Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reducing transportation's carbon consumption - Comments

Last Thursday, 11 June, we posted here an advanced working draft of a proposal and recommendations for a joint work program of the US Dept of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency in our area of expertise -- to be submitted after peer review here, and subsequent amendment, to the public site of organized by the National Journal in Washington DC where expert opinion is being gathered in a broad-based collaborative effort to provide high profile information and insights for the incoming Obama policy teams in those two important institutions.

The original question posed by the National Journal team can be found here. along with all the responses to be posted as of this date. Our original draft posting of 11 June here.

* Click here for Comments and peer discussion as of this date. (Recommended!)

Our continuous challenge here, and beyond, is how can we help assemble the ideas, energies, and expertise of the broadest range of sources and views to help inform and guide public policy. While the other half of democracy is active citizenry, it is not always so evident how to achieve that. Each of us has to do their part.

This process of public consultation and open peer review of which you have one exmaple here is one we take very seriously, and if you have the time and taste to dig in here you will see why. As editor I find that this interactive process of mutually challenging our ideas is one of the great strengths of this World Streets project.

And you, of course, are invited to add your comments to the above.

--> Read on:

Honk! 6 Reasons The World Needs More Girls on Bikes

- April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden, in Treehugger

High Heels Plus Cruiser Bike photo
Photo thedigitel via flickr.

Most bike commuters find that the negative assumptions they had about bike commuting are mostly false. This goes double for women, who might find that riding in high heels is easier than walking in them; a special wardrobe is not necessarily required (though fun); and that biking boosts a sense of freedom in ways a car no longer can. Benefits to women are multiple, and the benefits to society are just as big. Read on for how we all get dividends when women take to their bikes.

Click here for full text of April's Treehugger article:.

--> Read on:

Gunfight at the OK Corral ( Saving the carshare maiden)

This just may prove to be the longest 22 minutes you'll confront today. "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is a video produced with a star cast, and which, though far too long for what it has to say and exasperating from beginning to end, is nonetheless worth a spin for what it tells us about what happens in an important area when old thinking faces off with the New Mobility Agenda.

Click here to call up the video.

We suggest you get comfortable and if you have not yet done your stretching exercises today, this will give you an excellent opportunity to do them as you follow the drama of the presentation.

Let us leave it to Jack Welch, Ms. Welch, and the confident top team of Hertz Rent-A-Car to explain to us what they intend to do to become the dominant player on the world carshare scene in the next three years with their fledgling Connect by Hertz carshare operation. It is a curious episode, but a good reminder of how very different the new world of public policies and private practices is at time in which the old arrangements no longer make much sense. We all still have a lot to learn.

From our perspective here at World Streets this is no small matter, since carsharing has a key role in the transportation reform process that now needs to be engaged. We call carsharing a "one percent solution" -- which may sound like not much, but it is a critical one percent. So must be ready to learn from anyone who has something to teach us about how to make it work better.

We are posting this to both World Streets and to our expert forum at the WorldCarShare consortium, and invite your comments and observations. Kind thanks to Kevin McLaughlin of the long established and successful Autoshare.com carshare operation in Toronto for drawing this to our attention.

--> Read on:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Honk! Not all coming up roses for cyclists in Paris

Every day you get out there and every day there is this thin line between the sheer joy and efficiency of cycling in the city, and all that lurks out there on the street to possibly ruin your day (and more).

Click here to view video

This eight minute amateur video has been created by a Parisian cyclist with the idea of showing to all you out there that even with more than 400 km.s "protected cycling provision" and 20,000 free public bikes on the street, it is not indeed all roses in the City of Light. We have our problems too. Eternal vigilance and then you are going to be OK. But this shows how much more work is needed even here until we will be able to apply Gil Penalosa's eight-to-eighty rule for safe cycling -- safe for the eight year old child and safe for the eighty year old cyclist.

I find it highly didactic and a useful point reminder of all that needs to be done every day in all our cities to create safe cycling environments. The crucial handshake with law enforcement certainly jumps out at one, as does the process of co-learning and adaptation of all who are out there and moving around in the very mixed, highly charged new mobility environment.

So off we go again. Plenty to keep us all busy for a few more years and certainly no reason to throw in the towel. (Thanks to Eyes on the Street partner Andrew Curran in Vancouver for the heads-up.)

--> Read on:

Friday, June 12, 2009

World Streets greets 2009 Cities for Mobility World Congress

Greetings from World Streets to our City of Stuttgart friends on the occasion of their forthcoming 2009 Cities for Mobility World Congress.

* Click here for 2009 Congress program.

The 3rd World Congress of Cities for Mobility will be held from 14 - 16 June 2009 in the city of Stuttgart. The event addresses municipalities, public transport and private companies, universities and NGOs. The main focus will be laid on the social dimension of transport with special attention on the provision of mobility opportunities for motorized and non-motorized traffic users. For more click to http://www.cities-for-mobility.net

We look forward to your reporting back on your findings and recommendations for next steps. We understand that you are going to have more than four hundred participants with very strong representation from cities across all continents of the Global South. We hope that they will be forthcoming in their views as well and will be pleased to air selected commentaries and reports from them in these pages.

By the way, today's World Streets' editorial -- Reducing Transportation's Carbon Consumption - Plan B -- is very much in line with the basic theme of your conference, and you may also find some value in the Comments from colleagues round the world that are coming in to challenge and complement it.

Best wishes from us all for your well deserved success next week.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

--> Read on:

Op-Ed. Safe cycling strategies: Lessons from Europe

- Eric Britton, Editor and slow city cyclist

The following was drafted yesterday in response to a lively discussion over at www.LivableStreets.com , looking at different approaches to providing cycle paths and other forms of street architecture modifications, major and minor, to protect the cyclist. The discussants were looking at this in the context of New York's ongoing efforts to develop a major cycling program after many years of neglect. International experience at the leading edge, mainly in European cities that are doing the job, puts some interesting lessons on the table. Here is a look-in from Europe.

For starters, let’s make sure that we do not allow ourselves to get too comfortable too fast. By that I mean I am not at all sure that the best approach to safe cycling is to start by shopping around for the most attractive cycle path designs to be put in your city's streets here or there. I can understand the temptation but we have here a systemic problem which requires more than occasional attractive street architecture.

Safe cycling is based on the existence of networks which provide a safe travel environment over the areas and routes most taken by cyclists. By which I mean to say that a lovely cycle facility here and there does not by itself promote safe cycling (in fact conceivably it can make cycling even more dangerous). What is needed from the beginning is without letting up to drive toward that basic network. To accomplish this, it means targeting a solution set that is pretty pervasive, far more so than most plans today even dare aim for.

What do you do when what you need to do definitely outstrips the resources, approaches and plans that are traditionally available to you? The only way to get the job done then is to change the rules. That happens in five main parts.

