When we set out to lay the base for this journal in 2008, we never for a moment considered calling it “World Roads”. Our focus was and is on the fact that if roads are for vehicles, streets are definitely for people. Let us have a look at what one young “lapsed engineer from India” has to say about this in the context of his home city of Mumbai, with lessons that ring just as true in places like Manhattan, Madrid, Melbourne . . . or surely your city as well. Continue reading
Volume 15, Number 1. March 2010
This issue contains two articles that on first reading may appear totally unrelated. This is not the case. The Kinnersly article – “Transport and climate change on a planet near you ” – is a comprehensive reflection on the links between economic growth, poor quality democracy, lack of will to deal with sustainability and biodiversity and the perversity of reckless decision taking that supports a business as usual (BAU) model of the world.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. – Henry Ford
Hmm, sounds quite good but, well, I am not quite sure how I feel about this — but anyway those are Henry Ford’s famous words, as quoted by German Federal President Horst Köhler in a challenging speech on January 14th of this year to ADAC, Germany’s and Europe’s largest automobile club – a speech widely ignored by the German media.
He then added this: “In other words, mobility has to be thought ahead. You, leading representatives of the car industry, be ahead of your customers! The phrase “that’s what the customers wanted” is not set in stone for all eternity. As leaders you have a responsibility to lead. And part of that is to recognize shifts in the tide – on the markets and in society – and to react promptly and get new products ready for the market.”
The fact that he then segues into the importance of a massive move into electric cars troubles; it repeats one bad old habit of some parts of the political and administrative establishment in many places, which is to assume that they somehow can make wise determinations about technology. They cannot. That’s not their competence, that’s not their job. What we expect of wise governance is to set ambitious, but achievable performance parameters, standards if you will, that lead us toward better, cleaner, safer and fairer mobility. But not to tell us which technology is best suited to do the job. They, quit frankly, do not and can not know.
And in any event if you ask me, what we need is slower horses. It’s at least a start. Someone please tell that to whoever it is in Germany who continue to resist setting speed limits on the autobahn.
You can read the full text of his talk which touches on matters of mobility, technology, entrepreneurship and governance here: http://www.bundespraesident.de/en/Speeches-,11165.661675/Speech-by-Federal-President-Ho.htm?global.back=/en/-%2c11165%2c0/Speeches.htm%3flink%3dbpr_liste.
Thanks to Markus Heller of Autofrei Wohnen in Berlin and Pascal van den Noort of VeloMondial in Amsterdam for the heads-up.
In closing out the old year we would like to invite you all in your cities around the world to reflect on this. Something that our friends over at Streetsblog in New York City have just published and which is part of their long term commitment to drawing attention to the terrible injustices (the phrase is not too strong) our transportation arrangements and enforcement and legal systems are perpetrating on innocent pedestrians and cyclists on the streets of our cities every day. Shouldn’t you be doing something like this in your city?
Have a look at this uncompromising, no excuses editorial that appeared yesterday in Streetsblog’s New York City edition. You will see their sentence: “Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life.” At least one city now has someone who is doing the arithmetic and making it public. Surely a first step in the process of redressing these outrageous wrongs.
Post by Brad Aaron
Incidents of vehicle-inflicted violence are so frequent that many go unreported in the papers or on TV news, even when the outcome is death. Based on Streetsblog coverage, media stories and reader accounts, what follows is a record of those known to have lost their lives in 2009.
The victims listed below were killed on their way to and from work, church, or the corner store, while taking their dogs for a walk or coming home from a birthday party. They were grandparents, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, best friends. Many died alone or anonymously, their names never appearing in any public forum. Others were mortally wounded within sight of loved ones. With few exceptions, thanks to lax enforcement and scattershot prosecution of weak traffic laws, their killers are behind the wheel today. Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life.
As this list is undoubtedly incomplete, please use the comments to share remembrances of those named here, and the names and stories of those we missed.
- Howard Adrian, 84, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 23 on Staten Island; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
- Ibrihim Ahmed, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 6 in Queens; Driver Charged With Suspended License (Streetsblog 1, 2, 3)
- Suzette Blanco, 20, Pedestrian, Killed June 7 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Charged With DWI and Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Hit-and-Run (News, Post)
- Janine Brawer, 17, Pedestrian, Died Nov. 19 on Staten Island; Drivers Not Charged (Advance)
- Donald Bryan, 31, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Aug. 23; Driver Not Charged (News, Courier)
- Guido Salvador Carabajo-Jara, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 11 in Queens; Drivers Not Charged (City Room 1, 2)
- Francisco Chapul, 21, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 14; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 2 Drivers Not Charged (Post, NY1)
- Miguel Colon, 37, Pedestrian, Killed July 12 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (NYT, News)
- Angela D’Ambrose, 15, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Post, News)
- Concetta DiBenedetto, 78, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 19; Driver Not Charged (Post)
- Yvette Diaz, 28, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)
- Li Qun Fang, 43, Pedestrian, Killed March 12 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News 1, 2)
- Marilyn Feng, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 7 in Manhattan; Driver [Jersey City PD] Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, Post)
- Kyle Francis, 13, Pedestrian, Killed May 18 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post)
- Joshua Ganzfried, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Suspended License (News, Post)
- JoAnne Hayden-Weissman, 55, Pedestrian, Killed April 16 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
- Linda Hewson, 50, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 26 in Manhattan; Driver Driver Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (Post, MT)
- Javier Jackson, 79, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Manhattan; Driver [NYPD] Not Charged (Post, News, NY1)
- Hugo Janssen, 73, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (News, Post, NY1)
- Paula Jimenez, 34, Pedestrian, Died Aug. 30 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (News, Post)
- Jerome Johnson, 48, Pedestrian, Killed June 12 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run, Charges Unknown (News, Post)
- Seth Kahn, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 4 in Manhattan; Driver [MTA Bus] Charged for Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
- Matthew Kim, 30, Pedestrian, Killed July 3 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (Post, News)
- Violetta Krzyzak, 38, Pedestrian, Killed April 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (Streetsblog 1, 2)
- James Langergaard, 38, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 14 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
- Harry Lewner, 58, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 17 in Brooklyn; 1 Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Not Charged (NY1, Gothamist)
- Vivian Long, 73, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Manhattan; Driver [Access-A-Ride] Not Charged (News)
- Diego Martinez, 3, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog)
- Eliseo Martinez, 32, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 7 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (Ghost Bikes)
- Virginia McKibbin, 65, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 2 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Post, NY1)
- Julian Miller, 45, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 18 in Brooklyn; Motorcyclist Also Killed (The Local 1, 2)
- Virginia Montalvo, 71, Pedestrian, Killed April 7 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News, NYT)
- Hayley Ng, 4, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog)
- Drana Nikac, 67, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 30 in the Bronx; Driver [Off-Duty NYPD] Charged With DWI, Homicide (R’dale Press)
- Robert Ogle, 16, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post)
- Axel Pablo, 8, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 13 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (Post, News)
- Alex Paul, 20, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post)
- Nathan Pakow, 47, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 26 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog)
- Pablo Pasaras, 27, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 8 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog, Gazette)
- Sonya Powell, 40-42, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 27 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (News, Post, NY1, WABC)
- Ysemny Ramos, 29, Pedestrian, Killed March 27 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (NYT, News)
- Solange Raulston, 33, Cyclist, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Bklyn Paper, Gothamist)
- Luis Rivera, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 31 in the Bronx; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (AMNY, News)
- Lillian Sabados, 77, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License
- Peter Sabados, 78, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (NYT)
- Edith Schaller, 87-88, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 30 in Brooklyn; Drivers Not Charged (News, Post)
- Susanne Schnitzer, 61, Pedestrian, Killed April 8 in Manhattan; No Known Media Reports (NYT, Streetsblog)
- Juan Sifuentes, 67, Pedestrian, Killed July 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (AP)
- Matvey Smolovich, 25, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Brooklyn; Driver [School Bus] Not Charged (News)
- Catorino Solis, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 21 in Manhattan; Driver Charged for Unlicensed Operation and Moving Violations (News)
- Andrzej Suchorzepka, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News)
- Dan Valle, 26, Cyclist, Killed Feb. 18 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (MTR)
- Vionique Valnord, 32, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 27 in Brooklyn; Driver [NYPD] Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (NYT)
- Dorothea Wallace, 38, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 3 in Brooklyn; Driver [Off-Duty NYS Corrections] Charged With Suspended License (News, Post, NY1)
- Fred Wilson, 66, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Post)
- Hui Wu, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 20 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (News, NY1)
- Stanislaw Zak, 65, Pedestrian, Killed June 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (News, Post)
- Unnamed Cyclist, 72, Killed June 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Bklyn Paper)
- Tina [Surname Unknown], Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 21 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Post)
- Two Unnamed Pedestrians, Killed April 8 in Manhattan and Queens; Hit-and-Runs (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, 20, Killed April 15 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI (Post)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 15 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 26 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run (NYT, News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 22 in Queens; No Known Media Reports (Gothamist)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, 48, Killed Nov. 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run, Driver Not Charged (Post)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 1 Driver Not Charged (News)
- Unnamed Pedestrian, 79-80, Killed Dec. 15 in Brooklyn; Driver [Ambulance] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
- Unnamed Wheelchair User, Killed Sept. 1 in Brooklyn; Charges Unknown (News)
# # #
Look at those faces. Think of those lives so terribly truncated, simply because we are not smart or fair enough to do better. But it does not have to be that way.
We know of course the answer to this: (a) Fewer cars on the street, moving far more slowly (we trap them through slow street architecture), far better protection for all others out on the street, and drivers who when at the wheel have the fear of their life of what will happen to them in the event they are the source of incident, injury or death. This coupled with (b) clear and simple laws, that are made widely known, together with draconian enforcement coupled with strict and immediate punishment which is comparable to the offenses committed. And no exceptions or exemptions. Sometimes life is simple.
The editor, World Streets
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
In the firm belief that you cannot get too much of a slow thing, here is a second piece in a row on how they are slowing things down in Portsmouth and Britain more generally. We present it as a step toward building your own tool kit for slowing things down in your city. Look at Portsmouth and build on their example to do better yet on your streets. As Newton reminded us, real progress occurs only by standing on the shoulders of giants
Twenty’s Plenty Where People Live in Portsmouth
– Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us , UK
On 14th May 2008 in a United Kingdom House of Commons Transport Committee evidence session the respected head of the Netherlands Road Safety Institute, Fred Wegman, commented :-
“Until 2000 we were always looking to the United Kingdom when it came to road safety. You were the inventors of many good activities and polices. All of a sudden, somewhere in 2000, you stopped doing things and we continued with our efforts. A simple figure to illustrate that is that, compared to 2000, in 2006 you had 7% fewer fatalities in this country. We have one third fewer.”
The resultant critical review of road safety in the UK by the Transport Select Committee was tellingly entitled “Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010”
Experts will debate the reasons for the slow down in better safety on UK roads. Some will put it down to an over-reliance on engineering measures which may well simply keep prevailing vehicle speeds higher and inevitably make it more dangerous for our vulnerable road users. Indeed whilst the number of total road fatalities has dropped from 3,221 in 2004 to 2,538 in 2008, the percentage of these which were pedestrians has been steadily rising from 20.83% in 2004 to 22.54% in 2008. In fact UK’s skewing of road fatalities towards pedestrians is one of the highest in Europe where the average across the EU14 countries in 2005 was just 14%. In 2005 in the Netherlands it was just 9.4%.
However, things are changing. In 2006 the Department of Transport issued some new guidelines to Local Authorities for setting speed limits. One city, Portsmouth, seized upon a slight change in the guidelines for 20 mph limits without traffic calming and decided to embark upon a new initiative based upon the premise that 20’s plenty where people live.
And last week at a special conference “Portsmouth – Britain’s First 20 mph City” the presentations in the Guild Hall in Portsmouth may well have created a pivotal point in road danger reduction in the UK.
Until now, speed management has mainly been implemented by means of localised interventions on streets to make the driver slow down. Whether they are speed cameras, or speed bumps the essential engagement has been with the driver on the road whilst he or she is driving.
At the conference, Portsmouth City Council and the Department for Transport reported on the results from the completely different approach taken by Portsmouth when in March 2008 they completed their setting of all residential roads, bar arterial routes, with a speed limit of 20 mph. 1,200 streets were set to 20 mph over a 9 month period. No bumps or humps, but most importantly a decision not just made by Traffic Officers but by the whole community as they sought a way to deliver lower speeds and a better quality of life for their residents. Quite simply, Portsmouth people decided to slow down wherever people live!
Of course, setting lower speeds with traffic calming is so expensive that one only usually does it where you have excessive speed problems. But when you make the decision as a community to slow down wherever people live then it is inevitable that many streets will already have speeds below 20 mph. In fact in Portsmouth they monitored 159 sites. 102 already had mean speeds of 20 mph or less. 36 were between 20 mph and 24 mph, whilst on a further 21 the mean speed was above 24 mph.
And because of that mix it was found that overall the mean speed for all the roads did not change very much. In fact it reduced by just 1%. But what was very significant was the fact that in those streets where speeds previously were 24 mph or above then a huge 7mph reduction in mean speed was recorded.
Whilst casualties also fell by 15% and total accidents by 13%, more time will be needed to establish statistically significant collision figures. However, the presenter noted the changes in child and elderly casualties in before and after numbers :
Portsmouth’s success is as a community that has debated how the streets should be shared more equitably and has gone through the due political, democratic and administrative process to take that community commitment and turn it into a framework within which everyone can take their part in making their city a better place to live. One where casualties reduce and people have quieter streets with more opportunities for cycling and walking.
The spaces between our houses, which we call streets, will never be the same in this country. Portsmouth has shown that communities can change their behaviour and sensibly embark on a 20’s Plenty Where People Live initiative that delivers real benefits to every road user. More and more towns, cities and villages are following this trend to put citizenship back into the way we drive and share our roads. The same plan is proposed in Oxford, Leicester, Newcastle, Norwich and Islington, with widespread trials being conducted in Bristol and Warrington.
But people in Portsmouth are perhaps no different from us all. But what they have found is a way to enable them to turn an aspiration for safer and more pleasant streets into a reality. I suspect there will be plenty more similar communities saying 20’s plenty for them as well. And that may well put the United Kingdom back on track in improving the safety of vulnerable road users and bringing a little more calmness to our urban and residential streets.
# # #
Rod King is Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, a national voluntary organisation formed in 2007 to support local communities who want lower vehicle speeds on residential and urban roads. 20’s Plenty for Us works with local groups around the country as well as lobbying central and local government. He can be reached at 20’s Plenty for Us – http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk Tel +44 07973 639781 . E: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the pillars of the New Mobility Agenda approach to sustainable transport in cities, is to slow down the traffic. It works as an environmental trigger. Thus when you start to go slower, when you organize your daily life around this principle, you necessarily end up going less far. Which in turn sends out a whole range of signals for land use in our cities. The exact opposite of the forces behind urban sprawl and all that goes with it. If there were one first step to take, slowing things down would have a strong claim to this place of honor. And this movement is gaining real force in Britain.
Portsmouth – Britain’s First Twenty is Plenty (mph) City
Portsmouth has many claims to fame, home of the British Navy, Western Europe’s most densely populated city and now the first city in Britain to set a 20 mph limit across its residential road network.
What sets the 20 mph speed limit in Portsmouth apart from the other two and a half thousand 20 mph zones in England is not just that it is city wide, but also that it relies not on traffic calming or speed cameras for enforcement, but simply signs and publicity to encourage driver behaviour change.
It could be argued that this is one of the largest travel behaviour change initiatives in the country, and although the main objective for the scheme is safety, there are potential modal shift benefits which the city hopes to realise.
How the scheme works
The scheme was made possible by the amendment to Section 84 of Road Traffic Regulation Act in 1999 which allowed local authorities to set local speed limits without the need to get Secretary of State approval.
Due to a high population density, Portsmouth streets were largely already slow moving, so while the decision to go for a city wide 20mph limit was brave; it was not without local support.
The 20mph limit was launched in six city sectors, with the first introduced on 1st October 2007 and the last in March 2008.
In line with DfT guidance the streets included in the scheme were largely residential where average speeds were already below 24 mph, and while the strategic roads network was excluded, they have included some high volume routes where average speeds were above 30 mph.
Following a media campaign and wide scale community consultation process, streets that were to be included within the 20 mph limit had roundels painted at the entrance together with 20 mph signs, with repeater signs placed at 150m intervals along the length of the route.
The speed limit has been largely self-enforcing, with local residents being proactive in reporting speeding traffic. Traffic speed surveys have been used to identify problem streets, which have then been reported to the partnership of police and council officers, which swoop on offending drivers several times a year. The support of local motorists to the 20 mph limit is essential, so rather than just issue a penalty notice, police offer offending drivers an option of attending a half hour seminar educating them on the danger of speeding, which has proven very effective.
How Behaviour Change Interventions have been used
For a project of this nature, where the aim was a culture change, promotion and consultation has been the key.
To highlight the benefits of lower speeds the city first targeted the most vulnerable road users, school children, and issued each school child with pamphlets listing the roads which were to have a slower speed limit. The pamphlet included a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section and a hotline was set up for further information.
Posters and informational leaflets were distributed at public places such as schools, community centers, health centers, libraries, churches, sports clubs and universities.
Neighborhood forums were extensively consulted, with city officials going out to talk to them about the proposals and to listen to their concerns.
The local media and press, while initially skeptical, soon understood the potential benefits, and published many positive articles about the scheme. While the city also published statutory notices in local newspapers.
While of course there were some very vociferous objections from a small minority, overall objections were in fact minimal, and the vast majority of messages received by the city were in support of the proposals.
How effective has it been?
Since the scheme is so new, it has been difficult to gather clear robust evidence of effectiveness, but initial results appear positive.
Speed surveys show that there has been a reduction of about 0.9mph in the residential roads where average speeds were previously at or below 24 mph.
The most effective measures were actually on streets where speeds were previously above 30 mph, which have seen average speeds fall by as much as 7 mph.
While very few physical calming measures have been used, extra space has been provided for pedestrians and cyclists, and straight roads have been made to meander in those streets which had recent fatalities.
Initial evidence show a reduction in traffic incidents, and overall casualties are down across the city since the implementation of the 20 mph limit.
The potential for modal shift
There is anecdotal evidence that some modal shift has already been achieved, but so far there has been no study to confirm if this is the case. However since road danger is usually cited as the primary barrier to cycling, it seems logical to assume that a city wide reduction in speeds would have some impact.
Promotion of the 20mph limit initially targeted schools as an extension of the safe routes to school programme, and children have been encouraged to celebrate the introduction of the lower speed limits. This link between school travel plans and the safe speeds initiative should reinforce each other and help increase sustainable travel to school in the future.
It is known from other initiatives that when packages of measures are applied together such as parking controls, PTP, WTP, bus priority, then this does have a significant impact on modal shift.
While this has not yet been applied in Portsmouth, the smarter choices team have been included from the beginning and future modal shift promotion is planned, with ideas such as community street parties being considered.
While the overall speed reduction and impacts on accidents is much greater for a traffic calmed 20mph zone, than a city wide 20mph limit without accompanying calming, there are distinct advantages of a city wide limit.
