“Transport Refugees” – Victims of Unjust Transport Policies (From our 2009 archives and worthy of your attention today)

Maylasia Penang pred crossing in traffic Pulau Tikus

The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.

Continue reading

State of World Streets: 2009-2014

Today marks the fifth anniversary edition of World Streets. Our first number ws-newsstandappeared on 31 March 2009 with an opening message by the editor — click here — announcing the targets, intent and proposed method of this new collaborative media venture. On the same day we published our Mission Statement — Say Goodbye to Old Mobility —  which you can read here. Today we would like to spend a few minutes with you to review  the accomplishments and, yes!,  the shortcomings and disappointments  of these first five years.  And then go on to look out to our hopes and intentions for the rest of this decade. Continue reading

Lessons from COP15 : Staring the challenge in the eyes. Three Failures – Three new beginnings

It’s close to midnight on this fateful Friday the 18th, as COP15 suddenly trudges unfulfilled sadly into our past. And as I sort through the debris, I am struggling to figure out what might be the main lessons of this experience. Let me share with you my late-night thoughts concerning three event-shaping failures, or at least stark short-comings which I suggest we will all do well to learn from. After all we have the planet waiting for us. Continue reading

US Report Shows How Safe Routes to School Initiatives Protect Children Walking and Bicycling

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership in the United States has just released a new report showing how Safe Routes to School programs can be harnessed to keep children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school. The report explores the approaches five different communities used to create safer environments for children walking and bicycling. The lessons are universal.

The five communities (Santa Rosa, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; state of ME; Springfield, MO; and Portland, OR) each demonstrate how Safe Routes to School evaluation, education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering can address traffic safety concerns. Many of these safety improvements are made at relatively low costs to communities and schools, yet have profound effects on keeping children safe while also improving physical health and the environment.

The report demonstrates there are many different approaches to improving safety for children walking and bicycling:

• In Santa Rosa, CA, after children received pedestrian safety education, there was a 63 percent increase in children using the crosswalks to cross the street rather than crossing at unmarked locations.

• In Miami-Dade County, FL, since the launch of the WalkSafe™ child pedestrian safety program in 2001, there has been a 43 percent decrease in the total number of children ages 0-14 hit by cars.

• An analysis comparing bicycle crash rates in Maine for the eight years before their Bicycle Safety Education Program was implemented (1992 to 1999) with the first eight years the program has been offered (2000-2007) reveals a 51 percent drop in bicycle crashes for children aged 10-14.

• Springfield, MO has already demonstrated the impact special roadway signage can have on vehicle speeds. Data from their pilot showed that 85 percent of motorists reduced their speeds by three to five miles per hour without any increase in enforcement after speed limits were reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.

• Infrastructure improvements in Portland, OR have been successful in helping decrease crashes, as well as the severity of the crashes. Total crashes decreased by nearly 25 percent and there was a 32 percent decline in pedestrian injuries from crashes.

Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership noted, “The success stories in this report show the power and promise of Safe Routes to School to help communities all across the country to address safety risks and improve conditions for students walking and bicycling to school.”

In 2007, an estimated 14,000 children ages 14 and under were injured as pedestrians, while more than 300 children were killed while walking. In 2008, an estimated 52,000 bicyclists were injured in motor vehicle crashes, and 21 percent of those bicyclists-nearly 11,000 children-were age 14 or younger. Children walking and bicycling to school represent 11 percent of injuries and fatalities during the school commute, but just 14 percent of trips and less than two percent of miles traveled.

Transportation for America also recently released a report, Dangerous by Design, identifying the dangers that pedestrians face in 360 metropolitan areas and focusing on solving the epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths through active transportation. Safe Routes to School programs can provide tangible solutions to major traffic safety issues such as these, making it safer for children-and other residents-to walk and bicycle in their neighborhoods and to and from school.

Congress launched the federal Safe Routes to School program in 2005 through the federal transportation bill and provided $612 million for five years of state-level implementation of programs that build sidewalks, bike lanes, and pathways, while also providing funding for education, promotion, and law enforcement. Federal Safe Routes to School funds are educating children on safe bicycle and pedestrian practices, increasing traffic enforcement to improve adherence to traffic laws and speed limits, and making infrastructure improvements to create safe places for children to walk and bicycle.

The report can be viewed at www.saferoutespartnership.org.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, hosted by the non-profit Bikes Belong Foundation, is a network of more than 400 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and professionals working together to advance the Safe Routes to School movement in the United States. The Partnership focuses on building partnerships, changing policies, advancing legislation, and improving the built environment.

COP15: Radio France interviews World Streets Editor

As part of the massive media effort underway in France in support of the Copenhagen initiative, the editor of World Streets was invited by Ann-Cécile Bras of Radio France International this morning to share his views and reactions to the COP15 process and what might come next. His principal theme: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is the ‘solution’.” Follow the podcast here. Continue reading

The Transportation Majority. Can’t politicians count?

Public transport? Cycling? Walking? Car pooling? Car sharing? Stuck at home? Elderly? Handicapped? Spend my hard-earned money for them? Bah! Who needs it? Why bother if it’s just for a few marginal people? Let’s concentrate on the big problems, those of the majority of people. Us drivers and our cars. We are the transportation majority.

