Op-Ed: Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of auto-centric cities

A bus with a bike rack alongside cars on road in Boston, Mass.

  ShutterstockMikeDotta            [With kind thanks to the author, Ben Holland  of the Rocky Mountain Institute – @BenHollandATX and the publisher, Green Biz for this excellent overview.:  See https://bit.ly/3bzrpTe for full text.  

The coronavirus has exposed the ills of continued automobile-centric urban planning practices that adversely impact equity, health and the climate. Those of us who are working from home, own an automobile and can conveniently make grocery runs may overlook the fact that many in this country are not so lucky. Many households rely on public transit systems that are struggling to provide service, or they may bear high transportation costs exacerbated by a lack of access to the most critical of needs.

No technological solution will solve the systemic problems with our urban land use and transportation policies. We simply need to commit to the development of complete neighborhoods and communities that ensure access to food, healthcare, education and jobs — without relying on personal vehicles.

In the midst of this crisis, many are pointing to the outbreak of COVID-19 in urban centers such as New York City to support anti-density arguments. This sentiment is nothing new in the environmental community, much of which grew out of anti-development advocacy of the 1970s and ’80s. But the world is a different place, and it’s time for the environmental community to push back on these arguments.

After all, compact and mixed-use neighborhoods — which can include medium or “gentle” density levels — are, by nature, resilient and energy efficient. Barring supply chain collapse, they far outperform suburban communities in their access to food and other critical needs during crises such as the one we are experiencing.

Why then, do we continue to outlaw this resiliency in most of our cities?

 

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Department of Transport and Infrastructure, Government of Iceland

Reykjavik Iceland several cars on road at sunset

The Department of Transport and Infrastructure is responsible for preparing and implementing the Transport Policy Plan. Thereafter a fully developed proposal for a Transport Policy Plan is submitted to the Icelandic parliament Althingi for debate in the form of a parliamentary Resolution.
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PROFILE: Cambridge City Council’s Climate Change Strategy

Cambridge drivers spend a whopping 23 days a year queuing in traffic

Cambridge has been named the congestion capital of the UK – weeks after the council announce ‘peak hour’ parking charges

ANNUAL CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY, CARBON MANAGEMENT PLAN AND CLIMATE CHANGE FUND UPDATE REPORT

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Battles of Ideas

complex systems networkThis section is intended to be developed into 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.

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Other useful Sustainable Penang references

ffv sp excellent cover happy and running oeds

  1. MISSION: Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda homepage – https://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/the-mission/
  2. PUBLIC ENQUIRY/Brainstorming report of Nov. 2013 – https://goo.gl/0BgurW
  3. FACEBOOK-http://www.facebook.com/SustainablePenang
  4. TWITTER – https://twitter.com/SustainPenang
  5. LINKEDIN – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5084715
  6. #BETTER PENANG at http://www.betterpg.com/
  7. S/P PUBLIC LIBRARY at https://goo.gl/gJTJZD
  8. CIVIL SOCIETY IN Penang (Draft for review) – http://wp.me/p3GVVk-om
  9. ONLINE 24/7 Open Town Hall Meeting (Vol. 1, 2) – https://goo.gl/DdWumT
  10. COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: penang@ecoplan.org. Skype – newmobility

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Penang Archives: A “STEP” Towards Sustainable Transport

This excellent independent analysis was prepared for the Sustainable Transport Environment in Penang (STEP) program by Mr. Ganesh Rasagam, Acting Chief Executive Officer, DCT Consultancy Sdn. Bhd. in Penang back in 1998, almost 20 years ago. Here you find selected extracts which we find to be particularly timely, the full text being available from http://goo.gl/dgYEv2 .  We leave it to the reader to be encouraged or discouraged if we compare this with the level of knowledge, planning and proposed project efforts which are receiving attention in Penang today. An excellent wake up call that apparently got lot in the bureaucratic and electoral shuffle. Great pity for the people of Penang, but there is still time to consult these points and recommendations which are as relevant today in 2016 as they were in the late nineties..

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Sustainable Penang: Additional “background information reports” needed to support 2016 Master Plan rethink

brain2For the working purpose of this collaborate rethinking of transport policy and planning in Penang, we have now placed on line the first six main volumes that constitute the bedrock of the 2012/13 Halcrow Consultants series – which you will now find at https://goo.gl/veBcIh.

But the reports also refer in various places to six additional documents that appear to be important and that we will need to be able to access and study in order to interpret and decide about the usefulness of specific elements of the series. These are titled as follows:

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Op-Ed. On Motorized Two Wheelers in Taiwan

World Streets has for some years now  pushed hard for the idea of an integrated strategic planning approach and operations plan for the better, safer use of motorized two wheelers in and around cities. This has largely been an uphill struggle.  Not to claim that there have not been innovations and improvements here and there. But for the most part, this creeping problem continues insidiously to take on ever great proportions, while those responsible continue to look elsewhere. We really need to do better than that.

Which is one of the reasons that since 2010 we have insistently solicited articles and references from different countries concerning M2Ws, which you can find here under  https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/m2w/. This op-ed contribution by Dr. Wayne Gao was set off in a discussion which had as its origin a recommendation by the Britton Advisory Mission to Taiwan of 23-30 January, which you can find here 

Taipei M2Ws at intersection - larger

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Battles of Ideas

complex systems networkThis 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.

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Reprinted here because your city should have a Right of Way Law 

New York City. Monday, February 16, 2015

Pedestrians With Right of Way Should Always Have Protection of the Law

Jiahuan Xu New York City traffic accident StreetsblogThis article which appeared in edition of our favorite city blog, Streetsblog from New York City, is a gut-wrenching reminder that all cities, all civilized cities, should have a strict, no-exceptions, Right of Way Law. In Europe, this is known as the Street Code (as opposed to the Highway Code that governs traffic on high speed roads).

Jiahuan Xu, 15, had the walk signal when she started across Grand Street in Williamsburg Friday morning. Before she reached the far side of the street, she was struck by a bus driver turning from Union Avenue and “pinned under the left front wheel,” according to the Daily News. After emergency responders rescued Xu, she was taken to Bellevue Hospital and may lose her left leg.

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Keynote : International Forum on Livable City and Eco-Mobility – Hsinchu, Taiwan. 29 January 2015

taiwan Hsinchu eb in traffic smaller long

Intersection in the central  OSK  demonstration site

The following PowerPoint slides were created to accompany a fifty minute keynote address by the editor of World Streets to the International Forum on Livable City and Eco-Mobility hosted by the Hsinchu city government in Taiwan on 29 January 2015. (A video of the address to be made shortly available.)

The presentation addresses and comments on the challenges being faced by this recently elected new administration, including in the context of his book in progress “Convergence: General Theory of Transport in Cities “, with discussion as well of sections of the recently published book of the Canadian urbanist and writer Charles Montgomery, “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design”.

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Fair Mobility: Can your city learn some lessons from Malta?

Can your city learn some lessons from Malta when it comes to proving fair mobility for all, including those with mobility handicaps? (Lessons that they Malta  poor sidewalksthemselves are, ever so sadly, not learning. At least not thus far. ) Let me put this in other, stronger words. If your city is not giving careful attention to these equitable pedestrian issues, well you are living in a seriously underdeveloped, inequitable, third-rate city. Face it! Let us hear what Kevin Cutajar of the Gozo Federation Persons with Disability has to say on this as he goes eye to eye with government authorities on this important issue. If he does not speak up, who will?

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KpVV/EcoPlan Survey: You, Carsharing & Local Government

utrech workshop cover page - 2may14

Think you might wish to participate in a short collaborative survey in which we trying to improve our understanding of the relationship between carshare suppliers and local government in a cross-section of countries and environments?  We are hoping to cover cities of a range of sizes, including both high performers and those as yet without much of a strategy.  It will be important to cover both ends of the spectrum.

You will find a PDF of the one page survey – – > here.   (In MS Word – – > here.)

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Letters: Citizen participation in cycling provision in the UK

– Ian Perry, Independent consultant and consultant. Cardiff, Wales

The importance of citizen participation in decision-making was highlighted yesterday evening at a public meeting in Penarth, South Wales, attended by 147 frustrated citizens who showed their willingness to participate in their communities decision-making.  An attempt to force the Vale of Glamorgan (county) council (Vale council) to hold a referendum on proposals for the National Cycle Network (NCN) failed by just 17 votes.  133 votes against 5 were for a referendum on the matter, with 150 votes needed under current legislation.

UK Wakes Penarth cycle protest

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Equity/Transport 2012: Road map for Helsinki Stage 1

This collaborative project takes the form of an “open conversation” looking into the pros and cons, the possibilities, barriers and perhaps eventual impossibilities, of creating an equity-based transportation system at the level of a city and its surrounding region. This first pioneering project, in what we hope will become a series of leading world city projects building on this first example, is being carried out under the leadership of the Helsinki Department of City Planning and Transportation, and is taking place over the period mid-February through mid-April 2912. (You will find further working papers and supporting media sources in the second half of this introduction.)

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On expertise and public participation

It appears that the folks at the Lucknow Municipal Corporation have a curious notion of the meaning and purpose of public participation. When their funding proposals under the centrally sponsored scheme for urban development (JNNURM) were rejected due to the lack of public participation, they came up with the brilliant idea of a “city volunteer technical corps” that would participate in the planning process. Members will be chosen by the city corporation based on “expertise” in planning and related areas. The newspaper also reports that a prior attempt to constitute such a consultative body was aborted when “undesirable” persons who were not “experts” entered the consultative group. The corporation promises only to include “desirable” persons this time round. Read More

via India lives in her cities too!

What percent of your city’s street space is allocated to non-car uses

The pie chart you will find just below  graphically illustrates the state of street space allocation today in New York City, after four years of hard work on a committed local effort by city government and many associations to free street space for pedestrians, bikes and buses. All that for less than one half of one percent of the public space given over to cars. So here is our question this morning: Do things look any better in your city in 2011? We invite your reports and comments. Continue reading

Interview with Roland Ries: Cyclist, Senator and Mayor of Strasburg

What’s happening on the new mobility scene in France in 2011? Here you have, in French but with good subtitles, an interview by one of the outstanding political innovators in the field of sustainable transport policy and practice in France. Roland Ries is serving his second term as mayor of Strasburg, and at the same time heads up the national transport political group GART. He also, by the way, as a member of the French Senate drafted the law defining carsharing in France, thus opening up a part of the way to more and better carsharing nation-wide. Spend three minutes with this short video to get a feel for what the leading edge in France is thinking and doing about transport in cities. You will quickly see that this is a world-level message. Play it for your mayor and talk to her about it.

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