Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010: World Streets Monthly Report

We very much doubt that most of our readers have the time to check into World Streets on a daily basis. For that reason we offer our subscibers and sponsors in addition to the daily edition, a monthly summary which brings together in one place all postings and comments in a manner in which the busy reader can scan full the month's offerings in a few lines each and make a decision as to whether or not to call up and read the full article. January 2010 was no exception to this rule.

* * * The monthly reports are reserved for subscibers and sponsors. They are also available in other language editions. * * *

It was another busy month on World Streets, our tenth, with 7,976 visitors dropping in over the course of the month to pick up and at least scan a total of 22 widely varied articles, touching on such exotic topics as slugging, casual carpooling, why German travelers decide, carfree cities, recuperating from Copenhagen, sharrows in America, public transport in Mama Africa, some BRT do's and don't's, building a worldwide learning community, new media from the United Nations, an invitation to the movies, getting to school in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa, and the first in our new series of annual reports on carsharing (car clubs) in leading countries around the word. To this we have initiated a emergency program concentrating on supporting sustainable transport in Haiti before and during the reconstruction program, and of course a steady diet on our old friends carbon and climate.
* * * To review the two current series: World Streets/Haitian Streets and World Carshare 2010 Country reports, click and respectively.

Who read Streets in January? (in order of frequency of accesses)
United States * United Kingdom * Germany * Canada * Singapore * India * Italy * Brazil * Australia * France * Ireland * Colombia * Taiwan * South Africa * Iceland * Mexico * Chile * New Zealand * Netherlands * Spain * Kuwait * Norway * Switzerland * Philippines * Portugal * Slovenia * Slovakia * Austria * Poland * Tanzania * Sweden * Hungary * China * Denmark * Belgium * Malaysia * Russian Federation * Thailand * Peru * Malta * Korea, Republic Of * Indonesia * Estonia * Israel * Croatia * Japan *

And here you can see where the last eighty visitors came from. Our typical pattern, with those huge white swaths in Africa and the former Soviet Union counties. That said, things are heating up nicely in China, Taiwan, and much of South-east Asia. Stay tuned.

Write an article: : Do your bit for our cities and our planet
Would you like to propose an article , topic or author for the February or March editions? If so, don't hesitate to contact our editor:
* * Tel: +331 4326 1323 *Skype: newmobility.

Roll up your sleeves and keep World Streets alive:

We are doing the job but still have not yet found the sponsorship needed to keep the journal afloat in 2010. The situation is rather grim, so if you would like help us brainstorm on this, please get in touch. I am sure that with energetic collaboration we will solve this problem and go on to do better yet in 2010. I kind of think the planet needs us. And I hope you agree. Don't be shy now. Get in touch. Lend a hand. After all, it's your planet.

* * Click here for background on how you can help World Streets:

Eric Britton

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Sustainable transport survey identifies five types of travellers

A new study from Germany of attitudes towards transport and mobility has identified five groups of travellers. The groups differ significantly in their choice of transport, distance travelled and the impact their transport choices have on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

- by ClickGreen staff. Published Sat 30 Jan 2010 16:50
The transport sector is responsible for a large share of urban air pollution and for nearly a fifth of the GHG emissions from the European Economic Area member countries.

According to the European Environment Agency, the increase in CO2 from transport could threaten the ability of the EU to meet Kyoto targets. In the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy, transport is identified as a priority challenge.

Sustainable mobility options can be made more attractive to the European public through soft policy measures, such as public awareness campaigns and marketing for public transport.

However, their success depends on targeting different groups that exist within the public.

The study interviewed 1,991 citizens living in three German cities on their use of and attitudes towards transport. The analysis indicated that there are five different 'mobility types' of people:

1. Public transport rejecters. These believe public transport provides little sense of control or excitement. They are not open to change and see access to mobility as very important.

2. Car individualists. Similar to public transport rejecters, but are open to change and consider privacy more important.

3. Weather-resistant cyclists. Positive towards bicycles and will cycle even in bad weather.

4. Eco-sensitised public transport users. Positive towards public transport and are highly influenced by their environmental conscience.

5. Self-determined mobile people.
Perform the highest percentage of trips by foot; they do not consider mobility important and are not open to change.

Each group comprises around 20 per cent of the participants surveyed. Unsurprisingly, the public transport rejecters and car individualists produce the largest total GHG emissions from transport use (both public and private), at over 2000 kg of CO2 equivalent each per year.

The remaining three groups all have total GHG emissions under 1000 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year. Self-determined mobile people have the lowest total GHG emissions from transport use, at just over 500 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year.

Residents in suburban areas used cars more often. However, there were no significant differences in distance travelled and level of GHG emissions between those that lived in suburban, inner-city and city-district areas. Young people in single households and two-or-more-person households covered the most distance by car and had the highest GHG emissions. Pensioners had the lowest.

The five 'mobility types' have a strong predictive power for transport choice and associated GHG emissions. This approach has proved more predictive of transport choice than geographic or socio-demographic approaches. Focusing on mobility types could be a starting point for soft policy measures by helping select and prepare information for the different groups.

# # #

One point about those five mobility types if I may. They look rather German to me, perhaps Nordic. The categories in Delhi, Denver or Dar es Salaam will doubtless look a bit different. There is a lot of culture in mobility, never mind climate, geography, economics and the rest. Still, food for thought.
* Waiting for the bus in Cape Town. Credit: Mobility Magazine

Note: The ClickGreen report does not indicate its source, but we shall look for it and report here when we find it as a Comment to this article. In the meantime of course comments and further references most welcome.