In the world of human mobility there is, as it turns out, no one “big problem”. And hence no big solutions. There is, for better or worse, just an ever-changing confluence of a very large number of different problems, different people, different desires, different daily life realities, different needs, different constraints, different priorities, different possibilities, and different decisions. And different actions. And different consequences.

The old mobility vision of society is essentially one of striding workers, with secure jobs, fixed hours, well defined trips, leaping into their car and then buckling up for “safe driving”. Very nice.

All of whom well served by our “normal transportation arrangements”, that is the huge and hugely expansive infrastructure that we continue to build and repair to support automotive transportation (and those largely empty cars).

Something like eighty percent of the local transportation funding in most cities of the world goes for that car-supporting infrastructure: roads, bridges, cloverleafs, tunnels, supporting elections, policing, accident prevention, and the long list goes on. Life is sweet.

Then there are “the rest”, among them: the old, disabled, poor, rural, etc., etc. And of course the poor old disabled rural.

They too of course need to be catered to as well. Fair enough. Let’s give them a bit here and a bit there too. But most of our hard-earned tax money is still going to be spent on providing high quality mobility arrangements for “normal people”. That’s right, isn’t it?

Sorry but no, it’s not at all right. It is in fact 100% wrong. It is wrong because it is grossly unfair and uncivil. And beyond that, it is also based on a false precept. Why?

Because that splendid vision of society with thee and me at the wheel with the wind blowing through our golden hair, simply does not jibe with reality. It never did in the past, and as our societies age it increasingly is absurdly contrary to reality. Here is the surprise, the kicker:

The “transportation majority” is not what most people think, transportation planners and policy makers among them.

The transportation majority are all those of us who increasingly are poorly served by the mainline, no-choice, car-based truncated service arrangements that eat up most of our taxpayer money and take away our choices. And each year, as our populations age this majority grows in numbers.

Here is a generic short-list of the people who make up this till-now all too silent majority:

1. Everyone in your city, country or electorate who does not have a car

2. Everyone who cannot drive

3. Everyone who cannot afford to own and operate a car of their own (And remember that costs a lot of after-tax money)

4. Everyone who should not drive (for reasons of a variety of impediments such as limitations associated with age, psychological state , , , ,)

5. Everyone who lives in a large city and for reasons of density, public health and quality of city life needs to have access to a non-car mobility system

6. Everyone who would in fact prefer to get around by walking, cycling or some form of shared transport who cannot safely or readily do so, because all the money is being spent on the car-based system which is fundamentally, and financially, incompatible with these “softer” and more healthy ways of getting around

7. Everyone who suffers from some form of impairment that makes driving or even access to traditional public transit difficult or impossible

8. Everyone who cannot responsibly take the wheel at any given time (fatigue, distraction, nervousness, some form of intoxication. . . )

9. All those who are today isolated and unable to participate in the life of our communities fully because they simply do not have a decent way to get around.

10. And — don’t lose sight of this! – in a few years you!

How do we work our way out of this? Simple, get out there and vote!

Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to work for the transportation majority.

Vote for mayors, counselors and legislators who are ready to join the transportation majority and get to work and around their city by public transport, walking, bicycle, carpool, or carsharing. Or better yet some combination all of the above.

And don’t vote for the other guys.

They will get your message.

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Editor’s note:

Several of our readers have pointed out that while this may be interesting, the only way to make the point is to put numbers to it. Exactly! But this has to be done on a place by place basis, so one can hope that this will be done and that we shall be seeing the results of this important metric here and in many other places.

Our Personal Choices — and (un)Sustainable Lives

I don’t think we can buy the argument anymore that we deserve special dispensation just because we think what we are doing is worthwhile. *

airplane takeoff pollutionLet’s see. At last count there were already more than seven billion of us sharing this suddenly very small planet. And let’s say, just to get a crude handle on this, that each of us, whether in Mali or Malibu, makes something like a hundred “personal planet action choices” each day, leading to specific actions which when we had them all up have quite a potential impact on our earth.

Choices like turning a water tap on or off tight, leaving something electric on when we are no longer using it, buying more stuff that locks us into using them perhaps somehow excessively, hopping into the car to go to the gym, perhaps getting on a plane to take the wife and kids for a long week-end in Maui, voting for public officials who persistently invest in what is clearly unsustainable infrastructure for vehicles and not sustainable mobility for us ordinary people — you know, the long list of all those often very small things we do, usually without thinking about it at the time, and certainly not considering what happens when we add it all up.

When it comes to our personal mobility behavior the number of choices we make is only part of this greater whole, but if you do your own calculus about trips taken, including those by foot, you will quickly see that if you take us all together there are at least many tens of billions of “personal planet-defining mobility choices” that taken together determine our collective footprint on our small planet.

Now that’s a pretty big number and an awful lot of people spread out over the world map to somehow re-orchestrate into a more sustainable mobility mode for all. Daunting task. Where to start?

What about this? One way to start to get a handle on the issues is this . . . . . . when in doubt look into the mirror.

 * The original posting of this text and personal CO2 reduction strategy appeared in these pages in November 2004.


  • Why bother even trying?
  • How am I doing? (Oops!)
  • Personal air travel/CO2 minimization strategy
  • References
  • Ten practical suggestions


Why bother even trying?

