Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 2009: This month on World Streets
Our planet's only sustainable transportation daily.

Another busy month on World Streets with 10,676 visitors who dropped in to pick up and at least scan a total of 29 articles, touching on such exotic topics as sighing maidens (look right), singing escalators, cultural revolvers, fancy parking, new tools, sleeping policemen, miraculous technology, terrified oilmen, a brave lizard, COP15, women as leaders of the policy debates and key decision-making positions, and of course a lot on our old friends carbon and climate. Support World Streets, one of a kind.

One full month of World Streets in one click:

* Click here to directly address on-line October postings

* And here for the PDF covering the full month.

Who is reading Streets?


And here you can see where the last eighty visitors came from. Our typical pattern, with those huge white swaths in Africa and the former Soviet Union counties. That said, things are heating up nicely in China, Taiwan, and much of South-east Asia. Stay tuned.

Join in: Do your bit for our cities and our planet
Would you like to propose an article , topic or author for the November edition? If so, don't hesitate to contact our editor:
* editor@newmobiltiy.org
* Tel: +331 4326 1323
*Skype: newmobility.

And oh yes, we answer out mail.

Paying our bills:

We have not yet found the sponsorship needed to keep the journal afloat in 2010. The situation is rather grim, so if you would like help us brainstorm on this, please get in touch. I am sure that with energetic collaboration we will solve this problem and go on to do better yet in 2010. I kind of think the planet needs us. And I hope you agree. Don't be shy now. Get in touch. Lend a hand. After all, it's your planet.

Eric Britton
Editor

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There they go again, burying poor old Vélib.
(Hey New York Times, read World Streets.)

The New York Times is generally doing a yeoman's job of providing useful investigative coverage and commentary on the environment-climate-new mobility front. And for that we all are most grateful. However in this tough game no one goes ten for ten at bat, and in this article today on Vélib they have really missed the ball. Guess we have to be a bit careful concerning about what we read in the paper (Streets included, of course)

Before you dig into their piece however, let me draw a handful of earlier reports on just this which are a lot closer to having their facts straight. (And by the time that you get to the Time's Halloween piece below, you surely have to wonder what the fuss is all these months later. Strike three on this one. But you will have plenty more Times at bat.)

From Le Parisien – 9 February 2009
Les Vélib' décimés par le vandalisme - http://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/les-velib-decimes-par-le-vandalisme-09-02-2009-404833.php_ (Strike 1)

From Streetsblog – 12 February 2009

Reports of Vélib demise greatly exaggerated, by Ben Fried.
http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/02/12/reports-of-velibs-demise-greatly-exaggerated/

From World Streets:
Reports of Vélib demise greatly exaggerated – 12 February 2009 http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/02/reports-of-velibs-demise-greatly.html

The End of City Bikes: Vandalism, Theft and the End of the World" – 19 February 2009 -http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WorldCityBike/message/627 (New Mobility's World City Bike Forum)

Happy Birthday Vélib' (Oh dear, what's wrong with you?) – 26 June 2009 http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/06/happy-birthday-velib-oh-dear-whats.html

Happy Birthday Vélib': Now you are two – 15 July 2009
http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/07/happy-birthday-velib-now-you-are-two.html

------------------------------
And now, from our second favorite English-language daily, The New York Times

October 31, 2009 – Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/world/europe/31bikes.html?ref=europe

French Ideal of Bicycle-Sharing Meets Reality

By Steven Erlanger and Maïa De La Baume

PARIS — Just as Le Corbusier’s white cruciform towers once excited visions of the industrial-age city of the future, so Vélib’, Paris’s bicycle rental system, inspired a new urban ethos for the era of climate change.
Residents here can rent a sturdy bicycle from hundreds of public stations and pedal to their destinations, an inexpensive, healthy and low-carbon alternative to hopping in a car or bus.

But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program’s organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them. And along with the dent in the city-subsidized budget has been a blow to the Parisian psyche.

“The symbol of a fixed-up, eco-friendly city has become a new source for criminality,” Le Monde mourned in an editorial over the summer. “The Vélib’ was aimed at civilizing city travel. It has increased incivilities.”

The heavy, sandy-bronze Vélib’ bicycles are seen as an accoutrement of the “bobos,” or “bourgeois-bohèmes,” the trendy urban middle class, and they stir resentment and covetousness. They are often being vandalized in a socially divided Paris by resentful, angry or anarchic youth, the police and sociologists say.

Bruno Marzloff, a sociologist who specializes in transportation, said, “One must relate this to other incivilities, and especially the burning of cars,” referring to gangs of immigrant youths burning cars during riots in the suburbs in 2005.

He said he believed there was social revolt behind Vélib’ vandalism, especially for suburban residents, many of them poor immigrants who feel excluded from the glamorous side of Paris.

“It is an outcry, a form of rebellion; this violence is not gratuitous,” Mr. Marzloff said. “There is an element of negligence that means, ‘We don’t have the right to mobility like other people, to get to Paris it’s a huge pain, we don’t have cars, and when we do, it’s too expensive and too far.’ ”

Used mainly for commuting in the urban core of the city, the Vélib’ program is by many measures a success. After swiping a credit card for a deposit at an electronic docking station, a rider pays one euro per day, or 29 euros (about $43) for an annual pass, for unlimited access to the bikes for 30-minute periods that can be extended for a small fee.

Daily use averages 50,000 to 150,000 trips, depending on the season, and the bicycles have proved to be a hit with tourists, who help power the economy.

But the extra-solid construction and electronic docks mean the bikes, made in Hungary, are expensive, and not everyone shares the spirit of joint public property promoted by Paris’s Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.

“We miscalculated the damage and the theft,” said Albert Asséraf, director of strategy, research and marketing at JCDecaux, the outdoor-advertising company that is a major financer and organizer of the project. “But we had no reference point in the world for this kind of initiative.”

At least 8,000 bikes have been stolen and 8,000 damaged so badly that they had to be replaced — nearly 80 percent of the initial stock, Mr. Asséraf said.

JCDecaux must repair some 1,500 bicycles a day. The company maintains 10 repair shops and a workshop on a boat that moves up and down the Seine.

JCDecaux reinforced the bicycles’ chains and baskets and added better theft protection, strengthening the mechanisms that attach them to the electronic parking docks, since an incompletely secured bike is much easier to steal. But the damage and theft continued.

“We made the bike stronger, ran ad campaigns against vandalism and tried to better inform people on the Web,” Mr. Asséraf said. But “the real solution is just individual respect.”

In 2008 , the number of infractions related to Vélib’ vandalism rose 54 percent, according to the Paris police.

“We found many stolen Vélib’s in Paris’s troubled neighborhoods,” said Marie Lajus, a spokeswoman for the police. “It’s not profit-making delinquency, but rather young boys, especially from the suburbs, consider the Vélib’ an object that has no value.”

Sometimes the bikes are also victims of good old adolescent anarchic fun. These attitudes are expressed by the “freeriders,” and a bicycle forum, where a mock poll asks riders whether the Vélib’ can do wheelies, go down stairs and make decent skid marks.

It is commonplace now to see the bikes at docking stations in Paris with flat tires, punctured wheels or missing baskets. Some Vélib’s have been found hanging from lampposts, dumped in the Seine, used on the streets of Bucharest or resting in shipping containers on their way to North Africa. Some are simply appropriated and repainted.