The editor

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

E pur si muove
Casual Carpooling on the streets of America

One of the keys to sustainable transportation is to gain high quality mobility for people while reducing overall traffic. One way for doing this is to figure out how to get more people into fewer vehicles, efficiently. Fortunately there are many ways of doing this, not all of which take a lot of time to build and cost a bundle. Here is one example: casual carsharing. And despite the fact that it may seem a bit odd and marginal, as Galileo Galilei so famously put it: "E pur si muove" (roughly, "they do seem to be getting there"). Tne key to new mobility is to seek and combine large numbers of what may appear at first glance appear to be "small" things. Here's one that works.

Casual Carpooling, California, 26 January 2010

It’s not a system that anyone owns and operates, but it is a system that works. The casual carpools in San Francisco are an ongoing wonderment that keep on giving.

When I get to San Francisco I usually get out and count the casual carpools, at one pick-up point or another. For a couple of hours I sit in the cold morning and watch people walk up or get dropped off, then either line up and wait, or get into the front car in a line of waiting cars. These instant carpools then get to use the HOV lane and avoid the toll on the Bay Bridge, traveling quickly to their downtown destinations. I call it ‘flexible carpooling’.

I have counted carpoolers next to the Safeway at College and Claremont three times over the years: January 2007, May 2008, and today, January 26, 2010. Each time I am amazed anew at the quiet system that, I estimate, saves San Franciscans about 900,000 gallons of gas a year, and something in the order of $30 million in total costs. You can read how I made that estimate, presented as a poster at the TRB two weeks ago, here.

You can click on this link to see the chart that shows how the counts of casual carpoolers have changed over the years, including the count done in 1998 by RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, Inc.

The sweetest part of watching casual carpoolers is the ‘kiss and ride’. In its usual usage this term refers to a drop-off area at a park-and-ride. At the casual carpool line it is somehow more personal, as a couple walks up to the line, kiss, one gets into a car with a couple of strangers and the other turns and walks away, probably heading back to the home-office for the day. Today one kiss-and-walk-away-er was walking a dog.

You should know that this system is thought to be under threat. Tomorrow evening a decision could be made to charge the Bay Bridge toll to carpoolers. This might tip the economics such that drivers stop driving and instead take public transport (BART or AC Transit). On the other hand, it might result in a cost sharing arrangement in the casual carpools, perhaps riders giving a buck towards the cost of the trip.

The last time transport costs changed dramatically was in May 2008 when gasoline prices topped $4.00 per gallon. You can see from the chart that there was a big reduction in casual carpooling at that time. The number of drivers dropped. The line of people waiting for a ride was longer, and many more vehicles took three instead of the usual two riders. (Of course, since this was the only time I counted in May, perhaps that was the normal May pattern. In this unmonitored casual system there are no records of usage patterns that can be compared from year to year).

There is no certainty about what will happen if the toll is charged to casual carpoolers. The additional revenue that BATA will receive if the casual carpoolers continue un-abated will be in the order of $1.5 million. What we really need to do, as interested professionals, is make sure that we know what the impact is. There should be a reliable and complete count over the coming months, and again as soon as the toll is implemented, and again a few months later. The cost of these counts would be minimal, but the value in terms of insights into the impact of the change would be significant, and probably relevant for other jurisdictions.

The most mystical aspect of casual carpooling is the balance. Somehow without any website or fancy technology the number of cars that look for riders is about right for the number of riders looking for cars, even though when you talk to casual carpoolers they say they do not all do it every day. This morning there were 96 carpools formed, so nearly 200 riders got a quick trip to work from that location. This is similar to 2007, lower than 1998 and higher than 2008. Most of the time there was a line of cars waiting, so riders were well served. No one waited too long, and all cars took two riders, except for a couple of two-seaters. Think about how much effort would be put into making 96 three-person carpools in other systems. In the 1998 survey the authors estimated that 9,000 people were using the system each day.

My interest in casual carpooling is that it is a system we should nurture. Against all the odds, this system shows that people do not have to make pre-arrangements to share rides. It suggests a mechanism that could enable much higher HOV formation rates. It offers ideas that might be used to reduce peak hour congestion in lots of jurisdictions around the country.

# # #
Some references:
* On casual carpooling,
* On Slug-lines,
* More on casual carpooling,

About the author:
Paul Minett is co-founder of Trip Convergence Ltd, and co-inventor of flexible carpooling. Invented without knowledge of the slug-lines, flexible carpooling can best be described as a formalisation of that unique method of carpool formation found in Washington D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area (also known as "casual carpooling"). Arguing that for more carpooling we need meeting places rather than databases, Mr. Minett has been making steady progress towards testing of this alternative mode.

Paul Minett,
Managing Director, Trip Convergence Ltd

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Next Steps After Copenhagen:
Opportunities and Challenges in the Transport Sector

For those of you who may have missed this recent brainstorming session organized at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC and attended by a number of other important players on the worldwide sustainable transport scene, here is the next best thing we can offer you, complete with more comprehensive references and URLs to the main presentations. I am sure that many or our readers would have liked to be there to observe and contribute in person. You now have a chance to send your comments to all those who were there are the time.

A wrap-up of key messages from EMBARQ’s Transforming Transportation 2010.


Last Friday, January 15, 180 transport and climate change experts from local and national governments, multi-lateral development agencies, academic institutions, nonprofits and private companies gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss “Next Steps After Copenhagen: Opportunities and Challenges in the Transport Sector” as part of the annual Transforming Transportation conference.

The full-day event, held at the Inter-American Development Bank headquarters, came one month after the international community met in Copenhagen to negotiate the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol and a new international climate agreement on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The event was jointly organized by the Asian Development Bank, EMBARQ – The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport.

