Sunday, February 1, 2009

National Journal Panel: What Can America Learn About Transportation From Beyond Our Borders?

Contribution to the National Journal Transportation Panel
Organized by Eric Britton, submitted by international colleagues
New Mobility Partnerships, Paris and Los Angeles. 4 February 2009

Great question National Journal, thanks for asking it. Of course as soon as I read it I, surely like most of the others on this panel, immediately hunkered down to prepare and present my best thoughts on the subject.

But as I was sweating out the details, it suddenly occurred to me that I had a unique opportunity to report back to you on this far more usefully than in my own words. All it would take would be for me to step back and find a way to offer this bully pulpit in some efficient way to the thousand or so well-paced colleagues in countries in cities around the world with whom we regularly work and exchange ideas on just these matters under the New Mobility Agenda collaborative program -- leaving them to tell you in their own words what THEY have to share with us all on this subject. So I thought, why not, let’s see what we start to have ideas and inspirations from all these diverse and highly informed people, which we can then fashion into a sort of . . .

Mexican Christmas (“A piñata of ideas”)

So to get the job done I drafted a round-robin email inviting them each to submit a single idea or concept together with up to “250 words” of background and explanation. Thus far more than fifty of my distinguished colleagues have already piled in with contributions. The latest round of these messages follows.

To be perfectly honest this is not such an easy read. It kind of reminds me of traffic on a holiday weekend as large numbers of people with different agendas compete for road space to make their way to wherever it is they want to go. If you do not have a taste for traffic you are not going to be comfortable here.

Moreover you will see that there is great variety in what you will find here. And as the person who has undertaken to organize this widely varied collection , I have to say that just because they appear here does not mean that I necessarily concur with every point being made. I can say however that every point that is brought up here is a competitor for your mental space that is worth serious consideration. In fact for my part I find more than 90% of the points brought up here by my international colleagues right on target. You will have your own views on this so for now let me just step out of the way and let you get to it

In the coming weeks I, and perhaps some of my colleagues, will sit down and see if we can draw from this certain number of central lessons, albeit they will reflect our own understanding of the issues and priorities. Stay tuned and we will get to that when we can.

I hope that this will be read by students, activists, transportation user groups of wide range of times and places, city leaders, people working in government and transportation agencies, the media, and certainly by as many young and less young people working at DOT in Washington and the other agencies that are there to provide counsel and help for government policy in light of the to be a very important area.

One of the most interesting things about our sector is that of all of the areas of activity which are creating large-scale environmental and social impacts, this, transportation, is by far the easiest one for us to face and fix. But it does require a genuine desire to do so, true intellectual curiosity, willingness to listen and learn from all points of view, high energy levels, and a capacity for synthesis and communications. And if you don’t really like people and children, well you just don’t belong here. ;-)

The latest copy of the report can be downloaded at

Table of contents of draft report – 4 Feb. 09 :

Message from Australia 4 Slowing down 4
Message from Australia 5 Three “easy” strategies 5
Message from Austria 7 America, Know thyself 7
Message from Canada 8 Mobility Matters - Reducing car use on a long term basis 8
Message from Canada 9 On value capture finance 9
Message from: Canada 1 Transportation Redevelopment Administration (TRA) 10
Message from Canada 11 The importance of image - inspired by Bogota Colombia and elsewhere 11
Message from Canada 12 It’s all about choice. 12
Message from Canada (+ cities around the world with shared & service taxis) 13
xTransit: The Key to reducing VMT and congestion and ... 13
Message from Canada: 14 Sustainable airport strategies 14
Message from Colombia 15 Learning from the developing countries 15
Message from Europe: 16 Comments from P. L Crist, OECD and the International Transport Forum 16
Message from France: 18 The route to a global mobility policy 18
Message from Germany 19 Purchase of tickets and multi-door entry 19
Message from Germany 20 Inter-state, inter-disciplinary collaboration 20
Message from Iceland 21 A strategy for increased Cycling ,integrated in National Transport Plan. 21
Message from Iceland 22 Demanding Commuter equity contracts and TDM (public institutions / area-regulation) 22
Message from Iceland 23 Make train tickets purchase and route-finding sexier than for plane-travel 23
Message from India: 24 Basics are being sidelined 24
Message from Indonesia/USA/Germany 25 Learn from international experiences in terms of sustainable transport development. 25
Message from the Netherlands 26 Learning from different choices for sustainable mobility design 26
Message from the Netherlands 27 A distributive approach to transport 27
Message from the Netherlands 28 Reducing Size, Weight, Power, Speed of Vehicles most urgent solution to America's oil addiction 28
Message from New Zealand 29 Carpoolers Need Meeting Places Not Databases 29
Message from New Zealand: 30 Get pricing right 30
Message from: Philippine/Japan 31 Role of women and of different disciplines in sustainable transport system planning/development 31
Message from Singapore 32 Change from automotive-based economy to bicycle based economy 32
Message from Sweden 33 Combating climate change and peak oil with free public transport 33
Message from Sweden 34 The key is density 34
Message from Sweden: 35 Combinations of measures promoting sustainable transport 35
Message from Switzerland 36 Make the connections 36
Message from Switzerland 37 Learn from the best European practices 37
Message from the United Kingdom 38 Community Safety Drives save fuel, money and lives and change attitudes 38
Message from the United Kingdom 39 School Travel Health Check – The evidence based approach. 39
Message from the United Kingdom 40 Developing a Conceptual Framework for Changing Travel Behavior 40
Message from the United Kingdom 41 Nurture and value cycling and walking 41
Message from the United Kingdom 42 Ridesharing - In search of the simple solution: 42
Message from the United Kingdom 43 Reduce commute distances to increase accessibility by walking and cycling . 43
Message from the United Kingdom 44 Reducing vehicle size, weight, power, speed most urgent solution to America's oil addiction 44
Message from the United Kingdom 46 Traffic lights are an unnecessary evil 46
Message from the United States of America 47 Raise gas tax to fund reduction in vehicle miles traveled 47
Message from the United States of America 48 More attention to national level policies 48
Message from the United States of America 49 Offset Incentives for Auto Use 49
Message from the United States of America 50 Educational Infrastructure For Safe Cycling IN US 50
Message from the United States of America 51 Speed Mitigation 51
Message from the United States of America 52 From countries with better safety records that the U.S., we can learn that: 52
Message from the United States of America 53 Preserve the transit we already have 53
Message from the United States of America 54 Get ready to learn (from Europe) 54
Message from the United States of America 55 Message from California: 55
Message from the United States of America 56 Educational Infrastructure For Safe Cycling In US 56
Message from Global South 57 Share taxi lessons 57

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