ON LUUD SCHIMMELPENNINK – GREAT IDEAS HAVE WINGS

World Streets is proposing to support the nomination of  the prolific Dutch environmentalist, industrial designer, provocateur Ludd Schimmelpennink  for a major international environmental award for his life-time contributions to sustainable development, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. (Our timetable for this submittal gives us one week from today, 10 November, to finalise the nomination.)

We invite the readers of World Streets to have a look and, if you will, get back to us with your suggestions to (a) edit, expand and improve the nomination whose draft follows.  And once you have had a look and thought about it, you are invited to join us in supporting this unusual nomination. If so, it would be great to have your name, position and organisation( if any), city and country.  And should you wish to add some brief remarks (less than 50 words max.), please do and our earnest editor will do his best.

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Jane Jacobs and a bunch of mothers

jane jacobs robert moses

Battle Royal: Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses

It was late Spring 1958 (as I best recall) in New York City when a young Eric Britton, just out of the US Army and about to dig into the Graduate Faculties of Columbia, was – as young men will do — checking out the action in Washington Square Park in the Village on a warm spring day. When he ran into two little kids wearing a sandwich sign saying something like “Save the Square!”. The kids handed me a pamphlet and explained that they were there to help their mother, who was just over there (they pointed).

And that was how I first met Mrs. Jane Jacobs, hard at work on an at-first very lonely effort to save this precious bit of NYC public space from the depredations of Robert Moses plan —  Moses was a high profile public official known as the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York City. His plan was to run an urban highway extension of Fifth Avenue over the concrete remains of what would once have been a beautiful and much used public park. It was clearly going to be a losing cause, but the lady over there decided to stick it out. And as she did others, unknowns and celebrities, gradually started to get behind her cause.

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What/who keeps holding back New Mobility reform in your city in 2017?

Penang pedestrian is king

If you get it, New Mobility policy reform is a no-brainer. However, while the New Mobility Agenda is a great starting place, it is not going to get the job somehow miraculously done just because it is the only game in town when it comes to sustainable transport. There is plenty of competition for your thin wallet,  all that space on the street, and  especially for that space between our ears. We have a few potential sticking points here that need to be overcome first.

Let’s have a quick look. After some years of talking with cities, and working and observing in many different circumstances, here is my personal shortlist of the barriers most frequently encountered in trying to get innovative transportation reform programs off the ground, including even in cities that really do badly need a major mobility overhaul.

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What is a Transport User Group? (And why are they so important for your city)

spain barclona large public meeting on planningWorld Streets has committed to carry out a series of articles, in cooperation with informed on-the-spot collaborators, looking into various aspects of transport user groups, on the grounds that they are increasingly emerging  in many cities around the world as important potential players in the uphill struggle to sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives.

Throughout  most of the 20th century transportation decisions were strictly made by government administrations and elected politicians, more often than not in cooperation with interests representing industrial and financial partners supplying infrastructure, vehicles, electronics and services. In most places these were closed loops in which the public was occasionally, at best, invited to approach the table and then asked to share their views on the specifics alternative proposals as prepared and presented by the various administrations and agencies, but for the most part were excluded from the actual planning and decision process. They were at most shadow players.

However this is starting to change, to the extent that in many cities in recent years these groups are increasingly becoming important players in the planning, decision and investment process.

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Hairdryers induce Slowth. QED.

lady-with-hair-dryer-bbc-com

Hairdryers in one Scottish city used to slow traffic

A brilliant, soft idea for the world’s streets. In areas around schools, pedestrian areas, bike lanes, crosswalks, intersections, hospitals, seniors’ homes, play streets, commercial areas, and low speed zones more generally.

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