The day’s events, hosted at IDB’s Enrique Iglesias Auditorium, provided a forum for the transport, climate and development communities to discuss the following topics:

* How the transport community can best engage in solving the challenges caused by climate change;

* Connections between climate change and other drivers of transport interventions in developing countries;

* Outcomes of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen and significance for national and local policy making in the transport sector.

Organizers drafted key messages that will help inform the following initiatives, including:
* The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) discussion and policy guidelines on sustainability in the transport sector;

* The Regional Environmental Sustainable Transportation Strategy of the Inter-American Development Bank;

* The 2010-2011 work plan for the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport.

The key messages from the event Next Steps After Copenhagen are:

#1: Climate change mitigation efforts need to address emissions from the transport sector in developing countries in order to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2050, a target suggested by the IPCC and referred to by the Copenhagen Accord.

#2: Decision making in the transport sector should consider multiple policy objectives in support of sustainable development, including adaptation to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, economic and social development, congestion relief, road safety, air quality and health.

#3: Countries can take important steps towards sustainable, low carbon transportation now, before the international community reaches a new international climate agreement or revised Kyoto Protocol. Leading developing countries and cities have initiated efforts to make their transport sectors less carbon intensive or, in some cases, completely carbon neutral.

#4: The allocation of transport-related funds requires a paradigm shift. The guiding principle in future transport funding should be the Avoid-Shift-Improve approach. A better understanding of the mitigation potential in the transport sector will speed up the formulation of more comprehensive investment strategies. Externalities, such as air pollution and carbon emissions, must be addressed through comprehensive pricing policies. And financing from different sources – i.e. nonprofits, multi-lateral development agencies, governments, and the private sector – need to complement each other, rather than work towards different goals. As a large and fast-growing source of carbon emissions, the transport sector should have access to financing under international climate change agreements, in order to spur mitigation activities.

#5: There should be more financial support directed towards enabling and preparatory activities, rather than simply investing in transport systems and infrastructure alone. Sector-wide programs can significantly complement individual projects, and they should include a bundle of measures, instead of isolated interventions, to make transport projects more sustainable.

#6: Adaptation needs to be mainstreamed in the transportation sector. Knowledge, tools and methodologies to address climate change adaptation must be developed, tested, scaled up and mainstreamed quickly into the transportation sector. There is also a need to identify synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation activities, which should work in conjunction with each other as part of an overall transportation strategy.
# # #

To view more details about the event, including the full agenda, Powerpoint presentations, speaker bios and photos, go to

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

April Streeter ponders six (might be) car free cities.

Friend April Streeter, diligent reporter for the busy Treehugger cars+ transportation blog, called in to World Streets on Monday to talk car free(r) cities. We applauded her decision to try to find a range of very different kinds of cities, pushed a bit to bring Guadalajara and at least one Chinese city, in addition to the more usual suspects, and urged her on with all due caution. Here is what she came up with.

Six Cities That Could Easily Be Car "Lite" or Car Free

- For full article with illustrations, please click:
Freiburg, Germany's Vauban development is the most well-known example of a city area that has successfully turned away from car-centric culture. It's a big step that can be fraught with difficulties and also with a huge reward: more people-friendly, livable streets. Surprisingly, there are scores of car-free zones around the globe, but very few cities (we're talking populations of 50,000 or more citizens) seriously and consistently are pursuing the necessary planning measures to move to car free, or even car lite. However, here are five cities and one bonus entry that could begin the transition.

1. Geneva, Switzerland is Rich and Ready.
Earlier in January 2010, Geneva's City Council members voted 2 to 1 to close 200 of the city's streets to car traffic. That's a huge first move put forth by the Green Party but supported by Social Democrats and even the center Radical Party. However, the measure is in no way guaranteed, as it may face stiff opposition from the city's business leaders. They should take note of Copenhagen's move to make some streets car free - business hasn't suffered and in some cases has improved!

2. Davis, Calif. U.S.A. Does Biking Best (Some Say).
O.K., maybe Davis is just a big college town rather than a bona fide "big city" but it's got a few advantages as far as car free is concerned: a relatively good climate, not too many hills, a great bike infrastructure (the city is getting ready to build a 1.7 million bike-only thoroughfare under a major road and considers itself Bike City, U.S.A.). It also has a fairly well-functioning bus system and a sort of stealth car-free culture. Innovations in Davis include a car "lockdown" during the University's enrollment period due to the great mass of bikes on the campus, plans for a cycling museum and a month-long celebration of cycling each year in May called Cyclebration.

3. Inner Paree Would Be Lovely Car Free.
Eric Britton of says Paris, France has everything it takes to have a carfree inner city. He lists the city's purposeful gradual removal of parking spaces, and the high cost of inner-city parking as two disincentives for car owners to drive their cars directly into the city, and also the high level of noncar households (60% or more) as another sign that Paris can easily go carfree. Forward momentum? Of course, that plum that is Vélib bike-sharing is great, and Paris' plans to keep expanding the system are enouraging. Paris also has great car sharing and plans to implement electric car sharing with its Autolib program. And then there's Paris Plages, that month of summer when the city turns a portion of the Expressway on the banks of the Seine into an inland beach, with sunbathing, kayaking on the river, people watching...and no cars.

