Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Honk! Curitiba's Bus Rapid Transit

From Elizabeth Press and our friends from Streetfilms: Curitiba's Bus Rapid Transit. Click here for video.

Curitiba, Brazil first adopted its Master Plan in 1968. Since then, it has become a city well known for inventive urban planning and affordable (to the user and the city) public transportation.

Curitiba's Bus Rapid Transit system is the source of inspiration for many other cities including the TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia; Metrovia in Guayaquil, Ecuador; as well as the Orange Line of Los Angeles.

This video illustrates how Curitiba's public transportation system operates and the urban planning and land use principles on which it is based, including an interview with the former Mayor and architect Jaime Lerner. Current city employees also discuss the improvements that are being made to the system to keep it up to date and functioning at the capacity of a typical subway system. Curitiba is currently experimenting with adding bypassing lanes on the dedicated BRT routes and smart traffic lights to prioritize buses. They are even constructing a new line which will have a linear park and 18km of bike lane that parallels the bus transit route.

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And note Jaime Lerner's brilliant last words: "If you want creativity from your budget, cut it by one zero. If you want sustainability, cut it by two zeros. And if you want to make it happen, do it fast". Let's think about that one. - The Editor

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Correspondents/Eyes on the Streets update:

We are about to enter into the second month of World Streets existence, and are almost a week into the construction of our new World Streets Sentinels Map, so let me take a few minutes of your time to try to update you quickly on where this is heading from this point on.

1. Moving target: if you are a little confused about how all of this is supposed to work here at the beginning, let me assure you that you are not the only one. What we are setting off on here is a collaborative communication learning process, the basic underlying philosophy and broad goals of which are I hope pretty clear (see today's opening editorial), with the rest to evolve as we move ahead and learn. I am comfortable with that and hope that you will be as well.

2. Peer-to-peer: I have always considered that one of the goals of a really successful public interest contribution is that it is wide open – i.e., that it provides materials, clues and tools which can help enable good things to happen without necessarily the provider of the tools of the initial ideas for ever emerging as the necessary central fulcrum of everything that the initial push might set off. This is definitely one of the objectives of World Streets, and I hope that you will take this as an invitation to run with any of this with your own ideas and initiatives. Of course I have to hope that whatever it is will be consistent with the basic philosophy we so strongly believe in, but in any event I am confident that the quality of the fundamental ideas and philosophic principles is sufficient to guarantee that this will pretty much have.

3. Correspondent contributions: As originally promised this is a no obligation activity, and I propose that in the first months the pattern that will suit you best will be the one that we mutually learn as the project advances. Again the sections Contributor Guidelines and Correspondents are useful as background reading which I can heartily recommend prior to posting or commenting if you will. I might add that we have particular interest in contributions which will fall under the categories including Honk!, the infamous Bad News Department, Toolkit , outstanding new projects or programs, people or groups that are making a difference, and basically anything that might be going on in your city or area of interest which has universal interest and potential application.

4. Eyes on the Street map. This is a pretty good microcosm for the rest. It is intended to illustrate in a striking manner the way in which we are attempting to combine the global and the local. There are a couple of ideas that we are looking at integrating into both this map and the project overall:

Local identification: Each city symbol needs to link to a specific person and a specific place. When you click a city, take Pune in India as example, this will take you direct to Sujit. I have tried to take him at his exact address in his neighborhood, 383 Narayan Peth, but I am going to need a little help from him in order to pinpoint the exact location of his home. I hope that we will be able to do this for all of our cooperating colleagues. (You will hopefully appreciate in this context why I have so doggedly insisted on the initial identification encompassing both the name of our cooperating colleagues and the city/country affiliation. Also In this regard, kindly you make sure I have your exact street address so, as close as possible to attaching it to your listing.)

Green Map: I am also playing around with the concept of linking each city to a Green Map (See www.greenmaps.org). As part of this, have already placed links not only in going but also in Barcelona, Seattle, Cape Town and one or two others.

Traffic cams: Another possibility that I intend to have a closer look at is that of finding the nearest traffic cam so that the visitor can get some kind of feel for what the streets actually look like at different points in time in that place.

4. Expanding World Streets coverage: We already after less than a week have more than 40 kind colleagues who have indicated that they will be pleased to exercise this item street function in their city and more broadly. I would hope during the course of April, the second month our new journal, to bring this up to ensure coverage of something like 100 world cities, i.e. cooperating colleagues.
Geographic: More coverage of Africa, the Middle East, the former parts of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, Latin America and Asia are definitely called for as priorities. And I think we should be very ambitious about coverage in both China and India.

Gender: One of the basic pillars of this project is that we need to engage more women in the process of planning and decision-making. Thus far of the first 40 correspondence coming in, only eight are women. To rectify this, I intend to adjust the outreach in these next ages to give heavy reference to qualified female colleagues, so if you have nominations for me please be sure that they will be immediately activated.

Sorry to have tied up so much of your time with this, but I think it is important that we get off to a strong start and a shared understanding of the best way to go about all this. Of course as always your suggestions, corrections, and ideas for doing better are enormously well.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

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Shared Space progress in the UK

Report from Ashford UK.

Where Ashford leads in urban planning and street design, others follow – that seems to be the message after it was revealed that more than a dozen UK towns are also adopting shared space concepts to help improve their streetscapes.

