Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Year 2010 started in Copenhagen on Friday, 18 Dec 2009
And now World Streets gears up for 2010 (Special edition)

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has given us ample reason to reflect not only on the climate/ governance and the climate/transport links – the latter which we have taken as a pillar of transport policy for some years now – but also on our own contribution here at World Streets to the strategic re-thinking and institutional re-tooling process that must now be engaged. A challenge for which every fair person, lively mind and capable pair of hands is needed.

World Streets: Preparing 2010 (Special Edition)

[The content of the 2010 work program introduced here is under revision over the month of January. From time to time we will take specific work target areas and expand them into full articles. The first of these was posted here on 14 January 2010, "Building a World-Wide Learning Community".]


In this Special Edition, you will find first and for the moment most important, an announcement informing you about our switching for the time being from daily publication, so that we are free to concentrate our time and energy on a major outreach for funding and other support so that we shall be able to continue publication full blast in 2010. In addition, you will find here some first entries concerning our intentions in selected key issue areas for the year ahead.

Contents of Special Edition:
I. World Streets in transition
II. Mission for 2010
1. China
2. Africa
3. Share transport
4. The Year of the Woman in Transportation
5. Measuring the full benefits of sustainable transport innovation
6. World Streets language editions
7. Building a World-Wide Learning Community
8. Collaborative workshops and events
9. Major themes for 2010
10. New Mobility Media
10. Support World Streets

I. Catching our breath: Daily edition of World Streets put on hold
( Effective 21 Dec. 2009. Interim measure - read on for details.)


“Passion is great; financial support makes the passion available for the long term."
- From a reader in Canada

Our main lesson from COP15 is that from now on we have to ask more of ourselves. World Streets, it is worth recalling, is a public interest venture that encompasses not just one but four closely related synergistic activities. World Streets is of course (a) a publication, but it is also (b) an on-going long-term collaborative process (the New Mobility Partnerships whose considerable international network in fact provides much of the content of the journal), (c) a valuable reference resource in its specialized field, and (d) an active international lobby for sustainable transport and social justice ready to support you in your city or worldwide. Today we are considering the near term future of the publication side of this package.

As of 1 January 2010 , we are obliged to shut down for an interim period World Streets as a daily publication, the planet's only sustainable transport daily. But please do not take this as a surrendering of our mission. To the contrary, what will follow now represents an aggressive challenge on our part which is needed if we are to be a meaningful factor in the process that now needs to be engaged.

We do this because as things stand today we need help to ensure publication at the level needed to ensure our fullest contribution for the year ahead. We have done a workman-like job over the first year of publication in 2009 and are proud of our accomplishment, but that is not going to be good enough. The events of the last months before, during and now after COP15 have convinced us that we need to develop a more powerful voice if Streets is to make a difference.

Against this background we now intend to give all of our attention in the weeks ahead to the task of finding the financial support that is necessary ff we are to continue our mission. And since this is not at all our area of expertise, that is perhaps where you may come in.

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MORE:

Putting the daily edition of World Streets on hold as a daily is hopefully going to be a very short term proposition. Behind it are three realties to which I would draw your attention:

First, a bit of good news: Even without additional new content the World Streets web site represents a valuable resource for anyone looking for new ideas, background information, leads and working links to the leading groups and programs working in the sector worldwide. That part of our contrbuition is not about to be taken off the net and is and will stay there for all to use, and as always freely. (Your working guide to this will be the materials and links you find in the quite long and admittedly a bit complex to reference left hand column. One more thing we need to clean up in 2010.)

Second, some more good news: Even during this difficult interim period we will be honoring our commitment to our many collaborators who have developed the excellent habit of sending us from time to time outstanding articles, references or news which merit worldwide circulation. Thus, we will continue to review and print their contributions promptly, as the present circumstances permit. (So think of World Streets during these next cold winter weeks not as dead but as hibernating, with one eye wide open.)

Third, the tough news. And that is: if you are a reader of World Streets we now ask you to give serious thought to joining us in the search for support so that we can not only continue but do better yet. Details on this will be found in the final section of this posting. However as a quick run-up to this you may wish to bear in mind that our daily operating costs are on the order of $500 and that over 2009 we have somehow miraculously, given our exceptional lack of business acumen, found a temporary way to cover all these costs ourselves, a situation which however is clearly not sustainable. And this is where we turn to you and others who share our concerns and ambitions.

