Monday, May 11, 2009

Support - via Internet and direct payment

Internet and bank transfers

As we tested the payments procedures prior to reaching out to our new mobility colleagues worldwide, two of our volunteers indicated that they found the procedures for making payment by credit card somewhat confusing. My counsel to them, which I repeat here, is. . .

1. The first step is to stay on the left half of the payment form and consistently ignore all of the right column references to PayPal.

2. Once you have identified the amount of your donation, and then clicked the "Update Totals" link, the next step is to proceed to the bottom left where just above the small credit card facsimiles you will see the "Continue" link.

3. If you click, bringing you to the "Pay With Credit Card" page which you treat in a standard Internet manner. At that point on the succeeding frames all you have to do is Verify the billing information and the fact you wish to make a contribution. That is it.

And if for any reason that should not work, another option is to make a direct bank payment. Here are our billing details (USA for dollars, Europe for Euros) in the event that is the option you prefer:

Account Holder: Association EcoPlan International
Account no. 00010465401
Crédit Industriel et Commercial de Paris
Succursale BR (Montparnasse)
202 Blvd. Raspail / 75014 Paris, France
IBAN : FR763006610621000146540105

United States:
Payable to: New Mobility Partnerships, Inc.
Account number 441502185465
JPMorgan Chase Bank
214 Broadway,
New York, NY 10038 USA
Routing number: 021000021

Or if you prefer to send a check direct our mailing address is:

Association EcoPlan International
8/10, rue Joseph Bara
F75006 Paris, France

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Dialogue: Transferability of International Experience

From Michael Yeates, Eyes on the Street in Brisbane, Australia. In response to earlier questoins by Steve Melia of the University of the West of England and Stephen Marshall of the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
Interesting points to raise at present as several "leading" nations (self-appointed e.g. USA, UK, Australia) embark on massive spending to maintain jobs i.e. maintain "growth" and consumption etc, on what looks very much more-of-the-same but no doubt reflects a slight change in priorities.

Interesting in the Australian context as the world's worst per capita with indicators such as solar power and heating, coal powered generation, car dependency, etc., especially on a continent untested in terms of its long term carrying capacity under current and extrapolated resource use rates ... based on little over 200 years of use but with about half not measured, and the last half, barely able to be assessed.

The ongoing trend to convert Australia (and maybe parts of South America and Africa) into an English landscape of trees and grasslands is part of the problem i.e. of colonisation.

I use that as an example where what we are doing and have been doing is right in that it reflects what we have been doing it for so long ...!

But we then change that a bit ... but not too much ...!

Housing and planning are similar ... based on English and more recently USA traditions ... with almost no respect paid to different climatic and other factors ... some directly related, others less so.

I guess one example of this is the permitting of housing and in some cases villages and towns in European type forests ... with the tragic results obvious on a regular pattern of cycles in Australia, but also in the west of the USA. These fire events don't or very rarely occur in the climates where people do live in forests ... indeed in most of those places, they have lived there for more than a few hundred years.

Transport and related impacts are quite similar and I certainly agree with the proposition that adopts what might be described as a defensive strategy to change. The change process relies on exposing dominant power structures and exposing their weaknesses (i.e. it is oppositional) even when some of the points are what might be described as obvious.

One example is which side of the road to drive on ... and why there is no analysis of the consequences. Another is why cycling is treated as if it is so different in so many places ... especially when reduced to its basic performance needs for space and topography. Ideas such as cycling challenge the dominant power structures ... i.e. those that insist as in Australia that an urban speed limit of 60 or 50km/h is so safe no reduction is required. Then try inserting cycling "on the road" and outcome all those often borrowed reasons for that not being acceptable ... in effect a defence of car dependency.

Try making a city "barrier free" or "accessible for all" to see how poorly those people with any kind of disability are treated, public transport and cycling, even walking and footpaths, being useful places of power to review.

In essence it's the old idea of the gap between "rhetoric" and "reality" ... what is said and what is done.

Today our national budget is announced and in the depressed economic circumstances, it will be a line-in-the-sand time to see if many of the challenges are going to be addressed by a move to taking the substantial steps needed ... what those steps are is the challenge and what is announced tonight will be a strong historical point in time.

Given the bang-for-the-buck preference and the short versus long term outcome problem, the budget will probably have initial funding for a number of exciting new transport projects but will have the construction costs for major road projects which are "spade ready" and can be rolled out using the rhetoric of reducing air pollution and congestion ...

After all, who really wants to not use their car in urban areas designed for cars, not people or for walking, cycling or public transport?

Maybe next time the required projects will be "spade ready" ...

Comment made knowing the risk of (i) over-simplification and (ii) lack of accepted forms of research to underpin the views expressed. The latter is part of the problem in that the dominant power structures decide what forms of research are acceptable and what are not ... and case studies, personal experience, informed observation and/or audit techniques, even "the wisdom of the elders", etc tend to be rejected at least summarily ... so it might pay to persist a while longer.

The following is from the work of a philosopher ... it is also relevant and indicates we may still be in the first stage ...

All truth passes through three stages .... First it is ridiculed (or we might say ignored or marginalised) ... Second it is violently opposed (we might refer to use of the violence of power and of speech and repression and forms of bullying) Third it is accepted as self-evident (we might say based on sufficient evidence i.e. critical mass to make the obvious obvious) ...

Many seemingly radical changes follow that pattern ... it's just that where the power is political, by Stage 3, a massive PR effort will have quite dramatically changed what went before ... and that too is part of the problem ... unless the previous history is able to accurately i.e. factually documented.

