TRANSITION STRATEGIES: Selected Wikipedia checklist of key terms, concepts and references

Intended as a handy research aid, checklist and reminder for students, researchers and others digging into the Slow City and related technical and policy challenges. A certain familiarity with these concepts is desirable; more than that I would say essential.

It is particularly important that those responsible for planning and policy be comfortable with these concepts. Anyone prepared to work in the field will already have familiarity with, say,  9 out of 10 of the concepts identified here.  It concerns the stuff of sustainable transport, sustainable mobility and sustainable cities.  (I would draw your attention particularly to those entries that are marked with two  asterisks * * which touch on some of the more subtle and essential components of a sustainable transport policy.)

From the beginning in the late eighties the New Mobility Agenda was conceived as a shared space for communications and didactic tools zeroing in on our chosen topic from a number of angles,  and over the last eight years World Streets has  continued in this tradition. I hope that what follows may be useful to some of you.  As you will see, I think it is an important and powerful tool — which those of us who care can help shape and put to work for the good cause.

How much can you trust Wikipedia and what you can do about it

[ Following execrpts  from Jamie Bartlett’s “How much should we trust Wikipedia?” 

“By any measure, Wikipedia is truly remarkable. It’s the first real wonder of the digital age. Far larger than any other body of collected knowledge (almost five million English language articles and counting), it’s also free, and thanks to a large community of active editors and clever ways to resolve disagreements between them, usually accurate. . . .

” Not always. First, things aren’t always what they seem online. For example, several major companies have been fined for manipulating or faking reviews of their own products. . . Then there are people . . . who “deface” pages with made-up stories. Wikipedia’s editors aren’t exactly a cross section of society either: only 10 per cent of its editors are women – and many “Wikipedians” as they call themselves, are worried by what this might mean for what’s produced.

” Despite the difficulties, on the whole, Wikipedia works remarkably well. In a famous study conducted by the journal Nature it was found to be roughly as accurate as the mighty Encyclopedia Britannica, painstakingly written by the world’s experts. Facts and memory is what wins you University Challenge – and for its range and volume of facts, Wikipedia is peerless.

“But it works less well for encouraging independent thinking, for forming opinions, for critical thoughts, for judgment – for knowing how to learn or how to evaluate information. We’re herding animals: we tend to trust something because everyone else does – and often in life that’s no good at all. Wikipedia works well enough to help you win University Challenge. But for the rest, I’d still prefer a book.”

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The listing is of course not complete, but it does give us a good start. for, let us  say, minimum competence in this challenging field.

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Visionaries, scientists and poets.

Not to be too aggressive here, but if as a planner, decision-maker or student you are not familiar with the thinking and accomplishments of  a fair number  of these champions of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives, you have some important work to do before you can really dig in and make a contribution. And in each case the Wikipedia profiles are a pretty good jumping off point. Let’s have a look.

Donald Appleyard (USA) –

Jan Gehl (Denmark) –

Ivan Illich ( Croatian/Austria/Mexico) htps://

Jane Jacobs (USA/Canada) –

Jaime Lerner (Brazil) –

Ken Livingstone (UK) –

Enrique Peñalosa (Colombia) –

Lee Myung-bak (South Korea) –

Hans Monderman  (The Netherlands)-

Peter  Newman (Australia) –

Janette Sadik-Kahn (USA)-

Lee Schipper  (USA)-

Luud Schimmelpennink (The Netherlands) – –

Donald Shoup (USA) –

William Vickrey (Canada/USA) –

And what if anything do they have in common that a young person aspiring for a better world , perhaps like you, may wish to know more about.  Since I have had the great honor to know,  work with and learn from most of them over the last decades, let me share my views.  Each person on this very short list  is an open independent thinker, technically solid, tenacious, always ready to learn, modest and, let me say this, a genius (which of course helps)..In all cases they have run against the wind., and never complained.

William Vickrey, to chose but one example,  always despaired  that his seminal work on road pricing and more generally the pricing of  scarce resources, had not make a dent in public policy.  He was wrong. Professor William Vickrey of the Graduate Faculties of Economics of Columbia University, was awarded the Noel Prize was awarded the 1996 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences  with James Mirrlees for their research into the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information,  And his contribution to expand our thinking about the power of economics got right in a just an efficient society has now entered into our culture to the extent that we almost always  forget why we think in that way. Such being the nature of culture.

Let me leave you with three words that come to my mind as I consider them and their society-transforming contributions. They are, each of them, visionaries, scientists and poets.


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About the author:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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