Friday, November 30, 2012

Support World Streets (And why)

We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, on taking over Cavendish Laboratory in 1919

World Streets is an independent  public interest publication which, as a matter of policy, we make freely available to all who are looking to understand, support, and contribute to the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world. We firmly believe that there should be no barriers, and especially not commercial ones, to the free circulation of news, tools, counsel and peer exchanges when it comes to the important issues of sustainable development and social justice.  To ensure our full independence we do not accept advertising. We depend on the support of our readers, concerned public agencies, foundations and actors in the private sector to keep going.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is World Streets doing its job? We asked 100 experts for their views - - and 101 responded.

World Streets needs to catch on before my feet get wet. - The  Netherlands

The results are there for all to see and judge. And we now know that we are going to need a literal world wide web of inputs, collaboration and other forms of support if we are to continue this independent international sustainability adventure in the year ahead. Is what we are doing useful and worthy of support? 101 of our readers picked up their pens and responded to our question.

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Support World Streets: Preliminary guidelines for readers

We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
– Ernest Rutherford, on taking over Cavendish Laboratory in 1919

World Streets is an independent  public interest publication which, as a matter of policy, we make freely available to all who are looking to understand, support, and contribute to the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world. We firmly believe that there should be no barriers, and especially not commercial ones, to the free circulation of news, tools, counsel and peer exchanges when it comes to the important issues of sustainable development and social justice.  To ensure our full independence we do not accept advertising. We depend on the support of our readers, concerned public agencies, foundations and actors in the private sector to keep going.

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Congestion as policy. (I have seen worse.)

Whether or not congestion is "good" is one thing.  But what is for sure is that one way or another congestion is policy, or at the very least a policy option. And in some cases quite possibly a wise one. Now this has been said many  times  by any people in many places, yet despite its incontrovertible wisdom the message continues to get lost on policy makers.  So in cases like this, we have to take a page out of the book of good people who us sell soap and cars, and keep repeating our message. Today, let's hand over the podium to Kent Strumpell  from Los Angeles and see what he had to say on our subject in LA Streetsblog back in early 2008. To this reader it has lost none of relevance over almost half a decade.  Read on.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2013 Work Program Highlights

In the following you will find brief introductions to the selected major policy areas around which we intend to focus and organize our work program over the year ahead. For more you are invited to click the title lines in each case, which will take you directly to the full set of materials and articles thus far developed on that broad topic area under our work program since the first issues of World Streets appeared in the opening days of 2009.

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Thinking about China: 2013-2015


The drive to sustainable transport and sustainable cities in China is one of the central focuses of the World Streets 2013-2015  work program just getting underway (it would have to be, wouldn't you say?), as you will see on the small menu item  just to your top/left here.  Thus far it is organized in two parts:

  • What World Streets has had to offer thus far - Click here

  • And from our Facebook page of this title - Click here

- - - >But stay tuned. More to follow here

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New Mobility Agenda - Website updating in process

The New Mobility Agenda at  has been active since 1988 as a collaborative international network project, and, while evolving steadily  in many respects over all these years, has from the beginning stuck to its central focus of sustainable transportation and social justice. And within that carefully defined frame  the search for new ideas, examples  and approaches for the politics of transport in cities.

Over the last three years our primary communications medium has shifted from this historic website that has been in constant operation since 1996, to other means of communications and sharing. And as we look ahead to the new year and the challenges it will bring, we are giving thought as to how, if at all, to retrofit and improve the old friend that you see here.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

What is the right price for Free Public Transport?

No Dorothy, it would be nice but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not even in Kansas. Our cities need money to operate and maintain all the many parts of their hopefully high quality "public transport" systems", but they also need schools, sanitation, health facilities, elderly care,  parks and public spaces, security . . . and the long list goes on.  Transport, which can finance itself largely if you have the brains to get it right, should not be poaching from these no-less critical basic needs of the community.  More,  we need our public transport systems (21st century definitions) to be both freely and extensively used (what is sadder than an empty bus!) -- and at the same time build in provisions so that the system is fully equitable as well as efficient.