Finding a decent one is now something of an urban treasure hunt. Géraldine Bernard, 31, of Paris rides a Vélib’ to work every day but admits having difficulties lately finding functioning bikes.

“It’s a very clever initiative to improve people’s lives, but it’s not a complete success,” she said.

“For a regular user like me, it generates a lot of frustration,” she said. “It’s a reflection of the violence of our society and it’s outrageous: the Vélib’ is a public good but there is no civic feeling related to it.”

Still, with more than 63 million rentals since the program was begun in mid-2007, the Vélib’ is an established part of Parisian life, and the program has been extended to provide 4,000 Vélib’s in 29 towns on the city’s edges.

So despite the increasing costs, Paris and JCDecaux are pressing on. The company invested about $140 million to set up the system and provides a yearly fee of about $5.5 million to Paris, which also gets rental fees for the bikes. In return, the company’s 10-year contract allows it to put up 1,628 billboards that it can rent.

Although JCDecaux will not discuss money figures, the expected date for profitability has been set back. But the City of Paris has agreed to pay JCDecaux about $600 for each stolen or irreparably damaged bike if the number exceeds 4 percent of the fleet, which it clearly does.

In an unsuccessful effort to stop vandalism, Paris began an advertising campaign this summer. Posters showed a cartoon Vélib’ being roughed up by a thug. The caption read: “It’s easy to beat up a Vélib’, it can’t defend itself. Vélib’ belongs to you, protect it!”

# # #

Some on-street fact checking:

So dear reader, to give you a whiff of the on-street reality of Vélib on this beautiful Fall day, I went out to do a little informal field work/fact checking early this morning. I visited half a dozen of the stations in the area indicated in the following map (which by the way you can use yourselves to check out station and bike status at http://www.parisavelo.net/). For a total of about 130 parking slots, I counted 41 parked bikes, 34 of which ready to go ,and the reminder with what appear to be some minor adjustments that the technicians should be able to handle readily and right on the spot (at least most of them).



As a daily user of Vélib, what can I say but that it works and that JCDecaux continues to do a sufficiently good job of keeping them on the street, such that a good part of the people I know are regular users. (What JCD cannot fix though, is that city traffic, despite all that has been done with over 400 Kms of pretty safe cycling provision, is such that really only confirmed cyclists should be trying this. But for us – and there are now a couple of hundred thousand regular users – it's a snap.)

Here are three sample stations from my morning trip.







To conclude:
Our friends at the Times have a lot of the standard numbers right (we envy them bitterly their fact checkers), but somehow once again they have dug up the fantastic number that a single Vélib cost $3,500. Who gave them that number? One does have to wonder why they have decided to reheat this old chestnut. Perhaps it's a Halloween story. Sure, that must be it. Happy Halloween.

On the other hand, I have to be perfectly frank with you: I have yet to try one in Bucharest, Marrakesh or in the Seine. But if you have, please, World Streets would like to hear from you.

Eric Britton
Editor

PS. And oh yes, despite all the kvetching, we really do love you NYT and want you to hang in there with your generally exemplary reporting. No one goes ten for ten in the Majors.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Honk! Will technology save us from ourselves?

When is "an important safety advance" perhaps not that safe after all? Is the answer to accidents between large, powerful and fast-moving motor vehicles and anyone else, pedestrians, cyclists and straying children and small animals included, to load on the technology to save us from ourselves? Or might it be something else, perhaps like slowing the cars on all our streets, is a better way to tackle this particular problem?

We of course vote for the latter, because we know from long experience that there are always drivers who are going to go as fast as the conditions permit. That's a fact and since this is the case, we have to slow them down through appropriate street architecture. Now let's read what our World Streets Sentinel, April Streeter, has recently written on this subject.

* Thanks to Ms. Streeter for her permission to reproduce. For the original piece, click to http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/volvo-makes-car-that-brakes-for-kids.php
Volvo Makes A Car That Stops For Pedestrians (and Next, For Bikes)

by April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden on 10.26.09


We talk a lot about cycling at TreeHugger, and cyclist safety. But the truth of the matter is we're all vulnerable pedestrians at one point or another, and speed still kills. But as Copenhagenize reports, Volvo, those Swedish safety experts, have been working on a system that recognizes pedestrians as they walk in front of a car's front end, and if the car's speed is under 25 kilometers per hour, automatically puts on full brakes.

Volvo may not be the best at snappy marketing monikers - the safety system is called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection, and will be included in the next S60 sedan as an optional add-on in the $3,500 "premium package." The system is far from perfect -- it doesn't work at night, and it doesn't recognize bicycles -- but Volvo says it will continue to improve upon the design.

* Click here to view the Volvo video -

The system is a radar hidden behind the car grill and a video camera mounted by the rear-view mirror. While the radar spots objects at a distance, the camera hones in to identify where the object is say, a lamppost or a little kid. If the system identifies a person and a potential danger, an audible warning is accompanied by a flashing red light, similar to a brake light, designed to prompt a driver to brake. If the driver doesn't brake, the car brakes automatically.

Because pedestrians are definitely the most vulnerable members of the traffic fabric, Volvo engineers have focused on creating a system (10 years in the making) that could reduce accident rates -- 16% of all traffic-related deaths in Sweden are pedestrians, according to the Copenhagenize post, and 11% of all serious injuries in accidents are pedestrians. In fact, those safety-focused Swedes have a national goal that "nobody should be killed or seriously injured on the road transport system."

"Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 25 km/h. If the car is travelling faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75 percent. Considering the large number of pedestrian fatalities that occur, if we manage to lower the fatality risk by 20 percent this new function will make a big difference." Volvo's Thomas Broberg said at motorward.com.

An even more interesting statistic is this -- Swedish research into collisions finds that 93% of accidents that occur happen because the "driver was occupied with something else other than driving."

Of course, there is the argument that smarter cars will equal dumber drivers. We vote for simply slowing down city traffic - when you are driving more slowly you have time to react to the unexpected, such as the child darting out in front of you. But would slower cars and trucks equal more road rage and more hatred for the human elements on our "complete" streets?

# # #

In this slot at the end of contributed articles, we generally try to place a few sober words that will permit our readers to know a bit about the author. But this time the temptation is too great, so now you have a short bio note in April's own words.

"April is a former bilingual cocktail waitress who left the warm beaches of Hawaii to pursue an upstanding career as reporter on the new and exciting digital world for MacWEEK magazine in San Francisco. When she finally couldn't stand the thought of writing about one more wireless local area network router, she recast herself as an environmental and sustainability journalist for Tomorrow magazine in Stockholm, Sweden. A few years later, she escaped the Scandinavian chill to become editor of Sustainable Industries magazine in Portland, Oregon. But eventually, the lure of endless months of darkness and sleety rain beckoned her back to Gothenburg, Sweden where she today is a freelance writer and Hatha yoga teacher forever on the lookout for a good/local/organic/sustainable/fair trade Swedish burrito."

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Resource: Victoria Transport Policy Institute Fall Newsletter

This hefty seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool for researchers and policy makers world-wide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references for you to take it further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.

VTPI NEWS

News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Autumn 2009 Vol. 12, No. 4

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.