Thus access to documentation such as is mentioned in the following is VITAL ... if only to assess against current decisions some 6 years later.

I guess too given the supposed wonders of the www world and the benefits of information transfer, one has to ask why it is so hard to access such info ... ;-)

Michael Yeates
Brisbane Australia

From: Of Stephen Marshall
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 11:14 AM
Subject: Re: [UTSG] Transferability of International Experience

Dear Steve

The EU project TRANSPLUS (Transport Planning Land Use and Sustainability) looked into the issue of transferability of transport/planning policies a few years back (2003).

The deliverable report(s) on "Barriers, Solutions and Transferability" may be hard to locate online; I can forward to anyone interested.

Dr Stephen Marshall, Senior Lecturer, 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

New journal: Urban Design and Planning
New book: Cities Design & Evolution (Routledge, 2009)


At 09:38 08/05/2009, Steve Melia wrote:

To what extent, and under what circumstances, can experience observed in one country or culture be transferred to another?

A lot of transport (and other built environment) research tends to "look across the fence" usually for better practice to be emulated, sometimes for worse practice to be avoided. But how do we know whether something which works in one country, will work in the same way somewhere else?

Most researchers (and others) who take this approach either:

a) assume that something will work in the same way, or:

b) argue that it won't work (or will work differently) because of some contextual differences

In both cases, the writers seem to make up their own criteria for arguing either a) or b). I have never come across any general theory, or even rule-of- thumb criteria for assessing how experience might transfer across countries or cultures.

Has anyone come across anything relevant to this?

Steve Melia
University of the West of England

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Bad News Dept. - A Bad Public Bike Project

(Don't let this happen to you)

There are lots of ways to get your city bicycle project wrong, but here is one path that is guaranteed to fail. Have a look. It doesn't have to be like this.

The "Free Lunch" public bicycle project

Here's how it works:

1. An ambitious local political figure decides s/he wants to get greater glory and votes, do something vastly popular, something very fast, and get it all for free. And all that with an election in view.

2. So s/he whips up interest for a public bike project in the city and goes to any of the players out there (suppliers) to find anyone who will deliver the profiled service for a low price (or, better yet, free).

3. As part of the "free lunch" project, s/he manages to convince one of the advertising-based suppliers or some other group who are ready to put in a system against some sort of swap agreement (though increasingly against their own better judgment, since they have seen this one before and find no great satisfaction in being identified with a crushing failure).

4. They agree to do it - since s/he give them everything they are asking for. (Since it's free. Right?)

5. The project gets ordered, planned and built.

6. But someone forgets to do due diligence to make 100% sure that the demanding infrastructure specifications that are critical to system success are going to be met. (If you can’t cycle safely in your city there is no room for a public bike project. Come back when you have that part of your house in order. Better yet, start today!)

7. The detailed checklists of key points and pivots has not been scrutinized with the needed full expert attention and knowledge of international experience and lessons learned (at time painfully).

8. There is a gala opening day, everyone gets excited, the local media is there, the ribbons are cut and bingo! The system is up and working. Hurrah!

9. But it does not take long for reality to set in.

10. The wonderful new service does not offer the necessary high-grain area-wide coverage, stations and collection points are poorly placed, so the whole thing is vastly underutilized. Instead of 8-12 riders, they are getting a small fraction of that. Oops!

11. And soon the accidents start to roll in.

12. The bike redistribution system is not working properly (no bikes in station, no parking slots available), so many potential users after a certain number of frustrating episodes simply stop relying on it for daily use.

13. Maintenance was vastly under budgeted and is neglected.

14. "Maintenance is all." (Everybody knows that but somehow it's not being delivered in the free lunch project.)

15. The anticipated income from subscriptions is not coming in. (And we know who is going to foot that bill when it comes due.)

16. Theft, vandalism, accidents, inadequate enforcement,

17. The project slowly grinds down and finally to a halt, with only vestiges maintained.

18. Happy ending: The local hero who started it all has been elected to another (distant) office and is not around to take the blame.

19. And so it goes.

This is a true story by the way. It really happened. And it's not the only one.
But there are plenty of other ways to mess up as well. These projects may look simple but that's just not the case. It's like walking a tight rope: there are a lot of steps that you could take but only one of them is the right one.

PS. How do you make sure this does not happen in your city? Stay tuned.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Bikes as social technologies: Ascobike Brazil

Bikes are basically social technologies. When you ride you are very aware of the people around you, whether on bikes, motor vehicles or travelling by foot. You are not cut off from people and the street as you are when it comes to motorized transport. Part of it is not only that you are basically "nude" in terms of protection, but also that since you are travelling more slowly there is time for eye contact and even speaking with each other. Nice!

We also tend to have much closer relationships with our bikes, since they are so light and often need adjustments which we do ourselves rather than taking them into a shop on an appointment. Of, we may end up helping a neighbor or even a stranger at times. That's the way that bikes work. A social experience.

Have a look at this short video from our friends at Streetfilms, which will take you to Brazil and show you how one very big social bike project is working. And interestingly enough it pays for itself.

Innovative bike support project in Brazil

ASCOBIKE isn't your average bicycle parking station. It is located an hour out of São Paulo on the grounds of the commuter rail station in a city with zero bicycle infrastructure. And yet, ASCOBIKE houses 1700 bikes daily, and offers a series of social, legal and bicycle education services. Watch this video and see how unique ASCOBIKE really is.
* Click here to view the film
* Click here for the ASCOBIKE PowerPoint presentation.