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"I don't believe in charity" - In memory of Roland Dreyfus

Ici chacun sait ce qu'il veut, ce qu'il fait, quand il passe ;
Ami, si tu tombes, un ami sort de l'ombre à ta place. *

Yesterday at the end of a long day I received an email announcing the untimely  and totally unexpected demise of my dear friend and colleague, Rolland Dreyfus, founder and principal inspiration and motor behind the Accès Universel program since its creation in 2006. In case you do not know his work you can follow the program he created with his energy, commitment and vision from its beginning  via their website at  (where you will also find the announcement of his death). What to do? I am not on the board of the association (I am only  an advisor) so I am not in a position to get directly involved in the decisions to continue  or not either the work of the Association or the website. So rather than sit around moping and feeling absolutely powerless I took the risk of trying something immediately as a modest testimonial to support his work and vision.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Transportation / / Mobility / / Access / / Presence (Weekend musing)

* Click for full size image.

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Editor's profile updated

As part of the run-up to preparing the work program for 2013, and securing the financial support needed to continue our operations and meet our ambitious objectives in the year ahead, the original 2009 bio note of the editor has been updated. You can find the latest updated version at More to follow here on the program and support effort in the coming days.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Learning from Lyon: Free Public Transport that really works

Here is a "free transport project" that is working remarkably well: In the Spring of 2005 the community of Greater Lyon in cooperation with their supplier JCDecaux launched the world's first mega Public Bike System, Vélo'v. The project put some 3000 bikes into service, available in about 300 stations spread for the most part over the City of Lyon. All this is successful, amply detailed in many places and continues to this day to yield yeoman service for some 60,000 registered users (including the author). To gain access to the system, in addition to one day or one week tickets, the user pays an annual fee of € 25, and when using a bike a caution is debited from the users credit card until it is returned to a parking slot. From a user perspective it is a very successful system and use experience.

* But where is the "free public transport" element?

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Free Public Transport! (But hey, are we talking about the same thing?)

On 22 June 2010 we posted in these pages an invitation to an open thinking exercise welcoming comments and views on the topic of "Free Public Transport". Two weeks later to get the ball rolling we followed up with a first article setting out some basic principles under the title "Why Free Public Transport is perhaps a bad idea". That posting has been among the more widely read here; as of this morning having been accessed 4,503 times. Beyond that it opened up a small Tsunami of comments, reactions and clarifications, a number of which of high interest and thoughtfulness.

But here is the joker: Judging from the responses and conversations that followed it was clear that almost everybody was reading the word "Free" in that phrase as an adjective. But that is not quite what we had in mind. Rather it was part of what we wanted to have views on, but only part of it.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why cycle rickshaws should be driven from the street. (And what it means for mobility, environment, equity and the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of hard working people and their families)

Let me not poach the information and arguments presented in this fine analysis of the informal transport economy of Ashima Sood's recently published paper in the Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), other than to cite her opening summary:  "A February 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court called into question several assumptions underlying policy thinking on the cycle rickshaw sector. Examining these assumptions in the light of new research and advocacy efforts, this article considers the prospect of policy and regulatory reform. With the cycle rickshaw sector as a case study, it argues that the punitive regulatory framework governing the sector embodies the dualist or even parasitic models that inform policy on informal services more broadly. Assessing the larger viability and contribution of informal sector activities requires more attention to local and sector-specific micro-processes."