New Documents

"Where We Want To Be: Household Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth" ( http:vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf).
This paper investigates consumer housing preferences and their implications for future urban development patterns. Market research indicates that households increasingly prefer smart growth features such as location accessibility (indicated by shorter commutes), land use mix (indicated by nearby shops and services), and transportation diversity (indicated by good walking conditions and public transit services), and many will choose small-lots and attached homes that offer these features over large-lot sprawl homes that do not. The current stock of large-lot housing should be adequate for decades, but the supply of small-lot and attached housing will need to approximately double by 2025 to meet consumer demands.


"Evaluating Transit-Oriented Development Using a Sustainability Framework: Lessons from Perth's Network City" (www.vtpi.org/renne_tod.pdf ), by Professor John Renne.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is compact, mixed-use development that facilitates walking, bicycling, and use of public transport through its urban design. This chapter from the book 'Planning Sustainable Communities,' presents a method to evaluate TOD sustainability based on outcomes, including travel behaviour, local economic development, natural environment, built environment, social environment and policy context. The study applies this analysis framework to five rail transit precincts in Perth, Western Australia to test the feasibility of data collection and analysis.


"Who Is Really Paying For Your Parking Space? Estimating The Marginal Implicit Value Of Off-Street Parking Spaces For Condominiums In Central Edmonton," (www.vtpi.org/jung_parking.pdf ), by Owen Jung.
This master's thesis (economics) uses hedonic pricing to estimate the marginal effect of each additional structured parking space on condominium prices in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The analysis indicates that the value of a parking space is statistically significant but substantially less than the typical cost of supplying such spaces. The results suggest that retail prices do not fully reflect the parking costs. This adversely affects housing affordability because developers must charge more per unit, and to the degree that the additional parking costs cannot be recovered by higher prices, are likely to provide less housing, leading to a higher market-clearing price, particularly in lower price ranges.


"Making the Most of Models: Using Models To Develop More Effective Transport Policies And Strategies" ( http://www.vtpi.org/FerWig_Modelling.pdf ) by Peter Furnish and Don Wignall
This paper discusses how simplified transport models in evaluating transportation policies and programs. An example of a simplified model is described to illustrate the use of this type of modelling for policy and strategy development purposes.


Published Elsewhere

"Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy: Recommendations and Research" (188-page report) and "The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America" (36-page summary report) by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute Convergence Partnership ( http://www.convergencepartnership.org/transportationhealthandequity )
These publications, written by leading academics and advocates, discuss key issues related to health, equity and transportation. They identify specific transportation policies and programs that can improve public health and quality of life, particularly for vulnerable communities. Includes an introduction by Representative Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

'Mobility as a Positional Good: Implications for Transport Policy and Planning,' by Todd Litman, in "Car Troubles: Critical Studies of Automobility and Auto-Mobility" (Jim Conley and Arlene Tigar McLaren eds), Ashgate ( http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754677727 ). Introduction at http://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Car_Troubles_Intro.pdf . Chapter summarized in http://www.vtpi.org/prestige.pdf .
This book, with chapters written by various researchers, uses social theory, specific case studies and policy analysis to examine issues related to automobility.

"Parking Solutions: Essential Info Packet, Planning Advisory Service" http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets), published by the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Service. Includes papers by various authors including Todd Litman if VTPI.
These packets include:
'Parking Solutions' (130 pages): six documents that describe modern approaches to parking management.
'Shared Parking” (133 pages): more than thirty documents concerning shared parking, parking in-lieu fees, parking requirement reductions and exemptions, and downtown district special parking requirements.
'Green Parking Lot Design” (66 pages): three documents that describe ways to improve parking lot environmental performance including landscaping, stormwater management and reduced heat island effects.
'Permeable Pavement and Bicycle Parking' (38 pages): five documents concerning the use of permeable parking lot pavement materials and five documents concerning bicycle parking requirements and design.

"Investment Of Commonwealth And State Funds In Public Passenger Transport," 31 July 2009, Rural And Regional Affairs And Transport References Committee, Australian Senate; at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/rrat_ctte/public_transport/report/report.pdf . Todd Litman’s comments are at www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12320.pdf .
This study identified various benefits of public transportation and recommended various reforms to increase the value of transit investments.

'Creating Safe and Healthy Communities,' by Todd Litman, in "Environments: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies," ( http://www.fes.uwaterloo.ca/research/environments/index.html ), Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 21-43.

'Integrated University Parking & Access Management Programs' by Dennis Burns and Todd Litman, in "Parking Management - Planning, Design and Operations" (Volume 3 in the Parking 101 Series, 2009), International Parking Institute ( http://www.new.parking.org/products/parking-management-pdo ).

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
"Rea Vaya ('We are Moving') In South Africa" ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41414 )
"Sidewalk Design Vehicle" ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41262 )
"Universal Design - Accommodating Everybody" ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41097 )
"Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth" ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/40461 )
"Moving Cooler Report: Solutions and Criticisms" ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/39945)

Recent presentations by VTPI:

"Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Implications of Population Aging on Transportation and Community Planning" presented at, Exploring Age-Friendly Environments, Winnipeg, Canada.

"Capacity Building for Young Professionals," professional development classes in Argentina. This enjoyable visit to Buenos Aries involved teaching transportation and land use planning principles to a class of smart, enthusiastic young professionals. Muchas gracias to my hosts!

"Sustainable Transport Performance Indicators," presented at Toward Sustainable Transport System for Green Growth in the North Pacific, sponsored by the East-West Center and Korean Transport Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii.


Upcoming Events

"Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For New Urbanism," to be presented at The Congress for the New Urbanism's 2009 Transportation Summit ( http://www.cnu.org/transportation2009 ) to be held in Portland, Oregon, 4-6 November 2009.
This Summit will advance new ideas for creating compact, walkable communities that provide residents a high quality of life while preserving the natural environment. It brings together 150 to 200 expert engineers, planners, public officials and design professionals to present ideas and work toward reforming transportation standards that obstruct urbanism.

"Bicycle Friendly Planning," to be presented at the International Cycling Symposium for Gumi, South Korea, 18 November 2009.

"Transportation and Health: The Evidence and the Opportunities," to be presented at the American Public Health Association 137th Annual Meeting, Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM, in Philadelphia, PA. ( http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/Session27792.html ).

"The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?" (P10-0710)
Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 10-14 January 2010, Washington DC (http://www.trb.org ).
This session will debate the role of VMT reduction targets to help achieve climate change emission reductions and other planning objectives .
Todd Alexander Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Canada
Marlon G. Boarnet, University of California, Irvine
In opposition to the use of VMT Reduction Targets as an effective GHG reduction strategy: (P10-0723)
Alan E. Pisarski, Consultant
Samuel Staley, Reason Foundation


Useful Resources

"Economic Impact Of Public Transportation Investment," American Public Transportation Association ( http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/economic_impact_of_public_transportation_investment.pdf ). This report describes methods for evaluating the economic development benefits of investments in public transportation.

"Non-Toll Pricing: A Primer," ( http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08044/cp_prim6_00.htm ). This short document by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration describes various innovative pricing reforms, including efficient insurance and parking pricing.

"What Policies Are Effective At Reducing Carbon Emissions From Surface Passenger Transport? A Review Of Interventions To Encourage Behaviroual And Technological Change," ( http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/ResearchProgrammes/TechnologyandPolicyAssessment/0904TransportReport.aspx ) by the UK Energy Research Centre.