For more information on this project:
55 11 4541 8743 / 3439 1354
Adilson Alcantara
55 11 8510 4289

ITDP no Brasil
Jonas Hagen
55 21 9483 7462

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Ruas do Mundo? Read Streets in Portuguese today

What? Getting tired of reading all this stuff in English every day? Want to travel the world in your mind? So why don't you take a break from the old anglo world and have a look at how World Streets looks in Portuguese. Dance baby dance.

Click here to read Streets in Portuguese today

What? Prefer to try another language? No problem. Here are more choices you can jump to from here with a single click:

* French –
* German–
* Italian –
* English –
* Spanish–
Want more? Check out the language link on the left menu, which will give you a chance to read on in Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Russian. Or Danish, Dutch, Hebrew, Korean, Swedish too. World Streets you know.

Still not enough. Well, go to Google Translate or Bablefish and they will help you out.

Language is not quite the barrier it once was. But we still have the barriers in our minds. Ingest one quick translate copy World Streets with your morning coffee and some of those barriers will disappear too.

World Streets. Understandable in any language.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Brainfood: Mad Car Owner Speaks Out

(And the New Mobility Agenda listens)

Like it or not in most of our cities on this beleaguered planet, there are growing numbers of people who are driving around in cars. And as much as in our eco-heart of hearts we may want to get most of these cars out of the traffic stream -- which indeed is necessary - the simple reality is that this is not going to happen overnight.

Thus, in the core of the New Mobility Agenda, there is a key principle which states that if we are to succeed in this much needed transformation of our cites, we are going to have to figure out ways to help drivers deal with the new circumstances of traffic in cities, while at the same time reducing their number strategically and steadily. And since sometimes it does not hurt to start with a smile, let's invite you to have a look at this interview that never happened with a Mad Car Owner. (That's him right there. You can see that he's not all that happy)

Driver’s Lament:
Tired of sitting in your car in traffic that doesn’t move?
Feel like you are paying too much for too little?
Panicked at that huge price rise at the pump?
Exhausted in circling the block for that parking place?
Feeling fat and wobbly?
Tired of being pushed around?
Well, speak out, oh Driver!

Interview: Mad Car Owner Speaks Out

Mad Car Owner (MCO): Eric, I'm so mad I could spit.

Eric Britton of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda (EB): Why's that friend?

MCO: I'm so mad I could spit -- and it's all because of you.

EB: Oh oh! Me?

MCO : Well maybe not just you personally, but you and all those other wise guys who have made up this New Mobility Agenda thing and are now putting it into application in cities around the world. It scares me Eric. It hurts. Don't you understand? Life is already hard for us car drivers. And getting tougher every day. All you and all those righteous friends of yours are doing is making it even more difficult. It's just not fair

EB: Oh dear. That is by no means our intention. Okay, so what do you suggest we do?

MCO: Well Eric why don't you start thinking for change about what you can do for all of those of us honest folks like me and my good lady who have cars and who, to be perfectly fair, don't really have a choice. S ure, I think it's great that you are working to improve transportation for poor people, kids, the elderly, people with handicaps, cyclists, and all of those who want to or are able to get around without cars. But hey! there are a lot of us drivers out here and we think it's high time you did something for us too.

EB: Fair enough MCO. Let's give it a try. Here is our proposal for you: “New driving for new mobility: Handy hints for cars, from cradle to grave.” You'll see, we think you have some interesting choices in this new transportation environment. and you will make them because you want to -- not because someone forces you to do it. After all, the Wall came down and one would hope authoritarian government with it.

MCO: That's right. And don't forget Eric, we vote.

The New Context for “NewDrive

Drivers are our customers too: So let’s help them out

Yes, yes. We are listening to every word you say.

For starters, we have to understand that a good part of the new and very tough transportation context that we are faced with is being driven by forces which are beyond anyone’s control, external to transportation policy: including of course the ongoing energy crisis and the enormous overload that our present mobility patterns are making on the environment and the planet. But public policy -- that third cheer when we say “two cheers for the market, not three” -- has an important role to play in this. Let’s take a look.

Twenty-first century transport policy in those cities that are taking the lead -- the New Mobility Agenda --builds on three strategic pillars, which between them condition pretty much all the rest: There is a very big difference with past policies in the sector, including the no-policy policies which have had a very big role in getting us into the present mess.

Step (1) Expand supply: Work to provide the city with first class new mobility services (i.e., more, better, faster, cheaper than the old mobility options) and a greatly expanded palette of new mobility choices.

Step (2) Manage demand: Reduce substantially, strategically and discretely the amount of road and parking space available to low occupancy vehicles (namely cars and above all ca motor vehicles (namely cars and above all cars with only a single person in them).

Step (3) Full cost pricing: Cars and trucks to pay full costs, especially in space-constrained, environmentally sensitive areas (cities).

This is not all bad news. To the contrary, with the hugely powerful technologies and organizational skills at our disposal today, there is no reason why, in cities at least ,we should not be able to offer new mobility options which compete favorably or even better than driving your own car there (old mobility style).

But what about all those good people, you and all those voting citizens who today are driving their own cars and thoroughly locked into the old mobility (all-car) syndrome? And even it is costing them a bundle, even if the huge increase in gas prices has them shaking, and even if they are losing huge amounts of time in traffic still would prefer to keep on rolling in their cars. The devil they know, etc. etc.

No problem. Let’s see if we can work that into our formula as well. Which brings us to NewDriving, the car owner/operators best friend in 21st century cities.