Last month it was reported that Staines, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hereford and Edbinburgh were all considering redesigning their urban streets using the principles of shared space which have been successfully introduced in Ashford over the past year.

Now further research has shown that more than 12 other UK cities and towns are also interested in adopting the shared space concept.

These include Oxford, the Suffolk towns of Felixstowe and Ipswich, Poynton and Macclesfield in Cheshire, Torquay and Babbacombe in Devon, Stromness on Orkney, two separate locations in Blackpool, the Essex town of Colchester and various sites in Dorset.

Local authorities in most of these locations are believed to be in the early stages of design development as part of local regeneration projects; however Blackpool Council is about to begin construction work on a shared space scheme covering two sites in the bustling seaside resort.

New Inn Hall Street, in the heart of Oxford’s congested city centre, has been earmarked for redevelopment using a shared space approach similar to that adopted in Ashford.

In November, Ashford completed the first phase of its award-winning shared space project to transform its 1970s ring road into quality, two-way streets in which drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have equal priority. The scheme has opened up the town centre to make it more attractive to residents, businesses and visitors.

The £15.6m scheme has been implemented by Kent County Council and forms part of a £2.5bn public and private sector investment programme for Ashford.

Unnecessary street furniture, road markings and traffic lights have been removed and the speed limit cut to 20mph. Road surfaces have been replaced with high-quality materials, wider footpaths and low kerbs, to create a distinctive streetscape, while artists are transforming the public space along the road into an attractive tree-lined environment.

Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, the agency overseeing Ashford’s growth programme, said she was delighted that the town had created a blueprint for other towns to follow. “The scheme has made our town centre more attractive to residents and visitors and it’s playing a vital role in unlocking the commercial development potential of Ashford.”

Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter said: “The scheme looks absolutely fantastic. It's just what Ashford needs. It's very modern and contemporary, and very well designed. This is the first stage. We have got to build other highway schemes when we get the funding from the Government or developer contributions.

“It's a completely different experience. It's a shared space where people change their behaviours - both motorists and pedestrians. The professionals say it does make drivers and pedestrians more cautious and has worked in other countries.”

Urban design expert Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who was involved in the shared space project in Ashford, said he was not surprised that so many town planners were waking up to the potential of using the shared space approach to revitalise their public places.

“While it is true that no two schemes or circumstances are ever alike when comparing the needs of different places, planners in town halls across the UK are beginning to realise that designing street projects based on shared space principles is the way forward.”

Source: http://www.ashford.gov.uk/news_and_events/latest_news/more_towns_follow_ashford.aspx

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Honk! Homage to Hans Monderman

Unexpected interview in Groningen
(On the street and straight to the point)

1 min 20 sec - May 30, 2006

Description: What? You know all about transport in cities and you have never heard of Groningen? Well, check out this an unexpected street interview in Groningen, a slice of life as lived by our old friend and transport innovating colleague (and now World Eyes on the Street correspondent from Portugal) Robert Stussi. He has titled it: A Homage to Hans Monderman. Hear, hear!

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A thing so slight:

The medium is the message with the Paris public bike project

Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets, Paris, France

Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of cities and the disappointments and futilities of city planning. But the destructive effects of automobiles are much less a cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building. The simple needs of automobiles are more easily understood and satisfied than the complex needs of cities, and a growing number of planners and designers have come to believe that if they can only solve the problems of traffic, they will thereby have solved the major problems of cities. Cities have much more intricate economic and social concerns than automobile traffic. How can you know what to try with traffic until you know how the city itself works, and what else it needs to do with its streets? You can't."

- Jane Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities , 1961

A bicycle? Two spindly wheels held together by a frail metal frame and launched into wobbly motion with some kind of bizarre arrangement for your willing feet to move you from A to B. First introduced in yes! Paris almost two hundred years ago (1817 model just to your right), the bike been around for something like a century and a half and has had its moments of glory and its moments of ... neglect.

So why should it be that as we move toward the end of his first decade of this new century I should be taking your time to talk about something that is so small, so trivial, so out of date, so surely meaningless in an age in which the problems of our daily lives of our planet are enormous and in many ways crushing us to the mat? To get a feel for that, let’s start with a quick look out the rearview mirror.

A glance back:

In order to make any sense of what an eventual renaissance of the bicycle might make in our daily lives and in our cities, it will be useful for us to have a quick glance back to recall what happened the last time a rolling beast of metal and rubber appeared on the scene of our daily lives.

Remember? There we were living and working, going to school in playing in cities and towns across America, and getting around in our daily lives on our feet, occasionally by bicycle, and as often as not by some combination of buses, trams and trainings. Of course there were also cars, but these were not really available to most of us, at least not when the beginning of the car era started to shape up. What happened?

As prosperity reared its supposedly beautiful head in the wake of the Second World War, more and more people started to have a new transportation option in the form of their own car. It was, just about everyone said, a great and wonderful thing.

And then, slowly and without our really being quite aware, they started to change a lot of things in our daily lives and in our cities. The story has been told many times and perhaps never better than by our dear Mrs. Jane Jacobs, but the essence of it is that the main contribution of this new bit of technology is the manner in which it has transformed and in a huge number of cases virtually gutted our cities. Pulling them apart with seven league boots that simply don’t fit into the perimeter of our cold cities. So in case after case the city fell apart and moved “out of town”.