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Brief: Cycling is the 'Cinderella' form of transport for the EU money men

Brief: "Cycling is the 'Cinderella' form of transport - ignored, mistreated, and yet to have its day. For the cost of one kilometre of urban freeway you could build 150km of bicycle paths, 10,000km of bicycle lanes or 100 well designed 30 km/h zones. Some 80 per cent young German adults think people don't need a private car anymore." All these factors, says the European Cyclists' Federation, make it extraordinary that only 0.7 per cent of EU funding for transport goes towards cycling provision, when 7 per cent of European citizens use bikes as their main mode of transport.                                         –>Click here for full article text


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Brief. Joy ride: IEA test-drives the Paris Autollib'

Brief. Joy ride: IEA test-drives the Parisian electric car-sharing system
As electric vehicles reduce oil consumption and vehicle carbon emissions on a per-kilometre basis, a team from the International Energy Agency recently checked out the innovative Parisian car-sharing system that allows tourists and residents to criss-cross Paris for a modest fee - and an even more attractive cost in carbon emissions: zero.      —> Click here for article.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Free Public Transport hits the road in Guadalajara

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Some Early References on Free Public Transport

This list is taken from the 2010 posting provided by the Free public transportation Debate at It needs to be updated but still is a useful point of reference, along with the latest Wikipedia entry at Free Public Transport. Please send us your updates either as Comments here, or to Thank you.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Brief: Sydney takes a big step to support carsharing on its streets

Brief: Carsharing set to take up another 300 parking slots in Sydney - on top of the 450 spaces it already holds on the city's streets streets that privately owned cars are banned from using. Lord Mayor Clover Moore has revealed Sydney City Council's target to get 10 per cent of residents into a car share program by 2014 is on track, with up to 300 new members a month. Of those, a third are businesses and the remainder residents.    -->Click here for full text

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

International Advisory Council on Sustainable Transportation

17 November 2012. With one eye to laying the base for our work and collaborative programs for 2013, we are in the process of updating and extending this list of distinguished international colleagues, each of whom is hard at work day after day on challenges, projects and programs, alone and with others, all in support of the principles of sustainable development and social justice, in cities and countries around the world. The voices of sustainable transportation. It is our intention to have the revised and expanded version of this panel listing online in the first months of 2013.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Brief: Los Angeles toll lanes get smooth start, despite some grumbling

Brief: L.A. County toll lanes get smooth start, despite grumbling
As officials unveiled the  first toll lanes on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway this weekend, some drivers said they had questions about how the new fare program worked. The express lanes were created using existing carpool lanes. As a result, drivers now can pay to leave mixed-flow traffic and enter the express lanes, saving what officials said could be two to three minutes a mile. The tolls vary from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, depending on congestion and demand. Officials aim to keep travel speeds in the express lanes at least 45 miles per hour. They estimate the average toll  will be between $4 and $7 a trip, though it could be as much as $15.40.                     * Click here for full text

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brief: The long wait at the many unnecessary traffic lights in Germany may soon be over

The long wait at the many unnecessary traffic lights in Germany may soon be over. Communities nationwide are exploring the use of alternative traffic control systems, such as roundabouts and zebra stripes, to resolve the traffic light's growing issues of expense and safety. Among groups in favour of a large-scale switch, the German Cyclists’ Federation (ADFC) has a prominent voice. “We absolutely support the trend,” said ADFC traffic expert Wilhelm Hörmann. Hörmann added that traffic lights provide a false illusion of safety, pointing to the dangers of impatient drivers and children who cross the street despite there being a red light. Consultant Jürgen Berlitz of the ADAC German automobile club, argued that roundabouts are not only safer, but more efficient than traffic lights.  (Thanks to Ian Perry for the heads-up)

* Click here for article.

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xCar Thinking Exercise?

Just to be sure that we are all getting off on the right foot on this, let me excerpt a few lines from the WP entry on brainstorming. All this is well trod terrain, but just to be sure:
Brainstorming - what we are calling here  a thinking exercise -- is a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a range of insights on a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The xCar Landscape: New Ways of Owning and Using Cars in the 21st Century

This is a collaborative thinking exercise addressing essentially a single question. But one of many parts. What is the "modern motor car" going to look like in the decade immediately ahead?  Will it be  more of the same?  Or will it mutate into a very different form of mobility?  Who is going to own it?  And how is it going to be used? Where will it be driven (and eventually parked)?  Will it be piloted by a warm sapient human being, or will it be driverless? Will it still have wheels, doors and tires? What will be its impact on the environment?  And what will be the impact of the "environment" on it? On public safety? On quality of life for all.  Will it be efficient, economic and equitable? Who will make them and where?  Is it going to create or destroy jobs? And how fast is all of this going to occur?  . . .

