We are trying to get a better look at how sustainable transportation is coming along in Australia, as an example of one of the several handfuls of heavily motorized countries which have for decades concentrated on building (and in the process unknowingly locking themselves into) what is basically an all-car infrastructure. This is the second in what we intend to be a series of articles on this topic. Published with the permission of the author, a professor in the media department of a leading Australian university, it takes an outside-looking-in perspective of our topic. Continue reading
We started World Series last year not because we felt that we were going to tell you everything you need to know about sustainable transportation, but rather to offer you a lively independent platform with worldwide coverage in which all of those of us were concerned with these issues can exchange ideas and commentaries freely. Here is a good example of a shared learning process that does not have to stop with the two cities directly involved in this report. Continue reading
In the firm belief that you cannot get too much of a slow thing, here is a second piece in a row on how they are slowing things down in Portsmouth and Britain more generally. We present it as a step toward building your own tool kit for slowing things down in your city. Look at Portsmouth and build on their example to do better yet on your streets. As Newton reminded us, real progress occurs only by standing on the shoulders of giants
Twenty’s Plenty Where People Live in Portsmouth
– Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us , UK
On 14th May 2008 in a United Kingdom House of Commons Transport Committee evidence session the respected head of the Netherlands Road Safety Institute, Fred Wegman, commented :-
“Until 2000 we were always looking to the United Kingdom when it came to road safety. You were the inventors of many good activities and polices. All of a sudden, somewhere in 2000, you stopped doing things and we continued with our efforts. A simple figure to illustrate that is that, compared to 2000, in 2006 you had 7% fewer fatalities in this country. We have one third fewer.”
The resultant critical review of road safety in the UK by the Transport Select Committee was tellingly entitled “Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010”
Experts will debate the reasons for the slow down in better safety on UK roads. Some will put it down to an over-reliance on engineering measures which may well simply keep prevailing vehicle speeds higher and inevitably make it more dangerous for our vulnerable road users. Indeed whilst the number of total road fatalities has dropped from 3,221 in 2004 to 2,538 in 2008, the percentage of these which were pedestrians has been steadily rising from 20.83% in 2004 to 22.54% in 2008. In fact UK’s skewing of road fatalities towards pedestrians is one of the highest in Europe where the average across the EU14 countries in 2005 was just 14%. In 2005 in the Netherlands it was just 9.4%.
However, things are changing. In 2006 the Department of Transport issued some new guidelines to Local Authorities for setting speed limits. One city, Portsmouth, seized upon a slight change in the guidelines for 20 mph limits without traffic calming and decided to embark upon a new initiative based upon the premise that 20’s plenty where people live.
And last week at a special conference “Portsmouth – Britain’s First 20 mph City” the presentations in the Guild Hall in Portsmouth may well have created a pivotal point in road danger reduction in the UK.
Until now, speed management has mainly been implemented by means of localised interventions on streets to make the driver slow down. Whether they are speed cameras, or speed bumps the essential engagement has been with the driver on the road whilst he or she is driving.
At the conference, Portsmouth City Council and the Department for Transport reported on the results from the completely different approach taken by Portsmouth when in March 2008 they completed their setting of all residential roads, bar arterial routes, with a speed limit of 20 mph. 1,200 streets were set to 20 mph over a 9 month period. No bumps or humps, but most importantly a decision not just made by Traffic Officers but by the whole community as they sought a way to deliver lower speeds and a better quality of life for their residents. Quite simply, Portsmouth people decided to slow down wherever people live!
Of course, setting lower speeds with traffic calming is so expensive that one only usually does it where you have excessive speed problems. But when you make the decision as a community to slow down wherever people live then it is inevitable that many streets will already have speeds below 20 mph. In fact in Portsmouth they monitored 159 sites. 102 already had mean speeds of 20 mph or less. 36 were between 20 mph and 24 mph, whilst on a further 21 the mean speed was above 24 mph.
And because of that mix it was found that overall the mean speed for all the roads did not change very much. In fact it reduced by just 1%. But what was very significant was the fact that in those streets where speeds previously were 24 mph or above then a huge 7mph reduction in mean speed was recorded.
Whilst casualties also fell by 15% and total accidents by 13%, more time will be needed to establish statistically significant collision figures. However, the presenter noted the changes in child and elderly casualties in before and after numbers :
Portsmouth’s success is as a community that has debated how the streets should be shared more equitably and has gone through the due political, democratic and administrative process to take that community commitment and turn it into a framework within which everyone can take their part in making their city a better place to live. One where casualties reduce and people have quieter streets with more opportunities for cycling and walking.
The spaces between our houses, which we call streets, will never be the same in this country. Portsmouth has shown that communities can change their behaviour and sensibly embark on a 20’s Plenty Where People Live initiative that delivers real benefits to every road user. More and more towns, cities and villages are following this trend to put citizenship back into the way we drive and share our roads. The same plan is proposed in Oxford, Leicester, Newcastle, Norwich and Islington, with widespread trials being conducted in Bristol and Warrington.
But people in Portsmouth are perhaps no different from us all. But what they have found is a way to enable them to turn an aspiration for safer and more pleasant streets into a reality. I suspect there will be plenty more similar communities saying 20’s plenty for them as well. And that may well put the United Kingdom back on track in improving the safety of vulnerable road users and bringing a little more calmness to our urban and residential streets.
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Rod King is Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, a national voluntary organisation formed in 2007 to support local communities who want lower vehicle speeds on residential and urban roads. 20’s Plenty for Us works with local groups around the country as well as lobbying central and local government. He can be reached at 20’s Plenty for Us – http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk Tel +44 07973 639781 . E: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the pillars of the New Mobility Agenda approach to sustainable transport in cities, is to slow down the traffic. It works as an environmental trigger. Thus when you start to go slower, when you organize your daily life around this principle, you necessarily end up going less far. Which in turn sends out a whole range of signals for land use in our cities. The exact opposite of the forces behind urban sprawl and all that goes with it. If there were one first step to take, slowing things down would have a strong claim to this place of honor. And this movement is gaining real force in Britain.
Portsmouth – Britain’s First Twenty is Plenty (mph) City
Portsmouth has many claims to fame, home of the British Navy, Western Europe’s most densely populated city and now the first city in Britain to set a 20 mph limit across its residential road network.
What sets the 20 mph speed limit in Portsmouth apart from the other two and a half thousand 20 mph zones in England is not just that it is city wide, but also that it relies not on traffic calming or speed cameras for enforcement, but simply signs and publicity to encourage driver behaviour change.
It could be argued that this is one of the largest travel behaviour change initiatives in the country, and although the main objective for the scheme is safety, there are potential modal shift benefits which the city hopes to realise.
How the scheme works
The scheme was made possible by the amendment to Section 84 of Road Traffic Regulation Act in 1999 which allowed local authorities to set local speed limits without the need to get Secretary of State approval.
Due to a high population density, Portsmouth streets were largely already slow moving, so while the decision to go for a city wide 20mph limit was brave; it was not without local support.
The 20mph limit was launched in six city sectors, with the first introduced on 1st October 2007 and the last in March 2008.
In line with DfT guidance the streets included in the scheme were largely residential where average speeds were already below 24 mph, and while the strategic roads network was excluded, they have included some high volume routes where average speeds were above 30 mph.
Following a media campaign and wide scale community consultation process, streets that were to be included within the 20 mph limit had roundels painted at the entrance together with 20 mph signs, with repeater signs placed at 150m intervals along the length of the route.
The speed limit has been largely self-enforcing, with local residents being proactive in reporting speeding traffic. Traffic speed surveys have been used to identify problem streets, which have then been reported to the partnership of police and council officers, which swoop on offending drivers several times a year. The support of local motorists to the 20 mph limit is essential, so rather than just issue a penalty notice, police offer offending drivers an option of attending a half hour seminar educating them on the danger of speeding, which has proven very effective.
How Behaviour Change Interventions have been used
For a project of this nature, where the aim was a culture change, promotion and consultation has been the key.
To highlight the benefits of lower speeds the city first targeted the most vulnerable road users, school children, and issued each school child with pamphlets listing the roads which were to have a slower speed limit. The pamphlet included a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section and a hotline was set up for further information.
Posters and informational leaflets were distributed at public places such as schools, community centers, health centers, libraries, churches, sports clubs and universities.
Neighborhood forums were extensively consulted, with city officials going out to talk to them about the proposals and to listen to their concerns.
The local media and press, while initially skeptical, soon understood the potential benefits, and published many positive articles about the scheme. While the city also published statutory notices in local newspapers.
While of course there were some very vociferous objections from a small minority, overall objections were in fact minimal, and the vast majority of messages received by the city were in support of the proposals.
How effective has it been?
Since the scheme is so new, it has been difficult to gather clear robust evidence of effectiveness, but initial results appear positive.
Speed surveys show that there has been a reduction of about 0.9mph in the residential roads where average speeds were previously at or below 24 mph.
The most effective measures were actually on streets where speeds were previously above 30 mph, which have seen average speeds fall by as much as 7 mph.
While very few physical calming measures have been used, extra space has been provided for pedestrians and cyclists, and straight roads have been made to meander in those streets which had recent fatalities.
Initial evidence show a reduction in traffic incidents, and overall casualties are down across the city since the implementation of the 20 mph limit.
The potential for modal shift
There is anecdotal evidence that some modal shift has already been achieved, but so far there has been no study to confirm if this is the case. However since road danger is usually cited as the primary barrier to cycling, it seems logical to assume that a city wide reduction in speeds would have some impact.
Promotion of the 20mph limit initially targeted schools as an extension of the safe routes to school programme, and children have been encouraged to celebrate the introduction of the lower speed limits. This link between school travel plans and the safe speeds initiative should reinforce each other and help increase sustainable travel to school in the future.
It is known from other initiatives that when packages of measures are applied together such as parking controls, PTP, WTP, bus priority, then this does have a significant impact on modal shift.
While this has not yet been applied in Portsmouth, the smarter choices team have been included from the beginning and future modal shift promotion is planned, with ideas such as community street parties being considered.
While the overall speed reduction and impacts on accidents is much greater for a traffic calmed 20mph zone, than a city wide 20mph limit without accompanying calming, there are distinct advantages of a city wide limit.
The costs are much lower, and issues over emergency vehicle access, noise generation are avoided. With lower costs and less resistance to the initiative from the media and public, it has been possible to roll out the limit city wide in a very short space of time. This is a huge benefit in itself, since residents of the city all gain from living in a 20mph street themselves; they are also much more likely to respect the speed limit for neighboring communities that they drive through.
While it has so far not been possible to evaluate the full benefits of the limit, initial evidence seems to show that road safety has improved, and with a coordinated smarter choices follow up initiative it seems certain that significant modal shift benefits could be gained from the scheme.
Thus the ultimate benefits could be many; public health, well being, noise, pollution, climate change, reduction in accidents, deaths, reducing NHS and police costs.
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About the author:
Rory McMullan works for PTRC Education and Research Services, which organises training events for transport professionals on topics such as Portsmouth’s introduction of a 20 mph speed limit. As a cyclist and father, Rory is a strong supporter of slower speed limits in cities, because road danger caused by fast moving traffic is one of the main barriers to the take up of cycling, and the biggest concern for protecting the safety of children, whether walking, cycling or playing on our streets.
* Speed limit to be cut to 20 mph in government bid to reduce number of road deaths – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1171706/Speed-limit-cut-20mph-government-bid-reduce-number-road-deaths.html
* 20mph speed limit on residential roads in Portsmouth – http://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/living/8403.html
* Related World Streets articles: http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/search/label/slower
From the rough and tumble world of US transportation politics, Elana Schor of DC.STREETSBLOG.org takes an independent look at the Moving Cooler report, and tries to help those of us who do not necessarily understand DC-speak what it means for the real world.
Elana Schor, Washington DC, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Anyone who kept tabs on the House’s climate change bill last month recalls much acrimonious ado about the plan’s impact on average American pocketbooks. The GOP tossed out cost estimates that turned out to  be manipulated, while nonpartisan projections showed the bill actually saving  money for low-income families.
But the unfortunate truth  about the House climate bill is how little incentive it provides for reducing the carbon footprint of the nation’s transportation sector, which accounts for about 30 percent of total U.S. emissions.
So how much would it cost to seriously tackle transportation emissions, through transit expansion, land use, and strategies to encourage less driving? A new report  released this morning by a coalition of government agencies and environmental groups offers a groundbreaking answer to that question.
The Moving Cooler report, as it’s known, divided an array of emissions-reduction tactics into bundles, reflecting the likelihood that several of them will be instituted at once as part of a larger climate effort.
Pictured above is the chart that depicts the “long term/maximum results” bundle — in plain English, a package deal of congestion pricing, high-speed rail, expanded transit and inter-city passenger rail, car-sharing, more HOV lanes, and increased highway capacity to clear bottlenecks.
The estimated savings from those proposals begin to outweigh the costs of implementation around 2016, according to the report, which was co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.
But for other bundles of tactics, the savings from reducing emissions are more immediate; for others, they are more far-off. What about a package focusing on improving the efficiency of transportation systems, with highway expansion, speed limit reductions, and freight capacity boosts, but less attention to transit and rail?
That bundle would begin to save money by around 2022, the report found, with total savings reaching a peak of $80 billion per year in present-day dollars. Adding transit and rail to the mix nearly doubles the estimated savings, as the chart depicted above shows.
Another bundle of tactics focused on those that can be implemented right away at a low cost, though some of them also face considerable political opposition: congestion pricing, urban parking restrictions, transit fare reductions, and eco-driving. That package saves money almost immediately, the report’s authors found.
Implementing the report’s full array of solutions would result in estimated emissions reductions of as much as 24 percent every year. If that could be achieved, by 2050 the transportation sector would have provided one-fourth of the total greenhouse gas cuts required under the House climate bill. Of course, that’s a tremendous “if.”
The process starts, as one panelist involved in the report noted today, by recognizing that transportation has a major role to play in the climate bill and making it a prominent part of the discussion — more prominent, even, than the debate over  how long to wait before re-writing federal transportation policy.
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Article reprinted with permission from Streetsblog Capitol Hill: http://dc.streetsblog.org
URLs in this post:
 Moving Cooler: http://movingcooler.info/
Think that the idea of a “shared car” is still a marginal phenomenon not ready for prime time and appealing to only a few ragged Greens here and there? Check out this listing to see where you can pick up a shared car this morning and drive it off to wherever it is you need to go in more than one thousand cities worldwide. Not so ragged, eh?
The listing that follows offers the latest cut of one that we have been compiling and continuously updating for some years in answer to the following simple question: “I woke up in the morning in XXX, and can I carshare here”? The list as it stands is pretty solid, but despite our great care we are aware that there are still places out there which we have yet to identify. But it’s as good a start as you are likely to find anywhere.
So, you want to know where you can carshare this morning? Let’s have a look at the one thousand cities where you can do just that this morning.
141. Capelle aan den ijssel
170. Dancing Rabbit
174. De bilt
225. Elst (utr.)
353. High Wycombe
459. Le Locle
605. Nelson _(BC)
626. Nieuwerkerk ijssel
659. Oosterhout gld
736. Rijswijk zh
786. Santpoort noord
787. Sao Paulo
957. Wijk bij duurstede
Oh dear. That’s not quite one thousand, is it? Well, stay tuned. We are today putting this (2008) list before our 459 World Carshare colleagues, and I am sure that they will help us add to these numbers in no time flat. But that’s nt really the point.
What we would really like you to do is to take a few minutes to check out if and how you can carshare in your community. Nothing there yet? Well let’s work on it together. Write an email about that and address it to World Carshare at WorldCarShare@yahoogroups.com and you just may receive some useful counsel on what to do about it. (See map for incoming traffic on World Carshare this morning.)
In reviewing this long list prior to publication yesterday, Conrad Wagner of Mobility Systems in Switzerland and a long time carshare hand and an active international consultant in the field, made the point that our list as it stands is very curious to the extent that it includes both mega capitals like New York, Tokyo, London and Paris, and at the same time a host of very small communities. That’s correct and in a future article we will dig into our records and organize by country at least.
But this brings up an important observation. More than half of these “cities” are pretty small places in the Netherlands and Switzerland, some with only a couple of hundred inhabitants. Which makes a very interesting point that seems often to escape even the carshare specialists. And that is that carsharing can work in a community of any size. And that’s why we call it . . .
— Carsharing – it is really carsharings since there are a wide range of ways of going about it – is part of a much broader approach to resolving the problems of climate and sustainable transport in cities and communities around the world. What are the rest? Well, you probably know a number of them but stay tuned. World Streets will not deceive.
The following open question on the present status of “road hierarchy” uses and standards for planning just in from Stephen Marshall of the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL – and right up the middle of the street (as it were) of our concerns here. Full contact information follows. You are invited to post your responses directly to him, but it would be good for all here if you could also register it just below as a Comment to this posting. We hope to report on this in due course as the results come in.
Following Manual for Streets and other local streets-oriented design guidance, where does this leave road hierarchy?
By road hierarchy I mean the conventional set of road types such as Primary Distributor, District Distributor, Local Distributor, Access Road.
I am asking this list because it can be difficult to track how this is actually used, through published documents, since a document may not mention hierarchy explicitly, but it may still be applied in some way. Or, even if mentioned in a document, it is not always clear how practitioners actually use it, when designing a road network.
I am interested in hearing of any cases where:
(i) Road hierarchy is still used – even if not expressed explicitly in documents – if so, how is it applied?
(ii) Road hierarchy has ‘evolved’ where there may be new road types added over and above the basic set – if so, what are they?
(iii) There is more than one set of guidance coexisting (e.g.
conventional engineering guidance + urban design guidance) – if so, is the relationship between the two clear and consistent, and how are they actually applied in practice?
(iv) Urban design style street types are used, but are expected (implicitly or explicitly) to correspond to levels in the conventional hierarchy (e.g. a Boulevard may be equate with a District Distributor; a Mews may be an Access Road) – if so, how does this work?
(v) Road hierarchy is applied to the “higher levels” (e.g. trunk roads, county roads) while the lower level use a range of labels (e.g. access street, high street, etc.) – if so, how is the high/low level split decided?
(vi) Road hierarchy is no longer used – if so, what if anything has replaced it?
I would be interested in hearing of any examples of these instances, and how they work, especially in the UK (e.g. local authority practice), but also non-UK examples where the equivalent of road hierarchy applies.
I will let the list know of any interesting results coming out of this. This is part of an investigation into better integration / articulation of road / street hierarchy / layout principles. This research is part of the EPSRC funded project SOLUTIONS (Sustainability Of Land Use and Transport in Outer NEighbourhoodS).
Stephen Marshall, Senior Lecturer, ucftsma@UCL.AC.UK
Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB,
Tel +44 20 7679 4884, Fax +44 20 7679 7502
Change way we finance infrastructure based on efficiency model:
Change the way we finance infrastructure based on the efficiency model that CA has applied to energy- By tier pricing energy after a sustainable limit, California was able to reduce the demand and not build additional supply or extend the grid. Demand is managed with price signals. New distributed generation by private producers have also reduced demand. Much more efficiency is available in the system.
We should use the same model for all infrastructure including transport from roads to rail to ports. The goal would be to reduce green house gases and allow economic activity to adjust to new transportation costs. Allow a sustainable limit- buses and 3 plus occupant cars are the lowest cost tier.
After that everyone pays more, with the SOV being the highest. On trains charge higher prices during the commute period. Ships pay more based on dock time. Use the revenue, it must be substantial, for self-sufficient transport modes enhancement and low income bus service on a sustainable hierarchy- walking enhancements get the most money followed by bicycling, etc.
Pricing is adjusted to make demand meet GHG goals.