4. Big City Guadalajara Needs a Big Plan.
Make no mistake about it. Guadalara, with 1.6 million residents and Mexico's second largest city, is still steered by the motorized trifecta of car, bus, and truck. In fact, some people think crossing the street is southern-style Russian roulette. Yet Guadalajara has some factors that nevertheless make it a good candidate for a car lite or car free place. Guadalajara has won awards for its quick (2 year) implementation of a full BRT (bus rapid transit system) called Macrobús as part of its "Movilidad Urbana" project. In addition, Guadalajara didn't originate the idea but has taken to heart the Ciclovia approach to improving city streets - every Sunday there's a six-hour stretch when 15 kilometers of the city's streets are turned over to pedestrian and all other non´motorized bike-style traffic. That 170,000 city residents enjoy this Via RecreActiva every weekend says a lot about the city's possibilities as an oasis of inner city car lite or car free living in spite of its current urban bustle. Promising initiatives? A plan to make the Centro Histórico in the inner city a completely pedestrian zone.

4. Malmö, Sweden, Takes Baby Steps to Progress.
Sure, it may only be radical groups like Klimax that are willing to come out and say "car free inner city" is their goal for this southern Swedish city. However, Malmö's city government is taking baby steps that may one day end up in the very same place. The city's premier sustainable housing development Bo01, is dense, walkable, and virtually car free. Your first impression of Malmö if you step off the train at the Central station, is not of a car-oriented inner city but of a bike- and pedestrian-accommodating small town. Steps taken include Bo01, Western Harbor's car free streets, and over 400 kilometers of bike paths for this city's 285,000 residents.

6. Anywhere, China, Could Decide to De-Car.
And the bonus burg? Well, this is a 3D stylized map of Guangzhou, China, but it could be any of a number of China's rapidly developing big cities. As car culture has swept the cities so swiftly, there's still a chance for many of them to fairly easily change direction, and decide to go car lite. According to Carbusters, Guangzhou's Xiguan region of the city still sports very low car usage (less than 1 percent of trips). Pedestrian alleyways predominate. Guangzhou, with 13 million inhabitants, has its own 14-mile-long BRT system, which when it formally opens next month is expected to transport 23,000 passengers an hour!'

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About the author:
In this slot at the end of contributed articles, we generally try to place a few sober words that will permit our readers to know a bit about the author. But this time the temptation is too great, so now you have a short bio note in April's own words.
"April is a former bilingual cocktail waitress who left the warm beaches of Hawaii to pursue an upstanding career as reporter on the new and exciting digital world for MacWEEK magazine in San Francisco. When she finally couldn't stand the thought of writing about one more wireless local area network router, she recast herself as an environmental and sustainability journalist for Tomorrow magazine in Stockholm, Sweden. A few years later, she escaped the Scandinavian chill to become editor of Sustainable Industries magazine in Portland, Oregon, where she today is a freelance writer and Hatha yoga teacher forever on the lookout for a good/local/organic/sustainable/fair trade Swedish burrito."

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Citiscope: Reporting on Worldwide City Innovation

In the wake of the troubles and lessons of COP15 we are seeing projects, programs and groups sprouting up around the world setting out to take the high ground in ideas and communications on the up-side of the change and innovations necessary if we are to face the challenges of the planet and our cities. We invite you to have an advance look at the Citiscope project that will be formally announced this March at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro.

High Visibility Journalism Focuses on City Innovation & Breakthroughs

If cities are “where it’s at” for major policy innovations and breakthroughs of this fast-urbanizing 21st century, how is the broad public to know where -- and how -- it’s happening? How can good story telling be mobilized to draw and excite expanded ranks of city officials? How can civil society be drawn into the debate -- professional and business societies, student and poor peoples’ groups, environmental organizations, even change-oriented civil servants in less-than-responsive city bureaucracies?

We envision a global idea exchange – to inspire action, creative experiments by officials and city innovators in cities everywhere.

Today’s media coverage of cities is falling short. Overwhelmingly, it focuses on conflicts, disasters or alarming incidences of corruption. There’s insufficient coverage of active experimentation in cities to gird themselves for climate change, to upgrade slums, create sustainable water systems, cope with food shortages, create accessible transit, to plan and build “green” and humanely.

Citiscope is being launched in close collaboration with the World Urban Campaign and UN-Habitat. The Campaign, which will be formally announced this March at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro (15,000-17,000 participants are expected), was formed to increase attention to world cities’ dramatic needs and their potentials for sustainability and human advancement. Multiple corporate, professional, NGO and other organizations, with a cumulative constituency of some 30 million members, have now joined the campaign – a natural audience and source for Citiscope.

Citiscope stories will be based on efforts by leaders, by the private sector, by partnerships and by citizens in real, discrete, geographic places. The coverage will both tell the achievement stories and point honestly to the problems and limitations of the new approaches. That means applying historic standards for quality journalism -- getting the facts straight, providing as much balance in perspective as can honestly be achieved, and building credibility and reader attention in the process.

Two major news stories a week are envisioned. They’ll be short enough (800-1,000 words) for easy reading, set up for moderated discussions, and enhanced by a variety of “new media” elements -- pictures of story sites, charts and graphs, audio and video clips of interviews -- to peak and keep reader interest and prompt other Internet, broadcast and newspaper pick-ups around the world. Qualified observes (academic, other) will also be enlisted to add brief commentaries to place the experiments in their global context.

Stories will be accompanied by a variety of creative links to the web sites of existing organizations, in addition to UN-Habitat, with an interest and stake in cities’ futures -- for example City Mayors, Metropolis, Global Forum, Cities Alliance, ICLEI and Sister Cities, as well as sites of the Urban Age Institute, World Changing, the WorldWatch Institute, Ashoka and others. Each of these groups has strong features to recommend it, and provides a substantial research source. Each will also be invited to nominate city success stories for the attention of journalists, based on its own fields of interest and global contacts.

A major project goal: to develop a cadre of participating journalists -- with a special emphasis on younger journalists -- in cities across the developed and developing world. The writers will be encouraged to write to high journalistic standards, guided where appropriate by trained journalist-editors associated with the Citistates Group. The motivation for the writers? First, they will be paid adequate free-lance fees -– one assurance of quality, timeliness, responsiveness to queries. Possibly even more important, the journalists will have a new – truly global -- outlet for their writing and reportorial talent. Plus, many journalists may be “turned on” to the possibilities of urban innovation stories that they’d not focused on before.

The site will also feature clear summaries on major trends in and impacting cities, authored by journalists and qualified observers worldwide.

Overall project and editorial supervision will be by the Citistates Group, a team of journalists, speakers and policy experts focused on building sustainable, equitable and economically successful 21st century cities and metropolitan regions. Principals of the Group are writers Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson and the groups’ manager-strategist, Farley Peters. They have authored 25 series of “Citistates Reports” on city and metro futures, sponsored by newspapers and community foundations, on regions across the U.S. They are also produce weekly columns for their sister website

The Group covered, at the request of the Rockefeller Foundation, its month-long “Global Urban Summit” in Bellagio, Italy, in 2007, and then wrote the book that flowed from that event – Century of the City: No Time To Lose. The Group’s international experience include Peirce’s periodic coverage of international city developments for his syndicated newspaper column (syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group), and his eight years engaged in Transatlantic issues as a trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Peirce was one of the 11 global awardees of the 2009 UN Habitat “Scroll of Honour Award,” “for a lifetime of journalism dedicated to reporting on cities for a better urban future.”

Contacts --
Neal Peirce:; 202-554-8191
Farley Peters:; 301-855-6482;
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About the author:
Neal Peirce is a lead writer on the dynamics of state and local government. Earlier in his career, he was political editor of Congressional Quarterly and then one of the founders of National Journal. Since 197, Peirce writes the United States’ first national column focused on state and local government themes, syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Since 1995 he has been chairman of the Citistates Group, a network of journalists, speakers and consultants who believe that successful cities are today’s key to economic competitiveness and sustainable communities.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

World Streets / Haitian Streets. Part II.
To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature

This special series sets out to tap the considerable competence of people and groups working the leading edge of the field of sustainable transport worldwide, to invite them to provide their best independent strategic counsel for the decision- makers who eventually are going to have to figure out what to do to provide and improve mobility arrangements of Haitians in their daily lives. But before digging into the transport specifics, let's step back to share an article from today's International Herald Tribune in which Mark Danner in a few telling pages helps us better understand the extent to which the future of Haiti will not, must not resemble its past.

To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature

- By Mark Danner, New York Times, Published: January 21, 2010. Copyright

Source :
Fair use on World Streets:

HAITI is everybody’s cherished tragedy. Long before the great earthquake struck the country like a vengeful god, the outside world, and Americans especially, described, defined, marked Haiti most of all by its suffering. Epithets of misery clatter after its name like a ball and chain: Poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. One of the poorest on earth. For decades Haiti’s formidable immiseration has made it among outsiders an object of fascination, wonder and awe. Sometimes the pity that is attached to the land — and we see this increasingly in the news coverage this past week — attains a tone almost sacred, as if Haiti has taken its place as a kind of sacrificial victim among nations, nailed in its bloody suffering to the cross of unending destitution.

And yet there is nothing mystical in Haiti’s pain, no inescapable curse that haunts the land. From independence and before, Haiti’s harms have been caused by men, not demons. Act of nature that it was, the earthquake last week was able to kill so many because of the corruption and weakness of the Haitian state, a state built for predation and plunder. Recovery can come only with vital, even heroic, outside help; but such help, no matter how inspiring the generosity it embodies, will do little to restore Haiti unless it addresses, as countless prior interventions built on transports of sympathy have not, the man-made causes that lie beneath the Haitian malady.

In 1804 the free Republic of Haiti was declared in almost unimaginable triumph: hard to exaggerate the glory of that birth. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans had labored to make Saint-Domingue, as Haiti was then known, the richest colony on earth, a vastly productive slave-powered factory producing tons upon tons of sugar cane, the 18th-century’s great cash crop. For pre-Revolutionary France, Haiti was an inexhaustible cash cow, floating much of its economy. Generation after generation, the second sons of the great French families took ship for Saint-Domingue to preside over the sugar plantations, enjoy the favors of enslaved African women and make their fortunes.

Even by the standards of the day, conditions in Saint-Domingue’s cane fields were grisly and brutal; slaves died young, and in droves; they had few children. As exports of sugar and coffee boomed, imports of fresh Africans boomed with them. So by the time the slaves launched their great revolt in 1791, most of those half-million blacks had been born in Africa, spoke African languages, worshipped African gods.

In an immensely complex decade-long conflict, these African slave-soldiers, commanded by legendary leaders like Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, defeated three Western armies, including the unstoppable superpower of the day, Napoleonic France. In an increasingly savage war — “Burn houses! Cut off heads!” was the slogan of Dessalines — the slaves murdered their white masters, or drove them from the land.

On Jan. 1, 1804, when Dessalines created the Haitian flag by tearing the white middle from the French tricolor, he achieved what even Spartacus could not: he had led to triumph the only successful slave revolt in history. Haiti became the world’s first independent black republic and the second independent nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Alas, the first such republic, the United States, despite its revolutionary creed that “all men are created equal,” looked upon these self-freed men with shock, contempt and fear. Indeed, to all the great Western trading powers of the day — much of whose wealth was built on the labor of enslaved Africans — Haiti stood as a frightful example of freedom carried too far. American slaveholders desperately feared that Haiti’s fires of revolt would overleap those few hundred miles of sea and inflame their own human chattel.