PS. If you need a reminder as to why World Streets has an unusual, a unique even role to play in the year immediately ahead, here are three quick one-click references to make our case:
* Our four page/four minute summary and mission statement. Click here.

* Comments of one hundred and one of our readers who explain why this is important and worth continuing. Click here.

* And of course World Streets itself. And if you have not really dug in here yet, you may find it useful to scroll down in the left column and pick out just any month for your quick inspection. You will be able to sort your way quickly through the brief introductions to select those articles which may be of particular interest. And with that you are starting to have a good feel for what this is all about.

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II. 2010 Mission Statement (in process):

Through World Streets, and behind it the New Mobility Partnerships and our many allies and collaborators in cities and countries around the world , to give especial attention to advancing the new mobility/sustainable transport agenda in the following key areas.

Here in brief you have our main targets for the 2010 work program, for which we have already laid a substantial base. We are ready to go for 2010.

1. China – The Green Giant: Supporting the transition to sustainable transport planning, policy and practice

China: 1.3 billion people, half of whom already living in cities and more pouring in daily: two million kilometers of roads and streets, and more abuilding; 170 million motor vehicles and already the world's biggest car market, and a planning and investment process that is still all but entirely locked into "old mobility" practices (that is continuing knee-jerk heavy investments in favor of the same infrastructure that all those cars, trucks, buses and motorized two wheelers are going to travel. And all of course burning fossil fuels at world record rates, with all that entails.). This in a few lines is the transportation legacy that the Western world has given to China. And since we were not able to provide a better example, it is our hope that they will now do the figures and become world leaders in sustainable transport policy and practice.

And incidentally something that is worth thinking about in the context of the conflicts and tensions that arose with mainly US but also many other national representatives in Copenhagen last week. Think about it: our Chinese brothers and sisters are working with the system that we, the West, gave to them. Now whose responsibility is that?

There is a positive side to their situation however that need to be taken into consideration and which just may be the instrument of their transformation into a pattern of mobility, climate, society and economy that may prove far more convivial for them. And that is for various reasons, cultural, historical, political, they are today in a position a bit like that of the elephant who, surprisingly agile, can, if it decides to, turn on a dime. This is most unusual and something that can be said for few countries on this beleaguered planet. And certainly something we should be aware of, targeting and trying to work with from the very beginning.

So for all these reasons we here at World Streets have come to the conclusion that China has to be the world's most important single target for conversion to sustainable transport planning and practice.

We think that World Streets and the rest of our world colleagues and collaborative networks, North and South, could play a role in this critical transition process. And here is one reason why it is so important to start now.

What do we have to offer in this context? Here are four on-going collaborative projects and programs in addition to the English language edition of World Streets – and the machine translate versions which you can check out today at http://tinyurl.com/ws-chinese-s (simplified Chinese) or http://tinyurl.com/ws-chinese-t (traditional Chinese):

- Partnership projects in both specialized focus areas and overall strategies with cities and public agencies – See New Mobility Partnerships at www.newmobility.org and www.program.newmobility.org for first background

- Share Transport: the Third Way of Getting Around in Cities. – We have already done a lot of preparatory work in this area and we have heard from a certain number of Chinese colleagues that this approach may be an important one for transport policy in both cities and outlying areas. See www.ShareTransport.org (You may also find some interest in checking out the International Advisory Panel for this project at www.COST.ShareTransport.org

- Low Carbon Cities The Low Carbon Eco-city Development Strategy is an ongoing program in China and Taiwan which strikes us as a strong point of departure and which we would like to support and make better known through World Streets. We believe that our network and publication can help support and perhaps strengthen the sustainable transport component of this program

- Car Free Days in China This is not only a program which we have in fact launched initially in 1994, but also one have already seen that there is much that be done to build on this joint approach. There has been considerable enthusiasm for Car Free Days in China since the first projects in 2002 in Chengdu (and with Kaohsiung in Taiwan just one year behind with their first Car Free Day demonstration in 2003), and this is an available force that we believe can be built on to achieve the much broader goals that the overall transformation program requires.

- Collaborative Workshops and Master Classes: See the work program for the latest approach on this at www.faro.newmobility.org. There are quite a number of organizations and agencies with whom we could creatively collaborate in not just one but an entire series of such workshops.

- Chinese language editions of their own "World Streets" – See http://nuovamobilita.org as an example.