“I am a very busy person and my work is highly important. I have to fly a great deal to do my job and make my contribution to the economy and a better world. Anyway, I am only one person. The problem is not measured in such small personal doses. Is it? So please, leave me alone and let me get on with my important work.”

It’s quite a challenge here in the turmoiled 21st century to live a sustainable life when technology, our unexamined habits and for some of us sheer abundance– the many agreeable ‘acquis’ of the rich and profligate North of our time — invariably have us more or less operating on auto- pilot, opting for daily life choices, small and large, inconsequential and egregious, which together add up to pretty unsustainable lives. Even for those among us who are deeply concerned about the issues of sustainable development for the planet as a whole. But that whole is made up of each of us, one by one — and no less important many of the “us’s” working on these issues are people with potential high public exposure. Thus our very visible examples count double.

So if I, to take a concrete example, decide I “need” to travel from Paris to, say, Shanghai for an assignment to advance the sustainability agenda in concrete ways — if I use the Climate Care or some other workable CO2 calculator I can see without a doubt that in the process through my personal actions I will cause some four tons of CO2 to be spewed into the atmosphere.

Hmm. How many time a year can I permit myself to do that in good faith? Is there a more efficient way to get that particular job done? Or at least if I do make the trip, how can I make sure that I am responsible in my choice? I better do a lot and work hard and smart while I am there, or our gasping planet will be the loser.

This page introduces a selection of the growing collection of web-based devices that can help us to get a better grip on the impact of our choices, of our actual actions. And perhaps with this knowledge, we may modify our choices. Some of us? At least perhaps some of our choices? In any event the sheer knowledge of what we are making happen should be a step in the right direction.

I end this piece with a bit on my own travel philosophy and personal choices in the face of these important challenges. (And how am I doing? Well to be perfectly honest, not so great. But I’m working on it. In fact I have something of a strategy. Have a look and tell me how to do better.)


How am I (eric britton) doing?

How can a man, riding on an ox, looking for an ox, ever find an ox?

Aaaargh! Don’t ask. I guess the answer to that is not too horribly badly for a dullish, somewhat over-schooled, hence exaggeratedly privileged middle class male with international work pretensions . . but given the scale and urgency of the problems here in the opening years of this new and environmentally threatened century, not nearly enough. Yet.

In daily life, like most of you I am sure, I try to be pretty energy frugal. I live in a well insulated apartment, turn off lights when I leave the room, am careful about water, no air conditioning, enjoy cool rooms in the winter, sort my garbage, am pretty frugal about buying stuff and certainly am not a new clotheshorse, etc. The usual.

When it comes to getting around in the city, most of my trips are by foot and bike. And our world-level transit system that most cities would die for. The missing piece of my personal new mobility puzzle for now is convenient carsharing and a taxi subscription, which is not quite yet here. I did manage, finally, to get rid of my magnificent if twenty year old Honda station wagon (sob!), and am now trying to learn to live without it. Not easy. Better get on to the carshare folks to work out a new routine. Hmm. This one is going to take some effort. 

But here is my most serious challenge – Air travel. 


Personal choices and practices: Air travel/GHG minimization strategy

From the vantage of supply, since 1993 many of my collaborators and I have been assiduous users in our daily work of videoconferencing and IP group work tools as a travel substitute. . . but really and above all as a work enhancer. We use this not only for the usual one-on-one sessions and exchanges, but also for group meetings and even on quite regular occasions to permit my full participation in conferences held in distance locations. (Click here in case you are not aware of the current state of play in our use of these handy low cost technologies.) Where I think I do fairly well by comparison with many of my esteemed peers is in my systematic avoidance of what I consider to be unnecessary air travel. I have two ways of accomplishing this: think of them as supply and demand management.

On the demand side, my strategies are two. First, I refuse to go to any distant location just for a one or two day conference or whatever. If I am going to go to Bogotá, Bangkok or Bangor, it will not be for just a quick in and out you go visit. I insist that once there, I must stay, work at least one full day on that place’s sustainability agenda, for each hour I spend in an airplane getting there. So ten hours of uncomfortable jet travel to LA, means ten days of work on LA specific problems in areas of my expertise. The advantage of this is that it serves as more TDM, and at the same time permits me to be more useful in my work with colleagues and groups in that place.

But there is another huge advantage from my own personal work and knowledge perspective, and that is when I have a chance to work closely with the people in each of these places, I simply learn a great deal. And I would like to think communicate a lot to them as well. In any event for me it’s a no-brainer and that’s the way it is. (Believe me dear colleagues, it’s the only way to live! You learn so much.)

To reinforce my travel minimization philosophy (and this does not hurt) I request business class travel and first class lodging accommodations when I travel. (If you look at the fare tables to check out these prices you will see how this can be quite effective as a TDM measure all by itself. I always suggest to my clients that they sit down before getting their travel agent’s quote on this.)

How does this work out? Well, when I run my annual Ecological Footprint drill for myself my results suggest that if everyone on the planet behaved as I do, we would need at least another half a planet to serve all of us. Ouch! On the other hand, were I living in say Los Angeles with a life style that goes with the place, we’d need closer to eight planets. Bottom line: slight satisfaction but clearly I can and should do better.



