From Nantes: Three Little Words to Shape the Future of Cycling

Philippe Crist - with bike but no nameWe are pleased to be able to share with you the speaking notes prepared by a friend of many years and emerging pillar on the international transport policy scene, Philippe Crist of the International Transportation Forum for his opening keynote address to this year’s Velo-City conference in Nantes.

Philippe, who for years has spent more than an hour each day peddling through Paris traffic to work at the OECD,  takes a few steps back from the immediate concerns of the many workshops and events, and invites us to contemplate the big picture and hopefully in the process remember three words that he has chosen for the core of his presentation, three words that he proposes can help us understand, shape and support the future of cycling in our cites, smaller towns and rural communities around the world. The words are: Serendipity (stumbling on something important by keen eye and happy chance); the concept of Resilience; and the initially puzzling neologism “Supernormal”. To put this presentation to work, we invite you to review it in parallel enjoying the illustrated 12 minute video of his address which you will find at the Opening Plenary Part 3 at  http://livestream.com/lacitenantes/Velocity2015/videos/89111933 (start viewing at 36:30).

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Op-Ed. On Motorized Two Wheelers in Taiwan

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 

Taipei M2Ws at intersection - larger

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Happiness: The Transformative Role of Sustainable Transport

In the late spring of 2012 the diligent editor of World Streets was visited by a young Canadian writer who announced that he was working on a book about “Happy Cities”, and in this context wanted to talk  about my experience in and Charles Montgomery in trafficthoughts on the happiness arena, with particular attention to issues concerning ordinary people, people like Thee and Me, in our day-to-day lives: issues of mobility and public space, needs meet and unmet, individualism and community, time and distance, behavior and equity,  economy and democracy . . .  in Paris and around the world. Why not?  What the hell, maybe I will learn something from him.

Charles Montgomery’s merciless interrogation lasted a full day,followed by extensive correspondence over the course of the next year.  Toward the end of 2013 his book “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York. One year later the 368 page volume has just appeared in an affordable paperback edition, and is now widely available in bookshops, and of course the Internet. (PS. Support your local bookshop, it is a happier experience!) We thank the author and the publisher for permission to share the following extracts with our readers to celebrate the low-cost editions now available.

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Op-ed: Political behaviour is largely non-rational

When one considers how things have gone in the last decades or thereabouts, it is not easy to believe in the survival of civilization.

brain surgeryI do not argue from this that the only thing to do is to adjure practical politics, retire to some remote place and concentrate either on individual salvation or on building up self-supporting communities against the day when the atom bombs have done their work. I think one must continue the political struggle, just as a doctor must try to save the life of a patient who is probably going to die.

But I do suggest that we shall get nowhere unless we start by recognizing that political behaviour is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured.

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Surprising Things You Never Knew About Transport

This is the first in a series of four short films prepared by a faculty team from the Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The four podcasts pose some interesting questions and give an insightful appraisal of what influences travel habits, delivered by nationally leading experts in the field of transport research: Professor Glenn Lyons, Dr Steve Melia, Professor Graham Parkhurst and Professor John Parkin. Today’s film is presented by Steve Melia and looks into some surprising questions from Steve’s forthcoming book ‘Urban Transport Without the Hot Air’. All four films can be viewed on the UWE Bristol web pages.

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Op-Ed: Why things are not good for UK citizens — and how to make them better

– By John Whitelegg

We are not doing very well in the UK on things that matter to most people.  We are the 6th richest country in the world and yet we come very near the bottom of most rankings on things like child poverty, inequality, pensioner poverty, excess winter deaths, teenage pregnancy, NEETS, percentage of electricity generated from renewables, levels of cycling and quality of public transport.  None of this is necessary and it is safe to assume that local and central government did not set out to achieve these poor quality outcomes.  So what is going on?

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Op-Ed: Do you know your ecological footprint?

Toward the end of each year, I take a few minutes to run my personal Ecological Footprint scan to see if I can get a handle on how I am doing relative to myself, to others and to the planet. Seems like the least I can do, not less because it does oblige me to think about my life pattern and choices in the greater scheme of things. “Walk the talk”, etc., etc. (PS. On a more global basis, to get a feel for where the high scores hang out, this map of earth lights at night will provide you with some good clues.) Continue reading