Extra-urban Mobility Revolution Coming to your Doorstep

If I live outside of a city — say, in a classic spread suburb, rural area, commuter town or other hard to serve low density area — and if I happen not own a car, or on days when my car is not available, I am going to have an extremely hard time getting to work or wherever it is I need to go this morning.

rural carshare cowIn principle I have a few choices, for example: (a)  Get down on my knees and beg for a ride from family or neighbors. (b)  Try to find (and somehow get to) a bus or local pubic transport (in a period of ever-decreasing public services and budget cuts, so good luck!). (c) Search out a taxi if you can find one, call, wait for it eventually to show up and then pay a hefty amount. (d) For work trips, and if I am lucky, there may be a ride-sharing scheme.  Or, for many less comfortable but still possible, (e) the  hitchhiking option. (f) Or do like an increasing number of my fellow commuters and buy a cheap motorcycle. And perhaps most likely of all (g) be obliged to reschedule or forget the trip. But at the end of the day, and all things considered, I am forced to conclude that the reality of life in suburbia and rural areas today is: no car = no mobility. Harsh!

But stuff changes.We are entering a new and very different age of technology, communications and mobility, and as American writer Josh Stephens reminds us in the following article, things are starting to look up.

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Solving traffic problems by talking about them in the Netherlands

It would be an awful thing indeed if around the world each of us, each person, each group, each city, each country had to learn only our own lessons in isolation, without being able to open our eyes and look beyond our borders and what we know. In the following short report, roughly translated by Google and the editor from the original Dutch article which appeared yesterday morning in the web journal KpVV Travel Behaviour, Friso Metz tells us a story of low cost problem solving based on social analysis and citizen participation from the beginnings, as opposed to treating all problems of transport as infrastructure considerations to be sorted out by experts and politicians.

Netherlands Groningen cycling education program

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Invitation: A New Moment for Carsharing in the Netherlands

Netherlands Witkar - Luud drivingThis week we completed the working report for the Dutch government, under the title: Going Dutch: A New Moment for  Carsharing in the Netherlands.  Over the remainder of this month we and the organisers are holding workshops and review sessions,presenting, discussing and critiquing the complete working draft.  The English version of the draft is now available for peer review and comment, so if you wish to have a look and be part of the process, please get in touch with the principal author via eric.britton@ecoplan.org.  Here you have the full contents of the report.

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Fair Mobility: Make no small gestures

On fairness in the domain of transportation

The upper and lower limit of government intervention

– Karel Martens

A different perspective: Concerns about the environment have long been seen as a trigger for a transition in transportation planning and policy across the world. While certainly steps in the right direction have been made, so far little fundamental change can be discerned in the policies of most (national) governments.

My claim is that real transition in the domain of transportation, and thus ultimately in the way we travel, can only come about if we recognize that mobility is a prerequisite for full participation in society – and that government policies have to guarantee, as much as reasonably possible, that all can partake in society.
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Short report on carsharing in Amsterdam (From Going Dutch/Carshare Strategies project)

This is short report was submitted by the participants of the city of Amsterdam carshare-onlyin the 20 February 2014 workshop in the Utrecht for the project Going Dutch: Carshare Strategies for Cities being carried out by the KpVV (think tank of the Dutch ministry of transport) in cooperation with EcoPlan.  The latest draft report on that meeting and the recommendations of those present from a cross-section of Dutch cities and agencies is available in our project library at http://goo.gl/clWKnD. Your comment and suggestions are most welcome.

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Rural carshare project – A thinking exercise & Invitation for comment

rural carshare cowWe keep reading and are repeatedly informed that for carsharing to work there must be good public transport, cycling and other mobility arrangements as indispensable complements. In other words, for carsharing to work you have to be not only in a city, but in a certain kind of city. This position has been an article of faith for many carshare observers for more than a decade, and while there is a certain logic to it, upon inspection it turns out  there is a lot more to successful carsharing than that.

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From Australia, Jarrett Walker on transit’s role in “sprawl repair”

Urban sprawl is at its best a very mixed bag, as we all know. But worse yet behind its tempting glamorous face it surreptitiously locks in unsustainability in many many ways, ending up with a grossly unfair package of no-choice mobility combined with close to totalitarian car dependence for all at the top of the awful list. But is this a prisoner’s dilemma in which everyone at the table is forever destined to lose once those die are cast? Not so sure about that. The other day, we heard from Paul Mees with our review article “Locked in Suburbia: Is there life after Autopia?” where he suggests that we will do well to look more closely at the options other than hand-wringing that are in fact there to be taken. While today, Jarrett Walker walks us through his interpretation of how “sprawl repair” can work without waiting for some distant Nirvana (or Hell, whichever my be your vision of choice).
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Locked in Suburbia: Is there life after Autopia?

Something like ten percent of our lonely planet’s population are today thoroughly locked in — or at least think they are — to an “automotive life style”.   While in barely two generations  the earth’s population has  tripled, the automotive age has, step by silent surreptitious step, changed the way we live — and in the process made us prisoners of just that technology that was supposed to make us free forever. That’s a bad joke and bad news. But there is worse yet, and it comes in two ugly bites. For starters, in addition to the ten percent of us already hapless prisoners of our cars, another twenty percent of our soon seven billion brothers and sisters are standing in line eagerly in the hope of getting  locked in as quickly as possible. And as if that were not bad enough, the consensus among most of the experts and policy makers is that our goose is forever cooked, and there is little anybody  can do about it. Well, maybe not. Spend some time this Monday morning with Paul Mees, as he attacks this received belief and suggests . . . Well, why don’t I just get out of the way and let Paul speak for himself. Continue reading

We badly need a new American transportation model (because the one you sent us is broke)

Ten years after system change and free market democracy was introduced here in Poland, the motor industry, car dealers and the road lobbies are coming on strong. Not exactly like in the USA in the glamour years after World War II (we have less money), but the general direction is pretty much the same. Continue reading

Comments: Europe Imagines Its Suburbs Without the Car

There is some telling US style discussion of this article in yesterday’s New York Times which you can pick up here .

To my mind, most of these discussions invariably have more to say on (a) why it won’t work or (b) at best only at the margin. Not all that useful.

World Streets aspires to do better. We have to look more broadly for inspiration and ideas.


What about this for a bit of mind-feeding counterpoint on this topic? Click here to see our short video with some views on exactly this topic from the perspective of one man on the street in city of Groningen.

Your comments?

Again that link is http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/carless-in-america/