Monday, May 17, 2010

New Mobility Partnerships - What's going on this summer?

Two or three times a year your editor sits down and does his best to compile a readable synopsis of some of the more important things going on in World Streets, then to be communicated in one magical shot to the close to four thousand friends and colleagues around the world who have been involved in some way in these dialogues and projects over the last several decades. Here you have today's best seasonal effort, to which as always, comments, criticism and suggestions are warmly welcome.

Judged from a planetary or Kyoto perspective, or from an individual or public health perspective, or an economic perspective, or ... or ... our present arrangements for transport in cities are seriously damaged. As things stand today in city after city around the world, they threaten health in the city and on the planet. They are dangerous. They are costly. They are disruptive. They are thoroughly dysfunctional. And they are howlingly unfair. It does not have to be like that. We can do something about it, and we should. But we need to join forces to get the job done.

New Mobility Partnerships in Brief

Unconstrained by bureaucracy, economic interests or schedules, New Mobility Partnerships was launched in 1988 as a wide open international platform for critical discussion and diverse forms of cross-border collaboration on the challenging, necessarily conflicted topic of "sustainable transportation and social justice". There are no easy answers - but there are answers . . . if, that is, you are willing to take off the blinkers and get to work.

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World Streets in Brief
Insights and contributions from leading thinkers & practitioners around the world

World Streets is an independent, internet-based collaborative knowledge system specifically aimed at informing policy and practice in the field of sustainable transport, and, as part of that, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. Edited by Eric Britton, founder and Managing Director of the New Mobility Agenda.

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This Month on World Streets
Most of our busy readers do not have the time to check into World Streets on a daily basis. For that reason we offer our subscribers and sponsors, in addition to the daily edition, monthly summaries which bring together in one place all postings in a manner in which the reader can review each in a few lines and make a decision as to whether or not to call up the full article with a single click. Time-efficient communication in an overload world.

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New project: World Streets on Facebook
We are not Facebook experts, but nonetheless, and with reservations, we have concluded that this is a legitimate communications tool that can be put to work to increase the worldwide reach of the sustainable transport agenda. So with the help of our colleague Anzir Boodoo, we have set up a first stage site/interface which you can now access via www.facebook.WorldStreets.org. We invite you to have a look, use as your interest and skill level permit, and, better yet, lend a hand and help us to do better.

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Latest reader map
And here you can see where our last eighty visitors came from. Generally representative of overall pattern, but from day to day with considerable variations. Our goal for 2010: bring in all those great white swaths.

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Frugal Transport
Our sector has been notably profligate in terms of its use of public money, while at the same time also offering a generally poor deal in terms of quality of service per dollar spent by the citizens who use the system. This past profligacy is further compounded by the fact that for reasons of the complicated international economy, many countries are going to have to be far more careful about how they spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars in the years immediately ahead. We are not going to need another round of high cost, low impact investments to make it work. We simply take over 50% (your figure here) of the transport related budgets and use it to address projects and reforms that are going to make those big differences in the next several years. This is where the action is going to be in the years immediately ahead and where Frugal Transport kicks in. (This section just getting underway.)

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Slow Down
As most of our regular readers are well aware, World Streets is no friend of speed in cities. To the contrary, it is our firm position that a considerable number of the basic objectives associated with sustainable mobility and sustainable cities can be achieved if we do no more than to reduce top speeds in and around our cities in a strategic and carefully thought-out way. The great technological virtuosity of traffic engineers and technical planners permit us to do this, while at the same time retaining a well working transportation system, a healthier city, and a viable local economy. This is a major target of World Streets and many of our associates worldwide

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Share/Transport: The Third Way of Getting Around In Cities
Share/transport - the largely uncharted middle ground between the familiar mobility poles of "private transport" (albeit on public roads) and "public transport" (scheduled, fixed-route, large vehicle services) at the two extremes. Comprising a very large gamut of services of which among the best known are shared taxis, carsharing, ride sharing, and small private bus systems, it offers a form of mobility service that works when everything else fails or is simply not there. However it is one that until now has been poorly understood by policymakers and is badly in need of informed perspectives and policies. A first international conference is being planned for Kaohsiung Taiwan from 16 to 19 September 2010, with full information available in early June.

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Women as the Metric for Sustainable Lives: Leadership Role
World Streets, and the New Mobility Agenda directly behind it, have long held the position that our sector suffers badly from the lack of female perspective and female leadership. Rectifying this should be one of the major targets of policymakers and citizens at all levels of society and in all countries. We have pursued this recommendation vigorously since the founding of this program in 1988, and firmly believe that a reasonable target for female participation in leadership groups at all levels is in the area of 40%. In our publications and conferences, we go into detail as to how this can be done and why the strong leadership role is critical.

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The Hundred Faces behind World Streets
We firmly believe that the move to sustainable transport and sustainable lives is a very personal matter. For that reason every article that appears in World Streets is accompanied by a short bio note and photo identifying the author. We want you to know who they are and what they look like. To this end we have assembled for your viewing pleasure small photos of 160 of our authors and collaborators. Have a look.

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National Partnership Programs/Language Editions
True, English is a widely spoken and read language. But true too that most of the activity carried out at the working level in countries whose language is other than English is in the language of the place. So if our goal is to have a worldwide impact, we must find ways to reach the people who count, in ways which efficiently and fully engage them. To that end we have initiated a series of collaborative projects which are already reaching out to key actors in several language areas, starting with a highly successful Italian edition and a different approach to reach the key actors in Swedish. Others presently under discussion. Would YOU like to talk about it?

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Now . . . what about you?
Because this is an important set of issues and you can make a difference. So consider this an open invitation to lend a hand in making World Streets a more useful and successful tool and source. We need your help both (a) to improve the technical product, but above all to identify and (b) to take direct contact with eventual collaborators, subscribers, sponsors, and organizations at the national or international level whom you may know and who can help support this unique public interest enterprise and help it make an even more effective contribution. You will be surprised at how much you can do to make it happen, if you choose to.

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Eric Britton is Managing Director of the New Mobility Partnerships and founding editor of World Streets. Contrary to what you may surmise, he is not alone. You can reach him at editor@worldstreets.org , Tel. +331 7500 3788 in France or +1 (213) 984 1277 in the US. Or via Skype at newmobility.

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