And behind the pages of World Streets we are working hard to bring in additional Chinese colleagues and correspondents, and then work with them so the World Streets also grows into a reliable source of information and perspective of what is going on in our field in this great and oh so important country. We know that in all countries which are not English-speaking hat it is necessary to have this kind of information available in the local language. We have already created an example for this in our first non-English language sister publication, Nuova Mobilità, which you can visit at http://nuovamobilita.org. This model can be analyzed, adapted and improved for a high quality collaborative Chinese edition.

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2. World Streets/African Streets/Fair Transport:

In a fair world it should be impossible to ignore close to one billion of the poorest people on the earth living in its second-largest and second most-populous continent. With already one third living in cities, most of whom in slums, with the flow of people from the country side continuing at record rates.

The transportation arrangements in most people's daily life in Africa come in several flavors: ranging from world class traffic jams making it close to impossible to negotiate the streets of the larger cities for hour each day, to at the other extreme no provision for vital survival transport (water, wood for fires, food) for the remainder of the continent.

Now the fact is that most of transport policy and investments on the continent are aimed at the creation and extension of motorized transport infrastructure. And it is precisely this strategy that had led to the present imbalance.

The key to unlocking the African Streets challenge can be summed up in a single phrase: Fair transport for women and children. What works well about this, is that when women and children are fairly served everybody ends up being better off. This can and should be our central theme

So, in 2010 World Streets hopes to do what we can to give far more attention to the challenges and accomplishments of fair transport in Africa.

Share Transport in Africa:
Another international project for 2010 that is already getting interest in a number of African counties (Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa among them) – is the World Share/Transport Forum. Shared transport is a long and honorable African tradition and for many often the only way of getting around longer distances. That said, it has not been favored or understood really by policy makers in the field. Our collaborative international program is intended to address this gap. Reference: www.COST.ShareTransport.org

Here is our Africa challenge in a visual nutshell. This map records the geographic distribution of people who checked into World Streets this morning:



At this point we are not sure of how to best make our contribution. Certainly it will be important (a) to have more feature articles on "African Streets", in the hope of creating higher quality information and a stronger network of people and groups who can help African cities and rural areas move toward world-level sustainable transport policies and practices. And no less important (b) to see if we can find ways to get copies of Streets and its messages onto the desks of planners, decision-makers, operators, citizens and national and local government officials.

As we look at the overall situation of transport in Africa, we can see at least one "huge shortcoming" in terms of 20th century "modern" transport that with a bit of strategy one might turn into an asset. And this is the enormous variations in terms of ownership, which vary from OECD range levels (anywhere from 300 – 500 per 1000 capita) in the more prosperous cites, all the way down to barely one or two in the bottom range running from Ruanda to Malawi.

And since the motor vehicle has turned out to be both a solution for some and a problem for all, this gives the policy makers an interesting window to come up with something better than the old private car solution. An important part of that is of course going to involve sharing.

As a first step in this direction we have started to organize in an informal task force of people working in place on these issues who have a wider outlook on what is going on and what could be done better. We presently have participants from South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya. Uganda. Namibia, Nigeria, and Egypt, and are in contact with the GATNET network for transport and gender which has a strong African orientation, as well as several UN programs. It's a start.

Would you like to join this task force. If so, all you care to do is click here and let us know who you are. The rest can follow.

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3. "Share Transport" – The third way of getting around in cities (and beyond)


"On the whole, you find wealth more in use than in ownership."
- Aristotle. ca. 350 BC

Before you dig into this introduction let me put one modest thought before you
concerning out topic. Transport sharing, in all its many varieties, is not only going now to develop into a major mobility player in and around cities, and that quickly, but also it offers a high life-quality way out of the high-carbon mobility style of which the planet is a victim. Stay tuned:

After many decades of a single dominant city-shaping transportation pattern - i.e., for those who could afford it: owning and driving our own cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles, getting into taxis by ourselves, riding in streets that are designed for cars and not much else -- there is considerable evidence accumulating that we have already entered into a world of new mobility practices that are changing the transportation landscape in many ways. It has to do with sharing, as opposed to outright ownership. But strange to say, this trend seems to have escaped the attention of the policymakers in many of the institutions directly concerned.

However transport sharing is an important trend, one that is already starting to reshape at least parts of some of our cities. It is a movement at the leading edge of our most successful (and wealthiest and livable) cities -- not just a watered down or second-rate transport option for the poor. With this in view, we are setting out in a cycle of collaborative projects planned for 2010 to examine not just the qualities (and limitations) of individual shared mobility modes, but also to put this in the broader context of why people share. And why they do not. And in the process to stretch our minds to consider what is needed to move toward a new environment in which people often share rather than necessarily only doing things on their own when it comes to moving around in our cities worldwide.