NewDrive” (The till-now missing link in the New Mobility Bouquet)

In many places there are huge numbers of citizens who are locked into their cars in a no-choice situation. So, if we aspire to provide wise public policy counsel, can we afford just to ignore these honest people, or, worse yet, force them into our cookie-cutter for change? No, of course not. We need consider them – and by the way that’s you and me when we are behind the wheel for instance, both from a human and strategic behavior.

So we ask ourselves: is there some way to roll all these much needed measures, reforms and actions into a single coherent package, which is not only good for the environment and for our cities and good for all those who live and work there? But we need something that has a positive ring to it so that people will welcome it as a great thing to do. Rather than scrape, gripe, grumble, and at the end of the day resist (and maybe successfully at that). Which is almost always the case given the prevalent policy mindset du jour.

The central idea behind NewDrive, as the till-now missing soldier of our strategy, is to treat car owner/drivers, not as adversaries, but as our customers. We want to bring all these good car-captive citizens into that world of new mobility with a smile. So, how can we best serve our good customers? That is the question.

The idea is that as a NewDriver, you will have a better, healthier, more comfortable and more economic life style than before. (And oh yes, you are also cool and have more friends!)

Behind all this new mode of behavior is the fact that our cities are changing because they must, in part before the increasingly urgent climate, energy and resource challenges, -- but also for many other immediate local reasons. But now, you are able to use your car AND be a good citizen and neighbor at the same time.

To achieve this leap, as a new NewDriver you now have at your disposal a rich array of tools, technologies, partners and organizational devices which permit you to be palpably better off than you were under the old mobility arrangements which our cities are increasingly leaving behind it. You are, for sure, a car owner/driver, but as a NewDriver you are not going to spend less time stuck in traffic, you are not spending a bundle, and what is more, in addition to your own much loved car, now a lot more effective than it was in the old days, you also have access to a whole range of the new and improved mobility options which you can use as and when you wish to. (“Look Ma, no compulsion!”)

Now while this single, simple, understandable, positive proposal encompasses goals usually set out in “negative” terms, i.e., traffic reduction, less congestion, lower speeds, fewer places to park, less energy consumed, greenhouse gas reductions, resource savings, and the long list goes on – we can, I am confident, achieve these important objectives, but this time with NewDriving putting the whole thing in a positive frame for an important part of our voting and vocal public.

Also, it is positive and at the same time can be shown to lead to numerous other advantages, including offering improved mobility options and services to many people who simply would not have them if you had not put “newdriving’ into practice in your city.

NewDrive strategies for cities – Getting started

To make it work it has to be a package and different cities will handle it indifferent ways. It will in each case bring together a dynamic set of integrated, synergistic policies, measures and technologies -- and while this is not the place for us to roll out the full red carpet, here in shorthand is a first think list of some of the good things that you might want to consider bringing into your own program:

A. Information/Communications programs launched by city:

1. Match-your-car: I f you are going to be using your car regularly in the city be sure that your choice of vehicle size, energy efficiency, emissions, noise, visibility (eye to eye contact with pedestrians and cyclists is important), and top speeds matches the new driving environment.

2. Eco-driving: This is well charted terrain as a quick Google visit will make clear.

3. Know your costs: We live in times in which most of us have to be very careful about how we spend our money. The city can develop a series of self-audit procedures, and support them with outreach programs.

4. Mixed-mode driver training: Driver training programs for new high density, mixed-mode, variable speed travel patterns to reduce accidents
Now what the above have in common is that they are all strictly information and education program, and involve no changes in law, coercion, or any other constraints on car owners and drivers. And yet, between them, they will already help the city start to rationalize car use, with all the advantages tat this brings with it.

B. Technical initiatives, measures, programs:

Here you have a first sample of initiatives that can be launched by the city, each of which can do its part to create a more positive car ownership and use environment.
1. Carsharing: A car when you need it, but someone else’s problem the rest of the time. There are more than one thousand cities in the world in which you can carshare this morning. There is no reason why such services cannot be greatly expanded in your city. They will mainly serve people who live there. (See

2. PBS - Public Bicycle Systems: True automobility for shorter city trips. Serves both residents as a complement to the public transport system, and makes it easier for incoming travelers to switch to public transit and still get around in the city when they need to. (See

3. ZRIP - “Zip Right In Parking”: New parking technologies and packages which permit city drivers to reserve their parking slot by mobile phone or internet before they set off on a trip, so that they can on arrival zip straight into their reserved slot without driving all over the place to find one;.

4. HOV parking: Proportional and significant parking fee reductions and increased availability to all those operating their car with three or more passengers aboard.

5. +3 HOV access: Privileged access to HOV lanes and conveniences, if you can figure out how to get more than three people in the car; (Supported by the following)

6. Ride-sharing: This is how you get those people into your car (and their car off the road), helping to share your costs and gaining you in the process that privileged access to the scarce road resources. It’s been around for a long time but things are changing fast.