The costs are much lower, and issues over emergency vehicle access, noise generation are avoided. With lower costs and less resistance to the initiative from the media and public, it has been possible to roll out the limit city wide in a very short space of time. This is a huge benefit in itself, since residents of the city all gain from living in a 20mph street themselves; they are also much more likely to respect the speed limit for neighboring communities that they drive through.
While it has so far not been possible to evaluate the full benefits of the limit, initial evidence seems to show that road safety has improved, and with a coordinated smarter choices follow up initiative it seems certain that significant modal shift benefits could be gained from the scheme.
Thus the ultimate benefits could be many; public health, well being, noise, pollution, climate change, reduction in accidents, deaths, reducing NHS and police costs.
# # #
About the author:
Rory McMullan works for PTRC Education and Research Services, which organises training events for transport professionals on topics such as Portsmouth’s introduction of a 20 mph speed limit. As a cyclist and father, Rory is a strong supporter of slower speed limits in cities, because road danger caused by fast moving traffic is one of the main barriers to the take up of cycling, and the biggest concern for protecting the safety of children, whether walking, cycling or playing on our streets.
* Speed limit to be cut to 20 mph in government bid to reduce number of road deaths – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1171706/Speed-limit-cut-20mph-government-bid-reduce-number-road-deaths.html
* 20mph speed limit on residential roads in Portsmouth – http://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/living/8403.html
* Related World Streets articles: http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/search/label/slower
Nicole Cañón, a 10-year old student on her bike ride to school, was run over by a bus and, when thrown to the street, was killed by a taxi. As if this were not enough, both drivers of bus and taxi escaped, leaving the child on her deathbed with no one to take responsibility.
Ghost bike ceremonies as memorials and calls for action
By Carlos Felipe Pardo, ITDP country director, Colombia
As of last Friday, Bogotá now has its own 9-11 to remember. Though it is of much smaller scale, it is equally tragic. Nicole Cañón, a 10-year old student on her bike ride to school, was run over by a public transport bus and, when thrown to the street, was killed by a taxi. As if this were not enough, both drivers of the bus and the taxi escaped, leaving Nicole on her deathbed with no one to take responsibility.
On Wednesday of this week Gabrielle Herman, a researcher with ITDP-Europe posted a call for help to the Global South/Sustran working group asking for statistical information on “what current road infrastructure budget allocations look like in terms of road safety”. World Streets Sentinel Morten Lange responded from Reykjavik, challenging the project team to rethinking their approach. (And your comments on this are warmly welcome here.)
Some additional quick background to set the stage for Morten’s comments. Gabriel Hermann has been asked to prepare a section for the forthcoming UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme ) paper, “Share the Road: Minimum 10% for Safety, Sustainability, and Accessibility”, funded by the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society. The FIA site is at http://www.fiafoundation.org/. The UNEP site at www.unep.org . That of the ITDP Europe – http://www.itdp-europe.org/
Hi Gabrielle Hermann,
I am sorry that I cannot answer your question on specific examples of 10% spending on infrastructure for NMT. (Hmm, wait ,I have heard that Copenhagen spends a large portion of the road budget on cycling, and the same must hold true in many Dutch settings. No concrete figures or references though )
But your request did spark the following suggestion for a wholly different approach on the matter.
I think the first item on the agenda should be to do some investigation and critical thinking into different approaches to achieving improved road safety for Healthy Transport (HT), or Human Powered Transport (HPT).
It is paramount that the Global South does not copy the mistakes of the North, although some of statistics suggest that segregation and expensive infrastructure is working. At what price have they been working? Materials, huge costs, enormous land-use, and land degradation, pollution, at times long detours for cyclists and pedestrians, improved access for cars, bad health problems because of lack of exercise as part of the daily routine, blame the (HT) victims if they are run over, overdependence on very expensive and very unsustainable cars etc, etc.
Furthermore the situation in the Global South is completely different from the countries with the lowest figures for the number of deaths yearly per 100.000 inhabitants. The modal split is an ocean apart from what Sweden or the UK has, and thinking that modals splits should change in the Global South to mimic the North would be a big mistake.
Healthy Transport (HT) and Human Powered Transport (HPT) are not generally used as concepts, I think, but I suggest these concepts or something of the sort be taken up as alternatives to the term non-motorized transport NMT, or vulnerable road users, mainly because they define cycling, walking et al positively, not as something “other” than cars etc.
In evaluating the different approaches I suggest that the potential for win-win situations figure very prominently. Does the approach
– improve accessibility and efficiency for HT/HPT
– improve the competitiveness of HT/HPT
– reduce greenhouse gas emissions
– reduce other pollution to air, water, soil + noise pollution
– improve the psychological / aesthetic environment
– increase the livability and / or attractiveness
– entail flexibility and cooperation or rigid rules, with sharp edges
– use resources in a close to optimal way
– help the car, oil and tire lobby
Road safety “activists” (Is it fitting to call FIA an activist?) often overfocus on just that, and “forget” to see the whole picture. The road safety problem is one in a big set of problems that have to do with the overuse of the car, and in part the overuse or wrong use of roadgoing motorized transport.
The largest public health problem connected with transport is probably sedentary lifestyles and the resulting obesity, and a long range of life-threatening diseases. Some are associated with obesity, others not. It is estimated that in the US 40.000 die in road accidents, and 400.000 from obesity. It has been suggested that half of the 400.000 stems from sedentary lifestyles, not getting the daily gentle exercise that cyclists and walkers get. WHO has publishes a large study showing that in many major Europeans cities fumes and suspended particulate matter ( mainly from cars exhaust pipes ) kill substantially more people than road accidents.
I and many others are looking to solutions that slow down cars, and change the aesthetics of places so that they are more similar to cozy streets than the tracks for racing in computer games.
Bring down the speeds of cars. Plant trees and bushes along roads. Bring life to the streets. Some experiments in urban settings with taking the infrastructure, including signs and traffic lights away, have been successful. Motorists and HT / HPT start to interact. Accidents have been reduced.
Another approach in roughly the same vein, and then regarding cyclists specifically, is to paint bike-and-chevron markings in the streets. The markings remind both cyclists and motorists that cyclists are welcome on the streets. Very cheap, and effective in improving interactions between drivers and cyclists as well as safety. And a small piece of bicycle advocacy that is a constant reminder to all. Used in Paris, San-Francisco, recently in Reykjavik, and in many other cities. (e.g. in Australia and North America )
Rural settings and some major roads in cities can demand different solutions. There higher speeds of cars can have its merits and separation will increase the accessibility and competitiveness HT / HPT. But the lessons from urban areas should still be kept in mind. Big detours or bad designs or lousy maintenance should be avoided.
