Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Changzhi World Share/Transport Forum II: Opening keynote with Chinese subtitles

We have been asked to post the videoconference keynote address to the second World Share/Transport Forum that took place in Changzhi China from 24-25 October with Chinese subtitles which you will find here. Additional background information on the project follows below.

The opening statement to the meeting follows.

Share/Transport: Global objectives, constraints, strategies

Greetings from Paris. It's four o'clock in the morning here and while I am very glad to be with you even if only by this video link, time is short so let's get to our topic. We have worked hard over the last months to prepare this conference, and the point I wish to make right here at the outset that this is not just one more ambitious expert workshop on sustainable transportation. There will be literally hundred of them this year. And so much the better. But I am joining you in Changzhi today with a single idea in mind.

Specifically to see if, along with my esteemed colleagues from whom you will be hearing shortly, I can convince at least a certain number of you in this room of the importance , the relevance and indeed the absolute necessity of introducing the concept of share/transport in the future of not only your own city and cities across China more generally, but in cities around the world.

At the end of the day I do not need you all to agree with all the ideas that are set out here. Indeed I do not expect you to. It is my experience that when it comes to exploring new approaches that break with past practices, that it is more likely to be a minority of the young people and younger minds (not always the same thing) that are more open to new ideas. If that's you, you are the person whom I now want to address over the next twenty or some minutes than in the dialogue that is to follow.

When someone talks about sharing in the transport sector in China these days, because of all of the activity and publicity that has gone with that over the last two years or so, the first thing that comes to mind is shared bicycle projects. And then when we think about it a bit more and perhaps we get to projects like BRT's, this leads us to think about sharing the street with other users, including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. And of course cars. But there is more to it than that.

The concept of shared transport is at once old and new, formal and informal, but above all it is an element of the transport sector that is growing very fast. Something important is clearly going on, and the Changzhi event will look at this carefully, in the hope of providing a broader strategic understanding for advancing not just the individual shared modes (e.g., car/share, ride/share, bike/share, street/share, taxi/share, etc.), but of combining them to advance the sustainable transport agenda of our cities more broadly.

Are we at a turning point? Is sharing already starting to be a more broadly used and relevant social/economic pattern? Is there an over-arching concept which we can identify and put to work for people and the planet? And what do you need to look at and do to make your specific sharing project work? These are some of the issues that we shall be examining with prominent invited guests from the fields of economics, politics, psychology, who will join transportation experts to discuss these trends.

Thus my main interest here in this first stage is not in the specific kinds of sharing -- that's important of course but it came come later. Rather what we need to sort out together and get right here at the start is our understanding of the overall strategy and justification for and behind the concept of sharing, both in general and in the transport sector.  At this early point it is not the specifics of any one kind of sharing approach, but rather the broader human issues which it necessarily touches. Let's have a look.

- Eric Britton. World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda, Paris, France

* * * For the full background documentation please click here.

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