Some Emissions Calculators to test yourself with

  • Climate Care Calculatorhttp://www.climatecare.org/home.aspxThere are a fast growing number of these around now. Here are some of the ones that we have found most useful. Clean up your CO2 emissions quickly and efficiently, just by using one or more of our Carbon Calculators.
  • For all your daily emissions, click through to our Car & Home Calculator. There you can repair your impact on global warming, by offsetting the CO2 you produce driving your car(s) and heating and lighting your home.
  • A return trip from London to New York for one individual, generates more CO2 than driving a family car for 3 months. Air travel is climate-costly, so offset your aviation today using our Air Travel Calculator. Too busy to calculate your offsets? Then just go straight to our new Fixed Offset Options where you’ll find an offset to fit every pocket.
  • Ecological Footprinthttp://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator
    Sustainability means achieving satisfying lives for all within the means of nature – now and in the future. The extent to which we’re using more than nature can provide can be measured with the Ecological Footprint. This information points us to actions that can address fundamental sustainability concerns, and it gives us a way to measure our progress. Check it out and see how you are doing. Happy?
  • Global Footprinthttp://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/personal_footprint/
    supports a sustainable economy by promoting the Ecological Footprint, a tool that makes sustainability measurable. We coordinate research and develop methodological standards so that decision makers have robust resource accounts to ensure that we live within the Earth’s budget.



“Getting real”: How to offset your emissions when you have to do it

Some existing Offset Programs you can start to use today:There are two major points we would like to make here. The first is to bring to your attention a handful of websites and programs that you can already use easily to offset your emissions (sins?) when you absolutely have to climb onto that plane. Then, an idea that we should like to explore with you in the weeks ahead about how we might both do this and at the same time use the resources that it brings in to back specific actions, programs and groups that in our view are worthy of support. Let’s start with those already offering off-set arrangements that you can start to use today:

  • The Climate Trust is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing solutions to stabilize our rapidly changing climate The Climate Trust Offset Program invests funds received from power plants, businesses, and individuals into projects that offset their GHG emissions>. The Program is aimed at “Large Emitters” (power plants and the like), the “Donate-to-Offset Organizations program” and a parallel program for employees of cooperating organizations .
    Climate Trust is a US based non-profit, and the income received from the various offers is invested into their project portfolio which includes: energy efficiency, renewable energy, cogeneration, transportation efficiency, and reforestation projects.
  • “Sustainable Travel International now offers MyClimate™, “a service that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Through the MyClimate™ program, travelers, corporations, travel service providers, and academic institutions can take concrete action to fight climate change by investing in WWF-certified carbon offset projects that help to neutralize the negative impacts of their air and ground travel.” They also have a ” Travelers’ Philanthropy” program. Otherwise they have their own carbon calculator for estimating the necessary offsets, and a choice of WWF approved projects for your money.
  • The CarbonNeutral Company maintains a number of carbon offset and forestry projects, and has its own range ofCarbon Calculators to work out your personal emissions. They also have a simple CarbonNeutral Citizen’s program which gives you an opportunity to make an annual donation that will go at least part way to compensate for your life style choices. In their cases the money received for charitable donations has been directed, for the past three years, towards Transparency International’s Forestry Integrity Network, which campaigns against bribery and corruption in management and exploitation of the world’s natural resources.
  • Climate Care offers organizations and individuals a way to reduce their impact on global warming. It sells carbon offsets on the one hand while funding and managing projects on the other. They also have an ingenious Fixed Offsets program which allows you to pay by credit card for your calculated life style emissions.

So let’s see how this last one might guide me for that round trip flight from Paris to Sydney. I first turn to their Air Travel Calculator, which informs me that my round trip is going to generate close to five tons of CO2, for which my “offset” costs according to their calculation is on the order of 31 Pounds Sterling (roughly $55). Okay. I then click to make a secure payment through the credit card and currency of my choice — and bingo I have paid for my latest eco-sin.

Of course, if we possibly can, the best is simply not to take that next flight without giving it serious thought, and otherwise be reasonably carbon-modest with all that entails. But if you for some reason are caught this time, then please consider making a contribution to the offset program of your choice. You can be sure that this extra amount of awareness is in time going to pay off. So you are already making an important first step.

Note: All of these programs offer certificates or other forms of recognition for your good civic behavior. Good on you but is that enough? According to my back of the envelop calculations, far from it. To be “sustainable” we would have to multiply that by some very large number indeed. Try it. It will have some interesting effects.


Ten Practical Suggestions for Limiting Your Carbon Emissions – Travel & Transport *

  1. Calculate your own carbon dioxide emissions: find out how much you are contributing to global warming. In order to obtain a fairly reliable figure, use a carbon calculator (see below).
  2. Drastically reduce or stop flying: it is the most damaging means of travel per kilometre and is associated with long-distance journeys.
  3. Get rid of your car if you can calculate how much money you would save.
  4. Buy the most fuel efficient car if you have to have one, but use it sparingly. Get a gas-powered car (or convert your car to gas): it is cheaper to run and emits less carbon dioxide. You may be able to get a government grant to do so.
  5. Change your driving habits: restrict your speed (driving at 70 mph uses 30% more energy than at 50 mph), use higher gears as soon as traffic conditions allow, and don’t run your engine when stationary. Service your car regularly and keep tyre pressures up. If you have air conditioning, limit its use.
  6. Move closer to your work or choose a job closer to your home, and work from home, whenever possible
  7. Change your other travel patterns: cycle or walk for local trips. (It will also improve your health and fitness.) Use local shops and services, select local schools, take holidays close to home, and use the bus rather than drive.
  8. Get your local schools, colleges and public services to produce green travel plans to discourage long-distance commuting, to promote cycling, walking and bus use, and to car pool and share a ride whenever possible
  9. Spread the word: tell people what you are doing to prevent climate change and why you are doing it, and encourage them to do likewise.
  10. Join an environmental pressure group with a good track record in influencing politicians on critical issues such as taking steps to restrict fuel use dramatically.