"On-Street Parking Management and Pricing Study" ( http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/303/149 ).
This study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority reviews the city's existing on-street parking management programs, considers innovative strategies and technologies for improved parking management, and discusses residential parking management issues, including the use of parking revenues to support neighborhood transportation enhancements. It includes several peer city parking management case studies. It provides recommendations for comprehensive neighborhood parking management to improve parking conditions and support policy goals.

"Walkability and Health; BC Sprawl Report 2009," ( http://www.smartgrowth.bc.ca/Portals/0/Downloads/sgbc-sprawlreport-2009.pdf ).
This study by Ray Tomalty and Murtaza Haider evaluates how community design factors (land use density and mix, street connectivity, sidewalk supply, street widths, block lengths, etc.) and a subjective walkability index rating (based on residents' evaluation of various factors) affect walking and biking activity, and health outcomes (hypertension and diabetes). The analysis reveals a statistically significant association between improved walkability and more walking and cycling activity, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower hypertension. The study also includes case studies which identified policy changes likely to improve health in specific communities.

"Moving Cooler: Transportation Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions," ( http://www.movingcooler.info ).
This report, sponsored by a number of major transportation, business and environmental organizations evaluates several dozen climate change emission reduction strategies, including their emission reductions, implementation costs, impacts on vehicle costs, and equity impacts. It estimates the emissions that could be reduced under a range of assumptions about how they are implemented.

"Real Transportation Solutions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions" ( http://www.transportation1.org/RealSolutions/index.html ).
This report by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials identifies various ways to reduce transportation climate change emissions.

"A Conceptual Framework For The Reform Of Taxes Related To Roads And Transport" ( http://apo.org.au/research/conceptual-framework-reform-taxes-related-roads-and-transport ), School of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University for the 'Australia's Future Tax System' review by Treasury, Canberra.
This report examines how transport services in Australia should be priced and transportation facilities funded. It discusses various economic principles related to efficient prices and taxes, estimates various transportation-related external costs (road and parking facilities, congestion, accidents, energy consumption and pollution), evaluates current pricing efficiency and recommends various reforms to help achieve transportation planning objectives.

"Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities" ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/WalkingTheWalk_CEOsforCities1.pdf ).
This study by Joe Cortright of CEOs for Cities evaluates the effects of walkability on housing prices using the used Walkscore ( www.walkscore.com) and 95,000 real estate transactions, controlling for house (size, number of bedrooms and baths, age) and neighborhood characteristics (proximity to the CBD, income, and accessibility to jobs). It found that, each walkscore point increase was associated with a $700 to $3000 increase in home values, after controlling for other observable factors, so for example, shifting from a 50th to a 75th percentile walkscore typically increases a house’s value $4,000 to $34,000, depending on the market.

"Are TODs Over-Parked?" ( http://www.uctc.net/papers/882.pdf ).
This study by Robert Cervero, Arlie Adkins, and Cathleen Sullivan investigated the degree to which residential developments near urban rail stations are "over-parked," that is, more parking is provided than needed. It found the mean parking supply of 1.57 spaces per unit was 31% higher than the 1.2 spaces recommended in ITE Parking Generation, and 37% higher than the weighted-average peak demand of 1.15 parked cars per unit at 31 residential projects near BART rail stations. The analysis indicates that increased parking supply tends to increase vehicle ownership: an increase of 0.5 spaces per unit is associated with a 0.11 additional cars parked per unit at the peak. Parking demand tends to decline with improved pedestrian access to stations and improved transit service frequency.

"Applying Health Impact Assessment To Land Transport Planning" ( http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/reports/375.pdf ).
This report by the NZ Transport Agency describes Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a process to inform decision makers about the likely positive and negative effects of a proposal on public health and on health inequalities in order to avoid unintended consequences and to make informed decisions. This report recommends transport policy and planning practices to protect and promote public health.

"Transportation Demand Management: A Small and Mid-Size Communities Toolkit" ( http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/programs/documents/FBC_TDM_toolkit_web.pdf ).
This toolkit provides guidance on implementing TDM programs and strategies in smaller and medium-size communities. It includes an introduction to transportation demand management (TDM) and what it takes to implement a TDM strategy. There are 10 TDM case studies of small and mid-size communities. The toolkit shows how to start a TDM initiative and how to turn it into a comprehensive program, offering helpful resources.

Co-Benefits Asia Hub Website ( http://www.observatory.ph/co-benefits_asia ) provides information on climate change emission reduction strategies that provide additional benefits related to environment (e.g. air quality management, health, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity), energy (e.g. renewable energy, alternative fuels and energy efficiency) and economics (e.g. long-term economic sustainability, industry competitiveness, income distribution).

"Getting More with Less: Managing Residential Parking in Urban Developments with Carsharing and Unbundling" ( http://www.citycarshare.org/download/CityCarShare2009BestPracticesReport.pdf ).
This new report describes examples of residential developments that rely on unbundled parking and on-site carshare services to significantly reduce parking requirements. Provides guidance to developers and planners on applying these strategies.

"CityTalent: Keeping Young Professionals (and their kids) in Cities," ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/CEOs_CityTalent_Kids.pdf )
This new report by CEOs for Cities helps urban leaders understand, support and scale the behaviors of multi-generation urban families. Researchers studied parent concerns of safety, space and schools developing concepts to counter them through density, public space and using the city as a classroom.

"The Challenge of Sustainable Mobility in Urban Planning and Development in Oslo" ( http://www.toi.no/getfile.php/Publikasjoner/T%D8I%20rapporter/2009/1024-2009/1024-2009-nett.pdf )
This report provides detailed analysis of transportation and land use development trends in Oslo, Norway. It indicates that smart growth policies and investments in alternative modes (particularly high quality public transit) can reduce per capita vehicle travel and energy consumption. It discusses this decoupling of economic development and VMT.

# # #

About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Transportation policy discussions in the United States -2009
(Collaboative problem-solving with Bill the Lizard - 1865)

Looking from afar at the transportation policy discussions currently sputtering on at the level of the federal government, in most states and in many cities in the United States -- what to prioritize and fund in the face of combined climate urgency and the need for sustainable and fair mobility? - one is reminded of an earlier tale of tangled collaborative problem solving many years ago in England, which ran like this:

Fresh out of "Alice in Wonderland" where a rapidly-expanding Alice gets stuck in the chimney. Bill the Lizard -- the guy seems to do all of the hard work for The White Rabbit and the denizens of the community -- is the one who gets nominated to be the point man in their team problem-solving process, much against his better instincts.

Here is the well-thought out process that this team engaged in the face of their problem.

. . .

Where’s the other ladder?

Why, I hadn’t to bring but one; Bill’s got the other

Bill! fetch it here, lad!

Here, put ’em up at this corner

No, tie ’em together first.

They don’t reach half high enough yet

Oh! they’ll do well enough; don’t be particular

Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope

Will the roof bear?

Mind that loose slate

Oh, it’s coming down! Heads below!’ (a loud crash)

‘Now, who did that?

It was Bill, I fancy

Who’s to go down the chimney?

Nay, I shan’t! you do it!

That I won’t, then!