The concept of shared transport is at once old and new, formal and informal, but above all it is one that is growing very fast. Something important is clearly going on, and the driving idea behind the creation of this informal World Share/Transport Forum will be to see how we might get together in an open international collaborative network to develop a stronger strategic base for understanding and advancing not just the individual shared modes (e.g., car-share, bike-share, street-share, taxi-share, etc.), important as they are -- but of combining them in concert with strategic advances in the traditional modes and practices, to advance the sustainable transport agenda of our cities more broadly.

World Streets will be reporting on and supporting these events, for which planning discussions are already underway in China, Taiwan, Portugal, France, and the UK. We are hopeful that active research projects will be organized in other parts of the world in order to provide a much needed base of analysis, information and guidelines for public policy in this old but new transportation resource.

Sharing in Transport (Quick introduction)

Below is our latest list of the shared transport modes and cross-cutting vectors to be considered by the project.

Share transport modes:
• Bikesharing and city cycling
• Carsharing and Fleetsharing
• Ridesharing and pooling (organized and informal).
• Taxi sharing
• Truck/van sharing (combined delivery, other)
• Sharing SVS (small vehicle systems: DRT, shuttles, community buses, etc.)

Sharing Infrastructure:
• Streetsharing 1 (example: BRT streets shared between buses, cyclists, taxis, emergency vehicles)
• Streetsharing 2 (streets used by others for other (non-transport) reasons as well.)
• Public space sharing
• Workplace sharing (neighborhood telework centers; virtual offices; co-workplace)

Industry, other Suppliers
• Vehicles (different use patterns may call for new vehicle designs, technologies)
• Logistics, communications, IT – The hrdware/software core of 21st century share transport.
• Management/operations groups
• Consultants
• Investors

Other:
• Access sharing (physical, logistic)
• Cost sharing
• Time sharing
• Successful integration of public transport within a shared transport city? Including bus and rail
• Team sharing (exchange programs, internships, bursaries)
• Knowledge-sharing (including this conference)

About sharing transport: Did you know that . . .
. . . there are more than one thousand places in the world in which you can carshare this morning?

. . . share bicycle projects (public bicycle systems) are one of the fastest growing new transport modes in the world?

. . . the key to shared space success lies in slowing the traffic down?

. . . there are more than one hundred different names for shared taxis and small buses?

. . . share transport is one of the most poorly studied and understood modes of transport in the world?

. . . that the future of share transport as a major player on the world mobility scene will be mediated by a combination of (a) applied communications technology and (b) improved understanding by public authorities of how to take full advantage of the exceptional advantages that such services and arraignments can offer


As an indication of the interest in the future of share transport, check out this map which identified the point of origin of visits to the new share/transport project as of the indicated date – www.ShareTransport.org.



If you wish to be kept informed about the planned events under this program, or if you would like to discuss a project that involves sharing in our sector, please click here to get in touch.

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To follow:



4. The Year of the Woman in Transportation

This is a very important, central theme of the New Mobility Agenda and World Streets. If you click here - http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/search/label/women you will find further background on this theme.


5. Measuring the full benefits of sustainable transport innovation

The excellent economist, original thinker and Nobel Prize winner Joe Stiglitz has set out to create a new accounting framework for macro economics that takes as its metric the concept of "well-being" as a goal, as opposed to outmoded concepts such as GDP. We need to do the same thing – to create a new accounting framework that will allow us to understand the full value to individuals, to a city, to a nation, and to the planet of a sustainable transport system or innovation. Many are today asking what is the "value" of, say, a public bicycle system and looking for the answer in some outmoded set of books. We need to rewrite the books, and this is something that World Streets should be trying to follow and encourage.


6. World Streets Language editions http://nuovamobilita.org


7. Building a World-Wide Learning Communityhttp://www.knowledge.newmobility.org
A comnplete article outlining this prograqm, its intent, progress thus far, and its objectives for 2010 will be found here: http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2010/01/major-sustainabilty-challenge-of-2010.html

8. Collaborative workshops and events

9. Major themes for 2010

10. New Mobility Media – www.media.newmobility.org

11. Supporting World Streets

Your contribution.

Click here for details on how to support and enable World Streets in 2010.

[Tuesday, 11:00 Paris time. This posting continues this afternoon.]


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