*.Adapted with permission from Mayer Hillman (with Tina Fawcett) How we can save the planet, Penguin Books, 2004


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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 | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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Guest editorial: What to do when public transportation fails

Recently the city of Philadelphia, experienced a six day long strike by the local transit authority, SEPTA. Subways and buses stopped operating only hours before the Monday morning rush hour leaving workers scrambling for alternative modes of transportation to get to the office.

– Submitted by Timothy Ericson, CityRyde, Philidelphia, PA USA

The strike also left many school aged children stranded and unable to attend classes. Even non-transit riders were frustrated with huge increases in vehicular traffic on all of the city’s roads and hiways. During the strike period, bicycle ridership skyrocketed in Philadelphia as it was the only option for many commuters to reach their destinations. The strike forced many residents to view the bicycle as a primary form of transportation.

Continue reading

Honk! Quite incredible they would fall for this. (More on anti-social advertising in old mobility)

It is a rare day when anyone gets the matters which concern us all here quite as wrong as our friends from Bosch have it here. (One of a series of particularly egregious advertising abuses on the part of certain old mobility purveyors who just do not seem to be able to resist the temptation.)
Continue reading

Cycling your brain (It really could use a bit of fresh air)

Have you noticed? Just about all of the planning and decision making in our underperforming, all too often dysfunctional sector is terribly familiar. Priorities are set, terms of references written up, responsibilities defined, teams created, schedules posted, instructions issued, tools identified and applied, observations made, meetings arranged, reports written, recommendations communicated and the whole process grinds ahead to its inevitable destination – more often than not, bingo: old mobility! But if you look closely, the very mechanism, the process, is pretty much the same we were seeing back in the middle of the last century when we were planning and implementing many of the messes we now find ourselves in. Hmm.

So the moral of the story is that we need to take some very different approaches to identifying and then to starting to resolve the most pressing of our problems.

There are some out there, fortunately, and here is one you might wish to spend at least a few minutes with. They call it the NewMasterdam Bike Slam, and back in mid August as it was forming up we announced it here .

Well the Slam has been run, and the ocean spanning organizers have just completed a small illustrated booklet that sets out some of the process, as well as some of the recommendations they came up with. Here is more on that, together with the link so that you can review their results.

Their announcement, just in today:

Booklet on the New Amsterdam Bike Slam
While the Bike Slam teams were hard at work, leading experts from urban planning and design, transportation policy, cultural anthropology, and advocacy gathered on September 11 at the Center for Architecture to discuss “Global Trends in Sustainable Transportation Policy,” especially as they pertain to New York City.

Throughout the day, the primarily American audience was treated to perspectives from a multitude of exceptional speakers who offered opinions wide and varied, including how Dutch cities integrate economic benefits with the planning of space; population groups who are harbingers for significant mode shift (women and elderly); and the strong connections between growing cycling and lowering carbon emissions. Perhaps most inspiring is the consistent theme that benchmarks are not indications for achievement and mark the end of the project, but are markers for improvements and going further.

Special guests of the day included Christopher Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Janette Sadik- Khan, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner.

# # #

Download the booklet here. – http://www.aimsterdam.nl/bestanden/AIM-NABS

Keep on peddling. It will only do you good.

A COP15 Reader and Resource

If you have a morning to spend researching the state of the art and opinion on the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen (COP15), you may wish to have a look at the collection of 170 key resources called up by our Knoogle (KNOwledge + goOGLE) combined search engine.

If you click here to http://tinyurl.com/knoogle-COP15 you will see the results.

For the record, Knoogle New Mobility 1.1 is the first iteration of a power search engine developed by the New Mobility Agenda in cooperation with the SMART program of the University of Michigan, and specifically tailored to help policy makers, local government, researchers, NGOs, activists, consultants, concerned citizens and the media keep up efficiently with the work and activities of the leading international groups, programs and sources leading the field of sustainable transport and sustainable cities worldwide.

Knoogle is being developed as part of a project in which we are looking into ways to create tighter linkages and better coordination between the fast expanding number of programs and agencies that are concerned with issues of sustainable transportation, climate, environment, etc. For full background on this project in process click to http://www.knowledge.newmobility.org And if you wish to get involved or contribute in any way please get in touch.

The current version of Knoogle (1.2) searches a total of 618 carefully selected sites and sources that have been carefully chosen to provide leading edge coverage of developments and news in the specific area of sustainable transport and new mobility. (For the record, full Google search for COP14 calls up more than 167,000 sources. A bit more than a morning’s work.)

You can also review World Streets complete coverage of COP15 b clicking to http://tinyurl.com/ws-COP15.