1. Speed reductions: ("Don ‘t leave home without them.")
The first pillar of new mobility policy is to slow down the traffic on EVERY street in the city. I do not say this lightly and I understand the extent to which this runs against long-standing practices and what people regard as their fair interest. But there is no longer any mystery about this at the leading edge. I do not imagine that there is a competent (note the word) traffic planner today who will argue for top speeds in excess of 30 mph in the city. 30 mph is terrific, and though too fast for safe cycling is something which we can reasonably target for the Main Avenue's and thoroughfares. For the rest a policy of 10/20/30 is feasible, fair and do-able. Once you get over the shock.

2. Reclaim street space:
The second prong of the strategy is that the creation of a safe network requires taking over at least portions of a quite large number of streets in the city. This is accomplished in two ways, the first being the alteration of the street architecture, taking over lanes for fully protected cycling. The most popular, parking lane out/bike lane in, often works very nicely when the cycle lanes work against the flow of traffic. The second prong of street reclaiming is the hard edge of speed reductions. In these cases top speeds on the side streets drop to something like 10 to 15 mph, with 10 leading better than 15. Again for most cross-town traffic in Manhattan this should not be a problem.

3. "Occuper le terrain": (French for safety in numbers. )
You are seeing that in New York already, though I have to guess you are not yet at the tipping point on that. But the more people you get out on the street on their bicycles every day, the more that everybody involved moves up a couple of notches day after day in the learning process. The cyclists learn how to behave better to protect themselves in traffic, drivers get accustomed to looking out for those small wavering frail figures, the police learn how to play their part in this learning process, and the system they have today learns and adapts.

4. "Street code":
The Highway Code, a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative.

I understand that you are looking into this for New York. Many European cities are advancing on the idea of establishing a far tougher "street codes" specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. The underlying idea is that culpability for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver's guilt (not always very easy to do). This is not quite as good as John Adams' magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart-- but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.

5. It's a Learning System:
Once you start to break the ice to the point where provision of cycling facilities even starts to be an issue, it is probably best to think of the city and the street network as a learning system. And learning of course takes place over time, and if you are lucky leads to a continuous stream of adjustments as you go along. There may be a bit of comfort in that, if you are patient enough, because what it definitely means is that any cycling improvements you can conceivably come up with today has to be thought of not as a solution but as the start of the path. This is very definitely process oriented planning.

* * *

So we really do know what to do, and we do know that it requires a combination of foresight, originality, guile and pragmatic planning from the beginning. Fortunately there is plenty of international experience which backs this up.

Paris is an example that I live with and cycle in every day over a decades-long period of steady adaptation and change. It is definitely not Copenhagen or Amsterdam. It is work in progress. Only a few years ago Paris was a city that was planning almost exclusively for cars and yet over the past decade has gradually began to build up a network for safe cycling. Perhaps not so much safe as safer, and the role of the planners here is to use the full cookbook of approaches in a dynamic organic manner so that each day things get a little bit better. Because all this has become part of the culture, the mainstream culture, it is no longer a big deal and so do the good works are able to go on every day.

Of course if cycling is your game it would be great to be able to import whole hog those terrific physical infrastructures that are found in Dutch and Danish cities. But this takes decades and I do not see it happening overnight in most US cities, New York among them. What is interesting about the Paris example, and we are certainly not the only one, is the manner in which safe cycling infrastructure is being built up step by step and day by day. We are not yet at the point at which we can feel comfortable with Gil Penalosa's "8 to 80 rule", remember, where cycling is safe for your eight-year-old daughter and your eighty-year-old grandfather. But give us a time and we will get there - and I hope you will too.

--> Read on:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Benevolent virus approach to sustainable cities

- Luud Schimmelpennink, Inventor of the free city bike, Amsterdam

Back in the 1960s, when I was young, and I thought smart, the idea occurred to me and some of my friends that bicycles were surely the best way for people to get around cities. We could see that for ourselves every day on the streets of Amsterdam. However as we thought about it, it struck us that something was missing. So we came up with something we called the White Bicycles. Free bikes.

A benevolent virus approach to transportation reform

It could not have been more simple. Basically all we did was get together with anyone who wanted to pitch in, collect a couple of dozen old bikes, paint them white, and then “park” them out on the street for anyone to pick up and use as they wish. The project was immediately a success (in over view) and attracted a lot of media attention, not all very kind to our idea. The success was that the bikes provided free, safe, zero-carbon public transport and were heavily used by citizens who simply wanted to get somewhere on their own personal timetable. That was great because that was our idea, our motivation for doing the whole thing.

However, the world being the kind of complicated place it is, and bicycles being such frail things out in public places on their own, it did not take all that long for most of the white bikes to disappear into places unknown, some ending up in our canals. At the same time, and somewhat surprisingly, the police decided that they were illegal because the law required that all bikes should be locked in public. And ours of course were not. It did not take very long for the newspapers and others to chime in with their opinions that this was a crazy idea that never should have been done in the first place. A failure.

But this little idea, this so-called failure, was maybe not quite as stupid as they were announcing. To the contrary, this little idea changed enough in at least some people's heads that it eventually set off a series of free or almost free shared bike projects around the world, for many years modest and not well-known. But certainly as everyone reading these "messages" will know , within the last couple of years all of this has started to change. And ever since the day that the city of Paris had the "crazy" idea in 2007 of putting 20,000 shared public bicycles onto their streets, this little idea is starting to have some very significant impacts. Maybe it was not so stupid after all

Today, a full generation after those young people got together to paint all those white bikes in Amsterdam, a growing group of people are coming to share the belief that every city in the world should be looking carefully at the idea of creating a public bicycle project of their own. The world has had enough experience with them over the last decade that we know there are many different ways of going about it, not all of them necessarily exactly aping our original concept of painting them white and leaving them anywhere. And if you hear from time to time about this or that project running into this or that trouble, relax because the idea is so simple and so powerful that these difficulties are going to be overcome by all of those smart people in that place who really want it to work. A great idea engages, and engages widely.

But here in closing is my final, respectful and a bit less direct message which I should like to share with all of you in Washington who have been charged by President Obama with the responsibility of creating sustainable transportation projects, sustainable cities and sustainable lives for people of all economic and social classes across the United States. Do not shy away from an idea just because it may at first glance strike you as a bit crazy. Sometimes that is the way it is with a new idea that really could make a difference. So before automatically saying no, just because the idea strikes you at first as untenable, get comfortable, sit back and think it through from the beginning. You may find that within it are the germs of a great idea. A benevolent virus.

Some URLs

Luud Schimmelpennink
Y-tech Innovations Centre
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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 www.messages.newmobility.org for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

--> Read on:

Reducing Transportation's Carbon Consumption - Plan B

The following question has been asked of the expert group on Monday in the "insider discussions" concerning transportation policy for the incoming Obama administration that are taking place under the aegis of the National Journal in Washington DC:

How Should EPA And DOT Reduce Transportation's Carbon Consumption?
How can Washington regulate and reduce the transportation sector's oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? What are the appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency? How should those roles be incorporated into the climate change legislation and surface transportation reauthorization that Congress is expected to tackle?

As a member of the panel I was invited to respond. My presentation follows.

Summary: "Ready. Fire. Aim!" Better not do that. So before we get off to the races with our answers and recommendations, let me suggest that we first step back a bit and make sure that we have a full understanding of the important underling issues and forces that need to be taken into consideration. And then once we have this in hand we may end up getting an entirely different set of responses. We need a carefully thought out consistent base for informed public policy in a very different world context. In order then: (1) Strategy; (2) Actions; (3) Actors.


First step. STOP! Remember? " Ready! Fire! Aim?"

We certainly don't want to start in the middle of such an important question -- a big problem I might add we often encounter in many of these proto-transportation/environment discussions. It seems as if as soon as the discussion opens everyone in the room stands up and starts to trot out their favorite concept, project or technology -- and then carry on as if their favorite pony somehow fits with the real priorities. As if all that were something that could be left to a shared implicit understanding. Well, it can't!

So before rushing into discussions about roles and responsibility, legislation and reauthorization, important as they are, let's see if we can first come to some sort of agreement concerning the basics that provide the foundation for all these questions and their eventual answers. Which is to say that we need a strategy fit for these times.

It's 2009 and one thing of which we all are fully aware is that the conditions out there are very very different from anything we have ever known in the past. So this is unlikely to be a matter of fixing stuff and marginal adjustments here and there. We have to reinvent the sector in the most profound manner that we can. And for that we better know where we have to go.

So what are the basics of this new mobility system, this new paradigm for transportation policy and practice at all levels? We have to get a handle on the big issues, the big trends and the big priorities, before we start to rush in to answer this questions of detail. My proposal to shake things up a bit here before we start to get too comfortable with what we pre-guess are going to be the answers – starting by setting before you a sequence of eight defining policy statements or propositions which in my view constitute the true bedrock of the issues and the choices we now need to make.

(As you move down this list I invite you to make a mental or jotted note to the "yes or no" query in each case. It may be that you agree with some of these points, but not others. We can then ideally go down the revised list here or in some other forum and THEN have a shared basis for deciding what next. Without a strong foundation fit for our times, we will risk just playing at the edges with stuff which is not central to the challenges at hand. At enormous opportunity cost.)

Let's have a look at our eight basic propositions:

Proposition 1. Climate emergency: The most urgent single policy challenge confronting us today in America and in every part of this planet, and requiring immediate and urgent action, is that of climate modification. The core of the problem lies in our continuing massive generation of life-threatening greenhouse gas emissions, which despite all the hot air and claims of success, continue to swell every day: every month, every year, and in every part of the world with close to zero exceptions. This is the bedrock issue of public policy today and we cannot afford to run away from it any more. (And yes step one is to recognize that we are running.)
• Peak oil: And if climate modification seems too abstruse for your taste, we always have the co-issue of peak oil, which has the advantage of hitting almost all of use directly where it hurts most, in the wallet. So if you prefer we can use this as our whip for immediate, large scale action and intervention, on the understanding that at the end of the day the two run in very close parallel. And since that is the case we will continue to use GHG as the guiding metric in this case, for all the reasons that are set out here.

• Yes (i.e., Accept as probably valid) or no (not sure or possibly just wrong)?

Proposition 2. Global policy goal: The over-arching goal of public policy across the board should therefore be massive GHG reductions. (See Prop. 4 below for more background on this point.)
• Yes or no?

Proposition 3. Transport share: The transport sector accounts for roughly 25 +/- 5% of this total load (And something like twice that when it comes to fossil fuel consumption.) . It is thus a priority target for public policy.
• Yes or no?

Proposition 4. Sustainable transportation: Turns out that we are in luck. Happily, GHG reductions work as an excellent surrogate for just about everything else we need to fix in our sector as well: namely, giving us a strong strategic framework and leverage to attain all of the necessary preconditions of sustainable transport, This includes reductions of traffic and its consequences, rationalization of speeds, fossil fuel savings, energy independence, affordable mobility, personal and public economics, public health, social equity, etc. Drive down GHGs and we are well on the way to achieving the rest. (Now, it does not automatically solve all our specific sustainable transportation problems, but it does give us the robust envelope of priorities and conditions within which to make our specific choices.)
• Yes or no?

Proposition 5. Time window: The critical time window to achieve these reductions is the 2 to 4 years directly ahead. (Hey! the period of the first Obama administration or your own period in office.) And less we forget, planetary stresses are so severe that any failure to put off these near-term large-scale reductions will have disastrous consequences.
• Yes or no?

Proposition 6. Scale: How big should the reductions be in this suddenly very short target period? Whatever it is it must be bold. It must be on that scale to have the level of impacts that are required to avoid the worst. It may have to be as high as 20 to 50 percent for the four year period. But of course the exact target will depend on place, etc.
• Yes or no?

Proposition 7. Traffic reductions: The only way to achieve the scale reductions required in that tight timeframe is through achieving corresponding scale cutbacks in motor vehicle traffic, and more specifically in terms of VMT/VKT (vehicle miles/kms travelled) reductions. (There is NO OTHER WAY TO DO IT. And don't think that this is going to be a purely negative policy. To the contrary with a well thought- out policy we can get more and better mobility with a lot less traffic - and that has to be our overarching goal.)
• Yes or no?

Proposition 8. Feasibility: We are in luck. This is not utopian thinking. Our sector has so much fat in it that we are going to be able to slim it even at the very high levels which are needed. Using technology aggressively (that is IT and organizational skills) we are going to be able to get more bang per mile, more bang per gallon of the vehicles that are out there on the road. We are going to have more, better and fairer mobility with less traffic, less pollution, less energy, and less wasted public money. And it will be a policy with far more options and choices at that any period in the past. Did someone say . . . yes we can?
• Yes or no?

* * *

How are we doing? To this "insider" the least that I can say is that this simple list gives us the core of the strategy which we now need to articulate, then work to get some kind of strong consensus on (it won't be universal, you will see), and finally put to work.

In summary whatever we give attention to in this high emergency context:
• Must be capable of achieving significant bottom line GHG reductions in the two to four years directly ahead.
• And offer a new combination of more mobility (access)0 and less traffic.

If your preferred technology or policy option passes these two tests, then it is an eventual candidate for short sting . And if not, not!


We now have a pretty good idea of what we need to do -- next comes the task of figuring out how we are going do it. The means, the actions, policies, services, technologies, procedures, institutions, roles, pricing arrangements, legal frameworks, enforcement, finance and all the rest.

