The Mobility Complex: John Whitelegg lights a fire.

Important announcement: Mobility has been priced to  move. Available in both paper and eBook form for less than USD 10.00. See http://tinyurl.com/zxclcz4
(Thank you John for thinking about students, fund-strapped NGOs and readers in developing, smaller cities with tight budgets.)

john-whitelegg-inter-view-with-satnam-rana-smaller

John Whitelegg, Professor John Whitelegg, is a remarkable man. He 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.

 

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Twelve Principles for Healthy and Sustainable Places

In support of project underway of United Nations University’s Global Health Institute

UN Urban thinkers Campus

  1. COHABIT – Design with nature. Human and ecosystem health stand centre stage in good place design. If it is good for our small planet, we are well on the way to healthy and sustainable places, and sustainable lives. Sustainability and sharing is a defining context!  It changes everything.
  1. SENSES – Humans like all animals are intimately connected to place through our senses – hearing, touch, smell, taste and sight. And a sense of compassion. Beautiful, vibrant and culturally distinct places ignite the senses, bringing a feeling of wellbeing, security, creativity and generosity of spirit.
  1. COMPLEXITY – Natural, economic and cultural diversity make for complex but equally interesting and resilient places. So forget everything you think you know. Welcome chaos and complexity as a necessary first step in the solution process. Engage with diverse ideas, cultures and approaches.
  1. OPPORTUNITY – Given the level, dynamics and sheer overwhelming complexity of the challenges, we will not solve 21st century challenges with measures based on the old paradigms. So much has changed in terms of imagination, technologies and the way we use them. So prepare to be very different.
  1. PROXIMITY – Physical activity, social connection and healthy eating are fostered through proximity, and natural and built environments that are designed to connect, respect and protect. Retire distance, speed and indifference. Replace with proximity, safety and neighborliness.
  1. EQUITY – Justice and equity are vibrant beacons for health, democracy and development in human settlements. Burdens of climate change and unsustainable development must not be carried by the most vulnerable citizens, cities and countries.
  1. DEMOCRACY – Good governance holds the key to the future of human settlements. Citizens cannot be not passive spectators. There is more to democracy than occasional elections. Mobilise civil society in all its diversity and differences around big questions and strive for local answers.
  1. PARITY – Sustainability cannot be planned, decided and administered by a minority. Daily life needs and perceptions of women differ in many ways. The only path to planning and implementing sustainable, efficient and just communities is to ensure full gender parity in all decision fora.   
  1. RESISTANCE– Most human beings are change-averse and ready to challenge anything they perceive see as invasions in any part of their daily lives. So we must anticipate this from the beginning and have a multi-level strategy which takes this into account from the beginning. 
  1. TIMEMake time our ally. We need to be very clever in the many ways that we can put it to work for our good cause. We can knit together the strands of our solution, putting time on our side 
  1. COLLABORATION By creating and pushing to their limit flat, open, citizen peer knowledge networks we enter a new age of problem solving capabilities far beyond anything available to us in the past. (Which is to say, we have a chance!) 
  1. NEVER GIVE UP

[1] Revised working draft by Eric Britton submitted in response to a request from an on-going research project of the United Nations University’s  Global Health Institute (http://iigh.unu.edu/) that is setting out Principles of Healthy and Sustainable Places. In support of their Health and Wellbeing in the City We Need symposium to meet in Kuching, Malaysia from January 24-27, 2016  –  http://unhabitat.org/urbanthinkers/ for more.

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About the author:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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Vision Zero: Good enough for Sweden, soon for Britain, and tomorrow for you!

 “Road traffic crashes are predictable and therefore preventable … the time to act is now. Road users everywhere deserve better and safer road travel” *

USA NYC Vsiion zero photoIn 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:

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More on Illich, Energy and Equity

Further to our recent posting on “Climate Change 101: Thinking about Illich, Energy and Equity” we have just received he following commentary from Chris Bradshaw (See author note below.)

Eric,

Illich book covve - toward a history of needsI used your post to re-read — after, I estimate, 25 years — this delightful essay. I own two copies, one which is part of “Towards a History of Needs” published four years later in 1977).

