THANK YOU FINLAND ON YOUR HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE AND EXEMPLARITY: Efficiency, equity, education, democracy, environment, accomplishment, modesty and fresh ideas . . . (You’d be singing too)

Part I: Flashmob in Helsinki

A flashmob choral intrusion that took place on one more winter day in the main train station of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. But what are they singling about?

(A flash mob (just to recall and in case you were out shopping at the time) is an unannounced event involving, by all appearance,s an unrelated group of people who suddenly emerge from the shadows and assemble in a public place, perform an unusual and unexplained act for a brief time, then quickly disperse and continue on their ways.  As you can just see here.)

Part II. A Finnish story

A bit of context in case you your Finnish history needs a reminder. Here you have a brief  introductory text (quickly translate, apologies) to an excellent  one hour documentary that has just appeared on Arte, the French/German public television. (Sadly not yet available in English, so you can test your French, German, Finnish and the striking images which tell a story of their own.)

Continue reading

The New Circular Economy: Vision, Strategy, Policy, Practice – An Introduction

– Eric Britton, ISG, Paris, 15 November 2017.

An Open Collaborative Policy Research Program

Making some progress in exploring the Circular Economy/Public Policy interface, in the context of our master classes and advisory program on Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy. Here is how things are starting to shape up at this still early point.

Continue reading

“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

Taiwan East/West New Mobility Innovation Challenge 2017. Events: Getting ready for Taiwan 2017 Collaborative Mission

Events: Getting ready for Taiwan 2017 Collaborative Mission

This year’s program combines site visits, brainstorming sessions, conferences, presentations and vigorous questioning, looking, listening and co-learning with my esteemed long time Taiwanese friends and colleagues.from 22 September to 4 October. Among the main events and presentations:

Continue reading

Battles of Ideas

complex systems networkThis section is intended to be developed into an international reference set to be useful for researchers, students, the media and for concerned citizens and activists on the lookout for ideas and strategies which can be put to work in their own cities.

The goal is to give our readers a chance to weigh and appreciate the very wide range of  ways of thinking, questioning, planning and executing when it comes to how transport in cities is being organized and delivered in different parts of the world.  The references you find here are  for the most part organized into countries, with the exception of the African continent which is included in its totality as a region that desperately requires more attention because the needs there are so enormous — and the fact that the fit with frugal, sustainable transport strategies simply could not be better.

Continue reading

WHOSE OPINION MATTERS? Lessons from a Stakeholder Engagement Process for Penang, Malaysia

Lessons from a Stakeholder Engagement Process for Penang, Malaysia
Author: Minal Pathak • MIT-UTM Malaysia Sustainable Cities Program 2017

– Commentary by Eric Britton, Professor of Sustainable Development, Institut Supérieur de Gestion Paris

“Recommended reading for anyone who cares about Penang and Democracy”

Continue reading

WHOSE OPINION MATTERS? Lessons from a stakeholder engagement process for Penang, Malaysia

This study examines stakeholder involvement in a transportation plan in Penang, Malaysia. The study employs a qualitative methodology and uses select indicators to evaluate the engagement process. Despite a concerted effort to engage the public, the government failed to resolve conflicts with key stakeholder groups.

Author: Minal Pathak • MIT-UTM Malaysia Sustainable Cities Program 2017
* PDF Download available from https://goo.gl/AhBC4o

Continue reading

On Principles of Efficient Congestion Pricing (William Vickrey)

Wiliam VickreyWilliam Spenser Vickrey, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, is considered the father of Congestion Pricing. He first proposed it in 1952, for the New York City subway system, recommending that fares be increased in peak times and in high-traffic sections and be lowered in others. Elected officials considered it risky at the time, and the technology was not ready. Later, he made a similar proposal for road pricing.

This review was written in 1992 by Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, to summarize some of the defining  principles set out in Vickerey’s extensive path-breaking early extensive pathbreaking contributions which in many ways defined the field. This essay can be found in its original form in the website of the Institute  at http://www.vtpi.org/vickrey.htm.

Continue reading

Op-Ed. The car has a chokehold on Britain. It’s time to free ourselves

From The Guardian1 August 2017 

 We tell ourselves that we cherish efficiency. Yet we have created a transport system whose design principle is profligacy. Metal carriages (that increase in size every year), each carrying one or two people, travel in parallel to the same places. Lorries shifting identical goods in opposite directions pass each other on 2,000-mile journeys. Competing parcel companies ply the same routes, in largely empty vans. We could, perhaps, reduce our current vehicle movements by 90% with no loss of utility, and a major gain in our quality of life.

Continue reading

SLOW CITY: START HERE

FOR THE RECORD AND IN BRIEF:

A Slow City is an urban development vision and quantifiable target, the first step of which is  (a) to reduce traffic accidents and their human and economic costs to zero  in the city, by (b) strategically slowing down traffic, over all the parts and the system as a whole. This gives the city a measurable target output (accident data and on-street and in-vehicle ITS feedback) for evaluation and management purposes,  and an innovative platform to link and serve other sustainable projects and programs which are consistent to the theme: reforms and improvements that are Better | Cheaper | Quicker.

Continue reading

Why are we losing the sustainability wars? In transport, in cities, in our lives? Because we are . . .