"Boys will be boys." And why it is important to change this now

Editorial: In the triple nexus that is the defining concern of World Streets – namely, mobility, land use and climate – we have to be ready to take stock and face up to the reality that most of the problems we face today in each of these areas are the result of the domination of an “old order”, a certain way of seeing and doing things. What have we got wrong? What can we do about it? And what might this mean to COP15 and beyond? Continue reading

COP15? One thing that can change the debate right now!

To make a significant difference in COP15 . . . what is the ONE BASIC THING we could do right now to change the game, the rules, so that our planet has a reasonable chance. Something deep and fundamental. Something that upsets the old order that has failed us for so long. Continue reading

Letter from Italy: New Mobility for a New Economy? More cash for clunkers foolishness

Cash for clunkers is a worldwide virus often presented as a medicine for a very sick patient. (See World Streets ‘Cash for Clunkers‘, 12 Aug. 09, ). This dispatch just in from Enrico Bonfatti, editor of our sister publication, Nuova Mobilità, translates an article posted in N/M in Italian last Friday. Apparently the Italian political establishment is no better at this than any of the dozen or so governments who are desperately scrambling to hold on to an irredeemable past. At high cost to taxpayers and to the future.

Following the World Streets 12 August post on the funds and impacts of the US program for scrapping old cars for new– (Mr. Meter on America’s “Cash for Clunkers” — we invite you to read the analysis from an Italian perspective as presented by Italy’s “NoAuto” association in response to the Minister of Economic Development Claudio Scajola’s proposal to relaunch of the 2010 program of incentives for the purchase of “green cars” in support of the country’s ailing car industry, the estimated cost of which is in the area of € 400-500 millions. What will we get for our money?

Rome. 8 October 2009.

Yes for new mobility — no to incentives for the car

In these days the media are back to talking about actions in support of the automobile. The association NoAuto believes that a new round of incentives to subsidize new car purchases would be a grave error in both industrial and transport policies.

1. Because such incentives produce only temporary effects.
The European car market is saturated, and the only markets expected to grow are those of the large emerging countries (China, India, Brazil, etc.). However these are and will be served by local production. It is therefore economically wrong and socially irresponsible to continue to support an industry in a permanent structural decline. What is needed instead is a vast program of industrial reconstruction and reshaping for the future.

2. Because the car-oriented mobility system is in the midst of a permanent crisis.
The historic promises of the car (speed, flexibility, comfort) are now a mirage. Our cities are gripped by congestion and made unhealthy and unsafe by pollution, noise and accidents: all the direct result of growing figures in car flows, which in recent years has been repeatedly supported by incentives to purchase newer and “greener” car. Thus supporting the purchase of more cars at the public’s expense is wrong from the transport policy’s point of view too.

3. A European solution
For these reasons, NoAuto believes that we would do better to scrap these costly and ultimately ineffective stop-gap measures, and instead design and launch an innovative multi-partner, public-private reconstruction plan for improved new mobility, to be applied primarily to the urban and local scale .

NoAuto believes that such a plan should created and promoted not only nationally, but could be developed into a powerful and timely European policy, that could include budget improvements for the Action Plan for Urban Mobility that the European Commission has just issued on September, 30th.

In brief, the extraordinary plan for new mobility in and around our cities should rely on two main lines of action:

1. Creation of a National (or European) Fund for New Mobility . . .
to support local authorities’ plans to improve public transport, walking, cycling and innovative transport modes (carsharing, city logistics, etc.). At the regional level funds should not be aimed to support single modes of transport, but rather should be strategically integrated into overall policy reforms plans and policies (packages of measures), and looking beyond the city centers to deal with the problems of the surrounding lower density areas as well.

At the national level the legislative framework of “Piani Urbani della Mobilità” (Urban Mobility Plans) which was introduced many years ago, should now be brought up to date and modified to meet new needs (not so much new, as uncovered) and – most of all – to find the necessary funds as will be required to support the transition process over the ten to fifteen years directly ahead. This funding of first rate new mobility programs for our cities and the country can easily come out of savings that can result from the rationalization of the much larger amounts which traditionally get spent on big transportation infrastructure projects, which themselves support inefficient use of resources. It is time to put “old mobility” (the no-choice, car-based system) behind us and move up to efficient mobility.

At the European level the New Mobility Plan should be dealt with in a separate section within the European funding schemes for local or regional transportation networks.

2. A European plan to convert the car industry, . . .
which accompanies the transition to the new urban mobility system. A plan built on three pillars:

a) The strategic use of unemployment wages and other kinds of “social bumpers” and professional training to avoid “social butchery” among workers in the sector, while at the same time facilitating the transition to a New Mobility Agenda and the jobs that will go with it;

b) Placement of extraordinary orders by administrations and public companies for the development of green transport modes and products (trains, metro, tram , buses, vans, taxis, bicycles, including by grouping purchases to drive down unit costs);

c) Funding to support to integration of producers of components, services and systems for the new urban mobility: research centers, local authorities, partners of credit, specialized consultants, public interest groups working in the field, media projects, etc.

Also in this case an action at the European level is required because it will help us to attain the critical mass needed to ensure such actions. Among other things, a joint European Union position could overcome any possible objection on “State aid” \.

For these reasons NoAuto now calls for a political initiative as broad-based as possible, involving the many experiences of mobilization against unsustainable transportation plans and projects, and, more importantly, finally starting a confrontation with the car sector workers that abroad is already being performed.

A good starting point could be to resume and revive the ideas and proposals that have been launched in recent months – for example by workers of the FIAT plant in Pomigliano d’Arco.

