EARNING A PUBLIC SPACE DIVIDEND IN THE STREETS
– Paul Barter, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore
Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.
What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.
The Battle for Street Space
In the small fishing town of Ísafjörður, Iceland, an exciting development in road safety has just popped up – almost literally. A new pedestrian crossing has been painted that appears to be 3D by way of a cleverly-detailed optical illusion.
The 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.
This is a critical reference and tool set for World Streets readers, introducing the full contents as of 6 March 2019 of the TDM (Transportation Demand Management) Encyclopedia of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute headed by Todd Litman. All the more than one hundred resources and references cited here are available online. The full report is online at: http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/
Transportation Demand Management (TDM, also called Mobility Management) is a general term for strategies that result in more efficient use of transportation resources. This Encyclopedia is a comprehensive source of information about innovative management solutions to transportation problems. It provides detailed information on dozens of demand management strategies, plus general information on TDM planning and evaluation techniques. It is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to increase understanding and implementation of TDM.
How important is TDM for transport/mobility planners, policy makers or concerned citizens and civil society? It is very easy to answer that question, which boils down to this: If you do not have on your team first rate competence in TDM measures and references, then you are in the wrong business. TDM is the first line of defense of sustainable transport planning and policy!
Nobody in a democratic 21st century country is going to willingly step down on the scale of comfort and economy. Fair enough, so let’s see how we can all step UP in terms of life quality for all with an cost-competitive, equity-based low-emissions transport strategy.
The objective here is to combine vision, policy, technology and entrepreneurial skills in such a way to create and make available to all a combined, affordable, multi-level, convenient, high choice mobility system which for just about everybody should be more efficient than owning and driving a car in or into town. Let us start with this as our goal and then see what is the work that must be done in order to turn it into a reality.
* Wanted: Curators, sentinels and contributors for World Streets “Drivers As Victims” Department. Contact email@example.com
Drivers as Victims
After a century of fearless and uncontested domination, peace and pandering, here we are in 2019 and to our great surprise as car/owner drivers around the planet suddenly find themselves in the midst of a raging process of transition to a very different world of privilege and limitation, laws and enforcement, economics and free rides. And unsurprisingly in their own eyes they see themselves as victims: having their territory limited step by step to ever-growing parts of the city-scape where they have long been uncontested kings and queens.
Shortlist of Transformative Realities and Trends
One of the great recompenses of having watched the sustainable transportation and related technology developments evolve over the course of several decades, is that if one takes the time to step back and scan the evidence for pattern breaks, one can readily spot a certain number of trends, fundamental structural changes, quite a few of which bode well for a different and better future for transport in and around cities. Here are a handful of the fundamental underlying changes which I have spotted over the last decades and which I would like to share with you this morning.
Let’s start with a simple listing and then go on to brief comments in an attempt to clarify.