Consider these irrefutable, unpleasant truths:

There may be successes and improvements in this project, in this  place, in this way, but when we look at the bottom line — i.e., the aggregate impact of our transport choices and actions on the planet  — it is clear that we (that’s the collective “we” including all of us who have in some way committed to or accepted this great responsiblity, this author certainly included) are failing, big time in this challene. And if we are frank with ourselves, we can see that this is quite simply because . . . Continue reading

52 Better, Faster, Cheaper measures that your city could start to do tomorrow morning to reduce traffic accidents, save lives, strengthen the economy and improve quality of life for all.

We often hear that transportation reform  is going to require massive public investments, large construction projects, elaborate technology deployments, and above all and by their very nature are going to take a long time before yielding significant results. This is quite simply not true. This approach, common in the last century and often associated with the “American transportation model”, no longer has its place in a competitive, efficient, democratic city  And we can start tomorrow, if we chose to.

couple crossing street in Penang trafficTo get a feel for this transformative learning reality let’s start with a quick look at a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture as a major means for reducing traffic related nuisances, accident prevention and improving quality of life for all.  These approaches are not just “nice ideas”.  They have proven their merit and effectiveness in hundreds of cities around the world. There is no good reason that they cannot do the same in your city. Starting tomorrow morning.

(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)

Continue reading

Seventeen plus 1 reasons why I am prudently optimistic about the Sustainability Transition for 2018-2020

Shortlist of Transformative Realities and Trends

eb-tallinn-statementOne of the great recompenses of having watched the sustainable transportation and related technology developments evolve over the course of several decades, is that if one takes the time to step back and scan the evidence for pattern breaks, one can readily spot a certain number of  trends, fundamental structural changes, quite a few of which bode well for a different and better future for transport in and around cities. Here are a handful of the fundamental underlying changes which I have spotted over the last decades and which I would like to share with you this morning.

Let’s start with a simple listing and then go on to brief comments in an attempt to clarify.

Continue reading

Outreach for success: Local actors & implementation partners

Too often when it comes to new transport initiatives, the practice is to concentrate on laying the base for the project in close working relationships with people and groups who a priori are favorably disposed to your idea, basically your choir. Leaving the potential “trouble makers” aside for another day. Experience shows that’s a big mistake. We have to take a . . .
Continue reading

A Mayor’s-Eye View of Sustainable Transportation: Politics as the art of the possible

no excuses sir 2The letter that follows is, as you will quickly surmise, not an actual communication from one elected official in one case, but rather a composite, a distillation of experience that I have had over these last years of trying to push the sustainable transportation agenda in many parts of the world, almost always in conjunction and in dialogue with mayors and other city leaders.

As you will see, it is not that they are uniformly adverse to or not interested in the concepts behind sustainable transportation and sustainable cities. It is just that they have a great many other things on their mind, including staying on top day after day of the considerable challenges of managing their city — and, in not very long, running once again for reelection. This is the political reality of which those of us who would be agents of change must be aware, that politics is the art of the possible. Now let’s turn the stage over to our mayor: Continue reading

SLOW CITY STRATEGIES: START HERE

Maylasia Penang pred crossing in traffic Pulau Tikus

FOR THE RECORD AND IN BRIEF:

A Slow City is an urban development vision and quantifiable target, the first step of which is  (a) to reduce traffic accidents and their human and economic costs to zero  in the city, by (b) strategically slowing down traffic, over all the parts and the system as a whole. This gives the city a measurable target output (accident data and on-street and in-vehicle ITS feedback) for evaluation and management purposes,  and an innovative platform to link and serve other sustainable projects and programs which are consistent to the theme: reforms and improvements that are Better | Cheaper | Safer.

Continue reading

The 2016 Civil Society Penang Sustainable Mobility Challenge: Lessons Learned and Next Steps

What were the weaknesses of our collaborative summer 2016 push

  • Very few – terrific job. Most sincerely! But also, to be honest and strategic . . .

Continue reading

World Streets Birdwatchers Guide To Dangerous Political Predators

Reflections on dangerous political predators on the prowl and a real menace to democracy, equity and the planet.
woman camera focusing bird watchers guide-smallerThere is a specific kind of nasty, dangerous, entirely selfish animal on the prowl, to be found in almost every country on this gasping planet, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. And I believe it would be to our great good fortune if we are somehow able to spot this species of villainous beast by recognizing its markings, its familiar, common signs. Know this and we can then go birding.

Continue reading

Op-Ed. On Motorized Two-Wheelers in Taiwan (and cities around the world)

Taipei M2Ws at intersection - larger

World Streets has for some years now  pushed hard for the idea of an integrated strategic planning approach and operations plan for the better, safer use of motorized two wheelers in and around cities. This has largely been an uphill struggle.  Not to claim that there have not been innovations and improvements here and there. But for the most part, this creeping problem continues insidiously to take on ever great proportions, while those responsible continue to look elsewhere. We really need to do better than that.

Which is one of the reasons that since 2010 we have insistently solicited articles and references from different countries concerning M2Ws, which you can find here under  https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/m2w/. This op-ed contribution by Dr. Wayne Gao was set off in a discussion which had as its origin a recommendation by the Britton Advisory Mission to Taiwan of 23-30 January, which you can find here 

Continue reading