Bill’s to go down

Here, Bill! the master says you’re to go down the chimney!’

# # #

Am I the only one who sees a parallel here?

(And if only our American friends were the sole example of this "energetic problem-solving" technique. Have a look into the mirror and see if this fits in with the state of play in your country. We are not alone. Sob!)


Source: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , (1865). W.W. Norton & Co.; Upd Sub edition (November 17, 1999). ISBN-10: 0393048470.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Letter from Italy: New Mobility for a New Economy?
More cash for clunkers foolishness

Cash for clunkers is a worldwide virus often presented as a medicine for a very sick patient. (See World Streets 'Cash for Clunkers', 12 Aug. 09, ). This dispatch just in from Enrico Bonfatti, editor of our sister publication, Nuova Mobilità, translates an article posted in N/M in Italian last Friday. Apparently the Italian political establishment is no better at this than any of the dozen or so governments who are desperately scrambling to hold on to an irredeemable past. At high cost to taxpayers and to the future.

Following the World Streets 12 August post on the funds and impacts of the US program for scrapping old cars for new-- (Mr. Meter on America's "Cash for Clunkers" -- we invite you to read the analysis from an Italian perspective as presented by Italy's "NoAuto" association in response to the Minister of Economic Development Claudio Scajola's proposal to relaunch of the 2010 program of incentives for the purchase of "green cars" in support of the country's ailing car industry, the estimated cost of which is in the area of € 400-500 millions. What will we get for our money?

Rome. 8 October 2009.

Yes for new mobility -- no to incentives for the car

In these days the media are back to talking about actions in support of the automobile. The association NoAuto believes that a new round of incentives to subsidize new car purchases would be a grave error in both industrial and transport policies.

1. Because such incentives produce only temporary effects.
The European car market is saturated, and the only markets expected to grow are those of the large emerging countries (China, India, Brazil, etc.). However these are and will be served by local production. It is therefore economically wrong and socially irresponsible to continue to support an industry in a permanent structural decline. What is needed instead is a vast program of industrial reconstruction and reshaping for the future.

2. Because the car-oriented mobility system is in the midst of a permanent crisis.
The historic promises of the car (speed, flexibility, comfort) are now a mirage. Our cities are gripped by congestion and made unhealthy and unsafe by pollution, noise and accidents: all the direct result of growing figures in car flows, which in recent years has been repeatedly supported by incentives to purchase newer and "greener" car. Thus supporting the purchase of more cars at the public's expense is wrong from the transport policy's point of view too.

3. A European solution
For these reasons, NoAuto believes that we would do better to scrap these costly and ultimately ineffective stop-gap measures, and instead design and launch an innovative multi-partner, public-private reconstruction plan for improved new mobility, to be applied primarily to the urban and local scale .

NoAuto believes that such a plan should created and promoted not only nationally, but could be developed into a powerful and timely European policy, that could include budget improvements for the Action Plan for Urban Mobility that the European Commission has just issued on September, 30th.

In brief, the extraordinary plan for new mobility in and around our cities should rely on two main lines of action:

1. Creation of a National (or European) Fund for New Mobility . . .
to support local authorities' plans to improve public transport, walking, cycling and innovative transport modes (carsharing, city logistics, etc.). At the regional level funds should not be aimed to support single modes of transport, but rather should be strategically integrated into overall policy reforms plans and policies (packages of measures), and looking beyond the city centers to deal with the problems of the surrounding lower density areas as well.

At the national level the legislative framework of "Piani Urbani della Mobilità" (Urban Mobility Plans) which was introduced many years ago, should now be brought up to date and modified to meet new needs (not so much new, as uncovered) and - most of all - to find the necessary funds as will be required to support the transition process over the ten to fifteen years directly ahead. This funding of first rate new mobility programs for our cities and the country can easily come out of savings that can result from the rationalization of the much larger amounts which traditionally get spent on big transportation infrastructure projects, which themselves support inefficient use of resources. It is time to put "old mobility" (the no-choice, car-based system) behind us and move up to efficient mobility.

At the European level the New Mobility Plan should be dealt with in a separate section within the European funding schemes for local or regional transportation networks.

2. A European plan to convert the car industry, . . .
which accompanies the transition to the new urban mobility system. A plan built on three pillars:

a) The strategic use of unemployment wages and other kinds of "social bumpers" and professional training to avoid "social butchery" among workers in the sector, while at the same time facilitating the transition to a New Mobility Agenda and the jobs that will go with it;

b) Placement of extraordinary orders by administrations and public companies for the development of green transport modes and products (trains, metro, tram , buses, vans, taxis, bicycles, including by grouping purchases to drive down unit costs);

c) Funding to support to integration of producers of components, services and systems for the new urban mobility: research centers, local authorities, partners of credit, specialized consultants, public interest groups working in the field, media projects, etc.
Also in this case an action at the European level is required because it will help us to attain the critical mass needed to ensure such actions. Among other things, a joint European Union position could overcome any possible objection on "State aid" \.

For these reasons NoAuto now calls for a political initiative as broad-based as possible, involving the many experiences of mobilization against unsustainable transportation plans and projects, and, more importantly, finally starting a confrontation with the car sector workers that abroad is already being performed.

A good starting point could be to resume and revive the ideas and proposals that have been launched in recent months - for example by workers of the FIAT plant in Pomigliano d'Arco.

This is no time for closed government. The important thing is to begin to open up the debate to all the players, let the best ideas compete, and mobilize for another mobility. If not now, when?


# # #

NoAuto is an Italian public interest association promoting a system of mobility alternatives to the car: MORE public transport, safety for walking and cycling, decreased congestion and pollution, reconquest of urban space, healthier lives, are among the objectives. The weekly magazine 'Carta' (www.carta.org) hosts a regular feature of the association.

For more:
Read: www.noauto.org
Contact: info@noauto.org

-----------------------

And now, a glance at Europe's 'cash-for-clunkers' programs

By The Associated Press (AP) – 8 Aug. 2009

The popular "cash-for-clunkers" program that has encouraged consumers in Europe and the U.S. to trade in their old cars for newer and more efficient models was born in December 2008 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a Euro 26 billion ($37.36 billion) stimulus plan to help the country ward off a recession.

To date, 11 countries in Europe offer similar plans.

* Germany offers Euro 2,500 to buyers of new or almost new cars who own cars that are nine years or older.

* France offers Euro 1,000 to scrap an older car that's at least 10 years old.

* Italy offers Euro 1,500 for a car and Euro 2,500 for a light commercial vehicle for buyers who agree to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old.

* Spain offers Euro 2,000 on a purchase price of up to Euro 30,000; old car must be at least 10 years old.

* Portugal offers Euro 1,250 for scrapping a car that is 8 to 12 years old, or Euro 1,500 for a car that is older than 12 years.

* The Netherlands pays between Euro 750 to Euro 1,750 to scrap a car that is 9, 13 or 19-years-old.

* Austria offers Euro 1,500; car must be at least 12 years old.

* Romania offers Euro 900 to scrap a car that is at least 10 years old but limited the program to just 60,000 units.

* Slovakia offers Euro 1,100 toward a purchase price of up to Euro 18,800.

* Serbia offers Euro 1,000 on any new locally built Fiat Punto if a buyer trades in a 9-year-old car.

