the world.

eb - along from group photo Taipei CFD 2011This year’s Green Transportation Forum has given me an opportunity to meet once again with many old friends and distinguished colleagues working in the sustainable transport sector, and to hear about the progress the city has made in working with this approach in this first decade. In all I ended up spending a full week in the city and the surrounding region, in order to have a better appreciation of the overall transportation situation, which of course is what the Car Free Days are supposed to be all about. The goal of the Green Transportation Forum was to lay the way for the CFD X celebrations on Thursday, the 22nd of September. And if you turn to the closing annex here you will find a summary of the principal events organized by the Taipei city team for this year’s celebration.

But after ten years might it not be a good time to think about making some major structural changes in the CFD formula and procedures, perhaps with a goal to being more ambitious about what we would like them to achieve for the city in the decade ahead? The Forum gave us an opportunity to compare notes on this. We had a lively time brainstorming on this topic, and I believe came up with some interesting ideas for next steps , as you will see in the following summary. In closing I would like to thank Mayor Hau and his team for a warm welcome and highly efficient series of events. Every time I come to Taiwan I end up learning a great deal and this visit was no exception. Thank you all.

– Eric Britton, World Streets and EcoPlan International, Paris. 7 October 2011

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What is a Transport User Group? (And why are they so important for your city)

spain barclona large public meeting on planningWorld Streets has committed to carry out a series of articles, in cooperation with informed on-the-spot collaborators, looking into various aspects of transport user groups, on the grounds that they are increasingly emerging  in many cities around the world as important potential players in the uphill struggle to sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives.

Throughout  most of the 20th century transportation decisions were strictly made by government administrations and elected politicians, more often than not in cooperation with interests representing industrial and financial partners supplying infrastructure, vehicles, electronics and services. In most places these were closed loops in which the public was occasionally, at best, invited to approach the table and then asked to share their views on the specifics alternative proposals as prepared and presented by the various administrations and agencies, but for the most part were excluded from the actual planning and decision process. They were at most shadow players.

However this is starting to change, to the extent that in many cities in recent years these groups are increasingly becoming important players in the planning, decision and investment process.

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The Mobility Complex: John Whitelegg lights a fire.

Whitelegg book cover MobilityJohn Whitelegg, Professor John Whitelegg, is a remarkable man who has spent his entire professional life as a scholar, teacher, critic, publisher, activist and politician, trying to make sense out of our curious world and the contradictions of transport and mobility. And in a successful attempt to bring all the threads together, what he has learned about our topic in three decades of international work spanning all continents, he has just produced for our reading and instruction a remarkable and, I truly believe, much-needed book.  His title gives away the game – Mobility: Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future.

John’s view of transport and mobility is conditioned by the fact that his point of departure is geography (his doctorate) and the uphill struggle to sustainable development and social justice (his professorship). And in the case of this latest book he digs deep beyond all that we can find in the crowded field of books, reports and articles about sustainable transport that will be published this year, in order to get into the guts of what it is really all about: the life philosophy behind it all. For if we have no philosophy we can have no vision. And if we have no vision, there is no way that we can shape and influence our future. 

A handful of things distinguish “Mobility” from the rest: It is much needed. It is timely. It is wise. It is readable. It challenges and makes your brain work. And for less than $10, you can have it in front of your eyes in a few short minutes (see below for ordering instructions). Yet one more thing that sets apart  this book, and indeed all his work from the rest, and  the author’s utter willingness to enter into armed intellectual combat to set out and defend his ideas and values. John’s work always brings to mind the wonderful words of the passionate Irish poet and politician, William Butler Yeats, who wrote a century ago that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  John lights the fire.

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