Admitted that the move from the seriously underperforming and dangerous old mobility system that the vast majority of our cities are saddled with today, toward something which is more efficient, more equitable and far easier on the environment is a complex challenge of many tightly and confusingly interrelated parts. But sometimes there can be a simple relatively low cost idea which cuts across all of these complications and which can offer surprising results. This section of World Streets is devoted to the search for just such simple, genial, cost-effective transformative ideas. You will also find more at http://goo.gl/V70UYu.
Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.
Why do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.
To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.
A counterflow lane or contraflow lane is a lane in which traffic flows in the opposite direction of the surrounding lanes. *
Contraflow is a common part of decent cycling infrastructure and is often seen on one-way streets. A standard example is that car and other vehicular traffic might have only one lane while on both sides there are bike lanes; one going in the same direction as the vehicular traffic, the other (the contraflow bike lane) allows cyclists to safely go in the opposite direction to the cars
Counterflow cycle lane in Paris. Credit: Vladimir Zlokazov
As part of Norway’s ongoing European Mobility Week celebrations, around 10,000 NOK (€1,200) was handed out in the town of Lillestrøm to pedestrians and cyclists in “reverse toll money”. The money symbolised the health benefits of walking and cycling, including better fitness, improved air quality and more efficient transport.
Cyclists received around €12, while pedestrians gained €11. Calculations carried out by the Norwegian Directorate of Health shows that active transport provides the state with a saving of 52 NOK (€6) per kilometer for pedestrians and 26 NOK (€3) per kilometer for cyclists. An average bike trip in Norway is 4 kilometers, providing a health benefit of 100 NOK (€12), while an average walking trip is 1.7 km, worth almost 90 NOK (€11)
The only thing I have to say about this is . . . EXCELLENT!
As original organizers of the World Car Free Days movement, we are always attentive to finding ways to make real use out of these generally festive occasions. We have been working consistently on this task since the first program announcement in Toledo Spain at a major European conference in October 1994 under the title of “Thursday: A breakthrough strategy for reducing car dependence in cities“. (See http://wp.me/psKUY-U9)
This year we propose that considering cities may give some thought to the possibility of organizing on a pilot basis a special core Car Free Day event — specifically intended to examine, encourage and support cycling in cities. This makes sense: a Car Free Day is seen as an occasion to step back and think together about how your city is doing in the challenging transition from an essentially private car-based to an equitable and efficient mobility-based society. With this in mind we are proposing at the core of the other planned CFD events this year the tool of a “Civil Society State of City Cycling Audit” — in order to provide independent background and perspective on the state of safe and abundant cycling in their city. The following posting sets out the latest proposal for this “collaborative citizen self-audit”.
World Streets readers will certainly want to stay on top of this project of the city of Helsinki to come up with what we call a “better than car transportation system”. The excerpts just below taken from an article published in the Guardian yesterday will lead you to the full piece. There is a mild irony to the extent to which the “technological core” of the project has to do with the mobility arrangements which have been receiving steady, and happily increasing, attention since the mid-1960s, namely DRT or Dial-a-Ride. The massive change elements which fundamentally transform and scale up the basic DRT of long past operational system is a combination of close to universal mobile phones, abounding apps, and Big Data. That plus a good dose of public entrepreneurship and outreach changes everything. We invite you to have a look and to share your thoughts with us about this intriguing real world adventure.
The construction of a well-defined, broadly accepted agenda for New Mobility until the present time has been sadly lacking. But what we and a numb er of our international colleagues have managed to develop over the last two decades is a certain number of agreed basic principles spanning many different areas and kinds of operational situations, but somehow until now we have failed to put them all together into a well-defined, convincing operational and policy package. We think of this as the move toward a new paradigm for transport in cities – and it all starts with . . . slowing down.
Today I would like to extract and comment on some of the graphics and thoughts developed by our colleague Carlosfelipe Pardo in a presentation which he entitled “The psychology of urban mobility”. I have extracted from his presentation three sets of images which I would now like to present you and comment briefly. (For the full original presentation please click here.)