I am sorry if my style conveys that I purport some great authority on the subject. That was not my intention. I wish the proponents of segregation and expensive infrastructure would also include similar disclaimers :-)
If anyone wants references to studies that support my claims, I guess many on the list will be able to help, including myself.
Reykjavik Iceland (and a former resident of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania)
Original note of Gabrielle Hermann to the Global South/Sustran group under the title ” Road Safety Infrastructure Spending devoted NMT–project examples and figures needed!” – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sustran-discuss/message/5535
Morten Lange describes himself as “as advocate for cycling and other health transport (in my spare time and then some)”. He lives, works and pedals in Reykjavik Iceland
Follows just below. Click Comment
Former Mayor Jaime Lerner discusses how and why he made the first pedestrian street in the middle of downtown Curitiba. And in one second less than four minutes, he gives us a master class on how you get sustainable transport projects done.
This handy resource on car free developments and new street design just in from our hard-working friends over at the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP). If you do not know their valuable work from an international perspective, click here to learn more.
Registered SUTP users can download this latest report by clicking here 1.11 Mb (after login). Unregistered visitors may click here for registration (at no cost) and then proceed to download after login.
From the report Preface
The idea of Car Free Development is gaining increasing attention around the globe. Designing streets for people, not just cars, is considered to be a key issue in efforts aimed at reducing car dependency and promoting low carbon mobility. Moreover, recent concepts summarised under the term New Street Design help to reconcile car traffic movement with the needs of pedestrians and the desire for attractive public spaces. These concepts significantly improve conditions for non‐motorised transport where completely blocking access for vehicles is impossible or undesirable.
In many developing and newly industrialised countries the level of car ownership still remains low compared to Western European or US standards. These conditions provide a unique opportunity to foster non‐motorised transport, to improve accessibility and to maintain economic viability. Avoiding the erroneous trend of car oriented city development pursued for many years in Western countries will benefit the vast majority of city dwellers in developing countries. In addition, it will contribute significantly to meet climate related CO2 mitigation targets.
This document aims at providing the reader with an overview of the latest available literature on Car Free Development and New Street Design. Moreover, it includes links to a wide range of related organisations and projects. We hope the information provided here will be useful for anybody interested in the subject.
For more information on our work, please see the last page of the document.
SUTP, Eschborn, June 2009
On June 23 a stunning article was posted on World Streets, by Paul Barter, of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the University of Singapore. He refers to experiments with shared space or ‘naked streets’ which have drawn considerable public attention in recent years. Indeed they have. From 2004 – 2008 seven European partners from five countries have been sharing knowledge on Shared Space.
It takes shared space to create shared understanding
In the Netherlands, since February 2009 the Shared Space Institute is operational, as one of the project’s tangible results. On June 10th 2009 the Institute had its official opening. The institute is dedicated to further exploring and applying the Shared Space principles. What do they teach us about the ins and outs of successful public spaces, and what changes need to be made to maintain them? And perhaps even more important: what does the Shared Space concept teach us about wealth and health of the people living there?
What does ‘Shared Space’ mean, and why do we think it’s needed?
Over the past decades, traffic objectives and traffic legislation have determined the way in which public spaces were designed. This was meant to improve traffic flows and traffic safety. But it was at the cost of the quality of the public spaces and the living environment of people. And it was also at the cost of the personal conduct in public, and the professional capacities of those who are responsible for public spaces.
In contrast to current practice, Shared Space strives to combine rather than separate the various functions of public spaces. By doing so, the quality of public spaces will be improved, and responsible behaviour will be evoked. So, when designing spaces, Shared Space relies on information from the surroundings to guide road users’ conduct, instead of forcing them to strictly obey to traffic rules and signs. When there is a primary school, we don’t want to hide it behind fences and sign posts. Instead, we extend the school yard out into the street. We think that car drivers are not stupid. If they can see children playing in the streets, they will reduce speed and drive as careful they possibly could.
We need space for traffic and space for people
Of course, this does not mean that rules will be entirely superfluous. Without rules of the road, some well meaning drivers would drive slowly, others would drive quickly, believing correctly that they were doing so safely, and still others would drive quickly but not as safe as they thought they were. Therefore, Shared Space makes a clear distinction between traffic areas and those spaces, which should serve as people space and thus must invite to behave socially. In his article from Tuesday, June 23, 2009 on http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/, Paul Barter very clearly pointed out the characteristics of these areas.
Both of them, roads and motor ways on the one hand and streets on the other, are depending on one another. Only if there is a suitable network for fast traffic, we can design all the other public space for the purposes it’s meant for: all those surprising and interesting things people want to share with each other.
We need to change our minds
But that’s not all. We learned that Shared Space does not only change our thinking about how to handle traffic and how to design our roads and public spaces. It also points out how to tackle the overwhelming power of rules and legislation in politics and in our daily lives. Shared Space gave way to the search for new ways to achieve key improvements in the interrelated areas of road safety, spatial quality, economic prosperity, governance, community capacity and confidence. It stimulates the capacity of communities to be more creative in the way they tackle a broad range of issues. And it also assists politicians, decision-makers, city staff and citizens to ‘think outside the box’ when looking for ways to address public issues.
Who is working at Shared Space Institute?
We are ten professionals in the Netherlands, experienced in various working fields, such as traffic engineers, urban planning, psychology, process management and geography. We are and connected to a worldwide network of researchers, practitioners and citizens. We all share the mission to develop a new way of thinking about public domains.
However, the quality of public space is not a goal in itself. We think it’s important to create ‘people spaces’, places where people can meet, engage and communicate. Space only has quality if it contributes to the quality of life. So, public space is about people and their living environment. And it is also about the quality and justice of society. As a consequence, society itself should be organised in a way that people can act as responsible members of that society.
Shared Research Program
Shared Space Institute is an international knowledge institute, dedicated to knowledge creation, knowledge transfer and knowledge implementation in the field of Shared Space. It is our starting point that public space is the heart of society. Through its quality, public space supports people in their humaneness.
Research and knowledge creation on these aspects are at the heart of our activities. Our approach is integral and cross-sector. This means that:
• research should always be carried out in partnerships with stakeholders in society, to make sure that it is based on the demands of society
• various disciplines should participate and that research should always be related to every day practice in the working fields
• our aim is not to gather theoretical information. Research never should be an aim on itself. If we say ‘research’, we always start from concrete projects
• these projects deliver research questions to be answered. The answers on their turn deliver knowledge to be applied in the projects.