This is no time for closed government. The important thing is to begin to open up the debate to all the players, let the best ideas compete, and mobilize for another mobility. If not now, when?

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NoAuto is an Italian public interest association promoting a system of mobility alternatives to the car: MORE public transport, safety for walking and cycling, decreased congestion and pollution, reconquest of urban space, healthier lives, are among the objectives. The weekly magazine ‘Carta’ (www.carta.org) hosts a regular feature of the association.

For more:
Read: www.noauto.org
Contact: info@noauto.org


And now, a glance at Europe’s ‘cash-for-clunkers’ programs

By The Associated Press (AP) – 8 Aug. 2009

The popular “cash-for-clunkers” program that has encouraged consumers in Europe and the U.S. to trade in their old cars for newer and more efficient models was born in December 2008 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a Euro 26 billion ($37.36 billion) stimulus plan to help the country ward off a recession.

To date, 11 countries in Europe offer similar plans.

* Germany offers Euro 2,500 to buyers of new or almost new cars who own cars that are nine years or older.

* France offers Euro 1,000 to scrap an older car that’s at least 10 years old.

* Italy offers Euro 1,500 for a car and Euro 2,500 for a light commercial vehicle for buyers who agree to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old.

* Spain offers Euro 2,000 on a purchase price of up to Euro 30,000; old car must be at least 10 years old.

* Portugal offers Euro 1,250 for scrapping a car that is 8 to 12 years old, or Euro 1,500 for a car that is older than 12 years.

* The Netherlands pays between Euro 750 to Euro 1,750 to scrap a car that is 9, 13 or 19-years-old.

* Austria offers Euro 1,500; car must be at least 12 years old.

* Romania offers Euro 900 to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old but limited the program to just 60,000 units.

* Slovakia offers Euro 1,100 toward a purchase price of up to Euro 18,800.

* Serbia offers Euro 1,000 on any new locally built Fiat Punto if a buyer trades in a 9-year-old car.

Source: Various governments, IHS Global Insight. – http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jOxyXvhSiYz–vOseImAnJ5Nl4xwD99U99I81

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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The very high cost of these programs:

It’s not the shameless draining of the taxpayer coffers that is the true cost of this folly. It is the fact that each time a high profile public “effort” is announced and grabs the headlines, it has the impact of giving a false sense of security that “something is being done” to counter the fundamental problems that underlie all this. This in turn generates either a sense of complacency, or in cases like this where the foolishness is so very apparent, discourages many from coming to grips with the real issues and choices. So CfC is a real step backward.

Honk! Cycling your mind

One of the main strategic underpinnings of New Mobility Agenda, and certainly of everything that appears here in World Streets, is that if we are ever to reinvent transportation in our cities, as we so badly need to do, we must in the process free ourselves from our old ways of seeing, thinking and doing things. For example, when you think “bicycle” . . .

For example, you and I think we know exactly what a bicycle is: and while that may apply 99 times out of 100, if we look more closely we are going to see quite a few variations which also need to be taken into consideration. And ditto by the way for what constitutes “safe cycling”.

Continue reading

Car Free Days 2. Thursday: A breakthrough strategy for reducing car dependence in cities

This is the full unedited text of the 18 October 1994 presentation by Eric Britton to the Ciudades Accesibles ws-ebpush-small-bwCongress in Toledo Spain  organized by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works, Transport and the Environment, with the participation of Car Free Cities Initiative of the EuroCities program and the Direction General XI of the Commission of European Communities.

Continue reading

Car Free Days: 1. Origins & Timeline

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

Here in brief is the story how the Car Free Days movement got started and has taken shape over the last 22 years. You will find the full story in the World Car-Free Days Consortium website at www.worldcarfreedays.com. * And the latest car free day news here. Continue reading

Women as our metric for sustainable lives: Leadership role

Linda Baker makes the point in this article that “Women are considered an ‘indicator species’ for bike-friendly cities”. In World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda we take this one giant step further. For us women are the “defining metric of sustainable transport”. Our transportation arrangements do not only have to be planned with them in mind (“thank you very much”), but by them — and, while they are at it, for us all. See our “2010: The Year of the Woman in Transport” at , and more generally you are invited to check out our index reference on this at http://tinyurl.com/ws-women. Come on. It’s time! Continue reading

PARK(ing) Day in Cape Town (Not everybody loves it equally)

A few weeks back, a local police vehicle – which had been circling for a while – came to abrupt halt on a no-stopping line in front of me in Fish Hoek, and asked if my colleagues and I had permission to be in our parking bay*. The nearby businesses were complaining, you see; by occupying our bay, they said, we were preventing others from doing so, and this meant, no doubt, that their daily takings would suffer.

– By Gail Jennings, Cape Town, South Africa

The thing is, though, that around 40% of South Africans suffer every day precisely because they need to find a parking bay. The only way they can get about – constrained either by lack of public transport, or by an inability to conceive of taking shared transport – is by private car.

The other 60% suffer for quite the opposite reason: they don’t need a parking bay, they rely on public transport, which currently is unreliable, unintegrated, unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible, unsustainable, and just plain unpleasant. And it’s not even public transport, come to think of it – it’s commuter transport, workwards in the morning, homewards in the evening, and little flexibility in-between.

