Morning rush hour in Kolkata
Professor John Whitelegg writes in the lead editorial of the latest edition of World Transport Policy & Practice (WTPP Vol 21, No. 4, February 2016) *:
India has been in the news a lot in recent months mainly for its poor air quality, deaths and injuries on the roads and the serious damage this does to quality of life, family life and the economy. In the 23 years of World Transport Policy & Practice (WTPP) we have not carried enough material by Indian authors and want to use this editorial to encourage more submissions from that country.
*Ernest Rutherford, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry on taking over troubled Cavendish Lab in 1919
Enjoy your trip
The following is a brilliant and important exchange on a topic that has a rich double meaning that is really worth getting across our idea-resistant noggins (heads, if you will) once and for all. If you believe that the most universal, the most fundamental, certainly the most responsible, even the noblest form of getting round is when we can make our trips safely by foot (or wheelchair if that is what we need to be independently mobile), than you as a responsible politician, administrator, planner or engaged voter, simply would not even for one minute consider engaging in this kind of folly.
So what you have here is an exchange that got started more than five years, and to which Syed Saiful Alam has so well stated in the last posting in this short series, when he stubbornly repeats “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”, “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”.
Let’s take their postings in chrono order.
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This article by the late Lee Schipper appeared in the pages of World Streets several weeks before his death, at far too young an age. And here four years later, as we continue to struggle to find ways to make our sector less catastrophically destructive and more people- and climate-friendly, you will find that his tough words and uncompromising arguments are every bit as relevent today as they were back in 2011. Why, one might ask, are we so very slow to learn?aThe editor. World Streets, Paris. 3 August 2011.
Our old friend and long time colleague Lee Schipper is sitting in a hospital bed in Berkeley California today, and since your editor is stuck in Paris and can’t visit him, we thought that while he gets his strength back we would reach into our and others archives and publish a series of pieces to celebrate his deep knowledge of all that World Streets is about, his excellent judgement and his world level communications skills. (And if you have something by Lee that you would like to share with our readers as we wait for him to swing back into action, please send it on.)
This thoughtful article by a team from McKinsey & Company puts together the pieces of the urban mobility revolution in some original ways, to present a challenging view of the future of urban mobility worldwide.
We publish selected brief extracts here to get you going and if you then wish to turn to the full text and illustrations which you will find – – – > here.
The speed and extent of the mobility transformation will differ. In this report, we lay out a framework that describes the evolution of urban mobility. We also highlight a set of urban archetypes, defined by population density and the maturity of public transit; each archetype can be expected to take a different path to mobility. Our analysis suggests that a mobility revolution is on the way for much of the world. As a result, we anticipate big improvements in the quality of life for city residents.
“Road traffic crashes are predictable and therefore preventable … the time to act is now. Road users everywhere deserve better and safer road travel” *
In the calendar year 2014 two elderly pedestrians were killed on the A49 road in the vicinity of the small town of Church Stretton, Shropshire (population 4,700). These deaths had a large impact on this small town, affecting many people and extending well beyond the boundaries of close family and friends. Both of those killed were well known and both were physically active and going about their normal everyday tasks.
The WHO conclusion quoted above is clear and accurate. It is glaringly obvious that local residents in this quiet corner of Shropshire require a much stronger and deeper approach to road safety than is currently on offer. This would come under several names e.g. a total system approach or a fundamental redesign approach or what is known in Sweden as Vision Zero.
Whatever name is used the principles are clear:
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.
John Whitelegg, Professor John Whitelegg, is a remarkable man who has spent his entire professional life as a scholar, teacher, critic, publisher, activist and politician, trying to make sense out of our curious world and the contradictions of transport and mobility. And in a successful attempt to bring all the threads together, what he has learned about our topic in three decades of international work spanning all continents, he has just produced for our reading and instruction a remarkable and, I truly believe, much-needed book. His title gives away the game – Mobility: Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future.
John’s view of transport and mobility is conditioned by the fact that his point of departure is geography (his doctorate) and the uphill struggle to sustainable development and social justice (his professorship). And in the case of this latest book he digs deep beyond all that we can find in the crowded field of books, reports and articles about sustainable transport that will be published this year, in order to get into the guts of what it is really all about: the life philosophy behind it all. For if we have no philosophy we can have no vision. And if we have no vision, there is no way that we can shape and influence our future.
A handful of things distinguish “Mobility” from the rest: It is much needed. It is timely. It is wise. It is readable. It challenges and makes your brain work. And for less than $10, you can have it in front of your eyes in a few short minutes (see below for ordering instructions). Yet one more thing that sets apart this book, and indeed all his work from the rest, and the author’s utter willingness to enter into armed intellectual combat to set out and defend his ideas and values. John’s work always brings to mind the wonderful words of the passionate Irish poet and politician, William Butler Yeats, who wrote a century ago that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” John lights the fire.
“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.”
Here is how the Car Free Days movement got started and has taken shape over the last 21 years. 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 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 2015. 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
In the context of ongoing work on a new book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the starting point for policy and political decisions in the field often described as “urban transport” absolutely has to open up with considerations not of vehicles and infrastructure, technology and entrepreneurship, nor even of people and cities, but on the very bottom line our starting place must be climate and GHG emissions. And the other half of the climate coin is energy, and in fact equity.
So may I suggest that this could be a good time for us to have another look at Illich’s incisive and important 1974 book “Energy and Equity”. And I ask you, how do you think these remarks and views stand the test of time? We need to bear in mind the political (Vietnam, Cold War, Allende, voter registration, 1968, etc.) currents of the time, along with the Oil Crisis, Club of Rome, The Limits of Growth, etc., discussions, concerns and panics of the early seventies. But none of this detracts from the singular vision that this exceptional observer and finest of men has given us.
So here you have it. The whole thing. Print it out. Mark it up. Share your thoughts. Let me take a single phrase from the book to get the ball rolling: “Participatory democracy postulates low-energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology.” (And this almost two decades before the phrase “sustainable development” first appeared on the radar screen. So off we go through the looking glass and into the future with Illich as our guide!)
Commentary and reflection on an article originally appearing in a Geek Wire posting by Bob Sullivan on 24 January – which when posted last week to our World Streets Online Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/WorldStreetsOnline attracted considerable attention. In the posting that follows, we propose an open thinking exercise in three parts which you are invited to join.
* * Click map for higher definition version * *
The above map reports the locations of 451 readers checking into World Streets over the last two days. (Approximately 10% of our total registered readers as of this date.)
This issue of World Transport Policy and Practice marks the migration of the journal and its associated web site to a new location. The new web site address is: http://worldtransportjournal.com
The new site will also contain information from our US partners, Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research & Policy Institute and occasional announcements about new books and resources that will assist the global community seeking to accelerate the transition to a genuinely sustainable transport future. This transition is now more urgently needed than ever and future issues of the journal will try very hard to communicate the urgency and practicality of this transition to those who make the decisions.
[This posting announces a new component of World Streets Battles of Ideas, that was launched yesterday.]
If you wanted to know about the state of play of the sustainable transport revolution in a given country, where do you turn first? Let’s see if we can be of some help with a few suggestions at least to get you going.
Points of Light? World Streets shortlist of outstanding individuals, groups and organizations who are, each in their own way, contributing to showing the way in your country, when it comes to the very difficult up-hill transition from Old Mobility (back when we were fascinated by infrastructure, vehicles and, implicitly, privilege) to New Mobility (a world that favors instead people, access, equity, systemic efficiency and quality of life). Might be an NGO, university or other research program, outstanding city agency, consultant, company, operator, labor union, cooperative, foundation, institution, government agency, technology source, investigative media, active citizens, event, etc. Or a project, exemplary or a failure rich in lessons. Or eventually live linkages to outstanding and useful international and regional cooperative programs.
This section is intended as an international reference set to be useful for researchers, students, the media and for concerned citizens and activists on the lookout for ideas and strategies which can be put to work in their own cities.
The goal is to give our readers a chance to weigh and appreciate the very wide range of ways of thinking, questioning, planning and executing when it comes to how transport in cities is being organized and delivered in different parts of the world. The references you find here are for the most part organized into countries, with the exception of the African continent which is included in its totality as a region that desperately requires more attention because the needs there are so enormous — and the fact that the fit with frugal, sustainable transport strategies simply could not be better.
While you are away from the office and all the pressures of your workplace, here for your after-work reading pleasure are the twenty most read articles to appear in World Streets since opening day in 2009. Quite a varied lot, and when your editor reads them he generally prefers to do so not at a desk but seated comfortably with a tablet or largish window smartphone in hand to take advantage of those unstructured unexpected free moments that can pop up in any day. After all, World Streets is intended for the reflective back of your mind, not the whirring over-charged front.
In the late spring of 2012 the diligent editor of World Streets was visited by a young Canadian writer who announced that he was working on a book about “Happy Cities”, and in this context wanted to talk about my experience in and thoughts on the happiness arena, with particular attention to issues concerning ordinary people, people like Thee and Me, in our day-to-day lives: issues of mobility and public space, needs meet and unmet, individualism and community, time and distance, behavior and equity, economy and democracy . . . in Paris and around the world. Why not? What the hell, maybe I will learn something from him.
Charles Montgomery’s merciless interrogation lasted a full day,followed by extensive correspondence over the course of the next year. Toward the end of 2013 his book “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York. One year later the 368 page volume has just appeared in an affordable paperback edition, and is now widely available in bookshops, and of course the Internet. (PS. Support your local bookshop, it is a happier experience!) We thank the author and the publisher for permission to share the following extracts with our readers to celebrate the low-cost editions now available.
This little picture gives us a few ideas about cars in China today. Important if we bear in mind that today is the first day of the future.
World Streets is today kicking off a series of invited articles by authors from different countries and backgrounds, presenting their views on the topic of “The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift”. It is expected that this series will continue over the months ahead. The present posting is being circulated to friends and others who have expressed interest in this particular angle of the New Mobility Agenda as an advance announcement and call for criticism, ideas and contributions.