We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, on taking over Cavendish Laboratory in 1919
World Streets is an independent, collaborative, public interest platform working daily in support of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives and which, as a matter of policy, we make freely available to all who are looking to understand, support, and contribute to the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world.
We firmly believe that there should be no barriers, and especially not commercial ones, to the free circulation of news, tools, counsel and peer exchanges when it comes to the important issues of sustainable development and social justice. To ensure our full independence we do not accept advertising. We depend on the support of our readers, concerned public agencies, foundations and actors in the private sector to keep going. (Which is quite a challenge as you can well imagine.)
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The above map reports the locations of 561 readers checking into World Streets over the last five days. (Of our total 4,484 registered readers as of this date.)
But what about them? Where? And what do they read?
-By Benoît Beroud, Mobiped, Lyon France
After Nantes (France) in June 2015, the world cycling policy congress co-organized by the European Cyclist Federation occurred from 27th February to Mars 1st 2016 in Taipei (Taiwan), first time ever in an Asian country. This event gathered more than 1.000 delegates from divers professions (local governments, NGOs, manufacturers, services providers, researchers, consultants, businessmen, media, students) from 43 countries. Among them, 160 gave a lecture. And around 20 organizations showed up their know-how, products and services in the exhibition room.
An important milestone was achieved with the conference in the international process of cycling promotion. For the first time a great number of Asian representatives attended to the event and many discussions were possible between Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Indonesians and Filipinos.
Why is World Streets on the lookout independent critical appraisals of what was going on in the ambitious Johannesburg EcoMobility festival that took place over the entire month of October 2015, as well as forwarding information about reports issued by the organizers?
Specifically to have a balanced “Citizens’ Eye View” of the concept and its actual performance on the streets of the city during that challenging month-long public test.
The city of Johannesburg has over the month of October engaged in an interesting experiment to limit car circulation and encourage softer means of getting to and around in a portion of their central business district, Sandton. The project was planned and carried out in cooperation with ICLEI’s EcoMobiity program, and is the second in a series which began in 2013 in Suwon Korea, and which in 2017 will move on to the City of Kaohsiung, the second city of Taiwan.
World Streets has made an effort to follow the Johannesburg project and in cooperation with local transport, city planning and environment groups, in an effort to piece together a balanced picture of how all this is working out. If you click to the following hot links, you will be taken in a first instance to the twenty or so postings that appeared in our World Streets Online Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WorldStreetsOnline. And following that to a Google summary of the latest media coverage.
* For World Streets coverage of EcoMobility 2015 -> https://goo.gl/UHoRgu
* For latest media coverage of Johannesburg event -> https://goo.gl/epJe79
In the city, as in life, as we make our way around it we normally register only what we set out to look for. The anomalies, the absences, the troubling, somehow escape our attention. Consciously or not. But when it comes to matters of transport and public spaces, everywhere the eye might wander there are valuable clues, both visible and invisible, for planners, policy makers and the concerned citizen. However, if we fail to use our eyes we miss out on valuable information. And as a result our cities do just that much less well.
With this in mind we have made a selection of fifty wildly different photographs from the working archives of World Streets, which have been culled from more than three thousand images and which one by one can help us to better understand the almost infinitely variable challenges of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. I call these “Invisibilities” reminding us to all of the many things that go on in our sector which we often fail to look at. This is a universal problem, and my hope here is to encourage us all, myself included, to be more fully attentive to the human side of transportation.
(We propose that you look at this with the full screen setting bottom right just above.)
We live at a time when the people at the top who have to make or influence decisions in our sector are time-starved, over-burdened and, truth to tell, not about to spend a lot of time reading, or even listening or otherwise trying to ingest the great glaciers of data views and recommendations that are about to inundate and eventually freeze them solid for more thousands of years. But for those of us who see ourselves as change-agents, we need to find ways to capture their attention in order to widen their intellectual pallet in order to draw their attention to a range of new ideas and alterative problem-solving approaches beyond the ones that normally inform (and limit) their choices. Well, what about a series of attention-grabbing, lesson-purveying one-minute movies that can get them thinking in broader terms? And better than that, share with their families and colleagues. Might we have a look and think about this together? Continue reading
Thank you Mayor Hau Lung-pin for this invitation to come to Taipei City this year to discuss the celebration of the city’s tenth successive Car Free Day — and as part of this collaborative brainstorming process to draw on my experience of some seventeen years working with this, one hopes, transformative transportation approach to taming cars and traffic in different cities around the world.
This year’s Green Transportation Forum has given me an opportunity to meet once again with many old friends and distinguished colleagues working in the sustainable transport sector, and to hear about the progress the city has made in working with this approach in this first decade. In all I ended up spending a full week in the city and the surrounding region, in order to have a better appreciation of the overall transportation situation, which of course is what the Car Free Days are supposed to be all about. The goal of the Green Transportation Forum was to lay the way for the CFD X celebrations on Thursday, the 22nd of September. And if you turn to the closing annex here you will find a summary of the principal events organized by the Taipei city team for this year’s celebration.
But after ten years might it not be a good time to think about making some major structural changes in the CFD formula and procedures, perhaps with a goal to being more ambitious about what we would like them to achieve for the city in the decade ahead? The Forum gave us an opportunity to compare notes on this. We had a lively time brainstorming on this topic, and I believe came up with some interesting ideas for next steps , as you will see in the following summary. In closing I would like to thank Mayor Hau and his team for a warm welcome and highly efficient series of events. Every time I come to Taiwan I end up learning a great deal and this visit was no exception. Thank you all.
