EcoPlan International. Paris. 31 March 2008
World Streets is an independent, internet-based collaborative knowledge system specifically aimed at informing policy and practice in the field of sustainable transportation, and as part of that sustainable cities and sustainable lives. It is edited by Eric Britton, Founder and Managing Director of the New Mobility Agenda since 1988.
Today, March 31st 2008, is opening day, with the first postings to appear in our new journal this morning. A good time to take a step back and let our readers know why we are here and how we intend to try to make a difference.
Target readers: World Streets aims to be a useful online information and research toolset for a broad range of citizens and groups, including . . . concerned individual citizens, students of all ages, researchers, policy makers, local and national government, consultants, civil society, electronic and print media, activists, professional associations, international agencies and programs dealing with these issues, transporters and groups considering eventual new mobility initiatives, as well as groups concerned in turn with the special problems of fair mobility for specific groups, including vulnerable populations, handicapped, women and children, the poor and isolated citizens.
World Streets is going to add new dimensions to the New Mobility Agenda, offering an extended forum for contributions, challenges and comments reaching beyond the focus group postings of the main New Mobility programs (click to our Mission Statement for further background on this). The content is to be regularly provided on a volunteer basis by more than one thousand colleagues actively working on these issues with whom we have taken contact, swapped ideas, and in many ways collaborated since the outset of the New Mobility Agenda in 1988.
We want to make sure that World Streets is a good read, and a fast one, for our overloaded colleagues working on these issues in cities and countries around the world, as well for others trying to follow the full range of issues involved. And while the exact organizational mix is still being played with in these early months to determine what combination is going to work best, we start out by providing each day one thinkpiece reporting on a specific project, policy, program, or person working to break the old mobility stasis somewhere in the world, and add to that one or two other items or leads that our readers may find of interest. Quality, not quantity is our mission.
Like all parts of the New Mobility Agenda, Streets has a definite ethical and strategic approach to the issues we address. We are, it has to be said, quite radical in our approach to supporting very near-term reforms with teeth.
The first wing of this approach is our long-term commitment to doing our part to meet the challenges of sustainable development and social justice — and within that broad frame our specific focus: sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives.
We have a very specific philosophy and strategic approach to all our work, which you will find clearly spelled out in greater detail here .
Our complete independence of any interests, government, political, commercial or others. This is importance because it allows us to say things exactly as we see them, without worrying about offending this or that interest. We try to be respectful of others and generous about work in progress, but when we spot a truly bad project, dodgy policy path, or what we regard to be a dangerous idea, it is important that we do not feel that we should hold back with our views just to please this or that interest.
Five basic principles guide all our work under the New Mobility Agenda and World Streets:
Our firm belief that the cascading issues of drastic climate change, repetitive environmental disasters, resource scarcities, low levels of economic efficiency, degrading life quality and social justice are combing to make ours a situation of high and immediate emergency. (For strategic reasons we take environment and climate change as our principal metric, since it does a great job of dealing with literally all of the rest, while at the same time giving us a single highest priority, measurable target.)
2. Two-four year focus:
And following this directly, our dogged insistence that most of the brainwork and resources that are put into the sector must directly address whatever it is that can be done and get scale results within the next two to four years. This is no time for long-range planning. It is a time for action. Strategic action
3. Major traffic reductions:
The only way to get the needed efficiency improvements is via (a) massive (b) near term (c) reductions in VMT/VKT (vehicle miles/km traveled). If you don’t achieve that you have done NOTHING!
4. High quality mobility and choice:
Moreover, we have the means to achieve these ambitious objectives, without endangering the economy or social/political harmony. There is enormous scope for measures, actions, tools and reforms that can give us even better mobility than ever before. traditional transportation policy barely scratches the surface of what can be made available.
Whatever it is we encourage or do now must succeed. We have enough sound ideas, technologies and tools to work with that we do not have to take risks. We cannot allow our counsel to lead to unsuccessful projects and programs. Every step must succeed.
You will find more detail on these key factors under the Strategy rubric here.
And in closing let it be said that we are well aware that there are many other worthy programs and groups addressing these issues in various places and combinations around the world with very different orientations from what you will find in Streets. We honor these differences while we stick to what we know and do best.