Source: Various governments, IHS Global Insight. - http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jOxyXvhSiYz--vOseImAnJ5Nl4xwD99U99I81

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

# # #

The very high cost of these programs:

It's not the shameless draining of the taxpayer coffers that is the true cost of this folly. It is the fact that each time a high profile public "effort" is announced and grabs the headlines, it has the impact of giving a false sense of security that "something is being done" to counter the fundamental problems that underlie all this. This in turn generates either a sense of complacency, or in cases like this where the foolishness is so very apparent, discourages many from coming to grips with the real issues and choices. So CfC is a real step backward.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Winning the World Climate Game: Brainwork challenge

Let's assume that the world climate negotiations in general-- and all in the run-up to COP15 in December and its aftermath -- need a shot in the arm, a game-changer, in order to begin to break a deadlock that has gone on all too long at huge cost to the planet and future generations. Do you accept this as something worth at least considering? If so . . .

After having observed closely this largely failed process for many years, here is one thing I have concluded about our dilemma:

The challenge (the planet) is clearly a lot bigger than the problem-solving apparatus we have put in place to deal with it. Does that seem about right to you?

So what about this as an analogy to stimulate our thinking? We are trying to play a game, say like tennis. We have a ball, net, court, lines, etc. Should be easy enough, eh?

However, in the climate case the ball (the planetary challenge) is clearly far bigger than the court (the existing problem solving frame) into which we need to hit it. Oops.


So what is the solution? Obviously to turn it into something that is not a travesty, and at least possible, we would have to redraw the court, somehow reshape and redimension the problem solving process.

(Of course if we want to shrink the ball, i.e., do less for the planet, we can do that too. In fact, that looks kind of familiar.)

How might we handle this challenge in the case of the climate process? What could be the game-changer(s) that would allow us to have a shot at winning.

This is to invite your suggestions as to ONE BASIC THING we could do to change the game, the rules, so that our planet has a decent chance.

Something deep and fundamental. Something that upsets the old order that has failed us for so long.

Please send your nominations and ideas to the editor@worldstreets.org, and also we invite you to post them directly to the Comment section which you will see just below.

Let's see if we can solve this one by putting our heads together.

Go!

The editor

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Resource: Planning for Sustainable Travel - Tools for better integration between land use & transport planning

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) announce "a powerful new tool for planning practitioners, local authority officers and Councillors for better integration between land use and transport planning". Planning for Sustainable Travel is a web-based resource with a summary practice guide, identifying the 11 key land use levers that planners and transport planners can use to help achieve lower trip rates, shorter travel distances and greater use of sustainable travel modes.

"The guidance makes two key recommendations:

1. Much more attention should be given at an early stage to analysing locational options for major development - selecting places likely to generate low trip rates and the greatest potential to offer a competitive alternative to car use.

2. New developments should be planned to achieve levels of car distance travelled per head that are lower than the average for the transport authority area and that are good practice benchmarks
It is intended that the guidance acts as a resource bringing together current sometimes disparate advise under one website and guide."

# # #

* For a short intro to the report - http://www.cfit.gov.uk/pn/091023/index.htm

* For project website - www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Full guidance is available at www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Planning for sustainable travel (summary guide)

* Planning for sustainable travel (leaflet)

* Planning for sustainable travel (background and technical analysis)

* For background on the CfIT - http://www.cfit.gov.uk


Contact:
Daniel Parker-Klein
Transport Planning Policy Officer
Commission for Integrated Transport
55 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU
t +44 020 7348 1970
f +44 020 7348 1989
m +44 07894 620655
e daniel.parker-klein@ciltuk.org.uk

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Friday, October 23, 2009

24 October 2009, International Day of Climate Action
World Streets on-line support of www.350.org through 2010

Tomorrow, October 24th, our friends over at 350.ORG have organized the biggest day of global political action in the history of our gasping planet - the International Day of Climate Action. World Streets thinks this is a great and practical activist tool which we are pleased to support; we invite you to check it out right here and perhaps get involved too. The planet needs every one of us.

Backdrop:Read Bill McKibben's recent blog post, "The Science of 350, the Most Important Number on the Planet" - here

On October 24, millions of people across the globe will participate in the most widespread day of environmental action in history, attending over 4,500 simultaneous events in more than 170 countries. Organized by the grassroots campaign 350.org, participants are mobilizing to urge world leaders to support a clear solution to the climate crisis: reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.

350 is the most important number in the world--scientists have told us that it's the most carbon dioxide we can have in the atmosphere, and now we're making sure everyone knows. We'll be taking photos from all the events, projecting them on the big screens in New York's Times Square, and delivering them to major media outlets and hundreds of world leaders in the coming weeks. The combined noise from these events will ensure that world leaders who gather next month at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen to create the world's new plan on climate change will hear our call. They will know that when negotiating the fate of our planet, there is a passionate movement out there which will hold them accountable.

To help you take part in tomorrow's international day of climate action, they are:

* Lifting public awareness on the need for an international climate treaty to reach 350

* Assembling a coalition of hundreds of organizations committed to this vision of a more sustainable world

* Connecting you with others in your community and across the planet who are building this movement

* Providing on-line resources and tools that make pulling together an event easy

* Linking your October 24 event with hundreds of other actions at iconic places around the world

* Leveraging the day of action for meaningful political change

From capitol cities to the melting slopes of Mount Everest, even underwater on dying coral reefs—people are holding rallies and visual demonstrations aimed at focusing attention on the 350 target. Highlights include over 200 events across China; major rallies at iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef; 350 scuba divers holding an underwater protest in the Maldives; 200 events across the Middle East; and 350 Masaii children hosting a traditional dance on their parched fields in Kenya.

Photos and video footage of events all over the world will be broadcast on giant screens at a culminating event in New York City’s Times Square at 3:50 pm (EDT) on October 24. Footage and photos will also be available for media use at 350.org.

# # #

This positing represents our action participation and support of this great project idea. Have a look and consider how you might wish to join in or otherwise put this network to work.
* Click here for full details: http://www.350.org/plan

* To find an event in your area - http://www.350.org/map

* To organise your own event - Check out their 9 step action plan - http://www.350.org/9steps

* World Streets support action page: http://www.350.org/node/11209


* Car Free Day drum band in Kaohsiung – we're behind you Bill

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Sustainable transport on the road to COP15?
"In my humble opinion we are not ready."

"Transport is not a party to CO2 talks. Local, regional, and national transport stakeholders – planners, mayors, transit operators, developers, walkers, bikers are only there if they are invited by their delegations or as part of a true blizzard of interesting side events. But SIDE events. The power lies elsewhere."


- Contribution by Schipper following up on 20 Oct. posting under this heading.

I was in Kyoto and others through Cop 6, then again Montreal and Bali. I will be in Copenhagen just before the beginning for a meeting of a special study on CO2 and transport in 2050, (There will be an open side event Saturday Dec 5, followed by a reception with a jazz group known as “Lee Schipper and the Mitigators”.)

What was notable about Kyoto was the little guys from the car industry through the “Global Climax Coalition”, a solid contrarian group at the time of mostly America car and fuel companies. They were wearing “badges of convenience”, in that case the “International Chamber of Commerce.” They contributed nothing to the discussion -- although a few were helpful at the various transport-related side events I had organized for the International Energy Agency. General Motors and Honda participated in one side event in the Hague (COP 6) with constructive comments, as did Volvo Bus.