For this reason, the United States refused for nearly six decades even to recognize Haiti. (Abraham Lincoln finally did so in 1862.) Along with the great colonial powers, America instead rewarded Haiti’s triumphant slaves with a suffocating trade embargo — and a demand that in exchange for peace the fledgling country pay enormous reparations to its former colonial overseer. Having won their freedom by force of arms, Haiti’s former slaves would be made to purchase it with treasure.

The new nation, its fields burned, its plantation manors pillaged, its towns devastated by apocalyptic war, was crushed by the burden of these astronomical reparations, payments that, in one form or another, strangled its economy for more than a century. It was in this dark aftermath of war, in the shadow of isolation and contempt, that Haiti’s peculiar political system took shape, mirroring in distorted form, like a wax model placed too close to the fire, the slave society of colonial times.

At its apex, the white colonists were supplanted by a new ruling class, made up largely of black and mulatto officers. Though these groups soon became bitter political rivals, they were as one in their determination to maintain in independent Haiti the cardinal principle of governance inherited from Saint-Domingue: the brutal predatory extraction of the country’s wealth by a chosen powerful few.

The whites on their plantations had done this directly, exploiting the land they owned with the forced labor of their slaves. But the slaves had become soldiers in a victorious revolution, and those who survived demanded as their reward a part of the rich land on which they had labored and suffered. Soon after independence most of the great plantations were broken up, given over to the former slaves, establishing Haiti as a nation of small landowners, one whose isolated countryside remained, in language, religion and culture, largely African.

Unable to replace the whites in their plantation manors, Haiti’s new elite moved from owning the land to fighting to control the one institution that could tax its products: the government. While the freed slaves worked their small fields, the powerful drew off the fruits of their labor through taxes. In this disfigured form the colonial philosophy endured: ruling had to do not with building or developing the country but with extracting its wealth. “Pluck the chicken,” proclaimed Dessalines — now Emperor Jacques I — “but don’t make it scream.”

In 1806, two years after independence, the emperor was bayoneted by a mostly mulatto cabal of officers. Haitian history became the immensely complex tale of factional struggles to control the state, with factions often defined by an intricate politics of skin color. There was no method of succession ultimately recognized as legitimate, no tradition of loyal opposition. Politics was murderous, operatic, improvisational. Instability alternated with autocracy. The state was battled over and won; Haiti’s wealth, once seized, purchased allegiance — but only for a time. Fragility of rule and uncertainty of tenure multiplied the imperative to plunder. Unseated rulers were sometimes killed, more often exiled, but always their wealth — that part of it not sent out of the country — was pillaged in its turn.

In 1915 the whites returned: the United States Marines disembarked to enforce continued repayment of the original debt and to put an end to an especially violent struggle for power that, in the shadow of World War I and German machinations in the Caribbean, suddenly seemed to threaten American interests. During their nearly two decades of rule, the Americans built roads and bridges, centralized the Haitian state — setting the stage for the vast conurbation of greater Port-au-Prince that we see today in all its devastation — and sent Haitians abroad to be educated as agronomists and doctors in the hope of building a more stable middle class.

Still, by the time they finally left, little in the original system had fundamentally changed. Haitian nationalism, piqued by the reappearance of white masters who had forced Haitians to work in road gangs, produced the noiriste movement that finally brought to power in 1957 François Duvalier, the most brilliant and bloody of Haiti’s dictators, who murdered tens of thousands while playing adroitly on cold-war America’s fear of communism to win American acceptance.

Duvalier’s epoch, which ended with the overthrow of his son Jean-Claude in 1986, ushered in Haiti’s latest era of instability, which has seen, in barely a quarter-century, several coups and revolutions, a handful of elections (aborted, rigged and, occasionally, fair), a second American occupation (whose accomplishments were even more ephemeral than the first) and, all told, a dozen Haitian rulers. Less and less money now comes from the land, for Haiti’s topsoil has grown enfeebled from overproduction and lack of investment. Aid from foreigners, nations or private organizations, has largely supplanted it: under the Duvaliers Haiti became the great petri dish of foreign aid. A handful of projects have done lasting good; many have been self-serving and even counterproductive. All have helped make it possible, by lifting basic burdens of governance from Haiti’s powerful, for the predatory state to endure.

The struggle for power has not ended. Nor has Haiti’s historic proclivity for drama and disaster. Undertaken in their wake, the world’s interventions — military and civilian, and accompanied as often as not by a grand missionary determination to “rebuild Haiti” — have had as their single unitary principle their failure to alter what is most basic in the country, the reality of a corrupt state and the role, inadvertent or not, of outsiders in collaborating with it.

The sound of Haiti’s suffering is deafening now but behind it one can hear already a familiar music begin to play. Haiti must be made new. This kind of suffering so close to American shores cannot be countenanced. The other evening I watched a television correspondent shake his head over what he movingly described as a “stupid death” — a death that, but for the right medical care, could have been prevented.

“It doesn’t have to happen,” he told viewers. “People died today who did not need to die.” He did not say what any Haitian could have told him: that the day before, and the day before that, Haiti had seen hundreds of such “stupid deaths,” and, over the centuries, thousands more. What has changed, once again, and only for a time, is the light shone on them, and the volume of the voices demanding that a “new Haiti” must now be built so they never happen again.

Whether they can read or not, Haiti’s people walk in history, and live in politics. They are independent, proud, fiercely aware of their own singularity. What distinguishes them is a tradition of heroism and a conviction that they are and will remain something distinct, apart — something you can hear in the Creole spoken in the countryside, or the voodoo practiced there, traces of the Africa that the first generation of revolutionaries brought with them on the middle passage.