7. Digital hitchhiking: This twenty-first century fillip for ride-sharing (car and van pools) keys on the dynamic use of mobile phones as the central organizing device. But it’s going to go way further than that and will tie in carsharing, public transport, taxis, etc. (tune in to )

8. Shed a car” programs: Vehicle Buy Back incentive programs and packages, together with savings and good deals via transit incentive schemes.
Getting time on your side

Given the extremely stringent time issues, the city’s New Mobility Agenda should be putting a lot of stress on measures which offer big and early pay-offs. And while the main target is certainly anything that will lead to big visible paybacks in less than two years - a target that is in fact be obtainable by at least some of the measures that are getting attention here - the fact is that a couple of years of operational experience will invariably be needed to fine tune, debug and start to get the most out of your new mobility measure

And when it comes to the car ownership and use changes in particular, it will be critical to get time on your side there. There is only so much you can do in the very short run, but stretch your program out to four or five years, and new horizons and possibilities open up. Thus, In addition, within this more extended frame you are going to have time to do things such as . . .
· At the very least to replace your present vehicle with something more appropriate for responsible 21st century city travel.

· Alternatively and better yet If possible where you live and work) shed your car altogether as new affordable mobility alternatives start to come on line in your community (affordable carsharing among them of course)

· To seek a better, more environmentally and economically coherent place to live and work

· And if you are an industrial or service group, enough time to design and bring on line a new range of products and services.
And finally if you are a mayor or elected official, this gives you time to achieve your announced objectives within your electoral term. Four years: Put up or shut up. Seems fair. That's why we have elections.


Any major transportation reform program must bring with it a strong positive message – otherwise it is just one more self-righteous well-meaning phrase. And one that in a pluralistic vigorous democracy is doomed to failure.

The ideas you have sketched here are only a sample of the concepts that you can find, prepare and put to work, to create a more positive transportation environment in your city for all. There are many more where they come from.

The people who own and drive cars, and the businesses and interests behind them, are numerous and powerful. If they are not brought into the New Mobility Agenda in a positive way, it is unlikely to work in your city.

- Comments invited, just below

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Introduction: Toward sharing

World Streets is convinced that the future of the sustainable transport will in large part be mediated by new attitudes toward and practices of both ownership and use of both private and public means. Starting in the cities showing the way, we are going to see a lot more sharing in a lot more ways, among them: carsharing, ridesharing, bike sharing, taxi sharing, space sharing, street sharing, intersection sharing, time sharing, and the list can go on. To this end we shall be giving plenty of space in the coming months to information on specific projects, means, and groups dedicated to be part of this solution path. We all have a lot to learn on this score.

The following Policy Briefing Note on "Naked Streets" by the British group Living Streets has been brought to our attention by Amy Aeron-Thomas, Executive Director of RoadPeace.

Naked Streets: Background and Summary

The naked streets concept, also known as “shared space”, is a very promising approach to both pedestrian safety and improving the vitality of an area. Naked street schemes place importance on how drivers make decisions about their behaviour, recognising the importance of how they perceive their surroundings. It’s a significant departure from attempts to control behaviour through interventions like road humps, or engineering pedestrians out of our streetscape through subways or guardrail.

Although the UK has a good road safety record for people in cars, when it comes to pedestrians the picture is less positive. Compared to other European countries our record is poor and, despite progress in recent years, children on foot are particularly vulnerable. The unacceptable number of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured on our streets needs to be taken as a wake up call. Rather than being satisfied by the status quo, we must look for improvements to the way we design and manage our streets. We need to examine ways to encourage and enable more people to make walking their natural choice for short journeys, and to tackle the unacceptable number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured on our streets.

We believe that schemes which use naked streets principles have great potential to make our streets safer and more people-friendly, by changing the behaviour of all road users for the better. However these schemes must be well designed and implemented, and involve thorough consultation with local interest groups as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation of impact to ensure that the scheme brings positive results. Improving safety and ensuring accessibility must be at the heart of schemes.

This policy paper sets out Living Streets’ position on naked streets, acting in our role as the national charity that stands up for pedestrians. We explain the concepts in the glossary in part 2, set out our best practice ideas for implementing naked streets schemes in part 3, and finally set out our recommendations in part 4. As with all issues concerning our streets, we expect to develop policy further in this area as experience is gained and new projects are tested.

Living Streets has been working for the past 80 years to make our streets safer for those on foot, and to make the physical environment support and encourage walking. This paper is based on those same values, embracing new ideas to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets across the UK.

Click here for full report (PDF) -

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Why "Dysfunctional Transportation" is major public health threat

And what we can do about it:

There can be little doubt that the best way of gauging the seriousness of the mounting problems of our present dysfunctional transportation arrangements - and hence the need for fast and effective remedies and adjustments -- is not so much from the usual purely transportation lens, or public works, or energy, nor even that of "environment" or land use - though all these are of course critical components of the challenges we need to resolve. Rather, above all we should be prepared to look at this from a public health perspective. It is only from this vantage that we can begin to appreciate the full range and degrees of severity of the problems that we are, in fact, resolutely refusing to face.

Public health Impacts: Public health broadly defined - as it must be - is heavily impacted by the dysfunctional parts of our transportation arrangements in every city in the world. Here are a rough dozen broad areas in which these impacts are being felt, and which therefore should make it clear why this is a challenge that needs to be addressed immediately as a very high priority for the city and its region.

Let us start here with those that are most commonly associated with the 'public health' rubric, and then go on to list briefly yet others which in fact belong here as well.

1. Traffic Deaths and Injuries: We need to achieve major reductions in traffic deaths and injuries, most of which occur in or because of cars. We can do this if we chose to (and if you need a real world example check out the results of the several striking European examples of the past decade or so which have been sensational and entirely a function of political will and commitment from many levels of society).

2. Air pollution: Clean air must be a priority for the health of our citizens and their children. Driving a car is the most polluting act an average citizen commits. Adverse air quality can kill many organisms including humans. Air pollution can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, throat inflammation, chest pain, and congestion.