– Eric Britton, World Streets and EcoPlan International, Paris. 7 October 2011
Whereas Car Free Days have been organized in cities around the world all over the year for the last two decades, there is inevitably a spate of high activity in the month of September, much of it the result of the European Commission’s continuing commitment to both the concept of Car Free Days and their own European Mobility Week. And each year we here at World Streets dig into our archives and dust off one or two of the classics as a timely reminder of the fact that the Car Free Day concept has been around and doing its bit since the first international announcement and challenge was made in Toledo Spain on 19 October 1994.
Why do we bother to do this year after year? After all, there is copious documentation and background available at a click, as a quick tour of Google of those three little words yields somewhat more than 55,000 entries, including a fair if distinctly uneven introduction in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days. The problem is that most of this material seriously misses the point, and as a result often handicaps cities and groups wishing to organize a Day (a week or month close) to underestimate potential of this approach. The trick is that all of this is quite a simple as it may at first glance appear.
To this end, here we are once again minding the store with the original 1994 article announcing the concept, along with several others from our archives which would appear here in the coming days. A general reference which the reader may find of use is the general introduction which appears here – https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/car-free-days/. You will find at the end of this reposting, three separate annexes which provide supplemental background on (Annex A) New Mobility – 1988-1994 Program Summary; (B) Other Tools to Get the Job Done; and (C) a listing of more recent references.
“Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.”
Here is how the Car Free Days movement got started and has taken shape over the last 21 years. This is the second in a series of articles which we update and post annually just prior to the September rush to get the latest batch of Car Free Day projects off the ground. We hope that these pieces and the references you find here are going to prove useful to those responsible for making a success of their Days in 2015. Getting a CFD right and making it a real success is no easy task — good knowledge of what has worked and not worked in the past should serve you well. Continue reading
Commentary and reflection on an article originally appearing in a Geek Wire posting by Bob Sullivan on 24 January – which when posted last week to our World Streets Online Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/WorldStreetsOnline attracted considerable attention. In the posting that follows, we propose an open thinking exercise in three parts which you are invited to join.
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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
[This posting announces a new component of World Streets Battles of Ideas, that 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.
Points 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.
This 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.
A morning like all others in Taipei traffic
Lyon, 3 February 2015
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It had been a year and a half since I last worked in Taiwan, the longest separation since I started collaborating with colleagues there in 2009. During much of this interval, in addition to my teaching, editorial responsibilities and advisory work, I have been working on a most challenging new book under the title “General Theory of Transport in Cities”. The book aims to set out what I believe to be a much needed, consistent base for planning, policy and investment decisions in this important and fast changing field where ad hoc decision-making by unprepared politicians and ambitious interest groups has all too often prevailed.
This last year has been a period of deep reflection on my accumulated experience in the transport and sustainable development fields in cities around the world over more than four decades. As a result of this ongoing process, I find myself this time looking at the issues in Taiwan from this broader international perspective. My keynote address to the International Forum on Livable City & Eco-Mobility in Hsinchu on 29 January was the first in a series of international “road tests”, which are giving me a precious opportunity to present some of the main arguments from the book before expert audiences to test them and seek their critical comments and views. The lively discussions that took place in Hsinchu during the forum and my four days there proved to be most valuable.
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”.
This out of control bulimic spiral begins with man’s uncontrollable tool-making itch, and from there, and utterly 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 leads to ever-increasing distances, and which finally and in largely unnoticed fatal tandem destroys the reality and oh-so important qualities of proximity and community. What we thought at the time was merely more convenient transportation, has snuck up on us and turned into very inconvenient and altogether unanticipated transformation — in fact one of the most intractable challenges of transport policy and practice of the 21sr century
How to break this vicious spiral? Well in cities anyway the key is clearly significant, strategic speed reduction in combination with a phased, multi-step systemic overall as needed to create a truly optimized mobility system for all. And happily we now have the technical tools (the technical virtuosity) to get the job done. We shall see this spelled out more clearly here over the course of the coming months, but before leaping ahead, let’s step back a bit in time and see what Contributing Editor Professor John Whitelegg had to say on this subject in the pages of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, way back in 1993.
Upon reading the World Streets article of 25 Oct. on ‘The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver’, Dr. Mah Hui, a city councilman in George Town Malaysia, commented:
It is very interesting and promising proposition which i can agree with substantially. But suddenly you break off when you just made the point that its more effective to design the roads to slow down vehicles. Do you have section 2 to suggest what types of designs have been used and might work?
In Penang, our council is using speed tables to slow down cars with limited success partly because it’s not well designed as I see the motorists and especially motor cyclist speeding up and crossing the speed tables at over 30 kph ! Even with better designs how do we reduce their speed over stretches without the tables?
Regards/ Mah Hui
Oops. You are so right Ma Hui. I admit I was being a bit lazy in that first blast, but as luck would have it I have given this quite a bit of attention over the years and have had a chance to observe both better (less) and worse (more) treatments in cities around the world. And while I am by no means a traffic engineer, what I can offer this morning is a quick shortlist as it comes off the top of my head and memory, and with more than a little help from US Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Calming Library (www.ite.org/traffic/), along with an article just in from Partners for Public Spaces by Jay Walljasper entitled “How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life”.
And now, in to the answer to your query, starting with a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture: