Friday, May 15, 2009

Sustainable Transport that Works: Lessons from Germany

Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice
Volume 15, Number 1. April 2009

Editorial - John Whitelegg:

We live in interesting times. Almost all the largest world economies are assembling packages of financial support for the car industry and financial incentives to persuade citizens to throw away an older car and buy a new one. The recession and the rise in unemployment is a personal disaster for many and the pressure to “rescue” industries is intense. Sadly global thinking and decision taking on this matter is way out of line with evidence and with the need to identify opportunities out of the mess rather than continue on the same lines that created the mess.

Investing in the car industry is wrong. We need large scale investment in things that create real jobs in real communities and have a huge impact on the big things that we are all trying o address including peak oil, climate change and poverty eradication. Investing in renewable energy anywhere in the world is a “no brainer”. It will create lots of jobs in every community. Designing, equipping and retro-fitting every building with whatever is needed to reduce energy use by 50% is also a front-runner for climate and job creation success.

Investing in high quality streets for walking and cycling and public transport will do the same but throwing cash at an early 20th century industry based on moving objects that weight about 75 kgs in a metal container weighing about 1 tonne is not very intelligent. We can restructure cities, mobility and accessibility and in one highly co-ordinated policy deal with road safety, health, obesity, climate change and peak oil but it looks like the answer is, as usual, “no”.

In this issue of WTPP we introduce a new comment section. Comments are invited for future issues and should be lively, topical and relevant and will be given careful consideration. In this issue Kurt Lesser talks about the urge to rescue the car industry and Glenn Lowcock discusses speed limits and oil dependency.

Our main article (Buehler and Pucher) returns to a theme we often emphasise in this journal. They talk about sustainable transport in Germany especially Freiburg and demonstrate that carefully designed and integrated policies can create an exceptionally high quality of life with high levels of cycling and wide community and fiscal benefits. This should be required reading for every council officer in the UK and North America. We then have an article by Bjorn Haake who takes issue with an earlier Pucher and Buehler article on cycling and promotes education rather than infrastructure change. This is an important debate and even though we disagree with Haake we are delighted to facilitate the discussion. Pucher and Buehler then respond to Haake’s arguments and readers are invited to come to their own conclusions and let us know if they want to submit a comment or another contribution to develop the debate further.

John Whitelegg
Editor, The Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice
Eco-Logica Ltd. ISSN – 1352-7614

Volume 15, Number 1 Contents

Editorial - John Whitelegg

No Stopping the Gravy Train of Car Support?
- Kurt Lesser

Moving toward a non oil dependant society with a proposed road speed limit of 30mph - Glenn Lowcock

Sustainable Transport that Works: Lessons from Germany - Ralph Buehler, John Pucher

The Importance of Bicyclist Education - Bjorn Haake

Cycling for a Few or for Everyone: The Importance of Social Justice
- John Pucher, Ralph Buehler

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