So, what are the sorts of things that we need to be giving attention to in this new paradigm. To get us going on this, let's sketch some examples of the literally thousands of tools, technologies, measures, policies, services, instruments (economic and other) that can be combined to achieve our ambitious objectives. Here are a first handful of different approaches to get the discussions going.

1. Trip elimination/travel substitution
This is the most powerful single instrument we have at our disposal, though some of them, land use changes come to mind, are going to lie toward the outer edge of our target period. Still, there is a lot that can be done to bring them on line into our time frame. Bearing in mind that we are talking about the elimination of motorized trips here (think carbon transport), among the wide spectrum of choices available : trip planning, chaining, grouping, land use shifts, scheduling (4 day weeks for instance), teleshopping and tele- quite a few other things as well, and the substitution of electronic for physical travel (of which there is a huge variety of examples). Most of these are low cost , readily implementable, and if we get them properly orchestrated can be made into significant components of the overall new mobility reform strategy. We also have seen enough successful examples of their use in a wide variety of circumstances that this indeed not be an area of great uncertainty and failure. Plenty of solid experience and information out there to build on.

2. Move away from SOE (single occupancy vehicles) – and toward something better
There is a huge range of approaches for increasing load factors in the cars out there on the street, without impinging on free choice or increasing costs in unfair manners. To the contrary, once we get the policy frame right, the new arrangements will be "BFC" – better, faster, and cheaper for those who decide to shift over to them. Voluntarily mind you, and as much for anything else for economic reasons.

Here is a first sample of the sorts of things that are available to get us going on this: ridesharing, carsharing, taxi sharing, competitive public transit, and new forms of group service that are heavily reinforced by new information technologies and organizational forms.

3. Move from motorized to non-motorized transport
This process is already in place well engaged: cites at the leading edge are giving a greatly expanded role to and support of bicycles and walking. The examples are many, varied, clear and there for the taking and adaptation. The key being infrastructure modification, about which there are two key points to be made here. First, none of it is to require new construction, Rather the public space is taken from what previously were used (for the most part poorly) by high-carbon and also space-inefficient transport, and recycled to these no-carbon, space efficient, healthy and finally social systems of private transport. True auto-mobility if you will. Beyond this, the shirt from motorized to non-motorized transport has to be accompanied by a ballet legal measure favoring lighter slower transport, enforcement of the law, and fiscal and tax shifts.

4. New forms of public and shared transport
There is enormous room for improvement here since public transport has by and large been fossilized in what are basically early 20th century delivery and institutional patterns. Fixed route, fixed schedule. This is no substitute for car travel, but we now have to clean out the stables of laws, ordnances, practices, and open up the possibility of a true renaissance in the sector. Most of this is going to involved small and medium sized (and some large) vehicles with motors (and in the year immediately ahead mainly internal combustion engines, albeit of greatly improved performance in the three key areas (fuel efficiency, emissions, and costs)). The whole thing to be driven as is the case in almost all of these new mobility services by great gobs of information and communications technologies that are going to give the services the very high levels of performance that is possible once you set your mind to it. (The upper limit of new system construction is state of the art tramways, which we are seeing being built on the streets at reasonable levels of cost (though not always) and within our time frame (albeit at the upper limit).

5. Infrastructure adaptation
The key word for the new policy in our plan period is adaptation -- not construction. There will be no time for any large new infrastructure road, bridge or metro projects, but enormous opportunities for adapting the infrastructure we already have in place. Our roads and streets are so unstrategically used today in most places that it is almost imposable to have done worse. (We must have been trying.) So as we reduce the number of moving and parked motor vehicles to replace them with more effective services, this will open up a renaissance of adaptations, opening up room for safe cycling, walking and public spaces, including eventually local parks and play and recreational areas. These parts of the streets become not just conduits as in the past, but even destinations. And the adaptations will include slow streets, complete streets, naked streets and all the rest.

Parking policy, practices and pricing will be important components of this fundamental overhaul. There are few places in the world today that have a completely rational parking policy – the only one that can help us attain the objectives of this Plan B transition strategy. And it is not just a matter of eliminating parking but also in making it more efficient. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are still going to have lots of cars in and around our cites, so we getter know where to stash them conveniently when not in use. Once again lots of IT in that.

6. Economic and fiscal instruments
The present pricing, fiscal and legal instruments in most part of the world favor, for historic reasons, private cars and motorized transport more generally. The playing field is not level, and there is enormous room for using these instruments to more toward full cost pricing. And full cost pricing, fair pricing is going to provide incentives for the better forms of mobility which are needed if we are to make the transition to a low carbon society with all that entails. And as we have seen with the vigorous debates and divergences encountered in virtually all congestion or road pricing proposals in this first decade of the new century, these are complex considerations which need to be handled with subtlety and care. But it can be done, and it should be done.

To conclude this section on actions and measures: the point is that there are a huge range of concepts and tools that are available to be put to work to shape the system in the years immediately ahead, so the question becomes not so much what but how to do it. Which brings us to our third and final section of this recommendation.


To open up this final section, let's refer back briefly to the opening question: "What are the appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency?"

Big question, but rather than try to answer this universally and in an abstract sense here, let's instead take and examine how this might workout in the case of a single and rather simple new mobility example: carsharing.

Here are a few useful truths about carsharing to get us going on this

• Carsharing is not by itself going to solve the problems of local transport in our cities, suburbs and rural areas. It is just one new mobility tool ,among many.

• The actual number of cars and trips ultimately is never going to be that huge. Carsharing is neither going to solve all our problems of local transport, nor will it save the US automotive industry.

• Carsharing is thus what we call a "one percent solution", in addition to which it has this unusual lynchpin role. But even where we have it in place and working well, we are still going to have to figure out the remaining ninety nine percent. And that is what the New Mobility Agenda is all about.

• That said, it has a key role to play, namely as a vital linchpin in the pallet of new mobility modes. Carsharing serves in a dynamic sense to provide a bridging strategy for people, first to test how they might live without actually owning a car, or at least one less car. Or perhaps never to buy a car in the first place and still be able to drive when they need one. Carsharing is flexible and trying it requires little commitment or cost. But once in any given place a reasonable number of non-car mobility options begin to appear, the idea of carsharing begins to take a new shape. For some multi-car families it will allow them to shed one of their cars. For others once the full range of non-car options is in place, there will be people who are in a position to get rid of their own car altogether.

• As it happens there are more than one thousand cities in the world where you can pick up a carshare vehicle this morning. And that this number had doubled in the past three years alone. It is thus a fully operational system and on a high growth trajectory, which already provides some useful clues for the supporting role that these government agencies might execute.

• It is now fair to say and based on the wide range of experience already in existence, that every city and many smaller communities across the United States, including in rural areas, are potential candidates for carsharing. That carsharing until now something practiced in the main in the States by relatively affluent city dwellers, is also something that needs to be explored both for poorer people.

• So the question then becomes, what can these federal agencies do to bring about this important alternative mobility arrangement quickly, universally and well?

Rest of this section to follow.

--> Read on:

World Streets This Week (Archives)

Here you can call up with a single click all editions to date of World Streets This Week, Volume 1, starting with the first edition published this year on 2 March.

To create a paper version for easy reading away from your computer, all you have to do is to print the browser frame. This will yield a handy paper or PDF edition of the selected week's content.

Volume 1: 2009

* No. 17. Week of 28 June 2009
* No. 16. Week of 21 June 2009
* No. 15. Week of 14 June 2009
* No. 14. Week of 7 June 2009
* No. 13. Week of 31 May 2009
* No. 12. Week of 24 May 2009
* No. 11. Week of 17 May 2009
* No. 10. Week of 10 May 2009
* No. 9. Week of 3 May 2009
* No. 8. Week of 26 April 2009
* No. 7. Week of 19 April 2009
* No. 6. Week of 12 April 2009
* No. 5. Week of 5 April 2009
* No. 4. Week of 29 March 2009
* No. 3. Week of 22 March 2009
* No. 2. Week of 15 March 2009
* No. 1. Week of 8 March 2009

--> Read on:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Honey, you got to slow down

- David Levinger, Mobility Education Foundation

The Obama Administration and the world at large can learn a lot from other practices at the leading edge about speed mitigation. Traffic safety research supports the adage that “speed kills.” In State Highway Safety Plans mandated by the 2005 SAFETEA-LU legislation, many states have targeted “speeding” as a top priority. There is an important difference between this focus on “speeding” and a focus on “speed” in traffic safety and congestion management. When law enforcement agencies target “speeding,” they focus on extreme behavior, but ignore the normative behaviors.

Federal policy makers and transportation leaders can have tremendous impact on safety, congestion, and road construction costs by learning from many international efforts to mitigate traffic speeds to benefit of all roadway users. Here are several effective and inspiring innovations:

Lower limits for residential areas. Residential streets should have maximum speed limits of 20 mph (presently states have minimum speed limits of 25 mph or 30 mph). (EUROPE)

Due Care provision. Implement driver training to a national standard of "Due Care". This requires drivers to yield to anything obstructing their path, even if that thing should be yielding right of way to the driver. (UK)

Home Zones/Woonerven/Living Streets. An American pilot programs should be launched to make neighborhood streets conducive for community interaction and safer children to play next to. (UK & THE NETHERLANDS)

Enforcement should be at 4 mph over the limit. US enforcement agencies typically provide a lenient 10 mph buffer before they enforce speed limits. This means that the defacto speed limit on a 25 mph residential street becomes 35 mph. New Laser RADAR increases accuracy, and has resulted in countries formally adopting policies to enforce at 4 mph over the limit. (SWEDEN)

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA). ISA is an in-vehicle system that informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit. (SWEDEN)

Dynamic Variable Speed Limits. The M25 in London and highways elsewhere actually vary their speed limits for maximum flow and safety. (UK, FRANCE, others).

Lower speed standards for urban highways. Present standards make US highway replacement cost-prohibitive. Introducing a new “urban highway” classification with lowered speeds through dense urban areas would eliminate the need for wide shoulders and travel lanes, saving Billions of dollars in construction costs, increase fuel efficiency, and reduce the toll of traffic noise. Compliance with a 50 mph speed limit is achieved via automatic photo enforcement. (EUROPE)

URL Refs:* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit#Variable_speed_limits
* http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2078-15
* http://publikationswebbutik.vv.se/upload/4314/2008_109_an_independent_review_of_road_safety_in_sweden.pdf

David Levinger, david@mobilityeducation.org is President of the Mobility Education Foundation, in Seattle, WA, USA

Editor's note: Click here to read a good earlier piece under this same title by Robert Winkle which originally appeared in the New York Times on 13 November 2005
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 www.messages.newmobility.org for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

--> Read on:

Plan B: The New Mobility Agenda ( Mission Statement)

Plan A, with its stress on supply, vehicles and infrastructure has been favored for decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is well-known and easy to see where it is leading. Responsible for something like 1/5 of all greenhouse gas emissions, costing us a bundle, draining the world's petroleum reserves . . . Plan A is a clear failure. Time for Plan B.

World Streets is not exactly what one would call a neutral source. We have a very definite position on transport policy, planning and investment, the result of long experience of working with and observing the sector in its daily operation in cities around the world. It would not be true to claim that these views are unique to us; indeed they have been distilled over the years as result of contacts and work in collaboration with farsighted colleagues and policymakers in many places. They are shared, at least in good part, by many of our most distinguished colleagues.

It is only appropriate that I clearly state the underlying philosophy of this new sustainability journal in no uncertain terms right here at the outset. Our position on this is clear: namely, that we face a major planetary emergency that requires immediate high priority action at the very core of public policy, and that we have the means available to make the difference. But until now we are not addressing the issues at the level of intensity required. We need a plan of action. So let's have a look.

The New Mobility Agenda in brief

The main reference point for all that you will read in these pages is the long-term program, the New Mobility Agenda, an international collaborative effort focusing entirely on transportation in and around cities. It has been in operation since 1988 with continuous interactive presence on the internet as one of the pillars of the collaborative knowledge-building process that is behind it. And this is what we have concluded:

Virtually all of the necessary preconditions are now in place for far-reaching, rapid, low cost improvements in the ways that people get around in our cites. The needs are there, they are increasingly understood -- and we now know what to do and how to get the job done. The challenge is to find the vision, political will, and leadership to get the job done, step by deliberate step.

But we have to have an explicit, coherent, ethical, checkable, overarching strategy. Without it we are destined to play at the edges of the problems, and while we may be able to announce a success or improvement here or there, the overall impact that your city needs to break the old patterns will not be there. We really need that clear, consistent, omnipresent, systemic strategy.

The Agenda provides a free public platform for new thinking and open collaborative group problem solving, bringing together more than a thousand leading thinkers and actors in the field from more than fifty counties worldwide, sharing information and considering together the full range of problems and eventual solution paths that constitute the global challenge of sustainable transport in cities.

Managing the transition: Basic principles

And it must be understood that the shift from old to new mobility is not one that turns its back on the importance of high quality mobility for the economy and for quality of life. It's just that given the technologies that we now have at our fingertips, and in the labs, it is possible for us to redraw our transportation systems so that there is less inefficient movement (the idea of one person sitting in traffic in a big car with the engine idling is one example, an empty bus another) and more high-efficiency, high-quality, low-carbon transportation that offers many more mobility choices than in the past, including the one that environmentalists and many others find most appealing: namely, getting what you want without having to venture out into traffic at all. Now that's an interesting new mobility strategy, too.

Here you have in twelve summaries the high points of the basic strategic policy frame as we see it: principles that we and our colleagues around the world have diligently pieced together over the years of work, observation and close contact with projects and programs in leading cities on all continents under the New Mobility Agenda. (If you click here you can see in a short video (four minute draft) a synopsis of the basic five-point core strategy that the city of Paris has announced and adhered to over the last seven years. With significant results.)

1. Climate-driven: The on-going climate emergency sets the base timetable for action in our sector, which accounts for some 20% of greenhouse gasses. At the same time GHG reduction works as a strong surrogate for just about everything else to which we need to be giving priority attention in our cities, chief among them the need to cut traffic. Fewer vehicles on the road means reduced energy consumption, less pollution in all forms, fewer accidents, reduced bills for infrastructure construction and maintenance, quieter and safer cities, and the long list goes on. What is so particularly interesting about the mobility sector is that there is really a great deal we can do in a relatively little time. And at relatively low cost. Beyond this, there is an important joker which also needs to be brought into the picture from the very beginning, and that is that these reductions can be achieved not only without harming the economy or quality of life for the vast majority of all people. To the contrary sustainable transport reform can be part of a 21st century economic revival which places increased emphasis on services and not products.

2. Tighten time frame for action: Select and gear all actions to achieve visible results within 2-4 year time frame. Spend at least 50%, preferably 80% of all your transportation budget on measures and projects that are going to yield visible results within this time frame. Set firm targets for all to see and judge the results. No-excuse transport policy.

3. Reduce traffic radically. The critical, incontrovertible policy core of the Agenda -is BIG percentage cuts in vehicle miles traveled. If we don't achieve this, we will have a situation in which all the key indicators will continue to move in the wrong direction. But we can cut traffic and at the same time improve mobility. And the economy. That's our new mobility strategy.

4. Extend the range, quality and degree of integration of new mobility services available to all: A whole range of exciting and practical new service modes is needed if we are to keep our cities viable. And they need to COMBINE to offer better, faster and cheaper mobility than the old car-intensive arrangements or deficit-financed, heavy, old-technology, traditional public transit. We need to open up our minds on this last score and understand that rather than being stuck in the past with a 19th century version of how "common people" best get about, it is important to move over to a new paradigm of a great variety of ways of providing shared transport mediated in good part by 21st-century information communications technologies.

5. Packages of Measures: As distinguished from the old ways of planning and making investments what is required in most places today are carefully interlinked "packages" of numerous small as well as larger projects and initiatives. Involving many more actors and participants. One of the challenges of an effective new mobility policy will be to find ways to see these various measures as interactive synergistic and mutually supporting projects within a unified greater whole. A significant challenge to our planners at all levels

6. Design for women: Our old mobility system was designed by, and ultimately for, a certain type of person (think about it!). And so too should the new mobility system: but this time around it should be designed to accommodate specifically women, of all ages and conditions. Do that and we will serve everybody far better. And for that to happen we need to have a major leadership shift toward women and, as part of that, to move toward full gender parity in all bodies involved in the decision process. It's that simple.

7. The shifting role of the car: State-of-the-art technology can be put to work hand in hand with the changing role of the private car in the city in order to create situations in which even car use can be integrated
with a far softer edge into the overall mobility strategy . These advantages need to be widely broadcast so as to increase acceptance of the new pattern of urban mobility. The new mobility environment must also be able to accommodate people in cars, since that is an incontrovertible reality which will not go away simply because it would seem like an ideal solution. We are going to have plenty of small and medium-sized four-wheel, rubber tired, driver-operated vehicles running around on the streets of our cities and the surrounding regions, so the challenge of planners and policymakers is to ensure that this occurs in a way which is increasingly harmonious to the broader social, economic and environmental objectives set out here.

8. Full speed ahead with new technology: New mobility is at its core heavily driven by the aggressive application of state of the art logistics, communications and information technology across the full spectrum of service types. The transport system of the future is above all an interactive information system, with the wheels and the feet at the end of this chain. These are the seven-league boots of new mobility

9. Play the "infrastructure joker": The transport infrastructures of our cities have been vastly overbuilt. And they are unable to deliver the goods. That's just great, since it means that we can now take over substantial portions of the street network for far more efficient modes.

10. Frugal economics: We are not going to need another round of high cost, low impact investments to make it work. We simply take over 50% of the transport related budgets and use it to address projects and reforms that are going to make those big differences in the next several years.

11. Partnerships: This approach, because it is new and unfamiliar to most people, is unlike to be understood the first few times around. Hence a major education, consultation and outreach effort is needed in each place to make it work. Old mobility was the terrain in which decisions were made by transport experts working within their assigned zones of competence. New mobility is based on wide-based collaborative problem solving, outreach and harnessing the great strengths of the informed and educated populations of our cities. Public/private/citizen partnerships.

12. Pick winners: New approaches demand success. There is no margin of error. So choose policies and services with track records of success and build on their experience. (And there are plenty of them out there if you are prepared to look and learn.)

Where to from here

To move ahead in time to save the planet and improve life quality of the majority of the people who live in our cities -- no, they are not all happy car owner/drivers; get out there and count them; you'll see -- we need to have a fair, unified, coherent, and memorable strategy.

There may be other ways, better ways one would hope, of facing this emergency. If so we are ready to learn, let us hear from you. This is the challenge to which World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda are addressed.

Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets, Paris, France

--> Read on:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Honk! Basel Mobility Ticket (For visitors)

We have often said that new mobility is a strategy which is ultimately made up of a very large number of often very small things. Here is one example of the latter for your consideration: the Basel Mobility Ticket. Do you have one in your city? Should you?

It could not be simpler, so much so that you will wonder why you or your city had not thought of it before. It works like this.

Every visitor who stays in a hotel in the City of Bale in Switzerland is immediately handed a Basel Mobility ticket. It looks like this:

The ticket offers the visitor free transport on the city's public transport system, the TNW Tarifverbund Nordwestschweiz, good for unlimited travel on the city's buses and tramways. It is thus a partnership between the transporter and the city, with the cooperation of the city's tourist office and all the local hotels. The service is paid for by the general visitor's tax which is added to all hotel bills.

It's interesting to us that while the great idea has been around since start-up in 1999, it is the only city we know that has adopted this measure. Surely there must be others, but surely too it has the makings of what should be a universal New Mobility measure, one more small step in the direction of sustainable transportation, sustainable cities and sustainable lives.

Now what about a Mobility Ticket for your city? One small good idea that will surely lead to others. New Mobility is viral.

--> Read on:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Governance: The politics of transportation

"Two cheers for the market. Not three."*

Günter Blobel is one Nobel Prize winner who is not resting on his laurels. Friday's New York Times published an Op-Ed piece which goes right to the heart of the concerns and priorities of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda - the politics of sustainable transportation and the need for wise governance to provide the dynamic frame that is needed for the energies of democracy to work. We thank Dr. Blobel for agreeing to share his thoughts with World Streets.

Eyes on the street in Dresden:

Save the Dresden Elbe Valley
- By Günter Blobel
Published: June 4, 2009, International Herald Tribune

The Dresden Elbe Valley is likely to be deleted from the list of World Cultural Heritage sites at the annual meeting of the World Cultural Heritage Committee of Unesco on June 23.

This is due to the construction of a huge four-lane highway bridge that bisects the Elbe Valley site at its most sensitive position, thereby destroying one of Europe’s last river landscapes.

Ultimately responsible for this impending calamity is Chancellor Angela Merkel herself. As chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union she failed to correct the misguided politics of her party colleagues in Dresden, the capital of the federal state of Saxony. She did not publicly oppose their numerous provocations of Unesco. And with her assertion that this is a “regional” problem, she has ignored Germany’s contractual obligations to Unesco.

-> The full text of this article is available from the NYT on-line by clicking here.
- Günter Blobel, professor at Rockefeller University in New York City, was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is founder of the nonprofit Friends of Dresden, to whom he presented the lion's share of his million dollar 1999 Nobel award.

Here is some first background on this important project and clash from Unesco World Heritage Website at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1156

Dresden Elbe Valley

Brief Description

The 18th- and 19th-century cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe Valley extends some 18 km along the river from Übigau Palace and Ostragehege fields in the north-west to the Pillnitz Palace and the Elbe River Island in the south-east. It features low meadows, and is crowned by the Pillnitz Palace and the centre of Dresden with its numerous monuments and parks from the 16th to 20th centuries. The landscape also features 19th- and 20th-century suburban villas and gardens and valuable natural features. Some terraced slopes along the river are still used for viticulture and some old villages have retained their historic structure and elements from the industrial revolution, notably the 147-m Blue Wonder steel bridge (1891–93), the single-rail suspension cable railway (1898–1901), and the funicular (1894–95). The passenger steamships (the oldest from 1879) and shipyard (c. 1900) are still in use.

* For full text of article click here.

And from a Unesco report of 04.07.2008.

Dresden's status was called into question in 2006 because the Waldschloesschen bridge now under construction was viewed as a threat to the valuable cultural landscape. UNESCO has recommended the bridge be replaced with a tunnel.

Voters approved the bridge construction in 2005, however UNESCO offered a grace period last year so alternatives could be evaluated.

* For full text of article click here.


Editor's comment: From a New Mobility perspective.

Here we have a perfect microcosm of the kinds of conflicts we face every day and in every corner of this beleaguered planet in the struggle for sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. On the one side, unexamined inertial attitudes reinforced by a broadly shared failure to recognize the imperatives of this very different new century. And on the other hand, a failure of the proponents for preservation to reach deeply enough into the issues and choices to convince.

I would like to think that it is not too late to band together to encourage an immediate halt to construction subsequent to an independent review of the bridge options, of which there are surely a number which can be packaged in such a way as to deal with the concerns of those who need to get from A to B in their city. There are organizations and groups in Germany, and internationally, who can work with the city and key actors on all sides to help sort this out in a way that deal with the concerns of the public while at the same time preserving their magnificent heritage.

It would seem to me that the strong push to the Green parties across Europe in the just-concluded European elections, and in Germany, signal that the time is right for this kind of review and rethink. It is not just a matter of one bridge and one city, but of the future of the planet. No less!

We intend to keep on with this governance dialogue, which to our minds is not getting nearly enough attention. It is of course deeply political, and that is the one area in which progress is most needed. How to get a strong majority of citizens behind the sustainability agenda? Stay tuned.

--> Read on:

Honk! Winter perils pedicab venture in Cape Town?

Will winter swamp new pedicab venture in Cape Town?

- Cape Town, South Africa. 8 June 2009

Winter arrived in Cape Town this week – and with it, the rain (50mm of it this afternoon alone). But unlike in most international cities, umbrellas do not spring up like mushrooms the moment the raindrops appear. Capetonians hunch their shoulders and scurry from one building shelter to the next, because here, the rain does not fall from above. It attacks from the side, from below, from all directions it seems – and only a newcomer would think an umbrella could mitigate against the galeforce-powered storms.

But this season, central Cape Town’s streets have been brightened by 10 newcomers: blue and yellow 18-speed pedicabs imported Colombia. They are equipped with hydraulic brakes, brake lights, indicators, hooters and seatbelts – even sunshields and flimsy rain covers. But that’s for the passengers…

Thus Bertie Phillips, project founder and CEO of Cyclecabs Cape Town, found himself spending the weekend in outdoor gear stores, shopping for rain ponchos – and hoping that the winter wind and rain will not dampen the spirits of the new cyclecab riders. Cape Town has neither an umbrella nor a commuter-cycling culture, so the bright yellow cycle-specific ponchos beloved by Europeans cannot be found here.

Pedicabs have long been a feature on the streets of cities from London to Bogota, but they have been slow to gain momentum locally – licensing and liability issues as well as that lack of cycling culture are the main stumblng blocks.

Transport planner Phillips has been planning the venture for some time, though. ‘I wanted to launch Cyclecabs for Velo Mondial 2006 [an international NMT conference hosted in Cape Town], but there was not enough time. I had the plan in the back of my mind and decided that with Fifa World Cup 2010, the timing was just right.’

The Cyclecabs took to the streets in late April, and have provided formerly unemployed recruits from the NGO Men at the Side of Road with the prospect of a business career. The eight riders are shareholders in the promising enterprise, and will soon have the opportunity to run pedicab businesses of their own under the Cyclecabs banner.

Riders have received a range of training, from riding the pedicabs and understanding the rules of the road to developing core business skills, which ‘is critical because it’s not just about creating jobs but empowering them as entrepreneurs’.

The original idea was that riders would be required to rent a pedicab each for a R50 daily fee, and build their own businesses – but the winter rains have delayed this next phase. Instead, riders will receive a weekly stipend of R250 as well as meals, to help them until spring time.

By Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa

--> Read on:

Friday, June 5, 2009

World Streets/World Environment Day 2009

The theme of this year's World Environment Day is combating climate change through direct citizen involvement, community action and global partnerships And since that too is our strategic bottom line -- i.e., when we figure out how to achieve big GHG reductions we are well on the way to all the rest of our key objectives (See Mission Statement) -- we are honored to make WED 2009 the principal feature of today's edition. Team work for our small planet!

About WED 2009:

World Environment Day (WED) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day's agenda is to:

1. Give a human face to environmental issues;

2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;

3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;

4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

The theme for WED 2009 is 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change'. It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 180 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.

This year’s host is Mexico which reflects the growing role of the Latin American country in the fight against climate change, including its growing participation in the carbon markets.

Click here to go to WED site - http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/

--> Read on:

Profile: Open Green Map's global launch today

We have known the GreenMaps team since we ran into them in Stockholm in 2000 as part of the Stockholm Challenge Environment Awards. They looked great to us back then and they still do today. Like World streets they are at once local and global. That's the ticket.

Here is an announcement about their latest collaborative local/global project which launches today in cooperation with World Environment Day.

Open Green Map Launch! June 5 Celebration!

Green Maps highlight local natural, cultural and green living sites to promote personal and community well-being. Transforming local information into global interaction, the new Open Green Map social mapping platform spurs healthy participation as it shares diverse public viewpoints. Preview our platform in progress here!

Open Green Map's global launch celebration will take place on Friday, June 5 - World Environment Day! On the same day, special events are being planned all over the world: Cape Town, Geneva, Jakarta, Stockholm, Baltimore, Pereira Colombia, the UK towns of Swansea, Clackmannanshire, Neath Port Talbotand other places!

Get involved and support this effort! Download a press release or slideshow and watch the video below. Help spread the word. Participate by Twitter, too. Follow us at Greenmap. Include the word 'greenmap' in your tweet so it will be automatically mapped on twittermap.tv!

For more on Green Maps - http://www.greenmap.org/. Here is a quick summary taken from their website to get you going:

Green Map System promotes inclusive participation in sustainable community development worldwide, using mapmaking as our medium.

We support locally-led Green Map projects as they create perspective-changing community ‘portraits’ which act as comprehensive inventories for decision-making and as practical guides for residents and tourists. Mapmaking teams pair our adaptable tools and universal iconography with local knowledge and leadership as they chart green living, ecological, social and cultural resources.

Over 365 unique, vibrant Green Maps have published to date, and hundreds more have been created in classrooms and workshops by youth and adults. Both the mapmaking process and the resulting Green Maps have tangible effects that:

* Strengthen local-global sustainability networks
* Expand the demand for healthier, greener choices
* Help successful initiatives spread to even more communities

--> Read on:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Query? Whatever happened to road hierarchy?

The following open question on the present status of "road hierarchy" uses and standards for planning just in from Stephen Marshall of the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL - and right up the middle of the street (as it were) of our concerns here. Full contact information follows. You are invited to post your responses directly to him, but it would be good for all here if you could also register it just below as a Comment to this posting. We hope to report on this in due course as the results come in.

Dear all

Following Manual for Streets and other local streets-oriented design guidance, where does this leave road hierarchy?

By road hierarchy I mean the conventional set of road types such as Primary Distributor, District Distributor, Local Distributor, Access Road.

I am asking this list because it can be difficult to track how this is actually used, through published documents, since a document may not mention hierarchy explicitly, but it may still be applied in some way. Or, even if mentioned in a document, it is not always clear how practitioners actually use it, when designing a road network.

I am interested in hearing of any cases where:

(i) Road hierarchy is still used - even if not expressed explicitly in documents - if so, how is it applied?

(ii) Road hierarchy has 'evolved' where there may be new road types added over and above the basic set - if so, what are they?

(iii) There is more than one set of guidance coexisting (e.g.
conventional engineering guidance + urban design guidance) - if so, is the relationship between the two clear and consistent, and how are they actually applied in practice?

(iv) Urban design style street types are used, but are expected (implicitly or explicitly) to correspond to levels in the conventional hierarchy (e.g. a Boulevard may be equate with a District Distributor; a Mews may be an Access Road) - if so, how does this work?

(v) Road hierarchy is applied to the "higher levels" (e.g. trunk roads, county roads) while the lower level use a range of labels (e.g. access street, high street, etc.) - if so, how is the high/low level split decided?

(vi) Road hierarchy is no longer used - if so, what if anything has replaced it?

I would be interested in hearing of any examples of these instances, and how they work, especially in the UK (e.g. local authority practice), but also non-UK examples where the equivalent of road hierarchy applies.

I will let the list know of any interesting results coming out of this. This is part of an investigation into better integration / articulation of road / street hierarchy / layout principles. This research is part of the EPSRC funded project SOLUTIONS (Sustainability Of Land Use and Transport in Outer NEighbourhoodS).

Stephen Marshall, Senior Lecturer, ucftsma@UCL.AC.UK
Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB,
Tel +44 20 7679 4884, Fax +44 20 7679 7502

--> Read on:

Honk! Mind traffic (Almost your car)

Honk! Let’s reach out a bit to see if we and you can open up our mental space with drawings, photos, photographs, videos, jokes, too long stories, what have you . . . each of which intended to help us by using that other and perhaps more clever side of our brain to get perspective or possibly some new ideas about our very serious topics: sustainable transportation, sustainable cities, and sustainable lives.

You are invited to share with us your ideas and materials for this new World Streets column that will appear weekly, and from time to time a bit more often. (We have to be careful not to abuse.)

A good place to post you idea is via the Comment tool just below. Alternatively send them directly to the editor at editor@Worldstreets.org.

And here is our first-ever Honk! just to get you going. A 42 second video clip prepared by the Mobizen carshare company here in Paris as part of a campaign to get across the idea that carsharing is just a bit different from the old way we used to do it, and that Mobizen understands. To check it out for yourself: Click here.

(You may be surprised how well you understand French.)

* Click here to call up all Honks! to this date.

--> Read on:

Update: Public bike developments in Italy

Over the months of April and May the Italian Bicincitta PBS program added six more cities to their “Community Bicincitta”, bringing them to a total of 42 in Italy and 2 in Spain. Brief background on each new city project together with links and contact information follow.

1. Terni, with 5 workstations,

2. Syracuse , opened at the recent G8 summit, the first service of Bike Sharing in Sicily and first service Bicincittà - offering both traditional and bicycles with pedal assisted (e-bikes),

3. Bassano del Grappa, with 5 stations in the historic center,

4. Bergamo, larger project with 15 stations throughout the city, managed by ATB;

5. Schio, revolutionizes the design of sustainable mobility with new Municipality of bicycle lanes safe and secure and the system of Bike Sharing BiciSchio;

6. Asti, in Piedmont, offering a free service for all citizens.

For further information, visit their website at www.bicincitta.com . The specific services can be indentified under their “Adhered Cities” link on the top menu.

Photo showing the "La BiGi" service in Bergamo.

* For more on how Bicincitta works, click http://www.bicincitta.com/progetto.asp

We shall in due course be presenting an overview of the Bicincitta project, along with all of the other major PBS projects worldwide.

Contact info:
Via Genova, 2 - 10040 Rivalta (TO) - Italia
Tel 0119023711 - Fax 0119023721

--> Read on: