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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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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