Haitians have grown up in a certain kind of struggle for individuality and for power, and the country has proved itself able to absorb the ardent attentions of outsiders who, as often as not, remain blissfully unaware of their own contributions to what Haiti is. Like the ruined bridges strewn across the countryside — one of the few traces of the Marines and their occupation nearly a century ago — these attentions tend to begin in evangelical zeal and to leave little lasting behind.

What might, then? America could start by throwing open its markets to Haitian agricultural produce and manufactured goods, broadening and making permanent the provisions of a promising trade bill negotiated in 2008. Such a step would not be glamorous; it would not “remake Haiti.” But it would require a lasting commitment by American farmers and manufacturers and, as the country heals, it would actually bring permanent jobs, investment and income to Haiti.

Second, the United States and other donors could make a formal undertaking to ensure that the vast amounts that will soon pour into the country for reconstruction go not to foreigners but to Haitians — and not only to Haitian contractors and builders but to Haitian workers, at reasonable wages. This would put real money in the hands of many Haitians, not just a few, and begin to shift power away from both the rapacious government and the well-meaning and too often ineffectual charities that seek to circumvent it. The world’s greatest gift would be to make it possible, and necessary, for Haitians — all Haitians — to rebuild Haiti.

Putting money in people’s hands will not make Haiti’s predatory state disappear. But in time, with rising incomes and a concomitant decentralization of power, it might evolve. In coming days much grander ambitions are sure to be declared, just as more scenes of disaster and disorder will transfix us, more stunning and colorful images of irresistible calamity. We will see if the present catastrophe, on a scale that dwarfs all that have come before, can do anything truly to alter the reality of Haiti.

# # #

Mark Danner is a writer and reporter who for twenty-five years has written on politics and foreign affairs, focusing on war and conflict. He has covered, among many other stories, wars and political conflict in Central America, Haiti, the Balkans, Iraq and the Middle East, and, most recently, the story of torture during the War on Terror. Danner is Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs, Politics and the Humanities at Bard College.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

America, it’s time to meet the Sharrow. (Be brave)

After five years of sanctioned experimentation in American cities—large and small--the Federal Highway Administration has officially adopted Shared Use Lane Markings, or “Sharrows,” into the latest version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

America Codifies Shared Use Lane Markings (Sharrows)

While the MUTCD is not everyday reading for many livable streets advocates, its contents largely dictate how America’s roadways are detailed, signed, and controlled, and therefore controls the widespread application of sustainable transport innovations.
Image Credit, Mike Lydon

Sharrows are comprised of a bicycle and chevron symbol, which communicate that bicycles and automobiles must share travel lanes equally. First used in the City of Denver, sharrows became more widely recognized following a 2004 study demonstrating that their application in San Francisco improved lane positioning for bicyclists and increased the amount of passing distance given by motorists overtaking bicyclists.

The study also reported that the marking helped cut down on the number of sidewalk bicyclists and reduced the number of people traveling illegally against traffic.

To be sure, Sharrows are no substitute for more substantial bicycle infrastructure, yet may be used in specific contexts where more robust bikeways are difficult to implement.

According to the National Associations of Transportation Officials (NACTO) and their Cycling for Cities initiative, more than 76 American municipalities are now utilizing Shared Use Lane Markings to accomplish the following:

- Help bicyclists position themselves safely in lanes too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane

- Mimics the effect of bicycle lanes on streets with constrained rights of way and alerts road users of the lateral location bicyclists may occupy

- Move bicyclists out of the “door zone” of parked cars

- Encourage safe passing by motorists

- Require no additional roadway space

- Alert all road users to the presence of bicycles

Sharrows may also improve the overall visibility of the bikeway network, especially along those thoroughfares where bicycle lanes end abruptly, but the need for visible bicycle accommodation surely continues.

Image credit, Peter Furth

In general, Sharrows should be applied to streets with moderate motor vehicle traffic volume, and where right-of-way space is constrained as to not allow the necessary width for bicycle lanes. Some locations, such as Long Beach, CA and Salt Lake City, UT have taken the concept further by experimenting with a type of marking that may be best described as a hybrid between a sharrow and bicycle lane.

With such markings now fully included in the MUTCD, it is likely that those American cities that tentatively experimented with the marking will now expand their use. Likewise, those municipalities who have either been waiting for their official inclusion in the MUTCD, or who are not familiar with facility type can now pursue sharrows as an inexpensive means of improving the overall safety ad visibility of the bicycle network.

For car-happy American, this indicates a step in the right direction.

# # #

About the author:
Mike Lydon is the founding Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative. Before launching TSPC in 2009, Lydon worked for Smart Growth Vermont, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, and Ann Arbor’s GetDowntown Program. From 2006 - 2009 Lydon worked for Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company, an international leader in the practice of smart growth planning, design, and research techniques. Along with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, Mike co-authored The Smart Growth Manual.

The Street Plans Collaborative
279 Henry Street #9
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Message from South Africa: How our public transport system compares with the rest of Mama Africa.

South African travel writer Sihle Khumalo knows African public transport intimately, but is more accustomed to his own private wheels in his home town of Jozi. He took time out recently to explore his own backyard by public transport, from Soweto to Sandton…

Having travelled by public transport in more than 10 other African countries, it was only natural that I explore my own backyard using taxis and the newly launched Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System – better known as ReaVaya. Amongst other things I wanted to see how our public transport system compares with the rest of Mama Africa.

My plan was pretty straightforward: take ReaVaya from Soweto to the centre of Johannesburg and then a taxi to Sandton. On a Friday afternoon, a day before my trip, I decided to walk from my office – which is in downtown Johannesburg – to buy myself a ReaVaya ticket.

In Gandhi Square, at the Metrobus ticket kiosk, I was told by a gum-chewing lady that she only sold tickets for Metrobus and not ReaVaya.

