Introduction: The Third Force, civil society, is the true test of democracy: the strong voice and active presence of vigilant participatory citizenry. Society’s necessary check, balance, and vital complement to political parties, elections and fixed terms in office. The underlying and defining reality is that civil society is, by its very nature in more or less permanent conflict, or at least dissonance, with elected governments and administrations: Different attention span. Different values. Different rewards.
Activist groups, NGOs, environmentalists, concerned parents, educationalists, independent researchers, investigative reporters, bloggers, social media, and sentinels of democracy . . . provide a lively check on narrow interest and bad government. An invaluable, visible, vocal partner of the public interest and good government. Deep democracy.
Shortlist of on-going 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 on the mobility beat and which I would like to share with you this sunny COVID morning. Let’s start with a simple listing and then go on to brief comments in an attempt to clarify.
– PS. G. K. Chesterton put it like this: “If a thing is worth doing . . . it’s worth doing badly” . (We’ll leave it to you to sort that one out)
World Streets has committed to carry out a series of articles, in cooperation with informed on-the-spot collaborators, looking into various aspects of transport user groups, on the grounds that they are increasingly emerging in many cities around the world as important potential players in the uphill struggle to sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives.
Throughout most of the 20th century transportation decisions were strictly made by government administrations and elected politicians, more often than not in cooperation with interests representing industrial and financial partners supplying infrastructure, vehicles, electronics and services. In most places these were closed loops in which the public was occasionally, at best, invited to approach the table and then asked to share their views on the specifics alternative proposals as prepared and presented by the various administrations and agencies, but for the most part were excluded from the actual planning and decision process. They were at most shadow players.
However this is starting to change, to the extent that in many cities in recent years these groups are increasingly becoming important players in the planning, decision and investment process.
The latest government figures show that transport was the largest source of climate changing greenhouse gases in the UK. Transport, mostly passenger cars, makes up more than a third of total emissions.
To coincide with the publication of these figures, Friends of the Earth, along with researchers at think-tank Transport for Quality of Life have released new research: Transforming public transport: Regulation, spending and free buses for the under 30s. The findings show that for climate change reasons at least a 20 per cent reduction in car journeys is necessary, even with a faster switch to electrics cars and a more rapid decarbonisation of the electricity grid. This reduction requires a radical re-imagining of transport which would also realise the numerous other benefits of traffic reduction, for example to public health.
Mike Childs, Head of Research at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s an idea whose time has well and truly arrived. Free bus travel for the under 30’s at first, before widening the scheme, would make for more livable cities and cut damaging greenhouse gas emissions.” Continue reading →
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.
ANALYSIS | Why does Penang need to rush to have the 7.2km undersea tunnel project when the original Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) officially adopted by the state government clearly states that it is not an urgent priority?
Why this haste when the survey of Penang’s traffic volume by UK-based engineering consultant Halcrow showed that cross-channel traffic in 2011 accounted for only 7 percent of total state traffic during peak hours?
Toledo (Spain), 22 Sept. 1994 . Ciudades Accessibles (Accessible Cities) Conference “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 quarter century (time flies). 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/New Mobility Agenda 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 2019 and beyond. 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 →
Dear Friends of sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives, greetings,
Here is what I want to do for our common cause and that just may interest you.. It is a long shot, but after half a day of turning the ideas around in my mind I decided to give it a try and seek counsel on this from our 10k plus international readers.. Let’s have a look.
To get a better feel for this from the perspective of day to day reality when it comes to trying to get wherever you want to go during morning rush hour in Tallinn, let’s have a look at a report by two Estonian researchers, – by Helen Poltimäe and Mari Jüssi, under the title . . .
Factors Affecting Choice of Travel Mode in Tallinn
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.
Here is a list of cities around the world that currently providevarious forms of public transport for free. This resource is extremely useful for researchers, and for further information on any of the indicated cities all you have to do is click the name and a summary follows.
Report by Jérémie Almosni, head of ADEME’s transport and mobility department, Mathieu chassignet, expert in sustainable mobility, Véronique Michaud, general secretary of the Club des Villes et Territoires and Olivier Schneider, president of the French Federation of Bicycle Users ( FUB).
For almost two decades a Swedish group of campaigners have defied authority and flipped the passenger-operator power balance by banding together to avoid fares. Their unconventional brand of activism continues to stir feathers and attract stigma – but how does the group justify it?
Around the world, authorities, together with governments and campaign groups, are pushing for increased public transport usage. For their part, people comply, if often out of necessity rather than a personal preference for shared transit.
But in some cities, the price for public commuting is fast becoming prohibitively expensive for low-income citizens. This, together with the argument that more public transport ridership is better for the environment, is why a growing network of supporters are campaigning for free public transport as an intrinsic right of every citizen. Some have taken it one step further, by forming a group of ‘professional fare-dodgers’.
* From a nicely balanced, nicely illustrated article by Eva Gary published in Future Rail on 1 May 2018 at https://bit.ly/2IFdrV9. Thanks Future Rail. Creative Commons Non-commercial share alike
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, in an exclusive interview with timesnownews.com, talks about what is wrong with current American capitalism, rise of a new kind of politics emerging from dissent towards government and more. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
A flashmob choral intrusion that took place on one more winter day in the main train station of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. But what are they singling about?
(A flash mob (just to recall and in case you were out shopping at the time) is an unannounced event involving, by all appearance,s an unrelated group of people who suddenly emerge from the shadows and assemble in a public place, perform an unusual and unexplained act for a brief time, then quickly disperse and continue on their ways. As you can just see here.)
Part II. A Finnish story
A bit of context in case you your Finnish history needs a reminder. Here you have a brief introductory text (quickly translate, apologies) to an excellent one hour documentary that has just appeared on Arte, the French/German public television. (Sadly not yet available in English, so you can test your French, German, Finnish and the striking images which tell a story of their own.)
One day, a very long time ago and in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire that was raging the entire countryside. All the animals in the forest were terrified, running around in circles, screaming, crying, arguing, and helplessly watching and waiting for the impending disaster.
But there suddenly, in the middle of the flames, and above the mass of cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird, busy flying from a small pond quite far away from the actual fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again/ And then again. And yet again.
After a while, a grouchy old armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those minuscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! ”
To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m doing my bit”.