Please find more background information about the Shared Space Institute’s research activities on: http://www.sharedspace.eu/en/activities/research
Needless to say, that our staff is ready to support authorities, professionals and interest groups in development and innovation processes. You’re always welcome for a lecture or a field trip to interesting Shared Space locations. For more details about Shared Space – schemes in the Netherlands please refer to http://www.sharedspace.eu/en/activities/projects.
At the moment, we are busy on working out the Shared Space – research program. Our main research question is centered at the cross roads of the knowledge domains as illustrated in the figure on the right. How are these domains connected to each other, and how do they influence each other? If you improve one of them, what changes does it cause to the others?
Of course, our research will further plunge into projects addressing safety issues, solving community severance, tackling congestion and enhancing economic vitality in streets and public spaces. Our main interest is at developing innovative approaches to the process of planning, designing and decision-making towards new structures for municipal organization and public engagement.
Perhaps interesting to mention: we would like to apply for European funding to build a partnership in the North Sea Region countries working on new strategies towards balancing rules and ethics to facilitate healthy social and economic organisms. We believe new alliances of public and private stakeholders can provide a better quality of life through a new sense of civility.
Our central result will be to deliver a proved strategy which allows to delegate responsibilities to where they belong. Partners will demonstrate this through sharing management and governance, and forming new alliances between authorities, agencies, networks and individuals. Our target groups are: public authorities, business clusters, research institutes, universities, public support agencies in urban and rural areas, and citizens’ organisations. All those who are interested to join the partnership are invited to contact us.
To know more:
Shared Space Institute
Lavendelheide 21 NL 9202 PD Drachten
Sabine Lutz – s.lutz @sharedspace.eu
P: +31 88 0200 475 M: +31 6 83 20 90 78
Remember this? – The unexpected interview in Groningen: Homage to Hans Monderman
Traffic Calming—The First Wave
For several decades there have been efforts to use roadway modifications, such as humps and chicanes, to control motor vehicle speeds on streets whose primary roles are non-traffic ones (Hass-Klau 1990). Such traffic calming began in north-west Europe and by now is familiar almost everywhere.
Early traffic calming tended to focus on streets at the lowest levels of the roadway hierarchy to reinforce the primacy of access and pedestrian activity at that level. More recently, adaptations of traffic calming techniques have been applied to some streets at higher levels of the hierarchy, such as short stretches of shopping streets and the main streets of towns. An early Dutch traffic calming innovation, the Woonerf or “home zone”, involved a complete redesign of urban residential streets to make it clear to motorists that they were guests in a home environment. This was a precursor to the more ambitious shared space experiments.
Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.
What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.
The Battle for Street Space
The essence of a street is that it serves all these roles simultaneously—providing for traffic movement and access, and as public space for urban activities. However, mainstream roadway management has spent many decades seeking, like Le Corbusier, the “death of the street”. It tends to turn everything between kerbs into “traffic space” where motor vehicle movement is the design priority (Patton 2007).
Motorised traffic, slow modes and pedestrians are strictly segregated in both space and time. The role of streets as “public realm” has been largely restricted to the pavements (sidewalks) and to pedestrian zones. Most cities are desperately short of attractive public space and space for the networks needed by the gentle but vulnerable modes such as walking and cycling.
Since the 1930s, traffic engineers have routinely classified every roadway in a hierarchy according to the degree to which it serves either traffic movement or access. Major arterials and expressways which are at the top of the hierarchy are managed primarily for maximum vehicle mobility. Any access functions are carefully limited to contain “friction” with the mainstream traffic. Only streets at the lowest level of the hierarchy are used mainly for access. Furthermore, the planning process often seeks to remove as much activity as possible (and hence, the “public space” role) from roadways and their vicinity. The influential UK report of 1963, Traffic in Towns by Colin Buchanan, reinforced the idea that segregation was essential (Hamilton-Baillie 2008).
The roadway hierarchy has no place for streets that serve both traffic and multiple other purposes (Svensson 2004). Yet, traditional urban streets and main streets remain ubiquitous. They provide (inadequately) for both access and mobility and are sites of perennial conflict. Such conflict is especially obvious in the heavily used streets of many dense Asian cities. The conventional traffic engineering approach offers little guidance for such multi-role streets (Svensson 2004).
Expanding Public Realm without Evicting Motor Vehicles
Recently, a series of promising street management innovations has emerged that re- assert in new ways the multi-purpose nature of the street. (See Box Story “Innovations that Expand Public Realm in the Streets”.) They offer ways to increase the public realm without removing the motor vehicles or seriously undermining the utility of the motorised traffic system. Does that sound too good to be true?
These innovations exploit common insights and principles. First, they involve making a strong distinction between “traffic areas” or “highway” and public space or the “public realm” (Shared Space project 2005). Traffic areas are the realm of conventional traffic engineering where high-speed motor vehicle movement is primary, with its flow carefully segregated from slower users like pedestrians and cyclists.
Second, some of this redefined “public realm” can be shared. It includes new spaces designed for the peaceful co-existence of public place activities, slow movement by vulnerable modes as well as motor vehicles, especially those seeking access to the vicinity. The key to such co-existence lies in keeping speeds low, ideally to no more than about 30 km/h (Shared Space project, 2005). Low speeds mean that motor vehicles need not be excluded but those present will mainly be making access movements or on the “last mile” (or the first) of their trips.
Third, these innovations shift the boundary between public realm and traffic space, so that a surprising amount of what we now think of as traffic space becomes part of the low-speed public realm. In shared spaces and in other slow zones, such as Tempo 30 zones and bicycle boulevards, whole streets and intersections are converted to public space. In multi-way boulevards, public realm includes everything from the building line to the outer edge of the central, high-speed traffic lanes. This newly expanded public realm serves local motor vehicle access, slow-mode movement, public space roles and sometimes some through-traffic (with low priority and at low speed). Only the high-speed traffic movement is excluded and kept within traffic space.
Fourth, a key design goal is that both the public realm and traffic space should work better by being kept distinct (Shared Space project 2005). Cities still need high-speed traffic space of course, just as some pure pedestrian space must also remain. But a surprising amount of shared public realm could be reclaimed without diminishing total traffic capacity. The key is that most of the expansion of the public realm envisaged here would take over traffic space that does not work very efficiently anyway. For example, the capacity of many of today’s motorised traffic lanes is reduced by turning movements, kerbside drop-offs, parking, loading and other street activities. After transforming such spaces into public realm, the remaining traffic space can be re-designed more thoroughly for its traffic function. Moreover, the new public realm retains some traffic function, albeit at low speed, as a safety valve at times of extreme congestion.
A high percentage of traffic volume in most cities is carried by roads at the top of the roadway hierarchy. Much of the remaining traffic is in fact short-distance traffic, or is on the first or last “mile” of a longer trip, or is circling for a parking spot. Such traffic does not need high speeds. In fact, a slower environment is more appropriate for access movement. Furthermore, although public realm requires very low peak speeds, the approaches discussed here also usually reduce the need for stopping and starting, so that average speeds and travel times are often little changed. Therefore, reclaiming such space as public realm has less impact on traffic performance than one would think based purely on the percentage of traffic space “lost”.
Expanding the low-speed public realm would also allow us to be much more tolerant of a diverse range of small, vulnerable vehicles that currently do not fit easily into our transport systems. These include bicycles, in-line skates, skateboards, kick scooters, wheelchairs and many other “Personal Mobility Devices”.
Barriers to Change
As with most innovations, change will take more than a simple policy decision. In most countries, roadway management practices are deeply embedded in institutions, their missions, objectives, performance-measures and boundaries of responsibility between agencies; in professional guidelines, codes and design standards; and in traffic rules and road user education.
Fortunately, little change is needed in conventional roadway management when it is applied to its appropriate domain i.e. the highspeed arterials and highways. It is only within an expanded public realm and at its boundaries that drastic change is called for. Standard practice must no longer apply to such spaces. Level of service (LOS) has no place here. Nor do conventional approaches to road safety, such as removal of “fixed hazardous objects”. Roadways that form part of the shared public realm should not resemble highways despite the presence of motor vehicles. Design principles for such streets, including signage and road markings, must be different from those for traffic space.
The public realm of streets needs a whole new set of procedures, guidelines and metrics of success. More research is needed to develop them. This is beginning to happen through experimentation in many countries (Shared Space project 2008; Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Jacobs et al. 2002). The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have revised their guidance manuals on street design (e.g. DfT 2007). Traffic engineers will need to adapt their problem solving to the special challenges of designing shared public realm. They will need to collaborate more with urban design professionals and urban planners, who will also need to take more interest in the streets that they have long neglected.
This article has provided a quick review of promising new ways to reconcile movement, access and place-making within our precious urban rights of way. New public space is gained through including low-speed access movement by motor vehicles within the public realm. It is this “public space dividend” that has been my focus. It may be too soon to tell if these ideas can deliver on their promise. We may only find out by trying them out.
This article was first published in the May edition of JOURNEYS, an Academy publication of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore(LTA). We thought that many of our readers might not have picked it up, so we are most pleased to reprint here with their kind permission and that of the author.
Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday its first global report on road safety worldwide. The news is grim.
The report is based on data drawn from a survey of 178 countries. It concludes that something on the order of 1.3 million people are dying in traffic accidents each year, that this number is accelerating, and that anywhere from 20 to 50 million people are injured as a result of traffic crashes. If you check out their five minute video on this page, you will hear them reminding us that these numbers sum to one person being injured in traffic every second, and someone dying — being killed rather is a more accurate way to state it — every thirty seconds. (Keep that image in mind as you work your way down this page.)
Of these totals roughly half (46%) of the victims killed on streets and roads worldwide are pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorized two wheelers – the most vulnerable road users.
The following was drafted yesterday in response to a lively discussion over at www.LivableStreets.com , looking at different approaches to providing cycle paths and other forms of street architecture modifications, major and minor, to protect the cyclist. The discussants were looking at this in the context of New York’s ongoing efforts to develop a major cycling program after many years of neglect. International experience at the leading edge, mainly in European cities that are doing the job, puts some interesting lessons on the table. Here is a look-in from Europe.
For starters, let’s make sure that we do not allow ourselves to get too comfortable too fast. By that I mean I am not at all sure that the best approach to safe cycling is to start by shopping around for the most attractive cycle path designs to be put in your city’s streets here or there. I can understand the temptation but we have here a systemic problem which requires more than occasional attractive street architecture.
Safe cycling is based on the existence of networks which provide a safe travel environment over the areas and routes most taken by cyclists. By which I mean to say that a lovely cycle facility here and there does not by itself promote safe cycling (in fact conceivably it can make cycling even more dangerous). What is needed from the beginning is without letting up to drive toward that basic network. To accomplish this, it means targeting a solution set that is pretty pervasive, far more so than most plans today even dare aim for.
What do you do when what you need to do definitely outstrips the resources, approaches and plans that are traditionally available to you? The only way to get the job done then is to change the rules. That happens in five main parts.
1. Speed reductions: (“Don ‘t leave home without them.”)
The first pillar of new mobility policy is to slow down the traffic on EVERY street in the city. I do not say this lightly and I understand the extent to which this runs against long-standing practices and what people regard as their fair interest. But there is no longer any mystery about this at the leading edge. I do not imagine that there is a competent (note the word) traffic planner today who will argue for top speeds in excess of 30 mph in the city. 30 mph is terrific, and though too fast for safe cycling is something which we can reasonably target for the Main Avenue’s and thoroughfares. For the rest a policy of 10/20/30 is feasible, fair and do-able. Once you get over the shock.
2. Reclaim street space:
The second prong of the strategy is that the creation of a safe network requires taking over at least portions of a quite large number of streets in the city. This is accomplished in two ways, the first being the alteration of the street architecture, taking over lanes for fully protected cycling. The most popular, parking lane out/bike lane in, often works very nicely when the cycle lanes work against the flow of traffic. The second prong of street reclaiming is the hard edge of speed reductions. In these cases top speeds on the side streets drop to something like 10 to 15 mph, with 10 leading better than 15. Again for most cross-town traffic in Manhattan this should not be a problem.
3. “Occuper le terrain”: (French for safety in numbers. )
You are seeing that in New York already, though I have to guess you are not yet at the tipping point on that. But the more people you get out on the street on their bicycles every day, the more that everybody involved moves up a couple of notches day after day in the learning process. The cyclists learn how to behave better to protect themselves in traffic, drivers get accustomed to looking out for those small wavering frail figures, the police learn how to play their part in this learning process, and the system they have today learns and adapts.
4. “Street code”:
The Highway Code, a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative.
I understand that you are looking into this for New York. Many European cities are advancing on the idea of establishing a far tougher “street codes” specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. The underlying idea is that culpability for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver’s guilt (not always very easy to do). This is not quite as good as John Adams’ magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart– but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.
5. It’s a Learning System:
Once you start to break the ice to the point where provision of cycling facilities even starts to be an issue, it is probably best to think of the city and the street network as a learning system. And learning of course takes place over time, and if you are lucky leads to a continuous stream of adjustments as you go along. There may be a bit of comfort in that, if you are patient enough, because what it definitely means is that any cycling improvements you can conceivably come up with today has to be thought of not as a solution but as the start of the path. This is very definitely process oriented planning.
