Uber: Tough questions to our culture of innovation in Europe

Reaching new fundraising heights, Uber is now seeking to conquer the world — willingly or by force. Neither white knight nor bloodsucking scoundrel, Uber is posing tough questions to our culture of innovation in Europe

The smartphone-driven rideshare and taxi alternative service company  Uber,  founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, has announced for the second time in 2014, a billion dollar-plus fundraising! The company, which offers applications linking customers with drivers, now overtakes records previously held by Facebook: € 2.7 billion raised (with $ 600 million of additional potential), and a market valuation at $ 40 billion.

Yet if Uber is known to the public it is more for the controversies it is raising in its “war” against the taxis, which has in recent months turned into a crusade against all comers and for “free mobility”: against street taxis, against national governments and regulators, against local governments, and even against less controversial private hire services (in France the so-called VTC hire services have joined a lawsuit against Uber).

france paris uber taxi strike

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Our Right to Walk is Non-negotiable (India)

india- children in trafficAnumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, in a wide-ranging conversation with Faizal Khan reporting for the excellent Walkability Asia ( Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities),  spells out clearly the inevitability of a non-motorised transport code in India through shocking figures and revealing facts. “We need zero tolerance policy for accidents. This menu of action needs support. Our right to walk is not negotiable.”  And on this Roychowdhury is entirely right. On this score we must be entirely intransigent and as part of this to keep pounding away on this important point of citizen activism on every available occasion, until we get the concept of zero tolerance written into the law and respected on the streets. All our streets! Continue reading

Tribune: John Whitelegg on Planetary Boundaries

Planetary Boundaries

This is an unusual editorial.  It is entirely concerned with one book published in 2012 called “The Human Quest

To say this book is important is an understatement.  It is hugely important because it shows that the current trajectory of the human species on this planet is on automatic pilot with the self-destruct option initiated.   This may sound rather dramatic but the book is based on a very traditional scientific analysis and a strong evidence based logic rooted in the best scientific tradition and especially Swedish scientific traditions.  It is a solid, objective, scientific analysis.

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Op-Ed: Where Does SLoCaT Stand in Realizing Sustainable Transport?

Three years ago the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport slocat logo(SLoCaT) was established to address the relative absence of sustainable transport in the global discussions on sustainable development and climate change. Rapid motorization in the developing world and its negative impacts motivated the organizations that came together in SLoCaT. There was agreement that SLoCaT should initially have a mandate for three years only and that by the end of 2012 a decision would be made whether to call it a day or to go on, possibly, with a revised mission. Those three years have gone by. So where is SLoCaT now and what is next; declare victory and move on, admit defeat and move on, or stay in the fight? Continue reading

Op-Ed: Toward More Prosperous Cities

– Op-Ed Contributor: Wendell Cox, published 14 Dec. 2012. Comments invited

I appreciate Eric Britton’s gracious invitation to contribute my views on cities and urban transport to World Streets. Obviously, many readers will disagree with all or part the article. Nonetheless, the state of knowledge is never complete and progress continues to depend on open minds and civil discussion of perspectives among people of good will. There is extensive use of “hyperlinks,” which provide direction to greater detail for any interested. The article begins with the public policy context, then follows with urban policy, urban transport and sustainability. Continue reading

Letter from Bangalore: The Derelict Mile

Sujaya Rathi  reports from Bangalore:
india-bangalore-pedestria woman crossingPrivate vehicles in India have seen an unprecedented growth in past two decades and there is no sign of slowing down.  Many initiatives to curb the trend have not been successful.  This article highlights an important aspect that attribute to the above unsustainable phenomenon, which has been ignored: “The Derelict Mile”.
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Op-Ed: The Story of UK Roads/Streets.

Op-Ed: The Story of UK Roads/Streets

  • UK police accidentPoorly designed roundabouts – enabling even HGV’s to travel around them at speed, the police thinking a cyclist could make a driver aware of “him” with a bell or a whistle…
  • Police on bicycles without blue lights or sirens, chasing others through red lights… then stopping others for doing the same, who proceeded with caution,
  • Advanced stop lines seem to provide little benefit, and may have been partly to blame for the death of Cynthia McVitty’s daughter.
  • Humans get territorial, and thus cycle lanes become hazards for cyclists when too narrow, and for pedestrians when they step onto them,
  • Too many cyclists in the UK cycle at speeds inappropriate to the situation.

– Ian Perry. Cardiff, Wales, UK ianenvironmental@googlemail.com

Op-Ed: Awful Injustice in Parking

Misguided parking policy is harmful and unjust.

No surprise there, you may say. There is no shortage of complaints about parking prices (“unfair!”) and about how difficult it is to find parking. We hear the same thing all over the world, whether in Sydney, San Francisco, Singapore, Moscow, Delhi , Jakarta, Beijing, Sao Paolo, Lagos or Nairobi.

Sorry to be unsympathetic. But complaints like those are a problem. They are fuel for the never-ending push for more parking and cheaper parking.

