Monday, May 18, 2009

Two views of carshare futures in Paris

Summary: The story behind this debate on how best to organize very large new network of electric cars and stations offering “one-way” service; and the other proposing instead to support and extend the existing system of carsharing services, of which there are presently five operators serving the city and developing their operations at steady growth rates.

Some useful references to fill out this story:

* “Common sense on next generation carsharing - Paris, London EV proposals”, World Streets, 19 March 2009 -
* PBS television interview – “From Bikeshare to carshare” -- of Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin, leader of the Greens, with his filmed commentary on the environmental and personal cost implications of the two approaches
* Map of current carshare locations in Paris (at end of this article)

Original French text. Machine translation follows:

Vœu relatif au développement de l’autopartage à Paris
L’autopartage est un dispositif déjà répandu à Paris qui propose un service d’abonnement permettant, généralement à partir de stations implantées dans des parking souterrains, de disposer ponctuellement de véhicules, pour de courtes ou moyennes durées.

Comme le souligne : « l’autopartage devient une réelle alternative à la possession d’une voiture individuelle et fait partie des nouveaux outils pour modifier nos comportements de mobilité. »

Comme l’indique le Plan de Déplacements de Paris, l’autopartage permet de « favoriser le développement des nouveaux usages collectifs de la voiture », ce qui a amené la Ville de Paris à lancer le label « autopartage Paris » en février 2007. Cinq sociétés sont aujourd’hui labellisées par la Ville de Paris : Caisse Commune, Carbox, ConnectbyHertz, Mobizen et Okigo, et représentent un potentiel considérable d’abonnés parisiens et franciliens.

Par ailleurs, le maire de Paris a annoncé la création d’un dispositif de voiture en libre-service en 2010 : Autolib’, présenté comme l’adaptation à la voiture du concept de Vélib’.

Or, depuis l’annonce de la création du syndicat mixte Autolib’, de nombreuses critiques ont souligné la complexité technique et logistique d’un réseau censé mailler l’agglomération avec des véhicules électriques, qui sont loin d’être disponibles à une telle échelle et à cette échéance. De plus, le concept envisagé dit de « one way » engendre des déplacements techniques coûteux et polluants.
Considérant que des doutes sérieux existent sur la viabilité et la faisabilité d’Autolib’,

Considérant qu’en matière de mobilité durable, le nouveau contexte budgétaire des collectivités incite à donner la priorité à un dispositif éprouvé comme l’autopartage, qui permet un usage mutualisé de voitures individuelles, sans générer des déplacements inutiles comme Autolib’

Sur proposition de Denis Baupin et des éluEs du groupe « Les Verts », le conseil de Paris émet le voeu que :
Les moyens techniques, financiers et de communication de la Ville de Paris prévus pour le projet Autolib’ soient réorientés vers le développement de l’autopartage. A cet effet, une mission sera conduite pour étudier la meilleure façon pour la Ville d’appuyer le développement de l’autopartage (implantation de stations sur voirie, campagne de communication grand public...), s’intégrant dans un bouquet de service d’éco-mobilité.

Source :

* * *
On May 12, the following text was submitted by the Green Party for vote to the City Council of Paris. A machine translation is given just below.
Machine translation of above text:

Proposed amendment for development of carsharing in Paris

Promoting autopartage (carsharing) rather than the “Autolib” project . Following this filing and the discussions that followed, the deputy mayor
Denis Baupin was asked to remove this vow. The proposal was maintained (over the objections of the UMP and Center & Independent votes).


Carsharing is already widespread in Paris, presently offering subscription service which, generally from stations located in underground parking facilities, to provide a timely vehicle for short or medium terms.

As the site of the City of Paris puts it, http:// : “Autopartage (carsharing) offers a real alternative to car ownership and is part of the new tools needed to modify our mobility
behavior. “

And as per the text of the Travel Plan de Paris (PDP - Plan de Déplacements de Paris): Autopartage promotes the development of new ways to use cars” which led the City of Paris to launch the “Label Autopartage Paris” in February 2007.

Five companies are now certified by the City of Paris to offer carshare services: Caisse Commune, Carbox, ConnectbyHertz, Mobizen and Okigo, and represent a considerable potential subscribers in both the City of Paris and the surrounding communities.

In addition, the mayor of Paris announced the creation of a new carshare service in 2010: Autolib ', presented by the mayor as the adaptation to the car of the concept of Vélib'.

Since the announcement of the creation of public/private Autolib operation', many critics have highlighted the technical and logistical complexity of a network intended to mesh with the urban electric vehicles, which are far from being available on such a scale and to this end. In addition, the envisaged concept called "one-way carsharing", a concept that leads to high cost services and increased pollution.

Whereas there are serious doubts on the viability and feasibility of Autolib ',

Considering that sustainable mobility, the new budget encourages communities to give priority to a device tested as autopartage, which allows shared use of cars, without generating unnecessary travel as Autolib '

On a proposal by Denis Baupin and elected the group "Les Verts", the Paris council recommends that:

The technical, financial and communication from the City of Paris currently allocated for the Autolib ' project are to be redirected to the development of proven carshare services. For this purpose, a mission will be conducted to study the best way for the City to support the development of autopartage (location of stations on streets, communication campaign ...), general public in an integrated package of eco-mobility services.

Map of carshare locations in Paris

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Europe to appoint European Bicycle Officer

The European Commission announced in a statement during the closing session of the 2009 Velo-city congress in Gent, Belgium, that they intend to appoint a "European Bicycle Officer". This decision was taken as a result of a process of careful process of consultation over the last several years engaging a wide spectrum of groups representing a range of interests, ranging from cycling federations, groups and manufacturers, along with a wide array of cities, environment, sustainable transport and new mobility groups from across Europe.

One of the institutional background challenges that had to be addressed for this decision to be taken had to the more general question concerning what the European Union is able to do in helping tackle urban transport problems, without compromising the famous “subsidiarity” principle. The process of consultation and discussion over the last two years eventually put that into perspective. The Commission eventually concluded that there is a need for cooperation and coordination at European level, on the grounds that local authorities cannot face all these problems on their own.

This first announcement just in from a collation of groups representing the bicycle industry here in Europe is presented with extracts here. Further information and background on this will appear in the Comments section below in the coming days. A good source for more complete information on this is the European Cyclists’ Federation which brings together and represents 56 member organizations in 38 countries

One of the important institutional background challenges that had to be addressed for this decision to be taken had to the more general question concerning what the European Union is able to do in helping tackle urban transport problems, without compromising the famous “subsidiarity” principle. The process of consultation and discussion over the last two years eventually put that into perspective. The Commission eventually concluded that there is a need for cooperation and coordination at European level, on the grounds that local authorities cannot face all these problems on their own.

This first announcement just in from a collation of groups representing the bicycle industry here in Europe. Further information and background on this will appear in the Comments section below in the coming days.

Gent, 16 May 2009 - For many years, ETRA, COLIBI and COLIPED have been asking the European Commission for the appointment of a European Bicycle Officer. It now looks as if the European Commission is finally prepared to grant that request.

In the closing session of the Velo-city congress, Mattia Pelligrini of the cabinet of Vice-President Tajani, competent for transport, announced a "nice surprise". It appears that in the long awaited European action programme for urban transport the Commission will make the appointment of a Bicycle Officer official. He or she will be stationed in DG TREN and will be responsible for the coordination of bicycle policies in the different DGs. The appointment of a Bicycle Officer, an idea originating from COLIBI and COLIPED, was one of the three main demands which ETRA, COLIBI and COLIPED put forward when the Green Paper on Urban Transport was published in 2007. Since then, the 3 associations have lobbied for their demands relentlessly.

The action programme is announced for this year without further details on a concrete date. A number of member states, headed by Germany, are obstructive in the discussion, accusing the European Commission of interfering with national affairs. Nevertheless, during the closing session of Velo-city, a number of mayors called on the European institutions to show more energy in the field of cycling policy. The mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam said: "MEPs and Commission members are still too hesitating to acknowledge the full potential of cycling. And yet, every car kilometre costs Copenhagen 10 eurocents, whereas every cycled kilometre yields 16 eurocents."

However, political courage will be necessary in the short term to change the trend in emissions, as became clear from MEP Michael Cramer's statement: "90% of all car journeys in urban areas are less than 6 km. The increasing emissions from transport are nullifying all efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors."

== end of above press release ==

In an earlier Position Paper, the European industry associations give a number of recommendations to the European Commission. Among these:

1. Appoint a European Bicycle Officer. "By appointing a European Bicycle Officer, the EC would confirm to policy makers on all levels, civil society and the public at large their true believe in the potential of the bicycle as a sustainable, proper and individual means of transport and not just as a possible alternative mode."

2. Produce and introduce reliable and comparable statistics (e.g. on bicycle use and the capacity of bicycle lanes), measurements and surveys (e.g. costs & benefits of bicycle use).

3. Remove barriers and facilitate easier access to financial means for all transport ‘players’ and to fight the current imbalance in the allocation of financial means by introducing effective criteria that serve sustainability and by closely monitoring their application.

4. Set clear objectives. "Taking into account the wide range of benefits resulting from (an increased) bicycle use, while also considering its potential in contributing to the realisation of European policy objectives, the European Commission should define unambiguous goals related to the modal shift towards and thus growth of sustainable modes."

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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

* For your copy of the journal click here -

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Media! From Bikeshare to Carshare

This short film explores some differences of views between experts about an eventual new and very ambitious carsharing project currently being discussed in Paris for application by the city. It combines scenes showing some of the different ways that people getting around in the city these days, with expert commentary, all of which is aimed at a general audience and not just the usual insiders.

In other words, it engages complexity. Now that's a start!

This professional video clip has been prepared bringing together selected extracts from the film stock developed for a full length prime time television documentary of the United States Public Broadcasting System. You can access the full program directly from here at, (then click Webcast, then Paris).

In this clip a group of on-the-spot Parisians discuss the eventual links between bikesharing (a field in which Paris is world leader) and carsharing (a field in which Paris has until now been a middling performer, but for which the mayor has some highly ambitious plans for something he calls Autolib.

The five minute video brings together the remarks of Céline Lepault and Denis Baupin of the city of Paris's crack mobility team, Nicolas le Douarec, co founder of the successful Mobizen carshare start-up, and Eric Britton of World Streets.

Is there a direct link from one to the other? Can your city hope to move smoothly from bikeshare to carshare (or vice versa)? Check out what each of these people on the spot has to say on the subject. As Denis Baupin, vice-mayor of the city and at the time in charge of mobility, tells us: it's a bit more complicated than you may at first believe. Welcome to the world.

* Check out from Bikeshare to Carshare here.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Op-Ed: Mobility Matters: Reducing Car Use

Mobility Matters - Reducing car use on a long term basis

- Margaret Mahan, BEST Vancouver Canada

This program launched by BEST - Better Environmentally Sound Transportation in Vancouver Canada, encourages people to reduce car use on a long term basis, and promotes more sustainable and active transportation choices. Links car disposal services with transportation planning, using a community/neighborhood organizing approach. It works like this:

Transportation demand management studies show that people are more inclined to make lasting changes in their transportation choices if they have access to travel planning services that help them to understand and better utilize the full range of mobility options available to them. Mobility Matters encourages car owners to either relinquish their car or offset the GHG emissions from car use, in exchange for individualized travel planning services and incentives that support sustainable transportation changes.

Participants donate their car to BEST (a local non-profit that promotes sustainable transportation and land use planning), who then resells newer model cars for revenue, and provides the participant with a tax receipt, or organizes disposal of end-of-life cars through a recycling company. Participants receive membership to the local carshare operator (Co-Operative Auto Network) and customized travel planning services and incentives that are tailored to meet their specific lifestyle and transportation usage needs (these may include combinations of ride sharing, telecommuting, trip combining, transit, walking and cycling). The Coop Auto Network will put a fleet car in each neighborhood that achieves 15 households signing up with Mobility Matters.

Those not wishing to part with a car can participate by purchasing carbon off-sets for their vehicle use. All participants have access to a Mobility Matters members-only website that offers trip planning and GHG emissions calculators, and connects them to other program participants, and other benefits.

BEST derives revenue from the resale of cars taken in through the car sale option, from the resale of the older, end-of-life cars taken in through the car recycling option, and from the sale of offsets. This revenue will be used to support BEST's ongoing efforts to increase access to trip planning tools and education on the range of travel options available. This will further support long-term commitments to reduce vehicle use.

Margaret Mahan, Executive Director,
BEST - Better Environmentally Sound Transportation
Vancouver, Canada

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

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Comments: Europe Imagines Its Suburbs Without the Car

There is some telling US style discussion of this article in yesterday's New York Times which you can pick up here .

To my mind, most of these discussions invariably have more to say on (a) why it won't work or (b) at best only at the margin. Not all that useful.

World Streets aspires to do better. We have to look more broadly for inspiration and ideas.

What about this for a bit of mind-feeding counterpoint on this topic? Click here to see our short video with some views on exactly this topic from the perspective of one man on the street in city of Groningen.

Your comments?

Again that link is

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Dialogue: Transferability of International Experience - Part II

Michael Yeates of Brisbane continues on this important topic.
Hopefully this is a subject that will be pursued in some detail and with more vigour ... but without too much personal umbrage. In the interim, appears to give a useful "summary" from the perspective of the TRANSPLUS project brief.

But as with most such projects, there are so many caveats or "weasel words" that drawing directly from such work simply induces yet another round of reasons for not adopting or not changing etc etc ... much like the scientific method involves critical review rather than a more healthy dose of the "precautionary principle".

Oh yes, then there is the whole area of "risk" ... in all its forms.

From my experience and research, opponents of change prefer endless research rather than what I describe as a combination of trial + demonstration + research ... something where all the "but what if ...?" questions can be answered by experience rather by tactical debate and rhetoric and where the experience is a learning experience .. raising awareness so that decisions and research are informed by informed respondents and/or participants.

While this opens up the whole behaviour change area, Ajzen and/or Fishbein are widely accepted theorist-practitioners to explain the interaction(s) between personal and group behaviour change and social norms etc and of course there are many debates and developments ongoing.

One other practitioner I find convincing based on case studies in very different circumstances is Werner Brog of Socialdata ... in particular in relation to what might be described as "knowledge drag" or "awareness drag" or even "experience drag" as terms with similar implications to the idea of "fiscal drag" ... the delay from when something occurs to when its outcomes occur.

The relatively major project by SOCIALDATA in Brisbane was followed by a much smaller one ... there are some reports on the web .. but then no more application and back to building more roads ...! Is this the influence of biased research, of politicians beliefs, of consultants pushing their preferred expertise?

Brog has shown that decision-makers (often politicians <> consultants) over-estimate political support for the status quo ... a bit like the under-estimation of costs and over-estimation of benefits in CBA (GOOGLE <>)

The result is a political and consultant preference for continuation of business-as-usual which tends to increase current behaviour and/or rational preferences while continuing to constrain alternatives.

The issue is discussed by Brog in Section 7 in ...
Bilbao 2000: The challenge for cities in the 21st Century: Transport, Energy and Sustainable Development European Conference Bilbao / Guggenheim 10 - 11 February 2000 ... Changing mobility behaviour - the role of information and awareness.

Another with similar info is in ...
Section 1 in Interactive Workshop on Sustainable Development “Sustainable Development Makes Good Business Sense” Brisbane, 26/28 October 2004 A Global Approach for a Global Problem - Development of an Integrated Sustainability Approach

The paper has similar views but without the graphics which in my view help enormously in conveying or at least demonstrating the situations addressed.

But then, if Brog's "successes" and many are well documented as case studies, are still not accepted for more general application, there is a need for further explanation. As Brog says in the introductory part of the above paper, (my emphasis in bold) ....

Since passive mobility takes up an incomparably greater part of our lifetime, citizens generally judge the traffic trend from the passive mobility standpoint. They therefore hope that transportation planning and policy will provide relief precisely during the period of passive mobility by an orientation towards the promotion of environmentally friendly and not (no longer) motorized private modes.
This understandable wish that environmentally friendly transportation modes will be encouraged is countered by public opinion, which is seen as “pro-car”. Accordingly, the importance of motorized private transportation is overestimated and the possibility of reducing it is underestimated.

Nonetheless, limited changes by individuals in their behavior would be possible at any time without giving rise to major problems and would have a great impact. But it is not sufficient for such behavioral changes to be possible, as they must also be considered possible. And the predominance of the car in public opinion runs counter to this requirement.

The result is, strange as it may seem, that the simple behavioral changes in active mobility, which would make an appreciable contribution to the desired improvements concerning passive mobility, are (wrongly) considered to be so radical that any attempt to initiate them is immediately seen as an unwarranted impairment of the quality of life. Accordingly, practical measures to reduce traffic are not taken at all or not taken seriously enough, and the very trend we think we are avoiding (deterioration in the quality of life) actually occurs.

Transportation policy and transportation planning do not provide much solution to this “mental blockage”. For, first and foremost, it is not a change in basic conditions, which is necessary, but a change in people. It is not “others” who have to make a change, but we ourselves. This obviously applies not only to citizens but also to opinion-formers and decision-makers.

and then in the summary ending he also says ...

The insights at the root of this concept are neither new nor revolutionary. They have been proven effective. Nevertheless, they have not attracted the public attention they deserve. Instead, they meet widespread disbelief, skepticism, and rejection by many transportation professionals. This unveils the fundamental dilemma faced by the transportation world.

Transportation policy, transportation planning and transportation sciences have been greatly influenced in the last few decades by the rapid development of car traffic. In only a few dozen years the car has left an indelible mark on social life in the Western countries. It has become mankind’s symbol for the technical conquest of nature, for freedom and affluence, for status and individuality. The slogan “open roads for free citizens” came to reflect the spirit of a generation who for the first time in history felt they were able to cast off their fetters and enjoy virtually unlimited mobility.

Those who produced cars or carried out the necessary infrastructure planning work were also held in equally high esteem and they succumbed to the universal euphoria; the (planning) techniques and instruments developed by them clearly reflected an emphasis on car traffic. With such planning methods and their planning action, they have left their mark on people’s thinking and their environment.

It is precisely everyday mobility that makes it possible to achieve considerable overall improvements by means of numerous, minor changes in individual behavior and to test a change in thinking that is very important for the survival of humanity.
Unfortunately, this opportunity is scarcely perceived by transportation policy decision-makers, transportation planners and transportation theorists. Those who are so often themselves the staunchest advocates of “automobile freedom” find it extremely difficult to accept the idea that transportation modes, which are more tolerable than the car, have to be promoted.

Mind you the vested interests would soon emerge again ... imagine the job losses from all those policy writers and planners who currently enjoy job security based on producing endless consultancy briefs and then engage all those consultants ... all or most of whom may well be almost unemployable given their ethical commitment to their current employment and employers ...!

Michael Yeates

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Toolkit: Building a World-Wide Learning Community

Knoogle New Mobility 1.1

Knoogle New Mobility 1.1 is the first iteration of a power search engine aimed at better linking a world-wide learning community in support of urgent, climate-driven transport reform in cities. Knoogle is specifically tailored to help policy makers, local government, researchers, NGOs, activists, consultants, concerned citizens and the media keep up efficiently with the work and plans of the programs, groups, and sources leading the field of sustainable transport and sustainable cities, worldwide.

We invite you to test our in-process but entirely usable Knoogle New Mobility 1.1 combined search engine to view the results of a quick unified scan based on your selected key words, combing through more than one thousand selected institutions, programs and sources in thirty countries that we view as leading the way in their work and competence in our heavily challenged sector world-wide.

Click here: to go to Knoogle New Mobility 1.1.

The question: Networking knowledge, competence, collaboration?

Is there a requirement, a potentially useful role for a more creative and powerful system of linkage, dynamic multi-level interaction, information exchange and eventually collaboration between the many and fast growing constellation of programs and their considerable knowledge and competence bases, with specific reference to the issues, roles and possibilities of the new mobility/sustainable transport policy, planning, and practice? And if so: who, when, what next?

Basic principles of project

The Knoogle project is defined by the following basic principles:

1. We are losing the climate war in a very big way - and we don't need to.
2. We are losing the fossil fuel, food, and resource wars-and we don't need to lose them either.
3. Transportation accounts for on the order of 20% of the climate problem -- more in the case of some of the others.
4. More than half of the world population today live in cities -- with more pouring in every day.
5. The vast majority of these people are poorly served by the existing transportation arrangements - and most the plans and projects in the pipeline offer zero prospect of the fundamental structural improvements that are needed.
6. A growing number of institutions and programs trying to make targeted contributions to deal with these challenges --some with fair resources and broad backing, most however working on bare bones budgets.
7. These programs and the people who make them up communicate with each other and collaborate with each other in a number of ways - but there is every reason to step up this creative interaction by several orders of magnitude if we are to have a chance to rectify these fundamental planet and life threatening problems.
8. Communications and computer technologies offers the possibility to better network these programs, institutions and the people working with them - at low cost and very quickly.
9. The more unified, more deeply seated networking and sharing approach that would come out of these greatly heightened communications arrangements would improve their chances, individually and collectively, at getting to grips with the underlying challenges.
10. This project has the mission of opening up the dialogue that is needed to advance this very specific component of the sustainability agenda.
11. Dividend: This deepened and more universally accessible knowledge environment is for sure going to open up new project and service opportunities for entrepreneurs, both public, private and volunteer.

What makes Knoogle Klick

There are four main building blocks of this tool set,

Google CSE:
The first of which is Google's excellent search functionality which does the heavy lifting. (The name combines the two basic components that make it work, KNOwledge and goOGLE, into a single memorable (?) word (pronounced "kah-noogle").) Our contribution is simply to point it in the right direction, as follows:

The targeted sources:
The next building block is the selection of programs and sources to which we have directed the search engine. Thus far more than one thousand in number, each carefully screened for inclusion here as a result of our research identifying what we regard as the premier sources and programs working in the areas that specifically concern us - sustainable transport, new mobility, climate, environment, reform programs, etc. To get a feel for these sources all you have to do is try a few sample searches and inspect the programs that are called up in the search results. (If you click here, you will see an early (partial) listing of these sources which should give you a feel for what we are targeting for coverage.)

Key words:
In carrying out your search you can of course use the usual key word filters in combination. (Click here for a reminder on this if useful.) Let's look at an example by way of quick illustration: "BRT" generates 439 Knoogle references. "BRT + India" narrows this down to 217 entries, "BRT + Pune" calls up 75 entries -- most of which are right on topic. The usual except that we are dealing here with targeted references and not the dog's lunch.

Search refinements:
Then as a next narrowing device, you will see that each search results page also shows in the top rows which show the "Search refinements" which we have developed on what we see as key topics of interest, ranging from different transport modes. Refinements are labels that you apply to websites. They appear as a list of links above search results, offering you a way to narrow their search.
The 1.1 version provides on click refinements for the following categories: Children, Climate, Conferences, Economics, Energy, Freight, Land use, Measurement, Non-motorized, Paratransit, Parking, Pollution, Presentations, Public Transport, Traffic, Videos. Each of these calls up not one but a tailored cluster of keywords. As an example when you click Public Transport, it will automatically search the specified target for any mention of public transport, but also public transit, bus, rail, BRT, LRT, tramway, metro, train, subway, Mobilien. And of course if you feel that these composite keywords cast the net too wide, all you have to do is narrow the search with your own selection.

Knoogle or Google

When the first of these search engines appeared on the scene in the nineties, there was great satisfaction to being able to dredge up comparatively large numbers of results in swift answer to our queries. But navigating these shoals has become ever more difficult as the numbers explode. Fortunately judicious use of the key words and other advanced search tools has helped greatly for our daily uses. In fact, the idea behind Knoogle is to take this idea of useful narrowing one full stage further, and in this case specifically in the context of the issues which bring us all here.

Let's have a look at a couple quick comparisons showing why we feel this kind of directed search may be useful to you. Suppose you are going to Kabul for the first time on a mission involving our shared concerns.

You fire up your browser and you get:
• Karachi: Google – 1.9 million general references. Knoogle 1.0: 129 targeted references all relating to our topic.
• Karachi + pollution: Google – 185,000. Knoogle: 148 targeted references

Likewise, a Google search on "parking" will open up the portals to almost 26 million references. By contrast Knoogle 1.0: 434, most of which right on target. As noted this is still a beta version, and it can be better . . .

Project origins :

The concept of new mobility or sustainable transportation is gradually gaining credibility as an alternative strategy for the policy, development and management of city transport systems worldwide. Starting from a very different series of basic conditions, premises and priorities to the transportation policies and practices that largely dominated the 20th century, these new approaches are increasingly being supported by a wide variety of leading practitioners, authorities, and institutions -- public, private and participatory -- in many parts of the world.

Despite this undeniable progress however, this approach is still heavily outmatched in many cities and parts of the world, in part because it advocates different approaches which are often regarded with doubt or suspicion by more conservative interests.

Fortunately there are a growing number of people, programs and institutions in different parts of the world that have got the message and are leading the charge with these new approaches: strategies and measures which are far better matched with the very different, historically unique and highly stringent requirements of this new century. One of the goals of this first-stage project is simply to identify the leading groups and approaches. For this you will find our latest short-list if you click here.

The goal of this open collaborative project is to initiate a constructive dialogue among the people and organizations around the world who know the problems and possibilities best, to see if we can come to some sort of creative vision of what if any best next steps might be.

These first stages are being taken in hand by the New Mobility Partnerships as a public contribution -- and in doing this we note the sense of high emergency associated with this project that is driven by not only the long understood needs for radical transportation reform in our cities, but also and above all by the utmost urgency of the climate issues and just behind them the ever more pressing problems of energy supply, security and prices. It is for these reasons that this project takes on particular urgency and importance.

The project started to take shape in Spring 2008 with a series of exchanges between Sue Zielinski Managing Director of the Sustainable Mobility (SMART) program of the University of Michigan and Eric Britton of the New Mobility Partnerships in preparation for a high level brainstorming public/private conference on "New Mobility: The Emerging Transportation Economy" in which the idea was being turned around that our present information and "knowledge recuperation" tools were not keeping up with the urgent challenges we are presently facing. Britton was asked to lead a presentation and discussion on this during the 12 June 2008 conference, eventually entitled "Reinventing the Wheel (But not all by ourselves".

The discussion was well received and eventually gave birth to this first stage project probe.

New Mobility Network - Latest round of incoming contacts and queries

As per 11 May 2009:
This map, reporting a selection of the rounds of enquiries coming into the project website, provides a good visual illustration of where the action is on our topic. That great white swath that sweeps from south to north from Africa and up through the Middle East and on to the former Soviet countries is notable. And certainly worth a thought or two if, as it is, our problem is a planetary one that cannot be handled on a piecemeal or partial basis.

Workplan (in process)

Here you have a quick outline of steps taken and underway in the process of vetting this idea for follow-up and action.

Getting underway (2008)

1. Early 2008. Brainstorming discussions with partners of the New Mobility Agenda discussion group to define problems and eventual paths for solutions
2. 12 June. First concept presentation - To Ann Arbor SMART Conference.
3. July: Creation of the first version of this website and the 1.0 Knoogle working model.
4. August Systematically expanding listing of key groups/programs (to more toward a more complete collection of P2P key nodes )
5. First brainstorming on new tools to support new cross-cutting structure (see the New Mobility Agenda discussions via, Café)


1. Initiate first round of direct contacts and discussions with identified groups, based mainly on information provided on website
2. Continue to develop and refine web site and PPT presentations
3. Work to define and test new tools toolkit candidates
4. Disseminate preliminary materials widely to seek counsel, suggestions and eventual collaboration.
5. Continue to extend master list of groups and programs to be contacted for their ideas and eventual collaboration in the problem-solving stages
6. Discuss formation of an informal core working group (provisionally 5-10 active collaborating groups)
7. Invite selected colleagues to join International Advisory Council
8. Discuss and decide about organization of the appropriate "discussion/exchange forum": the technology to be used for group discussions and exchanges (the simplest option would be to use either the New Mobility Cafe, to create another basically similar group dedicated specifically to the knowledge site, or possibly something else and quite different and much more powerful. This last of course being the most appropriate chose for a project like this.)
9. Starting summer 2009: : Present project when it is ready to conference, workshops, media, etc. Incorporate feedback into key materials;
10. Start to initiate first linking steps - on limited trial basis first, then when proven extending it to all interested participating groups
11. Seek both short and longer term support, financial and other
12. This is the way that the process looks today (11 May 2009) and we can expect that it will continue to alter quite quickly as work moves head. Stay tuned.

For more on this collaborative project, click here.

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Europe Imagines Its Suburbs Without the Car

Note from the Editor: Is it not fascinating, and encouraging, the manner in which the mainstream media are increasingly starting to crawl over to doing a more responsible job on sustainable transport issues, accomplishments and directions? This article by Elisabeth Rosenthal from today’s New York Times looking at the exemplary “car-lite” strategy and accomplishments of suburban Vauban is one excellent example. It is, in fact, one of a steady flow of articles and media that have been reporting on this approach internationally over the last years. And we might note the extent to which leading-edge thinkers and practitioners of the new thinking about transport in and around cities are making their voices heard. (Build it and they will come?)

VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of
Freiburg, near the Swiss border. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community.

Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said
Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Automobiles are the linchpin of suburbs, where middle-class families from Chicago to Shanghai tend to make their homes. And that, experts say, is a huge impediment to current efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, and thus to reduce global warming. Passenger cars are responsible for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe — a proportion that is growing, according to the European Environment Agency — and up to 50 percent in some car-intensive areas in the United States.

While there have been efforts in the past two decades to make cities denser, and better for walking, planners are now taking the concept to the suburbs and focusing specifically on environmental benefits like reducing emissions.

Vauban, home to 5,500 residents within a rectangular square mile, may be the most advanced experiment in low-car suburban life. But its basic precepts are being adopted around the world in attempts to make suburbs more compact and more accessible to public transportation, with less space for parking. In this new approach, stores are placed a walk away, on a main street, rather than in malls along some distant highway.

“All of our development since World War II has been centered on the car, and that will have to change,” said David Goldberg, an official of Transportation for America, a fast-growing coalition of hundreds of groups in the United States — including environmental groups, mayors’ offices and the American Association of Retired People — who are promoting new communities that are less dependent on cars. Mr. Goldberg added: “How much you drive is as important as whether you have a hybrid.”

Levittown and Scarsdale, New York suburbs with spread-out homes and private garages, were the dream towns of the 1950s and still exert a strong appeal. But some new suburbs may well look more Vauban-like, not only in developed countries but also in the developing world, where emissions from an increasing number of private cars owned by the burgeoning middle class are choking cities.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is promoting “car reduced” communities, and legislators are starting to act, if cautiously. Many experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year, Mr. Goldberg said. In previous bills, 80 percent of appropriations have by law gone to highways and only 20 percent to other transport.

In California, the Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a Vauban-like community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and to the California State University’s campus in Hayward.

Sherman Lewis, a professor emeritus at Cal State and a leader of the association, says he “can’t wait to move in” and hopes that Quarry Village will allow his family to reduce its car ownership from two to one, and potentially to zero. But the current system is still stacked against the project, he said, noting that mortgage lenders worry about resale value of half-million-dollar homes that have no place for cars, and most zoning laws in the United States still require two parking spaces per residential unit. Quarry Village has obtained an exception from Hayward.

Besides, convincing people to give up their cars is often an uphill run. “People in the U.S. are incredibly suspicious of any idea where people are not going to own cars, or are going to own fewer,” said David
Ceaser, co-founder of CarFree City USA, who said no car-free suburban project the size of Vauban had been successful in the United States.

In Europe, some governments are thinking on a national scale. In 2000, Great Britain began a comprehensive effort to reform planning, to discourage car use by requiring that new development be accessible by public transit.

“Development comprising jobs, shopping, leisure and services should not be designed and located on the assumption that the car will represent the only realistic means of access for the vast majority of people,” said
PPG 13, the British government’s revolutionary 2001 planning document. Dozens of shopping malls, fast-food restaurants and housing compounds have been refused planning permits based on the new British regulations.

In Germany, a country that is home to Mercedes-Benz and the autobahn, life in a car-reduced place like Vauban has its own unusual gestalt. It is long and relatively narrow, so that the tram into
Freiburg is an easy walk from every home. Stores, restaurants, banks and schools are more interspersed among homes than they are in a typical suburb. Most residents, like Ms. Walter, have carts that they haul behind bicycles for shopping trips or children’s play dates.

For trips to stores like
IKEA or the ski slopes, families buy cars together or use communal cars rented out by Vauban’s car-sharing club. Ms. Walter had previously lived — with a private car — in Freiburg as well as the United States.

“If you have one, you tend to use it,” she said. “Some people move in here and move out rather quickly — they miss the car next door.”

Vauban, the site of a former Nazi army base, was occupied by the French Army from the end of World War II until the reunification of Germany two decades ago. Because it was planned as a base, the grid was never meant to accommodate private car use: the “roads” were narrow passageways between barracks.

The original buildings have long since been torn down. The stylish row houses that replaced them are buildings of four or five stories, designed to reduce heat loss and maximize energy efficiency, and trimmed with exotic woods and elaborate balconies; free-standing homes are forbidden.

By nature, people who buy homes in Vauban are inclined to be green guinea pigs — indeed, more than half vote for the German Green Party. Still, many say it is the quality of life that keeps them here.

Henk Schulz, a scientist who on one afternoon last month was watching his three young children wander around Vauban, remembers his excitement at buying his first car. Now, he said, he is glad to be raising his children away from cars; he does not worry much about their safety in the street.

In the past few years, Vauban has become a well-known niche community, even if it has spawned few imitators in Germany. But whether the concept will work in California is an open question.

More than 100 would-be owners have signed up to buy in the Bay Area’s “car-reduced” Quarry Village, and Mr. Lewis is still looking for about $2 million in seed financing to get the project off the ground.

But if it doesn’t work, his backup proposal is to build a development on the same plot that permits unfettered car use. It would be called Village d’Italia.
- - -

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Notice from the NYT: "This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the "Reprints" tool that appears next to any article. Visit for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now."

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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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