* * *
So we really do know what to do, and we do know that it requires a combination of foresight, originality, guile and pragmatic planning from the beginning. Fortunately there is plenty of international experience which backs this up.
Paris is an example that I live with and cycle in every day over a decades-long period of steady adaptation and change. It is definitely not Copenhagen or Amsterdam. It is work in progress. Only a few years ago Paris was a city that was planning almost exclusively for cars and yet over the past decade has gradually began to build up a network for safe cycling. Perhaps not so much safe as safer, and the role of the planners here is to use the full cookbook of approaches in a dynamic organic manner so that each day things get a little bit better. Because all this has become part of the culture, the mainstream culture, it is no longer a big deal and so do the good works are able to go on every day.
Of course if cycling is your game it would be great to be able to import whole hog those terrific physical infrastructures that are found in Dutch and Danish cities. But this takes decades and I do not see it happening overnight in most US cities, New York among them. What is interesting about the Paris example, and we are certainly not the only one, is the manner in which safe cycling infrastructure is being built up step by step and day by day. We are not yet at the point at which we can feel comfortable with Gil Penalosa’s “8 to 80 rule”, remember, where cycling is safe for your eight-year-old daughter and your eighty-year-old grandfather. But give us a time and we will get there – and I hope you will too.
The Obama Administration and the world at large can learn a lot from other practices at the leading edge about speed mitigation. Traffic safety research supports the adage that “speed kills.” In State Highway Safety Plans mandated by the 2005 SAFETEA-LU legislation, many states have targeted “speeding” as a top priority. There is an important difference between this focus on “speeding” and a focus on “speed” in traffic safety and congestion management. When law enforcement agencies target “speeding,” they focus on extreme behavior, but ignore the normative behaviors.
Federal policy makers and transportation leaders can have tremendous impact on safety, congestion, and road construction costs by learning from many international efforts to mitigate traffic speeds to benefit of all roadway users. Here are several effective and inspiring innovations:
• Lower limits for residential areas. Residential streets should have maximum speed limits of 20 mph (presently states have minimum speed limits of 25 mph or 30 mph). (EUROPE)
• Due Care provision. Implement driver training to a national standard of “Due Care”. This requires drivers to yield to anything obstructing their path, even if that thing should be yielding right of way to the driver. (UK)
• Home Zones/Woonerven/Living Streets. An American pilot programs should be launched to make neighborhood streets conducive for community interaction and safer children to play next to. (UK & THE NETHERLANDS)
• Enforcement should be at 4 mph over the limit. US enforcement agencies typically provide a lenient 10 mph buffer before they enforce speed limits. This means that the defacto speed limit on a 25 mph residential street becomes 35 mph. New Laser RADAR increases accuracy, and has resulted in countries formally adopting policies to enforce at 4 mph over the limit. (SWEDEN)
• Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA). ISA is an in-vehicle system that informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit. (SWEDEN)
• Dynamic Variable Speed Limits. The M25 in London and highways elsewhere actually vary their speed limits for maximum flow and safety. (UK, FRANCE, others).
• Lower speed standards for urban highways. Present standards make US highway replacement cost-prohibitive. Introducing a new “urban highway” classification with lowered speeds through dense urban areas would eliminate the need for wide shoulders and travel lanes, saving Billions of dollars in construction costs, increase fuel efficiency, and reduce the toll of traffic noise. Compliance with a 50 mph speed limit is achieved via automatic photo enforcement. (EUROPE)
URL Refs:* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit#Variable_speed_limits
David Levinger, email@example.com is President of the Mobility Education Foundation, in Seattle, WA, USA
Editor’s note: Click here to read a good earlier piece under this same title by Robert Winkle which originally appeared in the New York Times on 13 November 2005
Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See www.messages.newmobility.org for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.
The ShLOW! (Show me How Slow) project, led by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), is organising a Camp on Speed Management to take place in Brussels from 3 through 9 May.
ShLOW! focuses on the work of committed young students who will be encouraged to run a local campaign or concrete action to reduce speeding in road transport with the support of ETSC and its partners. The first stage for the students is participation in a “Camp” in Brussels, which provides a one-week training on speed management.
Using the knowledge acquired during the Camp, the students will, on their return home, carry out an individual project on Speed Management at the local level. During their projects, the students will receive the support of consortium partners. At the end of ShLOW!, the most successful student will be invited to Brussels to receive an award.
50 places on the Camp are available. All types of student are eligible – undergraduate, masters and PhD.
Further information and application forms for the Camp can be found on the ShLOW! website – http://www.shlow.eu/ . Note that the deadline for applications has been extended, and that they can be accepted until the end of April.
Oliver Carsten, firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor of Transport Safety
Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT UK
tel +44 (0)113 343 5348
Editor’s note: And we thought that our word “slowth” was terrbily ugly. Shlow poses a serious threat.
Your suggestion that, in the case of a collision in a public street, regardless of fault, the larger, faster party bear the responsibility for redress. This is close to my proposal that the party in the larger vehicle (who usually doesn’t get injured) lose their privilege to drive for as long as the smaller (usually also slower) party takes to recover and to resume the mode of travel they were using at the time of the collision.
Your proposal could be a little even-handed if the fault principle (based on the Highway Traffic Act) would apply to that portion of the outcome that _would_ have entailed had the two parties been the same size and moving at the same speed as the more benign party, while the rest of the outcome fall at the feet (as it were) of the larger, faster party, regardless of fault.
BTW, the other posting on the new SeeFlickFix.com site is very important. I used it for a missing set of stairs in a small park near my home a few minutes ago, and it took my material, including a photo, quite well. However, I had to reply to my own post, to correct the software that would not let me reposition the icon to a more accurate location. I also posted a second photo, getting it properly turned upwards (mea culpa).
I see this as the way to create stewardship over public places, and to remove from cities the right of controling the records of complaints (“Oh, you’re the first person to complain.”)
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About the author:
Chris Bradshaw retired from city & regional planning in 1996, and co-founded Ottawa’s carsharing company, Vrtucar in 2000. He has been an advocate for walking and pedestrian rights for 30 years. In retirement, he is championing a society-wide transition to a second-generation version of carsharing (integrating car-sharing, taxis, ridesharing, car-rental, and delivery). He lives ‘car-lite’ in downtown Ottawa with his wife of 40 years.
About the editor:
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: email@example.com) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)