Archives: Reykjavík Mobility Parade On Car-Free Day

ICEland car free day - speeding car shadow

Article by Ms. appearing in the Reykjavik Grapevine of Sept 19, 2019.  The article is presented here below, and followed by historical background information and context on the Car Free Days phenomenon in which the city of Reykjavik and Iceland turned out to play a key  historic role.

September 19, 2019, Reykjavik

To celebrate the annual Car-Free Day in Iceland, some of the main roads will be closed in the Reykjavík city centre this Sunday, September 22nd. The Reykjavík Mobility Parade will start at 13:00 and move through Miklubraut and Hringbraut to Lækjartorg, where festivities will take place.

Starting in 1996, the Car-Free movement has a long history in Iceland. The idea originated from the Accessible Cities Conference held in Spain two years prior to Iceland’s first festivity and the event has significantly grown in size since. Its main objectives are to promote public transport, bikes and walking and give people a chance to reflect on motorisation and how traffic can be improved in cities.

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Preparing your next Car Free Day: Check out the fundamentals.

World CFD website top banner

The First Car Free Days Challenge: Toledo Spain, October 1994

Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two  decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.

velib-guyWhy do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.

To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.

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Carfree Times now indefinitely parked: (But the future lies ahead)

Carfree Times - cover page 2. joel crawford

Founding editor, Joel Crawford, announces final issue of Carfree Times  

I have decided to suspend my online creative efforts indefinitely. This will probably be the last Carfree Times. I don’t plan to shoot stills or video except incidentally, and there will probably be few or no new videos.

In a sense, what I’m doing is giving up virtual presence in favor of actual presence. I am looking at screens far too much. I enjoy face-to-face interaction, particularly with an audience. I am available for these kinds of events within railing distance of Amsterdam.

We are going to have carfree cities, one way or another, I’m pretty sure. Money, ecology, and happiness all optimize at one and the same point: carfree cities. There is no cheaper way to build decent cities. No other urban form has smaller environmental impacts. Urban quality of life is always improved by removing cars.

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SLOW CITY TRANSITION: NOTES FOR A THINKING EXERCISE

FB SC - Groningen streetThe idea of slowing top speeds on traffic in the city to reduce accidents and achieve other important systemic benefits would seem like a pretty sensible, straightforward and affordable thing to do. For a lot of reasons.  Let’s have a look.

* To get going, you may also want to check out our Slow City 2017 Reader and Slow City: Start here.

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World Streets International Advisory Council

ws-31jul12-hi-color

With one eye to laying the base for our work and collaborative programs , we are currently in the process of updating and extending this list of distinguished international colleagues, each of whom is hard at work day after day on challenges, projects and programs, alone and with others, all in support of the principles of sustainable development and equity, in cities and countries around the world.  It is our intention to have the revised and expanded version of this panel listing online by end May 2019, as part of our celebration of the first ten years of our collaborative work in support of World Streets.

Since our work program is being totally shifted to the the challenge of achieving sharp near-term decreases in gases causing global warming —  CO2, CH4, N2O, PFCs, etc., — and in particular those emanating from the local mobility sector, we hope to encourage shorter or longer contributions from the members of our advisory panel on this critical topic

The revised version of this posting (end April 2020) will include some explanatory materials  to clarify the process by which this “New Mobility Majority” is in the process of overtaking the old attitudes, approaches and policies which have been largely responsible for our gross under-performance in the sector,  all the more important as the 21st century noose tightens in terms of climate, local environment, energy supply, scarce resources, the economy, congestion, poor service quality for the majority, and the long list goes on.  (In the meantime we want to hear from you with your ideas and outstanding nominations for the panel.  And if you spot errors or omissions on the following or anywhere in our work, yes please do get in touch and let us know.)

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Oslo takes bold steps to reduce air pollution, improve livability

Norway Oslo pedestrians bicycles opera

Source: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/oslo-takes-bold-steps-reduce-air-pollution-improve-livability 

Norway’s capital city Oslo, home to over 670,000 people, is boldly pushing forward with a range of measures to improve air quality for the city’s inhabitants. Oslo is one of 42 cities who take part in Breathe Life, a campaign led by the World Health Organization, UN Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition that inspires cities and individuals to protect our health and planet from the effects of air pollution.

Zero-emission vehicles play a key part in the city’s strategy to reduce C0equivalents by 95 per cent in 2030, and city officials are encouraging people to make the transition to electric vehicles. Benefits for drivers include reduces taxes, access to bus and taxi lanes, free travel on toll roads and public ferries, and free municipal parking. Over 1,000 charging stations have been added in recent years.

Meanwhile, all public transport in Oslo and neighbouring Akershus county is to be powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2020.

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TRANSITION STRATEGIES: Selected Wikipedia checklist of key terms, concepts and references

Intended as a handy research aid, checklist and reminder for students, researchers and others digging into the Slow City and related technical and policy challenges. A certain familiarity with these concepts is desirable; more than that I would say essential.

It is particularly important that those responsible for planning and policy be comfortable with these concepts. Anyone prepared to work in the field will already have familiarity with, say,  9 out of 10 of the concepts identified here.  It concerns the stuff of sustainable transport, sustainable mobility and sustainable cities.  (I would draw your attention particularly to those entries that are marked with two  asterisks * * which touch on some of the more subtle and essential components of a sustainable transport policy.)

From the beginning in the late eighties the New Mobility Agenda was conceived as a shared space for communications and didactic tools zeroing in on our chosen topic from a number of angles,  and over the last eight years World Streets has  continued in this tradition. I hope that what follows may be useful to some of you.  As you will see, I think it is an important and powerful tool — which those of us who care can help shape and put to work for the good cause.