In that volume, there is an introductory note, which might be useful to add (see end, along with the forward for the 1974 publication — Perennial Library — of this essay by itself). Two things come from these two extras: a) this essay first appeared in Le Monde (yes, probably in French), and b) his defined audience included, equally, the under-developed world.

He, of course, missed global warming as an issue that would fit nicely next to “energy crisis.”

I would add that he missed the link between high-speed and high-power and the formalities of control — rules, regulations, resources — that also disenfranchise those with less speed and power.

Peter D. Norton’s recent book, “Fighting Traffic” does a yeoman effort to show how the transition from “transit” to “transport” in North American cities took place 1915-1935.

I will continue to muse over Illich’s brilliant thinking.

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How Can Higher Speed Limits Save Lives

Before your blood pressure start to go off the chart dear colleague, have a careful look at what Dr. Aaron Carroll, also known as the Incidental Economist, has to say on what may appear to be a counterintuitive approach to our favorite topic (or at least one of them) speed and safety.

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Paris to limit speeds to 30 km/hr over entire city

france paris 30 kph signThe just-elected new Mayor of Paris, Madame Anne Hidalgo, has prepared a revolutionary sustainable mobility project whereby virtually all of the streets of the city will be subject to a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr.

The only exceptions in the plan are a relatively small number of major axes into the city and along the two banks of the Seine, where the speed limit will be 50 km/hr, and the city’s hard pressed ring road (périphérique) where the top permissible speed has recently been reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr. At the other end of the slowth spectrum are a certain number of “meeting zones” (zones de rencontre) spotted around the city in which pedestrians and cyclists have priority but mix with cars which are limited to a top speed of 20 km/hr. A veritable révolution à la française.

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Come out and claim the road – by Sunita Narain

india bicycle dovesI write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car when cycling. The car fled the scene, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, strangers helped me and took me to hospital. I got treatment. I will be back fighting fit.

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Change has to take root in people’s minds (before it can be legislated)

john adams risk coverProfessor John Adams has spent quite some years in researching, thinking, talking and writing about risk, and about risk when it comes to how people get around in their daily lives. This posting is taken from his blog Risk in a hypermobile world”  His attraction to transport problems grew out of his involvement in the 1970s and 80s as an objector at public inquiries, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, to the British Government’s road building plans. See “Hypermobility: too much of a good thing” for a summary of his current take on transport problems.

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Speeding to a standstill

This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The speeding car  mando2802.edublogs.orgapproach and methodology are interesting.  And in it  you will find a certain number of points  which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.

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“What are the top 3 things Paris has done in the last 10 years to deliver a genuinely sustainable transport system?”

The other day the phone rang and I heard the voice of my long time friend and valued collaborator Professor John Whitelegg telling me: “on 8th November I am giving a presentation in London at a conference organised by SNCF.  It’s all about London and Paris and what the cities can learn from each other.  I will go further (as usual) and argue that both can make a lot more progress on things like bike use, traffic reduction, getting rid of air pollution, zero deaths  and injuries  etc if they get a lot bolder and start engaging with the vision thing.  I will say that Paris can learn from London on congestion charging but I want  something quite big that I can say in what ways London can learn from Paris.  What are the top 3 things  that Paris has done in the last 10 years to deliver a genuinely sustainable transport system?” Continue reading

Remembering Donald Appleyard

Safe Streets is a collaborative worldwide project of World Streets which will aggressively network over the whole of 2012 in our search for shaping ideas with some of the leading thinkers, groups and programs in the field , looking to the future but also not forgetting the past — including drawing attention to the defining contributions of a certain number of leading thinkers. teachers, writers and sustainability activists, who are no longer with us but who through their work have laid down some of the most important principles which we now need to recall and take into account as we move to create a broad common framework for sustainable streets all over the world. For those of you who do not already know about the formidable vision and work of Donald Appleyard, we have pulled together a collection of reference points that should give you a good first introduction, and at the end of this piece some additional reference materials for those wishing to go further (as indeed you should).
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Climate – > Man – > Mobility – > Speed – > Distance – > Destruction of proximity

