Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From the editor: Safe Streets? Who cares?

It is a truly dreadful thing for anyone, me for instance, to lay on you anything as hackneyed as: a picture is worth a thousand words. But let me run the risk and show you a couple of pictures and leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. The topic is the first round of reactions to our start-up 2012 collaborative project aiming at clarifying the concept of Safe Streets from a strategic planning and policy perspective.

The project was announced on 2 January and a website was set up in the following days at, along with a Facebook page at and Twitter at!/safestreets2012. We had of course zero readers at that point.

Four weeks later Safe Streets is already being followed by 1,068 people (as of this morning), so it would seem we have hit a nerve here. While our world wide reader map this morning looks like this (this map reports the last eighty visitors to the site):

No great surprise that the initial interest is coming in from West Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific expressing their at least curiosity.  But what about that huge clump of interest coming in from India.  If we zoom the map, it looks like this.

This is certainly encouraging news from the world's largest and if often the most raucous democracy and harbors well for the future -- no matter how hard it is proving to bring this concern and the knowledge behind it into the front line of the actual policy, decision and investment process, which, sadly, continues to carry on for the most part with egregiously and continually disproved outmoded thinking and decisions (which more often than not takes the form of politicians and their industrial/financial supporters spending large gobs of taxpayer mony on infrastructure and vehicles that could much better be spent elsewhere).  The trick of course is to bring these more thoughtful and informed people and groups into the front line of the discussions and eventual solution process.  The transition is going on, but it is proving a very tough slog.

And now for the bad news:

This last map, this last picture tells the sad story of more than one billion people who use their streets but all too often without the support thoughtful  government policy. And the only question that comes to mind in this context is simply this: Who is minding the store?

Plenty of work yet to do, eh?

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