How much can you trust Wikipedia and what you can do about it

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Preparing your next Car Free Day: Check out the fundamentals.

World CFD website top banner

The First Car Free Days Challenge: Toledo Spain, October 1994

Short History: Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two  decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.

velib-guyWhy do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.

To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.

Continue reading

A Short History of Car Free Days (Weeks, Months, Cities): Origins, Timeline, Progress

Toledo (Spain), 22 Sept. 1994 . Ciudades Accessibles (Accessible Cities) Conference
“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.”

INDIA GUARGON CAR FREE DAY BICYCLIST

Here is how the Car Free Days movement got started and has taken shape over the last quarter century (time flies).  This is the second in a series of articles which we update and post annually just prior to the September rush to get the latest batch of Car Free Day/New Mobility Agenda projects off the ground. We hope that these pieces and the references you find here are going to prove useful to those responsible for making a success of their Days in 2019 and beyond. Getting a CFD right and making it a real success is no easy task — good knowledge of what has worked and not worked in the past should serve you well. Continue reading

Answered: What’s Next for Carfree Times?

Carfree times - cover photo Issue 89 march 2018

Carfree Times #89, 19 March 2018 is now on line at

This issue contains the usual News Bits, but the focus is now exclusively on carfree cities (broadly interpreted), a change supported by nearly all correspondents.

This issue also includes a photo essay by Robin Bassett on Fes-al-Bali, Morocco.

 – J.H. Crawford. carfreecrawford@gmail.com

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“WE ARE THE INVENTORS OF A NEW WORLD, MY SIR”

FB SC - Groningen streetThe idea of slowing top speeds on traffic in the city to reduce accidents and achieve other important systemic benefits would seem like a pretty sensible, straightforward and affordable thing to do. For a lot of reasons.  Let’s have a look.

Continue reading

A Mayor’s-Eye View of Sustainable Transportation: Politics as the art of the possible

no excuses sir 2The letter that follows is, as you will quickly surmise, not an actual communication from one elected official in one case, but rather a composite, a distillation of experience that I have had over these last years of trying to push the sustainable transportation agenda in many parts of the world, almost always in conjunction and in dialogue with mayors and other city leaders.

As you will see, it is not that they are uniformly adverse to or not interested in the concepts behind sustainable transportation and sustainable cities. It is just that they have a great many other things on their mind, including staying on top day after day of the considerable challenges of managing their city — and, in not very long, running once again for reelection. This is the political reality of which those of us who would be agents of change must be aware, that politics is the art of the possible. Now let’s turn the stage over to our mayor: Continue reading

________________ SLOW CITY READER ________________ From the Archives of World Streets: 2008-2020

FB SC bookstore plus eb back head

Useful background references from the archives of World Streets to lend a hand to planners, policy makers, researchers, NGOs, students, media and others concerned with the challenges of sustainable cities in general, and in particular those of calming traffic speeds in combination with other complementary measures to change, to improve  and to soften the face of  your city.

 25 Feb. 2018. Please note: Following to be updated to accommodate latest findings.

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Vision: Some first reflections on what is, what can be a “Slow City”.

FB SC - slow city 1

Draft notes for a thinking exercise and comment.

–  Eric Britton, Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Paris, 6 June 2017

To create a city that works for all, we must start with a vision. Policy without vision is like driving blind-folded. In this short posting we would like to explore the vision of a Slow City.  You will have your own ideas on this but here are ours.  And of course your comments and suggestions are as always most welcome.

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Op-Ed:“The automobile was never an appropriate technology for [cities]. As a form of mass transit for the world, it is a disaster.”

street-cafe-scene-new-movement-for-the-new-city

* Recommended reading for anyone who aspires to catch up quickly on what is going on in the evolution of thinking and practice concerning transport planning, policy and practice in cities in this very different 21st century.  New rules! Excerpts from Bruce McVean’s The New City lecture given on 11th February 2013 at Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture. Title to this piece borrowed from Taras Grescoe in Straphanger

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LIBERTÉ . . . SUR LA RUE J’ÉCRIS TON NOM . Paris takes one more determined step toward a car free city

france-paris-plage-michele-gagnon

Paris mayor’s attempt to curb traffic along Seine leaves some commuters fuming

Mayor Anne Hidalgo called move ‘historic’; opposition decried it as ‘autocratic’

By Michelle Gagnon, CBC News Oct 01, 2016  – http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/paris-cars-gagnon-1.3786615

CBC reporter and producer Michelle Gagnon came to Paris to enquire about the Paris plan to retire parts of a city highway and turn it into a carless, truckless, busless urban walk, linger, bike and play way. Her article opens like this:

– – – > Comments here: https://goo.gl/Guwn2V

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WHAT DO I MEAN BY A “CAR FREE CITY”? 

netherlands-zwolle-intersecction-with-cyclists-and-cars

* Most definitely not a city without cars, but a city in which living without a car is, on the grounds of convenience, comfort and economics for many preferable to living with one.  It is not about government interference or compulsion. It is a scenario which offers more and better choices.  (Does your city offer that choice?)

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SEDUCTIVE BUT DESTRUCTIVE GOALS: Congestion-free and affordable driving

Penang. Highway construction. Source: Reuters

Penang. Highway construction. Source: reuters

Urban transport decision-makers face huge pressures to keep driving uncongested and to keep it cheap. But take a look at cities that have worked long and hard to get free-flowing traffic and affordable driving. I doubt you will like what you see. This point was a central theme of Paul Barter’s chapter “Achieving Sustainable Mobility” which appears in The State of Asian and Pacific Cities 2015 jointly published late last year by UN-ESCAP and UN-HABITAT.

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