This out of control  bulimic spiral begins with man’s uncontrollable tool-making itch.  And from thence, and unknown to us at the time, to tools which take on transforming lives of their own — one of which in the domain of mobility being ever-increasing speed, which in turn translates to ever-increasing distances, and which finally — and in largely unnoticed fatal tandem–  destroys the reality and oh-so important qualities of proximity, contact  and community.  That’s the deal and facing all this is the challenge of this collaborative project for 2020. What we all thought at first was merely more convenient transportation, has snuck up on us and turned into very inconvenient and altogether unanticipated transformation.

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The Battle for the Street: Who won? Who lost? What next?

[Have a look at this good historical piece by Christopher Gray which appeared in today’s New York Times under their Streetscapes/Traffic Wars rubric.]
IN the future, perhaps our time will be known as the first decade of the Bicycle Wars, with righteous armies fighting over traffic lanes, bike paths and sidewalks, indeed over the very purpose of the streets themselves. Like many wars, it’s a question of territory, and the pedestrian has been losing for years. Continue reading

SLOWTH: Or why it is so very important (and so very easy) to slow down traffic in cities

It is the consistent position of this journal that much of what is wrong with our current transportation arrangements in cities could be greatly alleviated if we can find ways just to slow down. It is very powerful — and it’s just not that hard to do.  Get comfortable and have a look. Continue reading

What’s a life worth?

Gladwyn d’Souza comments from California an article that has just appeared in the New York Times on this subject. “The United States Environmental Protections Agency, EPA, should really be discussing the allocation of risk. A large curb radius for example transfers risk from the speeding driver to the pedestrian. The issue is that speed and convenience embody an energy bill whose consequences are not repatriated on the basis of least harm to public safety. While the consequences are local, an injury on your street corner, the impact under NAFTA, etc., of comparative or qualitative instead of preventive risk assessment is habitat destructive.  . . . ” Continue reading

High Speed Zero: The alternative solution to HS2

It might make some sense, in reviewing the potential of HS2, to take a few samplings on how the year-old HS1 domestic services are performing – or not.  S N Barnes reports to World Streets  from a crowded rail platform somewhere in the UK.

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UK High Speed Rail: Going very fast in the wrong direction

In the field of transport, no matter how straight-forward the issues may seem to be to the busy citizen, merchant, reporter or policy maker, when it comes to making wise policy it really does take a certain level of time and attention to detail to come to grips with the underlying issues and priorities that shape the outcomes. The awful conundrum encumbering the mobility issues of our new century from a policy perspective is that just about everything turns out upon study to be unobligingly complex, interdependent, complicated and time lagged – no matter how simple it may appear to be on the surface. In the article that follows, the authors  have a go at a lot of the too-easy thinking that is the main currency of the High Speed Rail discussions in places like Britain and the US, where the only experience with these technologies and operations has been that of a far-away time-lagged dream machine. Let’s embrace a bit of complexity here. Continue reading

No need for speed

As our regular readers know well, World/Streets believes that there are a lot of excellent reasons for slowing down. And every time we run into something that we think can help advance this worthy objective, well here we are. This time the irrepressible Elizabeth Press, peripatetic videographer from New York City’s StreetFilms project, got on a plane and made a short film about what happens when cities slow down their traffic in a uniform and substantial way – in this case the terrific UK program ” 20’s Plenty for Us”. Her five-minute film went on-line yesterday. Continue reading

Honey, you gotta slow down

It is the consistent position of this journal that much of what is wrong with our current transportation arrangements in cities could be greatly alleviated if we can find ways just to slow down.  A bare five miles per hour over the speed limit on a city street, and . . . Continue reading

Op-Ed. Twenty is plenty

A pedestrian hit by a car at 40 mph has a 95% chance of being killed, at 30 mph this becomes 50% and at 20 mph it becomes 5%.

– Dr. Stephen J. Watkins, from the National Health Service, UK Continue reading