Seventeen plus 1 reasons why I am prudently optimistic about the Sustainability Transition for 2016-2020

Shortlist of Transformative Realities and Trends

eb-tallinn-statementOne 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 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.  (Note; this is part of a series of Op-Eds that will continue over the month of January 2016.)

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No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!

China pedestrian bridge traffic

stairs to pedestrian bridge

Enjoy your trip

The following is a brilliant and important exchange on a topic that has a rich double meaning that is really worth getting across our idea-resistant noggins (heads, if you will) once and for all. If you believe that the most universal, the most fundamental, certainly the most responsible, even the noblest form of getting round is when we can make our trips safely by foot (or wheelchair if that is what we need to be independently mobile), than you as a responsible politician, administrator, planner or engaged voter, simply would not even for one minute consider engaging in this kind of folly.

So what you have here is an exchange that got started more than five years, and to which Syed Saiful Alam has so well stated in the last posting in this short series, when he stubbornly repeats “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”, “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”.

Let’s take their postings in chrono order.

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Discussion: Gender Mainstreaming in Rural Transport

gender mainstreaming

  • Posted by Priyanthi Fernando, , who is leading this initiative.

Welcome to old and new members of GATNET and to the discussion on Gender Mainstreaming in the Rural Transport. Apologies for the delay in starting, and thank you to all those who signed up early for their patience. We needed to send the message out to IFRTD s and ReCAP s communities of practice the response was very good, and according to Eric Britton, we GATNET comprises 169 members from 46 different countries. An opportunity for sharing a wide range of experiences!

So here is the formal introduction to the discussion with an outline of what form it will take.

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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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From the Archives: To achieve Sustainable Transport, Militate for Full Gender Parity in all Planning, Decision, Investment and Implementation Bodies.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day:
Today, 8 March 2011 is International Women’s Day, the one hundredth anniversary of
this great and necessary idea. So what better occasion for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.

cropped-colombia-bogota-transmilleneo-inside4.jpg

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Encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home

pope francis in crowd

Photo: Massimo Pinca/AP

Pope Francis’s just-promulgated encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home”, is without a doubt the most important single document to be published, initiative  to be taken, since the phrase sustainable development was invented three long and patently unsuccessful decades ago. This extraordinary document of less than one hundred pages aims to inform and to rally the forces of responsible  behavior and responsible governance to the cause and the plight of our planet and to the role of active democracy.  Beautifully written (the English language version at least), clearly presented and cogently argued in clear day to day language.    It is an excellent and inspiring read. However it is not a recipe, it has its shortcomings — it is a challenge, and thus requires that we read it carefully and do our own sorting out of the issues and the counsel it offers. Hardly an effortless process.

One of the more disheartening passages includes his listing of all the promising international agreements that have failed for lack of support from the leaders who signed them.

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Extra-urban Mobility Revolution Coming to your Doorstep

If I live outside of a city — say, in a classic spread suburb, rural area, commuter town or other hard to serve low density area — and if I happen not own a car, or on days when my car is not available, I am going to have an extremely hard time getting to work or wherever it is I need to go this morning.

rural carshare cowIn principle I have a few choices, for example: (a)  Get down on my knees and beg for a ride from family or neighbors. (b)  Try to find (and somehow get to) a bus or local pubic transport (in a period of ever-decreasing public services and budget cuts, so good luck!). (c) Search out a taxi if you can find one, call, wait for it eventually to show up and then pay a hefty amount. (d) For work trips, and if I am lucky, there may be a ride-sharing scheme.  Or, for many less comfortable but still possible, (e) the  hitchhiking option. (f) Or do like an increasing number of my fellow commuters and buy a cheap motorcycle. And perhaps most likely of all (g) be obliged to reschedule or forget the trip. But at the end of the day, and all things considered, I am forced to conclude that the reality of life in suburbia and rural areas today is: no car = no mobility. Harsh!

But stuff changes.We are entering a new and very different age of technology, communications and mobility, and as American writer Josh Stephens reminds us in the following article, things are starting to look up.

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Let’s get disabled kids to school

USA - Access Exchange International

This illustration shows how it should be: Disabled kids in developing countries should be able to get to school using a variety of accessible transport in order to learn alongside other kids. We hope you will help us as we work with others to turn this vision into a reality.

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Let’s get disabled kids in developing countries to school

USA - Access Exchange International

This illustration shows how it should be: Disabled kids in developing countries should be able to get to school using a variety of accessible transport in order to learn alongside other kids. We hope you will help us as we work with others to turn this vision into a reality.

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Op-ed: John Whitelegg on Time Pollution

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 centur

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.

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To fix Sustainable Transport: Ensure Full Gender Parity in all Decision and Investment Fora (QED)

Today is International Women’s Day. And not only that, 2011 marked the one hundredth anniversary of this great and necessary idea. So what better occasion for World Streets to announce publicly, loudly and yet once again our firm belief that the most important single thing that our society, our nations and our cities could do to increase the fairness and the effectiveness of our transportation arrangements would be to make it a matter of the law that all decisions determining how taxpayer money is invested in the sector should be decided by councils that respect full gender parity. We invite you to join us in this challenge and make it one of the major themes of sustainable transport policy worldwide in the year immediately ahead.

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Too old to drive? So now what?

elderly drive statsAt what point in life are we,  you and I, “too old to drive”? When that fatal day comes, what do we do next? This is one of the unhappy surprises of contemporary life, but there is no reason that this need be personally devastating. It is after all foreseeable. In recent years we are starting to see  programs emerging to help people foresee or deal with this painful transition, which for many is almost paralyzing where they live in places in which there are no decent alternatives to car travel. World Streets intends to present a series of working papers and thinkpieces on this topic over the course of 2014. This article by Adrian Davis is the first in this series. Continue reading

Ten Targets for Sustainable Penang: 2013/2014

The goal of this year’s Sustainable Penang Autumn project is to use the dialogues maylasia - street art childrenand other contacts in order to define a series of at least ten “transformative actions” that can be planned and carried out over the fifteen months following this first program. With an eye to then reviewing progress action by action in a second event to take place in Penang in the opening months of 2015. A sort of open progress report and collaborative reflection for next steps.

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Equity, Efficiency and the Invisible Majority

That old transport paradigm, the one we are still living with today, is far too narrow in terms of the range and quality of people targeted and invisible people-cut outservices offered, and in the process fails to serve what is — in fact — the transpiration majority.

The “transportation majority” is not what most people think, transportation planners and policy makers among them.  The transportation majority are all those of us who increasingly are poorly served by the mainline service arrangements that eat up most of our hard-earned taxpayer money and fail to offer them acceptable and efficient choices that mesh with their special needs and circumstances. And each year as our populations age this majority grows in numbers.

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Big House Equity Outreach: Bring in All Local Actors, Views & Implementation Partners

Too often when it comes to new transport initiatives, the practice is to concentrate on laying the base for the project in close working relationships with people and groups who a priori are favorably disposed to your idea, basically your choir. Leaving the potential “trouble makers” aside for another day. Experience shows that’s a big mistake. Instead from the beginning we have to take a . . .

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What is an Equity-Based Transport System ?

little-girlWe understand that in the transport sector this is not a well-known nor much appreciated concept, at least in the positive sense we are trying to develop here.  So we are making every effort to share broadly, to invite questions and to clarify.  In this spirit I was discussing this program the other day with a bright young woman from the Emirates who is on an MBA program here, who smiled at me indulgently as I asked her views and said: ‘Don’t you understand Eric, life is not fair”. That gives us, I would say, a good point of departure.

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Letter from Bangalore: The Derelict Mile

Sujaya Rathi  reports from Bangalore:
india-bangalore-pedestria woman crossingPrivate vehicles in India have seen an unprecedented growth in past two decades and there is no sign of slowing down.  Many initiatives to curb the trend have not been successful.  This article highlights an important aspect that attribute to the above unsustainable phenomenon, which has been ignored: “The Derelict Mile”.
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Op-Ed: Why things are not good for UK citizens — and how to make them better

– By John Whitelegg

We are not doing very well in the UK on things that matter to most people.  We are the 6th richest country in the world and yet we come very near the bottom of most rankings on things like child poverty, inequality, pensioner poverty, excess winter deaths, teenage pregnancy, NEETS, percentage of electricity generated from renewables, levels of cycling and quality of public transport.  None of this is necessary and it is safe to assume that local and central government did not set out to achieve these poor quality outcomes.  So what is going on?

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