At Bali, I co-organized with the International Transport Forum an SRO event on transport, but mostly focused on tailpipes. Local councilors and others who do have political power were there, but only as observers.

And IMHO, while transport is crucial to solving the problem because over the long run transport – Co2 has grown more than other major sources—CO2 is just NOT a driving factor to total transport costs, externalities, or even variable costs.

Have a look here at our latest report, focused on Latin America but suggesting a total reframing of the problem - http://metrostudies.berkeley.edu/pubs/reports/Shipper-ConsidClimateChange-LatinAmer.pdf

Last year a major global NGO asked me to write a paper explaining how transport could be part of the CO2 process we call “Kyoto”, how the “North” could aid the “South”, etc. Hmm. I demurred.

Shall “we” pay ”them” not to be like us? Do we have some magic low-CO2 technologies? Can CO2-related money (i.e., CDM) possibly add up to anywhere near the trillions that go into roads and expensive metros systems? Will small change undo what mayors, transport ministers and other authorities have been unable to do, namely break the lock of the car on development? I wish it were so.

So maybe we are not ready and should not have high expectations, particularly with the US still in its usual state of disarray and denial, in spite of what I would term positive leadership from our new White House and departments of Transport and Energy and the EPA.

There is at least one bright hope on the horizon. The "Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport", founded in a small meeting held in Bellagio Italy last May, with Cornie Huizenga, formerly director of Clean Air Initiative-Asia as the spearhead, is trying to find ways (and money) to reframe the whole process for transportation funding and policy. Details here from their launch last month in Bangkok. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/envdev1080.doc.htm

I am biased because of my association with this group and its founding, in a way in response to my continual harrumphing about the problems of transport and CO2. This group will be visible in Copenhagen and elsewhere in the future and gives me reason to be more optimistic.

# # #


About the author:
After leaving the International Energy Agency to start EMBARQ, The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport in Washington DC 2002-2007, Lee Schipper moved back to the SF Bay area to split his time between Global Metro Studies, UC Berkeley and the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford where he works to this day.

I asked Lee what in addition to his desk work is he doing to help stem our planet's miserable decline, to which he replied: I have 4 bikes and bike/train to work every day (presumably one at time). My wife and I split one car, 5000 km/year. One daughter (Lisa) is one of the world's leading experts on climate vulnerability and adaptation - her father having failed miserably to help stem the rise in CO2. The other works on issues of refugees and anti-trafficking. I rest my case.

The editor

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wanted: Crowd-Sourced Transportation Analysis
(An open thread for collaborative tool building)

This is the second of a two-part article by Charles Komanoff, activist, energy-economist and policy analyst, looking at goals and tools for finding the right strategy for implementing some form of congesting charging measures in New York City's crowded streets. He invites comment on his proposed "Balance Transportation Analyzer" tool.

Wanted: Crowd-Sourced Transportation Analysis

- by Charles Komanoff. Reprinted from NYC Streetsblog with the author's permission

My recent post refuting David Owen's attack on congestion pricing ignited a long, rich thread. Here's one comment, from "Jonathan," that struck a nerve:

[A] cordon-pricing plan … which doesn't charge center-city residents could result in an increase in those residents' automobile use. If the streets are free of outer-borough traffic, more of my Manhattan neighbors might drive to work, or simply make extra automobile trips within the cordon that without CP [congestion pricing], they would have made by subway or taxi.
Jonathan's right: Any Manhattan cordon-pricing scheme will lead to an uptick in car trips that start and end within the charging zone. It's one of those "rebound effects" that congestion-price modeling needs to account for, and which I've taken pains to incorporate in my Balanced Transportation Analyzer pricing model.

Indeed, I daresay that the BTA handles just about every issue ever raised on this blog about congestion pricing. How many transit users will switch to cabs? Will variable tolls really flatten rush-hour peaks? Won't faster roads lure back the trips killed off by the toll (Owen's conundrum)? And many more.

Technically, the BTA is a spreadsheet. But I think of it as a vast mansion, whose 46 interlinked "rooms" (worksheets) are stocked with precious data and ingenious algorithms for cracking open questions like these:
* How does congestion on weekends compare with weekdays?

* How sharply do traffic speeds rise as volumes fall?

* Which boroughs and counties stand to pay the most with congestion pricing?

* Will a cordon toll lead to more bicycling, and will that improve public health?

* Can decommissioning vehicle lanes increase congestion pricing's benefits?

* Which will boost transit use more: lower fares or better service?

* How many fares does a cabbie get in a ten-hour taxi shift, with and without pricing?

Multiply that list a hundredfold and you get a sense of the BTA's hidden treasures.

I say "hidden" because, except for a few mavens like "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz, who calls it "the best [modeling] tool that I have seen in my nearly 40 years," the Balanced Transportation Analyzer remains largely untapped by advocates. To me, it's as if we're all starving while this rich storehouse next door goes to waste.

Which prompts me to ask:
1. Why is the BTA so underused?
2. Is our community missing out on a valuable tool?
3. What should we do about it?

Let's make this an open thread, with emphasis on what can we do together to make the BTA more accessible and useful to New York's livable streets community. (The model is adaptable to other cities, so those of you not from NYC are also invited.)

As for Jonathan's question: the BTA shows that over the course of a typical weekday, 72 percent of all vehicle miles traveled inside the Manhattan Central Business District are by cars, trucks and buses that have crossed into the CBD, either at 60th Street or across the Hudson or East Rivers, and thus would pay the congestion toll. The remaining 28 percent of VMT is mostly by medallion taxicabs (22 percent). Cars and trucks that stayed within the cordon zone and couldn't be tolled accounted for just 6 percent of all CBD traffic. (All this is derived and shown in the table at the bottom of the BTA's "Cordon" worksheet.)

This tells us that: 1) Even if "intrazonal" traffic rises sharply, as Jonathan fears, it will add relatively little VMT because it's such a small share of overall cordon traffic to begin with; and 2) rather than fret over the free pass for intrazonal trips (which are impractical to toll with current technology), congestion pricing needs a strategy to stop a surge in taxicab use from filling the newly freed road space.

The plan currently advocated by Ted Kheel and myself does just that. It combines a 33 percent surcharge on all three taxi-fare components -- mileage, waiting time, and the "drop" -- with time-variable car tolls of $3/$6/$9 on weekdays and $2/$3/$4 on weekends (trucks pay double, reflecting their greater bulk, while medallion cabs are exempt from the toll but pay the surcharge). Under this Kheel-Komanoff Plan, intrazonal VMT is predicted to rise by approximately 120,000 miles a day -- 40,000 by cars and trucks, 80,000 by taxicabs. But cordon VMT by vehicles coming from outside, and thus tolled, falls far more, by 450,000. This yields a net drop in cordon travel of 330,000 VMT, an 8 percent decline that, the model predicts, will boost average travel speeds within the CBD by around 20 percent.

The point of this post isn't to advocate for a particular plan, however. It's to show that rebound effects and other asserted congestion-toll pitfalls can be modeled and, with the right plan, accommodated.

