Ten Points of Light

[This posting announces a new component of World Streets Battles of Ideasthat 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.

neural networkPoints 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.

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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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Top Twenty World Streets Postings: 2009 – 2015

ws-newsstandWhile 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.

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Eleven Steps Toward a Brighter Future

Way to Go! 11 Reasons Why Trains, Buses, Bikes and Walking Move Us Toward a Brighter Future

- Guest editorial, by Jay Walljasper

According to the pundits and prophets who dominate the media, the future of transportation is all figured out for us.  Cheaper gas prices mean we can still count on our private cars to take us everywhere we want to go in the years to come. The only big change down the road will be driverless autos, which will make long hours behind the wheel less boring and more productive.

But this everything-stays-the-same vision ignores some significant social developments. Americans have actually been driving less per-capita for the past decade, bucking a century-long trend of ever-increasing dependence on automobiles.

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

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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”.

In addition to looking at the mobility challenges facing the new government from an overall integrated state-of-the-art policy perspective, with special attention to the importance of integrating transportation and land use planning and urban design, the speaker spent some time commenting on the proposed One Square Kilometer (OSK) Walkable City demonstration project which the new administration is considering.

The other speakers and audience were all Taiwanese, and the main language of the forum was Chinese, with simultaneous translation to English.

The speaker has written up his final overall conclusions and recommendations for the January Taiwan Mission for Peer Review and commentary in a second document now available at http://wp.me/p1fsqb-1ua

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Happy City: The Transformative Role of Sustainable Transport

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 Charles Montgomery in trafficthoughts 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.

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