INVISIBILITIES: Just because you can’t see them (or prefer not to) doesn’t mean they are not there.

In a city, as in life, we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. But when it comes to transport, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners and policy makers. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.

man sleeping under sidewalk - top half only


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Taipei Autumn 2015 New Mobility Videoteque

We live at a time when the people at the top who have to make or influence decisions in our sector are time-starved, over-burdened and, truth to tell, not about to spend a lot of time reading, or even listening or otherwise trying to ingest the great glaciers of data views and recommendations that are about to inundate and eventually freeze them solid for more thousands of years. But for those of us who see ourselves as change-agents, we need to find ways to capture their attention in order to widen their intellectual pallet in order to draw their attention to a range of new ideas and alterative problem-solving approaches beyond the ones that normally inform (and limit) their choices. Well, what about a series of attention-grabbing, lesson-purveying one-minute movies that can get them thinking in broader terms? And better than that, share with their families and colleagues. Might we have a look and think about this together? Continue reading

From the Archives: To achieve Sustainable Transport, Militate for Full Gender Parity in all Planning, Decision, Investment and Implementation Bodies.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day:
Today, 8 March 2011 is International Women’s Day, the one hundredth anniversary of
this great and necessary idea. So what better occasion for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.


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Op-ed: On the importance of a coherent planning vision

Most of what we are seeing in Penang when it comes to planning and policy in Penang is terribly familiar.  The bottom line until now at least is that overall you are not doing well, because you do not have a plan or a coherent vision to guide you.  That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you are not alone.

Montréal has never really had a coherent planning vision – they simply react to developers’ proposals.

Montreal thinks bigIn fact Penang could hardly be more lucky because there is not only abundant information on the fast-growing number of well thought out examples of cities, projects and approaches that are showing the way for sustainable transport and sustainable cities. But there is also an even longer list of examples of cities that are getting it blatantly wrong. These should be understood and integrated into the thinking and planning process of the city, just as much as the attention which must be given to understanding and adapting “best practices”. If you look closely you will see there are patterns that repeat themselves again and again. It is important to be aware of them.

Here you have an example of the city of Montréal, while doing a fair number of good things in terms of transport, public space and environment, is at the same time  suffering badly from the lack of a well thought-out understanding of how transport issues cannot be treated without full attention to land use and the structure of the city. Again painful signs of Penang. And how did this come up?

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

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

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

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The Encyclical Dialogue: What happens next on World Streets?

Pop Francis listening critically

World Streets accepts this wise invitation of open discussion of these critical matters with grateful thanks to the Pope and the Vatican, and a genuine desire to participate usefully.

Pope Francis has invited us all, invited the world in all its varieties and contradictions, to read, ponder and comment on the carefully crafted forty thousand words of his Encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home. In the opening lines of the long, varied and challenging document he addresses us in these words.

In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home. . . I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.

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Encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home

pope francis in crowd

Photo: Massimo Pinca/AP

Pope Francis’s just-promulgated encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home”, is without a doubt the most important single document to be published, initiative  to be taken, since the phrase sustainable development was invented three long and patently unsuccessful decades ago. This extraordinary document of less than one hundred pages aims to inform and to rally the forces of responsible  behavior and responsible governance to the cause and the plight of our planet and to the role of active democracy.  Beautifully written (the English language version at least), clearly presented and cogently argued in clear day to day language.    It is an excellent and inspiring read. However it is not a recipe, it has its shortcomings — it is a challenge, and thus requires that we read it carefully and do our own sorting out of the issues and the counsel it offers. Hardly an effortless process.

One of the more disheartening passages includes his listing of all the promising international agreements that have failed for lack of support from the leaders who signed them.

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