Marshall McLuhan told us decades ago that the medium was the message, and indeed that turned out to be the case with cars. We got the message so that if you look around it's not very hard to figure out what that message was.

True auto-mobility

Then one day, with little fanfare a transportation revolution started to get underway, and if you have not heard a great deal about it till now, stay tuned because this is a message that one way or another is going to get in some form to just about every city of any size in North America, and indeed in many other parts of the world.

The new message is the “City Bike”, or Public Bicycle System, which is probably today the fastest growing transportation innovation in the world. They could not be more simple.

The basic principle is that a city creates a new kind of public transport system, this one based on free (or almost free) bicycles which you can pick up at many points around the city, ride to get you where you want to go, and then leave it off in another handily located station.

Today there are more than one hundred such new systems underway, with the most famous being the huge new system brought to Paris in the summer of 2007 under the name Vélib’ (roughly free bike), of which there are more than 16,000 currently in service and with 20,000 targeted this Spring (2009). Other large systems are in operation or underway in Barcelona, Lyon, Rome, Berlin, and in North America there are several dozen cities looking carefully at this idea, with a major project about to come on line in Montreal in the weeks ahead..

What is interesting about these revolutionary transportation systems is that . . . they work! Think of them as small, perfectly clean one-person buses that you can pick up where you want, when you want, leave when you want, and go where you want. Personal Rapid Transit. True ubiquitous auto-mobility at last.

Come to Paris (or Barcelona, or Lyons, or or ) and have a look for yourself.

Or, if you don’t have a ticket, you can always check it out at World City Bikes at http://www.citybike.newmobility.org/. The Public Broadcasting System of the United States broadcast a film on Vélib’ and The Greening or Paris in December 2008. You can pick it up on line at http://www.e2-series.com/, click Webcast, then Paris. A trailer for the program is available at http://blip.tv/play/AcvUegA

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Archives, library and reading room

World Streets has four main functions: (1) A publication, (2) an on-going collaborative process, (3) a valuable resource, and (4) a worldwide lobby for sustainable transport, sustainable cities and social justice. This section presents the archiving function, which permits our readers to have ready access to the monthly collections of hundreds of articles and postings by colleagues around the world since opening of publication on 2 March 2009. We suggest you use it in parallel with our rather good search functions which are introduced here - http://tinyurl.com/ws-search1

1. On-line Monthly Archives
2. Monthly print summaries
3. World Streets Last Week (Monthly print summaries)
4. More Search functions

1. On-line Monthly Archives

World Streets in 2010:

* January archives
World Streets in 2009:
* December archives
* November archives
* October archives
* September archives
* August archives
* July archives
* June archives
* May archives
* April archives
* March archives

2. Monthly print summaries:
The following PDFs offer a quick print overview of the month's postings. The PDFs are not however fully clickable, so if you wish to dig deeper, you are directed to the on-line Archives section for that month, which you will see just above.


* December 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-December-2009.pdf

* November 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-November-2009.pdf

* October 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-October-2009.pdf

* September 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-September-2009.pdf

* August 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-August-2009.pdf

* July 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-July-2009.pdf

* June 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-June-2009.pdf

* May 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-May-2009.pdf

* April 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-April-2009.pdf

* March 2009 - http://ecoplan.org/library/WS-March-2009.pdf

3. Weekly print summaries: (in process)
The following PDFs offer a quick print overview of the indicated week's postings. The PDFs are not however fully clickable, so if you wish to dig deeper, you are directed to the on-line Archives section for the month, where you can readily click to the posting in question.

* Week of 20 to 27 September 09
* Week of 13 to 20 September 09
* Week of 6 to 13 September 09
* Week of 30 August to 6 September 09
* Week of 23-30 August 09
* Week of 16-23 August 09
* Week of 9-16 August 09
* Week of 2-9 August 09
* Week of 26 July - 2 August 09
* Week of 19-26 July 09
* Week of 12-19 July 09
* Week of 5-12 July 09
* Week of 28 June - 5 July 09

4. More Search functions
* Index of key terms
* Click for most recent postings
* And here for latest Comments
* Search all our Key Links here
* Search 612 selected New Mobility sites (Knoogle)

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Bad News Department is really great idea!

Bad News Department is really great idea! I can say it as a contributor to various magazines (mainly cycling and popular-scientific ones) with 25 years of experience. "Bad news is a good news" approach is popular rather between the evening papers, but who don't likes gossiping?

From the other hand, early alert may help to take countermeasures -- be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Recently I have had in my Department a meeting about the Public Bike project with people from Public Transport Authority. What have been their first words? "The mass loss of Velib bikes forces us to rethink the idea of..."

And -- thanks to the Bad News Department -- I could tell them: "Don't get used too much to this idea. The news is highly exaggerated. We will make our plan real". They were not very happy -- I've got a feeling thet they'll start the project just for to write a report: "Running the PBS is non possible".

We'll see...

Marek Utkin
Warsaw, Poland

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

World Streets PBS Profiles Series – Spring 2009

Introduction to PBS Interview Series

The city bike -- shared bike, or public bicycle system (PBS) as it is variously called -- is a quite new as well as a very effective way of getting around in the city, at least as it is practiced at the leading edge . Most certainly the fastest growing form of urban transport in the world today (admittedly from a minuscule base), it is at once the darling of the media and a favorite photo op of mayors and public officials all over the world..

However there is a small problem. That being that while they look simple enough at first glance – bunch of bikes, bunch of stands for parking them, and Bob's your uncle -- the reality turns out to be far more complex. (See "Not just one more pretty bike project" here.".

This has lead to a situation over the last couple of years where many cities are showing great enthusiasm for the concept, without necessarily fully appreciating what is required on their part to make them into successes. As a result we are seeing far too many weak projects and weak plans in city after city around the world. But it does not have to be this way.

Where to turn for solid counsel on how to plan and implement your city bike project? Certainly if you are able to dig deep into the interstices of the most successful projects – not always easy to do for a variety of reasons – there are valuable clues to be had. Beyond this however certainly one of the most solid sources of information and perspective is the leading supplier groups who have partnered with the best projects thus far to get them up and running. But how to make this contact in a positive and creative way?

This turns out to be something of a challenge because in project after project we are seeing the suppliers being treated less as partners and more often as almost adversaries. It is the rare city indeed that manages to get this relationship right. Of course the suppliers are profit-making firms whose business it is to get and execute a good contract under favorable terms. But if you are a member of a city team considering a project of your own, do not lose sight of the fact that they are also your best information partners. How to bridge this gap?

Here is where this new series of World Streets is hoping to step in. We have planned to carry out a cycle of interviews with a number of the leading groups working in the field, in an attempt to ask some of the questions that you may have in your pocket. The first of these interviews will be published here in early April with the team behind the about-to-launch Montreal Bixi project, followed a week later with a second exchange with one of the leaders of the Clear Channel SmartBike program. In this way we get the ball rolling by going to both the newest and the oldest of the state-of-the-art city projects, with the other leaders to follow in short order.

Your comments and questions will be welcome on each profile, using the Comment link under the respective interview. Likewise if you have more general points to share with us, we invite you to Comment in the link at the end of this entry. If you have questions you would like us to add to our list of ten for each interview, pass them on and we will see what we can do with them.

The Editor

* For the record, one of the most valuable sources of information on this topic is the World City Bike Consortium started by the New Mobility Partnerships in 2006 as a place to share information and ask questions from people directly involved at the working level. You can consult this site freely at www.citybike.newmobility.org.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Honk! Contraflow Bus Lanes in London

Here are a cooule of new additions -

To watch contra-flow bus lanes in operation in London - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY0VeiJ1fz8

The above covers following locations - Russell Square, Picadilly Circus, New Oxford Street leading to Oxford Circus, Charing Cross Road near Tottenham Court (Tube station), London Road near Elephant & Castle tube station and finally Tooley street near London Bridge.

To watch a short video giving insight into workings of the pre-signal technology - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV3pAjzVhfw

Use the HQ button on the bottom right of the Youtube display screen to watch in better quality.


Adhiraj Joglekar
London UK

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Walk to School strikes again (From the New York Times)

This good article from today’s New York Times treats a topic which is not only well known to the New Mobility Agenda program and its many collaborators around the world, but also touches on some of the fundamental considerations which constitute the vital underpinnings of the strategy which will allow us in many ways to cut CO2 radically and provide far better transportation (better in the larger sense of the word as we understand it here).

When in 2002 our editor in chief was chair of the international jury of the prestigious Stockholm Partnerships for Sustainable Cities, he and the jury selected the International Walk to School program as one of the select group of prize winners. The award, a striking sculpted glob made of recycled glass, was presented to Robert Smith as project manager of the UK Walk to School program at that time, on the understanding that each year it would circulate to another country program. In time it spanned several continents. The simple fact is that this is a great and worthy sustainability strategy and should be [art of every new mobility program in every town and city in the world.

March 27, 2009

Students Give Up Wheels for Their Own Two Feet

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, New York Times (Thuis article reproduced under our Fair Use policy.)

LECCO, Italy — Each morning, about 450 students travel along 17 school bus routes to 10 elementary schools in this lakeside city at the southern tip of Lake Como. There are zero school buses.

In 2003, to confront the triple threats of childhood obesity, local traffic jams and — most important — a rise in global greenhouse gases abetted by car emissions, an environmental group here proposed a retro-radical concept: children should walk to school.

They set up a piedibus (literally foot-bus in Italian) — a bus route with a driver but no vehicle. Each morning a mix of paid staff members and parental volunteers in fluorescent yellow vests lead lines of walking students along Lecco’s twisting streets to the schools’ gates, Pied Piper-style, stopping here and there as their flock expands.

At the Carducci School, 100 children, or more than half of the students, now take walking buses. Many of them were previously driven in cars. Giulio Greppi, a 9-year-old with shaggy blond hair, said he had been driven about a third of a mile each way until he started taking the piedibus. “I get to see my friends and we feel special because we know it’s good for the environment,” he said.

Although the routes are each generally less than a mile, the town’s piedibuses have so far eliminated more than 100,000 miles of car travel and, in principle, prevented thousands of tons of greenhouse gases from entering the air, Dario Pesenti, the town’s environment auditor, estimates.

The number of children who are driven to school over all is rising in the United States and Europe, experts on both continents say, making up a sizable chunk of transportation’s contribution to greenhouse-gas emissions. The “school run” made up 18 percent of car trips by urban residents of Britain last year, a national survey showed.

In 1969, 40 percent of students in the United States walked to school; in 2001, the most recent year data was collected, 13 percent did, according to the federal government’s National Household Travel Survey.

Lecco’s walking bus was the first in Italy, but hundreds have cropped up elsewhere in Europe and, more recently, in North America to combat the trend.

Towns in France, Britain and elsewhere in Italy have created such routes, although few are as extensive and long-lasting as Lecco’s. In the United States, Columbia, Mo.; Marin County, Calif.; and Boulder, Colo., introduced modest walking-bus programs last year as part of a national effort, Safe Routes To School, which gives states money to encourage students to walk or ride their bicycles.

Although carbon dioxide emissions from industry are declining on both continents, those from transportation account for almost one-third of all greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States and 22 percent in European Union countries. Across the globe, but especially in Europe, where European Union countries have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas production by 2012 under the United Nations’ Kyoto protocol, there is great pressure to reduce car emissions.

Last year the European Environmental Agency warned that car trips to school — along with food importing and low-cost air travel — were growing phenomena with serious implications for greenhouse gases.

In the United States and in Europe, “multiple threads are warping traditional school travel and making it harder for kids to walk,” said Elizabeth Wilson, a transportation researcher at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Among those factors are a rise in car ownership; one-child families, often leery of sending students off to school on their own; cuts in school-bus service or charges for it as a result of school-budget cutbacks and fuel-price gyrations; and the decline of neighborhood schools and the rise of school choice, meaning that students often live farther from where they learn.

Worse still, said Roger L. Mackett, professor at the Center for Transport Studies at University College in London, there is growing evidence that children whose parents drive a lot will become car-dependent adults. “You’re getting children into a lifelong habit,” he said.

In Lecco, car use has proved a tenacious habit even though the piedibus has caught on. “Cars rule,” said Augosto Piazza, the founder of the city’s program, an elfin man with shining blue eyes, a bouncing gait and a yellow vest. As he “drove” along a bus route on a recent morning, store owners waved fondly to the familiar packs of jabbering children.

Yet as they pulled up to Carducci School, dozens of private cars were parked helter-skelter for dropoffs in the small plaza outside as gaggles of mothers chatted on the sidewalk nearby. “I have two kids who go to different schools, plus their backpacks are so heavy,” said Manuela Corbetta, a mother in a black jacket and sunglasses, twirling her car keys as she explained why her children do not make the 15-minute trek. “Sometimes they have 10 notebooks, so walking really isn’t practical.”

Some children are dropped off by parents on their way to work, and some others live outside the perimeter of the piedibus’s reach, although there are collection points at the edge of town for such children. But many live right along a piedibus route, Mr. Piazza noted.

Yet other parents praised the bus, saying it had helped their children master street safety and had a ripple effect within the family. “When we go for shopping you think about walking — you don’t automatically use the car,” said Luciano Prandoni, a computer programmer who was volunteering on his daughter’s route.

The city of Lecco contributes roughly $20,000 annually toward organizing and providing staff members for the piedibus. The students perform a public service of sorts: they are encouraged to hand out warnings to cars that park illegally and chastise dog owners who do not clean up.

Naturally some children whine on rainy mornings. Participation drops 20 percent on such days, although it increases during snowfalls. On rainy days, “She says, ‘Mom, please take me,’ and sometimes I give in,” said Giovanna Luciano, who lives in the countryside and normally drops her daughter Giulia, 9, at a piedibus pickup point in a parking lot by a cemetery.

To encourage use, children receive fare cards that are punched each day. The bus routes have distinctive names (the one through the graveyard is the mortobus), and compete for prizes like pizza parties for the students. Teachers have students write poems about the piedibus.

In Britain, about half the local school systems now have some sort of incentives to encourage walking, although generally less formal ones than the piedibus, said Roger L. Mackett, a professor at the Center for Transport Studies at University College in London.

“It’s quite a lot of effort to keep it going,” he said. “It’s always easier to put children in the back of the car. Once you’ve got your two or three cars, it takes effort not to use them.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Source and fair use: This article originally appeared in the New York Times of 27 March 2009, by their reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal. You can view their original article here. And click here to view World Street's policy on Fair Use. Comments welcome.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Support World Streets

Want to do your bit for sustainable transport, sustainable cities, and a sustainable world? Donate one dollar today to keep Streets going. You can do it with a simple click here.

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Toolbox: SeeClickFix

Here is a new mobility tool that we would like not only to introduce you to here, but also invite your comments and suggestions. Then, if any of you wish to take this further, perhaps we can explore with our friends at SeeClickFix, a public interest group in wild, exotic and different New Haven Connecticut how this might be put to work in your city.

We were in the process of preparing our own piece based on interviews with SeeClickFix founder Ben Berkowitz, when this fine treatment came in from Streetsblog Daily reporter Brad Aaron. So what better than to pass it on to you as it appeared yesterday in New York.

A possible World Streets goal: To find one or two cities in any part of the world that might be interested in putting this tool to work in their community. To test its applicability and usefulness in a range of non-US situations. Candidates?

And now from Streetsblog:

SeeClickFix: Is “Little Brother” the Next Big Thing?

The next generation of community-driven reporting of quality-of-life issues -- like potholes, graffiti, garbage buildup, or broken street lights -- is SeeClickFix, software that enables users to populate a map with cases that are then forwarded to the responsible city agency. Much like a 311 system, SeeClickFix is predicated on the assumption that an aware and engaged public that uses technology can get its city government to efficiently resolve problems.

Unlike most 311 systems, the visual mapping function enables users to see all existing complaints about a particular problem or to add their voice to an existing case, thus promoting it to a more urgent position in the queue. Users can create "watch areas" and receive notices when other users identify a problem within it. Each case generates an e-mail that is sent to the appropriate agency responsible for fixing it.

According to founder Ben Berkowitz, who is based in New Haven, Connecticut, SeeClickFix got its first trial run last year when New Haven's mayor, John DeStefano, Jr., was looking for a way to better respond to public quality-of-life complaints and to reduce duplication of efforts within agencies. DeStefano required the city to respond to cases that had been generated by the public on SeeClickFix and report the status of the cases online.

The system was so successful that the city now uses SeeClickFix as a proxy 311, with agencies such as the DOT, DPW, and police department using it for non-emergency issues. DeStefano was so happy with the service that he sent a letter to more that 100 other mayors encouraging them to try it.

Berkowitz says the system has now expanded beyond the local government to utility companies and non-profits. He said they have seen numerous cases of good Samaritans responding to complaints without prompting, such as one carpenter who fixed several park benches he located on the site.

"That's the beauty of open source," says Berkowitz. "At first, we thought of calling it Little Brother, like 'Little Brother is Watching,' but then we realized we needed to be a bit more kind to government."

Berkowitz explains that SeeClickFix often coordinates with newspapers, such as those in Boston, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, to promote the software to the public, then advocates for the city to try responding to cases and noting the progress online. When the Philadelphia Inquirer added the SeeClickFix widget to its site, Philadelphia 311 soon started responding online to newly-generated cases.

In San Francisco, Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers Division, is a big fan of SeeClickFix and is planning to use the mapping widget on SFGate.com. Kevin Skaggs, executive producer of SFGate, said a collaboration with SeeClickFix has been in the works since Bronstein blogged about them last year, and that SFGate will use the widget in a few months on its new hyper-local Chronicle sites.

The new Chron sites will resemble the New York Times' recently launched local blogs, where SeeClickFix is already a presence. As of now, the Times has incorporated the map widget into the New Jersey edition of "The Local," which covers Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange. Berkowitz hopes the Times' Brooklyn blog, targeted at readers in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, will follow suit. If that happens, he sees city residents using SeeClickFix as a tool for broad scale community improvement.

"We know that it can be much bigger than 311 in New York," says Berkowitz. "It's a really great method for getting a dialogue started."

Posted: 25 Mar 2009 12:01 PM PDT
With reporting by Brad Aaron.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Street code": A World Streets Campaign for 2009

The Highway Code: a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative. In all cases the code itself is the creature of the automotive age and is primarily concerned with defining the role and characteristics of motor vehicle driver and owner behavior.

Many European cities are of late starting to advance on the idea of establishing a far tougher "street codes", specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. If streets are for cars, well this is probably not a priority. But if they are "public spaces" and open to the full range of uses and users, then perhaps something along these lines is called for.

The idea is works is that legal responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver's guilt (not always very easy to do).

This is not quite as good as John Adams' magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart-- but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.

We propose to make this a major campaign theme of World Streets in 2009 and invite our readers to submit their reports, ideas and comments over the course of the months ahead.

If you look over toward the top of the left menu here, you will see that we have opened up a reader poll in an attempt to get your views as well. We also invite comment here on the results.

The editor

Livable Streets discussions of Street Code
What is Street Code? (Thanks for use of your graphic)
Code de la rue - Belgium (Use Translate here as needed)
Code de la rue - France
Code de la rue - Wikipedia

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Street Code: Collisions Between Asymetrical Parties


Your suggestion that, in the case of a collision in a public street, regardless of fault, the larger, faster party bear the responsibility for redress. This is close to my proposal that the party in the larger vehicle (who usually doesn't get injured) lose their privilege to drive for as long as the smaller (usually also slower) party takes to recover and to resume the mode of travel they were using at the time of the collision.

Your proposal could be a little even-handed if the fault principle (based on the Highway Traffic Act) would apply to that portion of the outcome that _would_ have entailed had the two parties been the same size and moving at the same speed as the more benign party, while the rest of the outcome fall at the feet (as it were) of the larger, faster party, regardless of fault.

BTW, the other posting on the new SeeFlickFix.com site is very important. I used it for a missing set of stairs in a small park near my home a few minutes ago, and it took my material, including a photo, quite well. However, I had to reply to my own post, to correct the software that would not let me reposition the icon to a more accurate location. I also posted a second photo, getting it properly turned upwards (mea culpa).

I see this as the way to create stewardship over public places, and to remove from cities the right of controling the records of complaints ("Oh, you're the first person to complain.")

Chris Bradshaw

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What/who keeps holding back newmobility reform?

Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets, Paris, France

If you get it, newmobility is a no-brainer. However, while that is a great starting place, it is not going to get the job somehow miraculously done. We have a few potential sticking points here that need to be overcome first. Let's have a quick look.

After some years of talking with cities, and working and observing in many different circumstances, here are some of the barriers are most frequently encountered in trying to get innovative transportation reform programs off the ground, including even in cities that really do need a major mobility overhaul.

1. The Mayor/city manager: The mayor or prime city leader either: does not get it; feels that she knows the whole area well enough to require nothing else; does not consider this to be a matter of high priority; feels confident that his staff has this well under control, or quite simply does not have enough time to get her arms around it.

2. The City Council: Where you have city councils taking these decisions, it turns out that they are often much better at disagreeing then agreeing, at least when any unfamiliar , to them unproven, idea comes before them for decision. And yet, if we do not get some kind of consensus for change at the top this is never going to happen.

3. The city's transportation experts: The city's main transportation expert, team, may well not be interested in having any "outside help". Anything else is often seen as a challenge to their authority and expertise. So we basically have a turf problem.

4. Local consultants: The specialized consultants who already work in the sector in that city, or have contact with it, feel that they do not need any additional help since this is after all their job and specialty.

5. Local business groups, who the most part are firmly wedded to the idea of cars and car access (AKA parking) as being the key to the success of their businesses.

6. Transportation service providers: bus/transit services, taxis, school and special service buses, others -- tend to be the most part quite narrowly focused on their specific business area, often already under some financial duress, and thus for the most part not known to be open to new ideas or new ways of doing things. Including new and much broader partnerships with other service providers and actors in the community. This is not the case for all cities, but most operators are under such financial pressure that they have little or no margin for innovation or experimentation.

7. Public interest groups: Specific transportation, environmental groups (cycling, pedestrian, public space, emissions, quality of life, specific neighborhood groups, etc.) tend to be committed to their specific missions and far more often than not simply do not get together to create a global sustainable cities program, as indeed should be the case.

8. Local media: For reasons of their own, advertising revenues included, have rarely really bought into the sustainability agenda.

9. The "local car lobby". While there are financial interests tied to the continuing abundant unfettered use of cars in the city, including local auto dealers, any businesses that might be suppliers to the sector, parking businesses, the great bulk of this "lobby" is an unquestioned implied understanding that nothing should be done that would change your relationship with your car.

10. All of us: Doubtless the biggest single obstacle to deep transportation reform is a result of the fact that it deals with a highly visible area of public life in which just about everybody, from mayor to dogcatcher, feels that they have a high degree of implicit expertise in figuring out what works and what will not work in their city. . . because transport is something that they do every day and can see with their own eyes. This is the Achilles' heel of transportation policy, this very human tendency for just about everybody to feel that if they do it i.e. move around every day) this means they understand it. The trouble with this is that transport in cities is a highly complex metabolism of great systemic complexity that is far closer to that of the human brain than say another glass of beer. Thus one of the main challenges of deep transportation reform is to help citizens and decision makers come to grips with these challenges of complexity, without at the same time removing it from their role as active and responsible citizens and placing it entirely in the hands of centralized experts. There is a major communications challenge here. And a governance challenge as well.

* * *

How many potential barriers is that already, ten? And if you think of it in terms of your own city, I am sure you are going to spot most if not all of the above and yet others. It is thus the first challenge of anyone who wishes to advance the sustainable transportation agenda in that place to understand this difficult terrain and to figure out ways of coping with it.

For sure, it is going to be impossible to take on and convert all of these interests at once. But the fundamental concepts and potential of a 21st-century mobility system are such that if we take a strategic approach to dealing with these barriers, taking them on one at a time and with great patience and foresight, the policy agenda can be opened up and perhaps some first small victories can be achieved. Once this has happened, the rest will follow in due course.

Our best counsel for transportation reform: Start at the top and engage and work your way down this list patiently one by one. Build up your support base , and gradually expand it. Be known as a great and patient listener.

* * *
You may find some interest in reading the above in parallel with the strategic summary for new system planning and implementation of the New Mobility Agenda which you will find here – www.strategy.newmobility.org.

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YouBike: New Share Bike scheme in Taipei

A new public bike scheme just started by the Taipei goverment and supported by Giant bicycle in Taipei. As stated on the wibsite: "Bicycle is clearly growing trend all around the world. It is a symbol of advanced, civic and a green city. The cycling population in Taiwan is growing rapidly acrros all ages."

The ambition of the project is to promote the use of bicycle as the "last mile" connection for public transportation. This encourage a new commuting culture to let more people to take public transport. Increase transport efficiency while reducing the energy consumption. as the same time.

The YouBike system is controled by automated electronic system, using RFID and smart card system.

The YouBike Public Bicycle System uses the EasyCard as the membership card. Short-term card registration is available from the information kiosk at each rental point. Long-term card can be applied via the YouBike website or service center.

First 30 minutes of each session is free then TWD 10 (about $0.30) for each additional 15 minutes.

Some statistics:
• Automated bicycle station: 11
• RFID tagged parking space: 754
• YouBikes: 500
• Service center: 1

English language website at: http://www.youbike.com.tw/upage/english.htm

Contact for further information: service@youbike.com.tw or Fax 02 2722-4211

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3 reports on transportation planning from Project for Public Spaces

(Done in conjunction with the American Association of Retired Persons)
Streets as Places report, Project for Public Spaces
-- A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets: How to Engage Your Transportation Agency

-- Streets as Places: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities

-- The Quiet Revolution in Transportation Planning: How Great Corridors Make Great Communities

PPS has initiated a transportation practice, and has a workshop on "streets as places."

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Report: Bicycle Sharing Systems Worldwide: Selected Case Studies

CityRyde LLC, a bicycle sharing consultancy founded in 2007 based in Philadelphia, PA would like to add a cherry on top of the information the World City Bike Forum provides - a free report just released that focuses on the bike sharing systems we get asked about most frequently.

Enter "Bicycle Sharing Systems Worldwide: Selected Case Studies" - a high-level synopsis that includes critical information about major vendors and deployments such as JCDecaux with Velib', Clear Channel Outdoors with SmartBike DC, Public Bike Systems with Bixi, B-cycle with Momentum B-cycle, CEMUSA with Nbici and Veolia Transportation with OyBike.

CityRyde has spent years researching and analyzing information about bike sharing implementations and their providers and strives to be the trusted source of bike sharing knowledge. For the first time ever, this information is compiled into a high-level synopsis which is easy to read and shared openly to the public.

"Bike Sharing Systems" focuses on the systems we get asked about most frequently, including major vendors and deployments such as JCDecaux with Velib’, Clear Channel Outdoors with SmartBike DC, Public Bike Systems with Bixi, B-cycle with Momentum B-cycle, CEMUSA with Nbici, and Veolia Transportation with OyBike. We have captured critical information about the systems including membership demographics, usage information, implementation costs, rental costs, bike share technology (bike, kiosk, locking mechanism), and implementation statistics.

Download this document at no charge by visiting our reports page at www.cityryde.com/reports

Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments, concerns, etc.

Jason Meinzer, JHSMeinzer@cityryde.com
CityRyde LLC – www.CityRyde.com
Philadelphia, PA USA

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Honk! Contested Streets

Contested Streets is a documentary produced by the New York City advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, and made by Cicala Filmworks that explores the rich diversity of New York City street life before the introduction of automobiles and shows how New York can follow the example of other modern cities that have reclaimed their streets as vibrant public spaces. The 57 minute film was premiered in New York City on 27 June 2006 and is available for purchase at cost from Transportation Alternatives.

Contested Streets features new footage of reclaimed streets in London, Copenhagen and Paris and features interviews with New York savvy notables such as Ken Jackson, Mike Wallace, Bob Kiley, Eric Britton, Jan Gehl, Majora Carter, Kathryn Wylde, Enrique Penalosa, James Howard Kunstler and many more - -- who help us to make our way through the morass of problems, resistances and opportunities that all our cities face.

Cicala Filmworks is a full-service film, video, and new-media production company. Headquartered in New York City, the company produces content as varied as documentary programming, industrial videos, TV commercials, web content, and short and feature films.

• View a 5 minute trailer of Contested Streets here.
• To obtain a copy of the DVD, click here.
• To know more about Cicala Filmworks, click here.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Op-Ed. Jan Gehl, Message from Copenhagen

People First

Jan Gehl, Gehl Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark

Many challenges face today’s societies: from increasing carbon emissions to our reliance on depleting energy resources, from increasing social segregation to the obesity epidemic. All these challenges come at a great cost: from monetary to environmental, and every inhabitant pays a price. We believe many of these challenges can be addressed simply by thinking about ‘people first’ when planning cities.

The Value of People Oriented Planning

If the urban population is invited to use public space by walking or bicycling, the effects are highly positive in meeting these challenges. It may seem banal that more bicycle lanes equal more bicyclists, a well-connected pedestrian network results in more pedestrians, a well-working public transport system results in more people using public transport – whereas more roads means more cars. It seems simple. More and more studies demonstrate that a good pedestrian and bicycling environment is not in contradiction with good sales numbers. On the contrary, local businesses do better in neighborhoods that favor soft traffic, and cities that perform well on livability attract investors and business.

Planning for Everybody

Creating a good public realm enables different groups in society to meet on equal terms. If we want to take planning for all people seriously, we have to give everybody the chance of being mobile – a key element in today’s society. Good conditions for people, without a car, give more people the opportunity to be a real part of the society.

Lessons from Copenhagen

For the past 45 years Copenhagen, Denmark, has been on a continuous journey to make life better for its inhabitants and, in 2008, the city was named the best city in the world for quality of life. This achievement is the result of a contiguous strategy of turning the focus around from a car-orientated culture to a people friendly environment - one that favors a good public realm, through public transport and amenities. For example, 36% of all Copenhageners commute to work by bicycle - a completely healthy, democratic and sustainable mode of transportation. Our goal is to reach 50% by 2015.

US Cities Leading the Way

‘Planning for people’ can make cities safer, more environmentally friendly, livelier and healthier. Presently, Gehl Architects is working with cities across the United States, including New York City, Seattle and San Francisco, in the joint effort of making these cities even greater. We hope the Obama Administration will support and lead this development even further in the years to come.

Jan Gehl jan@gehlarchitects.dk
Gehl Architects – Urban Quality Consultants, www.gehlarchitects.com
Copenhagen, Denmark

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