Should businesses not perhaps be complaining about this, that they’re accessible only to people with private cars? In our world that’s heating up, depleted of fossil fuels, with dimished urban and quality open spaces, increased road deaths, congestion, road rage and lack of access to health care, education and economic opportunities, use of the private car as we know it – and its space-hungry requirement of parking bays – is on its way out.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we hang on to what we know for as long as possible, resisting a change to what we regard as less convenient; less flexible; less, well, personal, ways of moving around.

But as Jeremy Cronin, deptuy minister of transport, puts it: ” We have to respond to the challenge of access not with cars or more freeways [or more parking!], but with with intelligent public transport, non-mortorised transport, accessiblity and urban redesign.

‘In South Africa we are blessed and cursed with the reality that at least 60% of households don’t have cars. And while that’s a good thing, it’s also a terible thing for those who don’t have the car, because it makes them immobile.

‘The struggle to achieve the right to moblity is inextricably linked to the struggle for public space, for decent, safe, dignified and accessible public space.’

The car is the least space-efficient, least socially equitable and least environmentally responsible mode of transport, yet it is currently given preferential treatment.

Which is why on 18 September, I – and thousands of people worldwide – temporarily transformed my (paid-for) parking space into a public park as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.

I shared my sunny ‘park’ bench with other civic-minded souls; with passing dog-walkers, who welcomed a rest en-route home; with butchery workers who were otherwise planning to spend their lunch hour on the hard sidewalk in the damp and icy shade; and with shop owners who took a coffee break while unpacking stock. I even ordered a pizza delivery from one of said businesses, and watched over a number of bicycles parked in ‘my’ bay next door (you can fit about 10 bicycles in the space of one car).

In cities around the world, inexpensive street parking results in more traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution, and the strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human environment. Our public spaces are public assets, yet we allocate an estimated 70% of our urban open spaces to privately owned vehicles.

The unprecedented urban growth taking place in developing countries reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions of new urbanites, suggests the United Nations Population Fund, 2007. ‘Cities have enormous potential for improving people’s lives, but inadequate urban management, often based on inaccurate perceptions and information, can turn opportunity into disaster.’

South African cities, and cities as a ‘lifestyle concept’, for want of a better way to put it, historically developed because rural people wanted to be closer to economic opportunities, other people, food, markets, and a sense of being where it’s all happening. Yet with sprawling, low-density, spatially segregated cities such as Cape Town, quite the opposite has happened. Social exclusion, long commute distances, high transport costs, poor-quality urban environments, isolated, dangerous and inaccessible parks, dwindling resources…

To quote Jeremy Cronin once more, there are several key factors in our society that continue to actively reproduce inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. ‘And one of these is the fact that spatial configuration of our society in which where you live impacts dramatically on the cost in time and money that it takes you to access work, education and any of your basic constitutional and other rights.’

Low-density, sprawling neighbourhoods are more likely to need motorised transport (the densities are not enough to support viable, unsubsidised public transport) and contribute to social isolation. And excessive traffic and high-speed freeways can separate communities and make sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, more difficult to use.

Higher-density neighbourhoods, on the other hand, with a good mix of land-use and inter-connectivity, facilitate walking and cycling, sustain public transport and are generally safer (because there’re more eyes on the street).

If Cape Town is to become a city within which it is easy to access opporunities, be they opportunities for health-care, education, work or leisure, the city must break away from its current radial movement pattern that focuses on the central city, and create a strong network of cross-city roads, public transport and walking and cycling routes that connect and link homes, work places, shops and social facilities.

Urban planning has been used to startlingly effective degree to engineer social injustice. So it’s not too much of a stretch to see how quality, safe, affordable, accessible and largely sustainable mass public transport (such as the proposed Integrated Rapid Transit – IRT – system), better pedestrian and bike-commuting facilities, and more urban spaces in which butchery workers can sit and share their lunch, can lay the foundation for a sounder economy and more sustainable, equitable society.

• Yes, we did ;-)

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Gail Jennings is the editor MOBILITY magazine, a quarterly pro-sustainability transport magazine with a focus on public planning, public transport, road safety and the democratic use of road and other public space. Visit http://www.mobilitymagazine.co.za or http://emag.mobilitymagazine.co.za.

World Streets and the One Percent Solution (And that includes you.)

You know this as well as I do. There are no single, mega-dollar, build-it, big bang solutions for transportation systems reform. Only large numbers of, for the most part, generally quite small things. Small perhaps in themselves, one by one, but when you put all these small things together you start to get the new and far better transportation systems that we need and deserve. Large numbers of small things, each doing their part in concert. We call them “one percent solutions”. And you are part of that process.

Likewise for World Streets. After seven months of unfailing daily publication and more than 85,000 readers we know we are doing an important job. But if we are to continue to appear we need the support of many people and groups. One percent solutions. Get next to us and push. For the planet, for your city, for your children.

* But before you take this any further, you may wish to have a look at what our readers are saying about World Streets and how it is fitting in with their daily work routines and quest for new ideas and perspectives. And why one hundred of them think it is worthy of your support. Click here for more – http://tinyurl.com/ws-readers.

1.The One Percent Solution
2. Program summary (Opens in own window)
3. Ten reasons why
4. Next steps
5. Afterword: Why one per cent?

1. The One Percent Solution Continue reading