The figures are based on 2007 traffic levels. Current volumes are probably slightly less. While a decrease in "baseline" traffic cuts into the benefits of congestion pricing, both the saved time and new transit revenue predicted for Kheel-Komanoff are still striking. And, yes, if you want to test our pricing plan (or your own) with reduced baseline traffic, the BTA even has a switch to adjust the volume.

# # #

* Click here to read comments and reader contributions on Streetsblog

* Click here to read the original posting in Streetsblog

The author:
Charles Komanoff “re-founded” NYC’s bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives in the 1980s, helped found the Tri-State Transportation Campaign in the 1990s, and co-founded the Carbon Tax Center in 2007. Charles’s writings include books, articles, and landmark reports such as Subsidies for Traffic, Killed By Automobile, and the Kheel Report on financing free transit in New York City. Charles lives with his wife and two sons in lower Manhattan

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New York City DOT explains Bike Lanes in the Big Apple

Check out this video by Elizabeth Press of www.Streetfilms.org which explains the theory and some of the details the broad lines of New York City's on-going program for protecting cyclists from traffic. You may wish to use it as a first checklist for your city's efforts. This process of vivacious cross-learning from others is a hallmark of the on-going worldwide city bike revolution.

"Bike lanes: In some cities people are literally dying to have them and some people go so far as to mark their own. Here in New York City, it feels like every time I get on my bike there is a new bike lane - sometimes on the left, sometimes buffered, and sometimes completely separated from automobile traffic.

To understand these lanes, I had the opportunity to go for a ride with the NYC DOT bicycle boys. They explained the classes of bike lanes and showed off some of these inventive facilities.

You can use Ride the City to find a safe bike route in New York City and watch this video to see what lanes are used on your route.

A good video to view if:
- Your city needs bike infrastructure
- Your city needs more or innovative bike facilities and they are not doing experimentation in design
- If you want to show people in your neighborhood and community what is going on in NYC and the benefits to bike amenities."

* Click here to call up this 5 minute video.

# # #

References:

* http://www.livablestreets.com
* http://www.streetfilms.org/
* Bike-lanes-in-the-big-apple

Contact:

The Streetfilms Team: Clarence Eckerson
, Elizabeth Press and Robin Urban Smith

Videographer:

Elizabeth Press came to StreetFilms in 2007 after four years as a producer for the independent TV/Radio program, Democracy Now! She received her MFA in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a focus on community media. While working on her thesis, Elizabeth spent a year teaching youth video in the Dominican Republic on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her videos have screened in festivals all over the world. You will usually find Elizabeth commuting on her second-hand spectrum bicycle.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sustainable transport on the road to COP15?
(We are a generation of great talkers.)

As we gear up for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, it is fair to ask: how optimistic can one reasonably be concerning our ability at this critical juncture to meet the enormous challenges facing our planet , and our sector of responsibility, in time to make the needed big adjustments needed to make the necessary differences in the years immediately ahead? We weren't even close in 1996. Will we be ready . . . this time?

Sustainable Transportation's Dirty Secret - 1996

Sometimes it can help to recall the past. Listen for example to this one minute extract from a presentation given by the editor of this journal, at the time a consultant to the OECD Environment Directorate's "EST – Environmentally Sustainable Transport" project, to a post conference evaluation session of the OECD senior project team on the occasion of a peer review of the accomplishments of the high level March 1996 Vancouver Conference, "Towards Sustainable Transportation".

That meeting, in the words of the OECD post-meeting announcement, "brought together over four hundred policy-makers, governments and NGO representatives to assess the state of the art knowledge in reducing transport's environmental impacts and to chart a path towards more environmentally sustainable transport systems". And what exactly did those " four hundred policy-makers, governments and NGO representatives" actually achieve, sustainable transportation-wise?

* Click here for the "Sustainable Transportation's Dirty Secret" comment from 1996


That, in a few words, is Sustainable Transportation's Dirty Secret. Worse yet, the sad truth is it does appear to be not just a transient anomaly but rather a sign of our times, of our generation, of our egregious (un)willingness to commit ourselves and get around to doing (a lot) better.

What have we done, learned since 1996?

Checking out the actual results for our sector's performance over these last thirteen years, as charted by leading edge of the research community, the many related web sites and all the conferences on global warming, carbon dioxide build-up, ozone depletion, and the rest, one comes to a pretty simple, absolutely terrifying conclusion.

From an unbiased eco-perspective we are continuing to misbehave very badly indeed. And what is worse yet is that, rhetoric aside, there is little out there on the radar screen of transport policy and practice that promises much better. Indeed the numbers all suggest that things are going from bad to worse. Emissions targets are being timidly set, after a huge amount of hemming and hawing. And then flagrantly missed. What a bad, what an inexcusable, what a tragic joke!

Looking ahead to Copenhagen, what does this mean? If we bear in mind that that high level 1996 international meeting entitled "Towards Sustainable Transportation" might as well not have been convened at all. At least as far as what has actually been accomplished on their self-assigned mandate over all these intervening years. We have not only not moved "towards sustainable transportation", to the contrary we have moved away from it, systemically and rapidly.

So I ask you, what are the differences between the way we are looking at all this today, and back in 1996? Have we made any notable progress over these thirteen long years? It is important to understand this.

So far, so bad. But let's not satisfy ourselves with whipping the dead horse of the past. Let's look ahead.

So what exactly do we need to do now to kick-start the system? (The system, incidentally being us.) Are we doomed to continue as "a generation of great talkers" and nothing more?

COP15 and the New Mobility Agenda

Will COP15 be any different when it comes to defining the future policy framework for what happens in the transport sector?

It could be, even at this late date.

This modest daily collaborative journal on the web -- "Insights and contributions from leading thinkers and practitioners around the world" -- which looks only at these issues but with the inputs and counsel of thousands of readers and colleagues around the world who really are able to help orient those coming to Copenhagen -- all this expertise needs to be energized, brought into the preparations and understood as a critical part of the solution, if solution there is to be.

You and I, dear readers, need to come together put our heads and hearts together on this. What is not needed is more high rhetoric or running away from the real challenges faced if we are to turn our sector around in order to meet the pressing time targets which are now clearly before us.

We know that what is needed are far more thoughtful, more innovative, more layered ("packages of measures"), more open, more dynamic, more deeply committed, and more courageous approaches to the challenges of sustainability in a frankly non-sustainable world -- a world of people, habits and political arrangements that to all appearances are not yet quite ready to make the fundamental changes that are needed for the planet and in our daily lives.

We clearly need leadership -- and not only leadership by rhetoric, but leadership by example.

The New Mobility/Climate Emergency Project: Plan B for sustainable transport. Now!

* Click here for 5 minute introduction to Plan B - http://tinyurl.com/ws-nma-sum

* And here for intro to the World Streets strategy - http://tinyurl.com/ws-sum

Now is the time to really start to dig in on this. Look! We know what we have to do, we really do know how to achieve it, and there is no excuse not to start right now to do it. Let's put worldwide transportation systems reform into the top rank of the COP15 agenda. Now is the time to do this. No excuses!

What are you going to tell your grandchildren that you did when it was time for action to save their future? That you worried a lot? Come on now.

Your faithful editor

Eric Britton

PS. Here in closing is a remark and proposal I made to that meeting by way of activation and follow-up -- click here for the one minute audio file. It was a call for an aggressive transfer to leadership by more women. It was not well received. Check it out here to see why.

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