3. Other forms of toxicity and pollution: Pollution from the transport sector takes other forms as well which also threaten public health significantly. Among them leakage of fuels and oils in normal operations or road traffic accidents, threats to underground water quality, various residues from vehicles, and others.

4. Traffic noise is a significant and increasingly targeted public health problem too. And while we are at it there are also such intrusions as odors and light pollution, each of which eat away at the health of those who are directly inflicted.

5. Destruction of urban form and quality of life: Roads and traffic are the life blood of a city -- but too much of both threatens the city's livability in many ways.

6. Life Styles: We increasingly need to promote healthier, more active life style. And in the process cut back on obesity for children and adults

7. Time Pollution: This is the first thing we all see and feel. As a result of our dysfunctional transportation arrangements, we are all spending far too much time stuck in traffic. This is taking away from the time we should be spending with our families, with our own personal development, on our neighbors, doing important work. The stress that is related to this significant time-deprivation does little to improve our health or that of our families.

8. Personal economics: We are spending significantly more on our transportation habit as individuals than we need to. All of us, car owners and others, can get around better, faster and more safely -- and for less money than most of us currently are putting out. And this too is a public health problem.

9. Total system costs, including subsidies, hidden and visible: Indeed if we add up the annual cost to society of these, let us call them "transport dysfunctonalities", we have a very very large number indeed in most of our cities, which at the very least should get our fullest attention. Overall we need to find ways to get a lot more bang per buck for the huge amount of money we spend on transport (so that we can free it for more important uses such as education, health, culture and more)

10. Medical resources: Our dysfunctional transport arrangements are present unnecessary pressure on our hospitals and public health programs - crowding them with patients and problems who really should not be there, and taking scarce resources that are much needed for other uses).

11. Passive citizenry: The present transportation paradigm defines the citizens of a city as passive agents, whose choices are largely made by "experts" and others who shape the system. But 21st century democracy requires an active civil society. For this to happen in the realm of mobility, a new paradigm of governance and action is required.

12. Climate modification. .. and finally back to Kyoto II: Everybody needs to do their bit to cut back on global warming. Rather than decreasing emissions by grams each year to get us back to 1990 levels - itself a proposal so timid as to warrant deep soul searching, -- our cities, all of them, are steadily doing worse every year when you look at the bottom line (e.g. CO2 emissions resulting from increased traffic volumes). Moreover there is no end in sight. If we cannot somehow come up with something that is consequential and will get these basic trends back in line, it will just continue to get worse year after year and the planet, your city and your country and more will all passively go to hell in a handbasket.

Putting this checklist to work for decision and investment purposes

This gives us an interesting checklist to ponder the difference between, say, Policy A and Policy B.

Let's take as "A" a proposal to invest hard-earned taxpayer dollars into an expanded roadway so as to be able to accommodate more private car traffic. And "B", say, as a proposal for a similar amount but this time to improve mobility for a vast majority of citizens through the introduction of a package of strategic car traffic reduction together with an integrated range of improved mobility services, combining traditional public transport but this time with privileged access to reserved portions of the road network, ride sharing, carsharing, new shared taxi and other shared small vehicle services, improved conditions for cyclist and pedestrians. Both for, say, the same amount of money.

Then run down the checklist, calculate the impacts as best possible so that we can to put dollar or other values to the changes brought about by A and B, and see what the bottom line looks like.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Street Smart: Reading World Streets

Not easy to stay on top of what is important to you in an age of info overload, but we are giving this serious thought here at World Streets. Here are a few ideas for you, starting with one-click call ups of off-line summaries of all postings and comments over the month for both March and April. . .

The following PDF files have been prepared to give the reader a quick overview of all the month's postings. For quick follow-up on any given piece we suggest you click to Streets and scroll down to the Archives section for the full month listing in the left menu.

You will see this one-click tool on the left menu. It will permit you to create handy RSS feeds with summaries and direct links in several formats, including Google Reader, Yahoo and Bloglines.

Library and Reading Room:
For the full collection of all postings and messages on World Streets since opening day on 2 March, click here.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Honk! Brains Not Included

Context: New York Times, The Green Issue, April 16, 2009
“Batteries Not Included”

Will electric cars, plug-in electric hybrids, new mobility vehicles, fuels and power sources in general deal with the massive systemic challenges of transport in cities in all their 21st century fullness: climate change, environment, public health, noise, pollution and traffic reduction, energy, petroleum and import dependency, fair mobility, costs to individual s citizens, and to the collectivity, efficient mobility, and quality of life for all?

And if they have a role, what is their relevance in today’s priority time frame – namely the need for large scale impact improvements in the several years directly ahead?

The sad truth is that when it comes to the real bottom line they have no relevance at all. However . . . sexy new product ideas have little difficulty in getting strong media support. They combine what appears to be "pragmatic" – i.e., a product you can see, feel and in this case maybe drive – together with a certain dreamlike sense of a very different future. (It is said by some psychologists that this approach is far more likely to bamboozle men than women. Certainly worth thinking about but we can dig into that another day.)

Here you have an example of high profile coverage by the New York Times of a concept, Shai Agassi’s clean-energy company’s “Better Place” electric car project. Some five thousand words of unfiltered technology optimism that, at the end of the day and given the time horizon to which we above all need to be giving attention, will make very close to ZERO difference to the real bottom lines.

Now I invite you to turn to the New York Times article of 16 April 2009:
Batteries Not Included:

* * *

The trick from a sustainability perspective with almost all of this “sit back and let technology take care of it” approach is that it promises us a pristine future in which we do not have to change ourselves. We change the technology but keep on in our old ways.

Would that this could be so, but it is not possible. To have a different future, a sustainable future, we have to start by changing ourselves. It’s that simple. Fortunately we can, and that is what World Streets is all about.

Lee Schipper* comments:

Here in Silicon Valley there is a lot of interest in battery electric vehicles. Unfortunately there are these little catches that my students at Stanford and Berkeley have picked up:

Each mile of range from an electric-car battery costs $200 to $500. A battery supplying the 40-mile range of the GM Volt is said to cost $20,000. The batteries are valuable and should not be discarded, which makes Agassi’s “Better Place” a good model for keeping tabs on them.

Society will need to tax the electricity to pay for roads. If an electric vehicle goes 5 miles on a kilowatt-hour, then at California’s average fuel tax of 64 cents/gallon and M.P.G. of 21, we need to pay almost 15 cents/kilowatt-hour to make up for lost revenue.

Plug-in hybrids present the best features of gasoline and battery vehicles, but the real oil savings depend on how people drive.

The overall energy and carbon- dioxide savings from any battery vehicle depend on where and when it is charged. Smart utilities will charge less for cheaper nighttime charging and more for daytime charging.

From an energy-efficiency standpoint, electric cars are more valuable because they use fewer overall resources. Why can’t we just move to equivalent, existing gasoline cars that get 50 M.P.G. first, then decide if the jump to electricity is worthwhile? At the cost of electric vehicles, small Fords and Hondas are a bargain.


* Lee Schipper, Senior Research Engineer, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. (You can find Lee by clicking here to the World Streets “Eyes on the Street” Sentinels map.)

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Heads-up: Collaborative international cities project

An interesting international collaborative cities project looking at exchange and interaction in the field of urban transport innovation that you may find it useful to know about.

Organized under the auspices of the European Commission: NICHES+ ("NICHES plus") is a FP7 coordination action aiming to network key actors actively engaged in developing innovative urban transport concepts and to facilitate the coordination of their activities across Europe.

NICHES+ mission: Comprehensive coordination on urban transport innovation

The NICHES+ consortium aims to continue and expand a comprehensive coordination platform for innovative urban transport solutions.

NICHES+ shares the same mission as its forerunner project NICHES: To stimulate a wide debate on innovative urban transport and mobility between relevant stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines across the EU and accession countries, in order to promote the most promising new concepts, initiatives and projects from their current "niche" position to a "mainstream" urban transport policy application.

Expected Results

• In depth analysis and promotion of 12 innovative concepts in four thematic areas with the support of expert working groups (WGs):
-WG1: Innovative concepts to enhance accessibility
-WG2: Efficient planning and use of infrastructure and interchanges
-WG3: Urban traffic management centres
-WG4: Automated space-efficient transport systems

• Effective networking by bringing together for personal exchange at least 500 stakeholders relevant for the uptake of innovative urban transport solutions. Working group meetings, conferences and national events will provide the main platform for networking.

• Establish the success factors and conditions for transferability of the new NICHES+ concepts, and issue concrete recommendations for integration into local policies.

• Preparing for the actual take-up of innovative concepts in European 7 NICHES+ Champion Cities (see map) through the promotion of at least ten on-site visits via a study tour catalogue and other targeted promotion activities. The cities will develop implementation scenarios for innovative transport concepts in co-operation with the NICHES+ partners and external experts.

• Expand the OSMOSE open source website for urban transport innovation as a comprehensive urban mobility innovation portal for local practitioners and decision makers.

• Recommendations for further research, demonstration and technical development within the EU's Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development.

• Develop twelve additional policy notes for local decision makers on the impact and problem solving capacity of the innovative urban transport concepts to meet key mobility challenges, also providing practical guidance on implementing the innovative transport concepts.

Project Duration 2007-2010

Funded under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, DG Research.

Project co-ordinator - POLIS - European Cities and Regions Networking for New Transport Solutions

Technical Coordinator: Rupprecht Consult is technical coordinator of the NICHES+ project and leads Working Group 1 on "Innovative concepts to enhance accessibility".

Organisation : The NICHES+ consortium is made up of 6 partners from 4 countries (Belgium, Germany, Hungary and UK). All the partners are known as experts on innovative urban mobility policies in their countries and at EU level.

The following types of organisations are represented in the consortium:
• City networks: Polis, EUROCITIES
• Private research and consultancy companies: Rupprecht Consult, Transman
• Universities: University of Newcastle, University of Southampton

Project Website

OSMOSE website on innovations in urban transport

Further information: Sebastian Bührmann Tel: +49-221-60 60 55 14

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

To subscribe

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We are well aware that a number of our readers, particularly those working in the poorer developing countries and unfunded local environment and transport groups, cannot easily afford this amount. To you we have three messages of solidarity.

First, no problem! Please continue to come into World Streets and make use of the hard work of all of us who are pitching in here. We need you to carry on with your work and contributions, after all that is what this is all about. And if we can help you in this way, so much the better.

Second, we invite you to keep an eye on what is going on in your city and country, and when appropriate let us know of projects, problems, accomplishments, which will help us all to better understand the full complexity of our shared task. One excellent way to do this, is to sign in to the World Eyes on the Street network, for which full details are available if you click here.

Finally, it would be great if you would send us a simple email message telling us that you are making use of all this work. And perhaps a few suggestions and reactions for us to consider as we strike to do better. Also, if we have a large number of these messages of support, this will help in our search for longer term funding to support this work. After all, we have to be sustainable too. (Click here to add your message of support.)

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Op-Ed: On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

- Bina C. Balakrishnan, Transportation Planning and Engineering, Mumbai *

Mumbai is encouraging car- users to leave their cars behind for the commute to work, through parking initiatives.

Currently over 90% of the parking demand is met by on-street parking, which is either free or very nominally charged. A parking policy has been worked out, where there will be NO free parking and all parking will be charged –the concept of “Universal Pay & Park”. These rates will gradually be raised so as to be reflective of the real estate values of the locality- after all, a car is a personal property that is using public space for a period of time!

All residential parking demand is also met on-street, with resultant loss of carriageway capacity throughout the road network. In order to release this space for community use such as pedestrian movement or movement of traffic, the concept of “Parking Facilities” is being introduced. These will be off- street parking areas (under ground, multi-storied, or on in-frequented side lanes), with add–on features such as basic maintenance / repair facilities, valet drivers, car wash services- all under the charge of a registered contractor who will be fully responsible for the safety of the car. The entire facility can be monitored by CCTV, and connected to the Police network as well as the Internet, so that both the Police as well as owners can ensure that vehicles are not being misused. It thus becomes more attractive to park in these facilities rather than on- street.

Also, given the security concerns today, the parking concessionaire and his staff can be trained as “Neighbourhood Watch”, providing assistance to the locality if required, as well as supplementing the Police in their work, forming the lowest tier in the security set-up.

Additionally, on-street parking on all arterial roads is banned, and off-street parking facilities have been recommended in commercial areas also. The owner makes a call to the facility nearest his destination just as he is approaching, and valet drivers will be dispatched to pick up and drop off the cars.

Multi-storied parking is also being provided near train stations, connecting them through Skywalks to the train platforms, in order to encourage Park- and-Ride trips.

The road width thus released could be reallocated, and used for an exclusive bus lane on arterial roads, or to increase the width of pedestrian pathways, which are almost non- existent in Mumbai.


Mrs. Bina C. Balakrishnan,
Transportation Planning & Engineering
Mumbai, India

* 28 April 2009. Mrs. Balakrishnan is the one hundredth concerned citizen to join the informal World Streets Sentinels program (Eyes on the Street) since its inception on 2 April 2009. Click to for map showing the latest listings. Are you ready to be the 101st?

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Print: Cycling-inclusive Policy Development

The Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) of the GTZ and the Interface for Cycling Expertise (I-Ce) have joined efforts in the development of a training document entitled "Cycling-inclusive Policy Development: A Handbook". Written by 12 experts in different fields of cycling-inclusive development.

This handbook provides detailed information on how to develop cycling-friendly policies and facilities. It can help you, as a planner, engineer, community leader of advocate to enrich your own ideas about the future traffic and transport system where you live and work. The publication is also part of Sustainable Urban Mobility in Asia (SUMA) initiative, of which GTZ and I-Ce are partners.

SUTP users can download the document from here (PDF, 19 Mb.) Unregistered visitors can click here to register (at no cost) and then proceed to download.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bad News Dept: US city cuts climate change programs

Here is one more of myriad Bad News examples of public officials getting it very very wrong. In this case Montgomery County council staff has recommended cutting the county’s CarShare program in half. (Montgomery County is in state of Maryland, situated just north of Washington, D.C.)

Will they ever learn? No, not unless we all help them. Which of course is why we are here. (Comments as always warmly welcome.)
Montgomery weighs cuts for climate change programs
By: Washington DC Examiner Staff Writer, 04/30/09 *

Montgomery County officials want to scale back some of the county’s ambitious efforts to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions in order to help bridge a budget gap of more than $550 million.

The county set a goal last year of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and has instituted a number of programs to help meet that goal. But with the county deep in the red, officials now propose to switch from biodiesel fuel to low-sulfur diesel, reduce the number of cars available for a county carpool pilot program and cut funds to buy equipment for telecommuting workers.

Council staff recommended cutting almost $100,000 that County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed to spend on laptops, BlackBerry devices and network hardware so that 25 county employees can telecommute as part of a program designed to cut commutes and the greenhouse gases that come with them.

Senior legislative analyst Keith Levchenko wrote in a memo to the council that he was “skeptical” of the value of spending so much money on the program, because most employees already have a computer and phone at home and might only telecommute a few times a week.

“It is not clear that this is the best investment of dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Levchenko wrote.

County council staff has also recommended cutting the county’s “CarShare” program in half. The pilot program started in January, with the county making 28 cars available for county employees to share at a cost to the county of $1,100 per car a month.

Through April 14 the program was only used seven times, for a total of 27.25 hours, according to county council staff. Reducing the number of cars available for the program from 28 to 14 would save the county $184,000 a year, staff said.

The county’s motor pool said it has stopped using biodiesel fuel in some of its vechicles to save money, and because there have been quality issues with the fuel, which is a mix of diesel and discarded vegetable oil. County officials said the low-sulfur fuel they now use instead is on average 8 cents a gallon cheaper, and the switch will save the county $250,000 next fiscal year.

* * * *

It’s not easy being green

Environmental programs being recommended for cuts:

• Biodiesel fuel: County vehicles would return to low-sulfur diesel.

• Telecommuting: Council staff recommends cutting $100,000 for equipment that would allow 25 employees to telecommute.

• CarShare program: Staff recommends cutting this new program in half.
- - -

* Click here for World Streets Fair Use policy

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