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brief: When it comes to choosing their means of transport . . .

Brief: When it comes to choosing their means of transport, travellers in Germany and Europe reveal themselves surprisingly willing to switch modes. Almost 50 percent of those surveyed in six European countries say that they have changed their own mobility mix in the last few years.    * Click here for survey.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

"CAR21": A Thinking Exercise (or New Ways of Owning and Using Cars in the 21st Century)


From the World Carshare Consortium:  I would like to offer a "thought experiment" with anyone here who may wish to jump in with their ideas. criticism and/or proposals -- or perhaps only to pull up a chair and see what happens in a case like this. The short story is that I would like to see what, if anything, happens with a simple change of title and focus for this group -- the World Carshare Consortium at http// + + World Streets on Carsharing at +  Facebook page on carsharing + YahooGroups discussion forum at  -- which for almost 15 years now has been focusing its attention strictly on the varieties of carsharing that are fast multiplying and taking an increasingly important role in the mobility options of people in cities around the world.  Carsharing has a brilliant, in many ways surprising and certainly very different future, which in fact is already well in process.  But there is more to our story than that.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekend leisure: Piano Stairs

Take a break. And in case you missed them the first time around check out the Piano Stairs from Stockholm this weekend.

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Brief: Paris - Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.

Paris: Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.
This ambitious effort on the part of Paris's mayor and his team is well worth following, even if for some it is may be a bit inconvenient for those not able to easily read in French. The original article appears here. And here in the event is the Google translation. (You may note that this article appears in a journal loved and run by the French Right, the mayor's fierce opponents, so caveat lector.)

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who is reading World Streets today?


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Achieving the goals of the EC White Paper on Transport: How civil society can help with delivery

The European Economic and Social Committee is organizing a conference on "Achieving the goals of the White Paper on Transport: how civil society can help with delivery". This one day conference will take place at the Committee's premises on 7 December. The principal document under discussion is entitled "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system". It is available here . We are inviting comments on this document since it is at the core of the meeting. But first some background:

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012


That's great. But just because we voted today does not mean that we are done with our duty as a citizen in a true democracy.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Bogota 21: Toward a world-class transit-oriented Metropolis (with commentary)

This report sponsored by Siemens under a program initi­ated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and De­velopment (BMZ) recommends "that about 4.2% of the national Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP), needs to be spent annually to develop Bogotá into a world-class transit-oriented metropolis". The report has been  implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für In­ternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, active in Colombia for almost 50 years, and Siemens, a German global corporation present in Co­lombia for nearly 60 years.  And to see it for yourself,  click here for the full report that has just been released.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

John Pucher reports on "City Cycling"

John Pucher (cycling guru and Professor of Transport Policy at Rutgers university) gave a public lecture on cycling in cities in LA earlier this week, introducing his new book "City Cycling" to an attentive audience.  Kent Strumpell of the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee was there taking notes.  Which he kindly shares with us here:

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Friday, November 2, 2012

"What are the top 3 things Paris has done in the last 10 years to deliver a genuinely sustainable transport system?"

The other day the phone rang and I heard the voice of my long time friend and valued collaborator Professor John Whitelegg telling me: "on 8th November I am giving a presentation in London at a conference organised by SNCF.  It's all about London and Paris and what the cities can learn from each other.  I will go further (as usual) and argue that both can make a lot more progress on things like bike use, traffic reduction, getting rid of air pollution, zero deaths  and injuries  etc if they get a lot bolder and start engaging with the vision thing.  I will say that Paris can learn from London on congestion charging but I want  something quite big that I can say in what ways London can learn from Paris.  What are the top 3 things  that Paris has done in the last 10 years to deliver a genuinely sustainable transport system?"

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