An even dozen hard facts that politicians, administrators, accountants and engineers are finding it very hard to accept – but without which they will never be able to lead the transition to sustainable mobility and a sustainable city.
The program for the recent Tallinn international conference contains useful information and contacts for researchers, planners, policy makers and others wishing to understand the variety of approaches, projects and perceptions which make up this fast-growing and highly varied field of interest for cities and their citizens around the world.
Ouch! And so well said!
These few telling words from Stacy Thompson, director of the Livable Streets Alliance, a transportation advocacy group watching out for the public interest in Boston Massachusetts — in the context of a critical commentary on the dockless bike wars that are presently ravaging cities and challenging governments around the world.
And this of course is what World Streets is supposed to be all about: The Politics of Transport in Cities. Satcy has put our challenge into a nutshell.
Vélib’ was for ten years an exemplary large-scale public bicycle sharing system in Paris, France. Launched on 15 July 2007, the system encompassed around 14,500 bicycles and 1,230 bicycle stations, conveniently located across Paris and in some surrounding municipalities, with an average daily ridership topping 100,000 in 2017. (Ridership, other key data to be updated.) The name Vélib’ is a portmanteau of the French words vélo (English: “bicycle”) and liberté (“freedom”).
After ten years of sensational performance offering handy and almost free bikes to hundreds of thousands of satisfied Parisians and visitors every day, the project suddenly went terribly wrong as it was preparing to go into a new phase, and has in the last months crashed out of existence. As a result Paris and the world are poorer places
Why did this happen? What are the losses? Were they inevitable? And what are the lessons to be learned? Yes of course in Paris for the future of shared bikes there, but also in towns and cities around the world who might wish to learn these lessons for their own shared bicycle initiatives.
We here at World Streets, who have been following and riding Vélib’s (and Vélo’v’s) literally every day since opening day in Paris on 15 July 2007, have decided to have a look-in on this unexpected story — and in the coming months see what happens if we can share our observations and findings with our international readers and others who may care to drop in here to see if they can find useful information and views on this strange and most unexpected turn of events. Let’s get started.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
– William Butler Yeats
World Streets has from the beginning been intended to serve as a journal of record of the difficult world wide transition to sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. And as a lively world-wide partner, free resource and multi-faceted toolkit for concerned citizens and decision makers as they try to sort their way through the complexity and contradictions of bringing sustainable transport to our cities and their hard to serve hinterlands. Many of our seven thousand-plus signed-in readers will for the most part keep their eye on the latest articles as they appear.
But there are others — students, educators, researchers, consultants, those working in concerned government agencies, transporters and other suppliers to the sector, city planners, activists, civil society, journalists, citizens looking for international background on specific topics — who need to have quick access to what the site has to offer. Which, it turns out, is quite a lot. Let’s have a look.
This issue brings together two important strands of thinking in sustainable mobility and the bigger picture around how the world is changing and now faces a rather stark choice. We can either go down the route of high quality, people-centred, healthy, active, child-friendly cities or we can finish the job started by Henry Ford and shape a future dominated by vehicles and technology, exterminate walking, cycling and public transport and deeply entrench our total submission to a space greedy, dollar-greedy, unhealthy technological domination of the way we live. The latter is the world of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles (AVs) and is now attracting large scale support and buy-in from politicians, corporations and environmental groups.
* Full text available here – https://goo.gl/9aecLD