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Report on 2011 Urban Mobility India Conference

Report for India Streets by Vidyadhar Date, Mumbai

The fourth annual Urban Mobility India conference organised in Delhi from December 3 to 6 by the ministry of urban development was no doubt a useful exercise. It did well to give more focus on bicycles and public transport than the previous conference. But the venue itself was highly inaccessible, difficult to reach even by a private car, leave alone public transport. Continue reading

Op-Ed: A divine solution for Car Free Days?

One of the sayings we use most often at World Streets is one that goes “you can never tell where the next good idea is going to come from”. Here is an example.

As some of our readers certainly know, we have something of an affinity with the concept of Car Free Days — which we nonetheless attempt to qualify with ample doses of realism and critical thinking (often sadly lacking). So as luck would have it we end up being something of a worldwide turnstile for news and views about how this or that concept of taking a few cars off the streets of the city and thinking about it for a day is treated in different places. Sometimes this can bring surprises.

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Op-Ed, Cornie Huizenga: The transport sector as leader in the sustainability debate?

There are a lot of reasons which need to be investigated if we are to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the sustainable transportation wars. The first step in this necessary process is to accept that by any reasonable measure, we are losing the war and losing it badly — in such a way that each day our sector in cities around the world is one that is in a state of increasing disruption and destruction, aggressing our most fundamental human and social values. It is that bad, and anyone who refuses to accept this is very definitely part of the problem. But then, once we have accepted the bad news, it is time to stop the weeping and figure out how can start to reverse this mounting tide of poor policies, unwise investments, and other abject indifference to all of those who are left worse off in the process. Let me stand aside here and give the word to Cornie Huizenga who has some thoughtful positive suggestions s to where we might go from here. Continue reading

Tribune: Why people do what they do? And why it’s important for us to understand.

David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times, generally a mid-American Conservative with all that implies.  But he can surprise. Today he took a whack at the convolute matters of cognition, context and eventually the choices we make.  From the vantage of our sector of responsibility here, if we are not able to operate at this level of cerebralilty, we will never make the transition to not just an “examined society” but also a sustainable world. So we better start making better use of the space in the back of our brains as well.

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Help Wanted Department: Donald Appleyard is (almost) not on Wikipedia

To: John Whitelegg, Editor, WTPP

Dear John,  Your editorial and latest edition of World Transport  got me to thinking once again about the great work of Donald Appleyard — to the extent in which I have decided to make his 1981 publication of Livable Streets into a significant milestone in the process of sustainable development accomplishment and awareness in the context of the course which I am currently developing at – http://sustain.ecoplan.org Continue reading

World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 17, No. 1. May 2011

The Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice is the long-standing idea and print partner of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda since 1995. The Spring edition appears today with articles by Ian Ker, Joshua Odeleye and Eric Britton. In the article that follows you will find the lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg. (For a more complete introduction to World Transport click here.)

– – – > To obtain your copy of WTPP 17/1 click here.

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Ten reasons why I really hate cars (and drivers) in cities

Well the calm of this sunny April day did not last long.  Bear hours after publication of what we thought was going to be perfectly harmless op-ed criticizing bicycles and bike readers in cities, comments, scathing and otherwise,  came cascading into the editorial offices of World Streets and our open Facebook Group page at http://www.facebook.com/worldstreets.  And within hours the following slipped in over the transom from cyclist Ezra Goldman over at “On our own two wheels”.  Let’s hear what he has to say.

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Ten reasons why I really hate bicycles (and cyclists) in cities.

The following in this morning from an unidentified but  apparently pretty  disgruntled motorist who asked that we make his grievances widely known in the pages of World Streets.  So in the spirit of equal time and with no more ado, World Streets turns over the stage to him. Let’s listen to what he has to say:

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Budget of 2011 in India: What could they be thinking?

While one face of the government sulks and spoils, the other dares to act. The budget making exercise this year in India is an evidence of this. There is progressive grassroots decision to discourage polluting diesel cars and encourage public transport and bicycles in India’s capital city of Delhi, which is in sharp contrast to the reactionary non-visionary action at the national level. Anumita Roychowdhury reports from Delhi. Continue reading

Picking a few bones with our old World Bank friends

We try very hard on World Streets to stay firmly on topic. But given the swirling many-sided kaleidoscopic complexity of our concerns, we are obliged from time to time to step outside of the usual lines. For this reason, you will find here an article challenging the eventual stewardship role of the World Bank in a new global Green Climate Fund (GCF) initiative which is being discussed this week in Bangkok by climate change negotiators from 190 countries.

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City as a time capsule: Urban highway construction mania still booming in 2011

Transport planning and policy in Lahore Pakistan today, as reported by public policy consultant Hassaan Ghazali, looks like something that was dragged out of a moss-covered time capsule on a hot day: a tawdry reminder of the kind of old mobility thinking, interest-wrangling and mindless investments of hard-earned taxpayer money that challenged and in many cases helped destroy the urban fabric of cities across North America and in many other parts of the world half a century ago. Continue reading