‘Isn’t Metrobus and ReaVaya both own and managed by the Johannesburg Metro?’ I asked, while trying to hide my shock

‘My brother I said I only sell Metrobus tickets.’ Before I could interject, she continued: ‘If you want a ReaVaya ticket go to Commissioner Street.’

A bit peeved, I decided that I was going to buy the bus ticket in Soweto the following day.

On a sunny Saturday morning, armed with all the info I had gathered from the informative BRT website, my wife drove me to Soweto. On entering Soweto, I noticed that young trees had been planted (better late than never) along Chris Hani (former Old Potchefstroom) Road. Since it was already after 10am, we were caught in a non-ending funeral procession of cars heading for the cemetery. Sowetans just can’t wait to bury the dead, I concluded. After passing Maponya Mall, we turned right into Klipspruitvalley Road and voila, there it was, Emfuleni bus station.

I could not miss the red structure in an island separating the lanes that were running in the opposite direction. After jumping out of the car and waving goodbye to my family, I noticed that – although there was a pedestrian crossing – cars (especially taxis) were not slowing down to give me a right of way. It took a while, and only another funeral procession had past that it was it safe to cross – into the modern bus station.

A friendly young man wearing a ‘volunteer’ reflector vest showed me where to buy the ticket, which set me back five hundred cents. He also explained where, once my ticket had been checked, I must stand while waiting for the bus.

Within 10 minutes the bus arrived and, for a Saturday morning, I was surprised at the number of the people going to town. There were only a handful of empty seats. I sat next to Nana – a beautiful, fat black woman. She did not even wait for me to get comfortable in my seat. By the time we got to the next stop, approximately 5km down the road - right opposite Orlando Stadium - we were talking like long-lost friends who had just met: hitting high fives and laughing out loud.

The bus was clean and tidy and the seats were comfortable. Nana, in a tight black dress, explained that the red chairs were called priority chairs and reserved for pregnant women, disabled people and people carrying babies. I was still nodding, showing how impressed I was by the BRT, when our conversation was interrupted by the ticket inspector.

Once the formalities were over, Nana continued.

‘Taxi drivers are unhappy with BRT because most people are not using taxis anymore. The reason for that is besides cost – taxis charge R7.50 from Thokoza Park to town whereas BRT cost only R5.00 – the buses take half the time taken by taxis. On weekdays, I used to leave my place at 6am and now with BRT I leave my house an hour later and still make it to work on time. Ja this BRT has really hit the taxi owners hard. Maybe they should introduce a special fare or discounts on certain days.’

Before I could say anything, she beat me to it…‘Nowadays taxi drivers even allow passengers to eat in the taxis, something that they never ever allowed before the introduction of this BRT.’

Within half an hour, we were in town. I was already so impressed that I could not help but think that if I lived in Soweto I would definitely use my car to drive to the office in Main Street anymore. This is exactly what South Africans have been waiting for – a safe, convenient and reasonably priced public transport system - I concluded as I jumped off at the corner of Rissik and Market roads.

The city centre has seen a revamp in the past couple of years, hence trendy eateries such as Ninos, Cappellos and Darkie Café have opened and seem to be doing well, with middle-class people – mostly black diamonds - enjoying their meals there. Instead of going to a restaurant, though, I opted to pop into the Carlton Centre.

After paying R8, I, together with some German tourists, took a lift to the 50th floor. This was the first time I was going to have an aerial view of Johannesburg from the Roof of Africa, as the 50th floor is known. It suddenly struck me that everyone visiting Jozi for the first time should take a turn here in order to get the proper orientation and perspective of South Africa’s biggest city. After absorbing an incredible view of the landmarks, it was time to head for Noord taxi rank, which made the headlines a while back when taxi drivers assaulted a woman for wearing a miniskirt.

I walked through Smal Street through to King George Road. As to be expected of most city centres in South Africa, there were loads of black people walking up and down and not even one white person in sight. Some people were having their hair plaited right on the busy pavements. Just when I thought I had seen it all, there was a shop – just before the taxi rank – which was selling uqanduqandu (an African version of Viagra, which apparently works wonders by keeping the middle leg, in a heavily dilated manner, pointing towards the magnetic North until sunrise). Maybe in 20 years time, when I am in my mid-50s, I might need it, I thought to myself.

I spent more than 30 minutes walking around in Noord taxi rank looking for Sandton-bound taxis. As a typical male, I do not ask for directions at the first sign of not finding what I am looking for. I walked around in circles looking at people boarding taxis heading not only to other South African cities and towns but also to neighbouring countries, such as Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Eventually I decided to swallow my pride, but the first five people I asked had no clue where taxis heading for Sandton were parked. It was eventually a middle-aged man wearing a Jacob Zuma 100 % Zulu boy T-shirt who took me out of my misery. The taxis I was looking for were in Central Taxi Rank, which happened to be three blocks away.

Thus after crossing three sets of traffic lights I came across the MTN-branded Park Central, from where taxis travel to different suburbs. Quite honestly I had never heard about this taxi rank before.

In no time, thanks to the Sandton signboard, I saw which taxi I had to take. Against my good judgement I selected a back seat, which meant I had to squeeze myself between two young thin girls who spoke with a fake American accent. Although all three persons, excluding myself, were thin, it was a very tight squeeze.

As if this were not enough, when the taxi left the rank, it became apparent that we were about to encounter a new problem: the cost from the City Centre to Sandton is R9, but all of us were carrying only R20 notes. And as the driver was speeding along Twist Street, he was also trying to calculate the change due to the passengers. He was such a multi-skilled guy that, while doing all of this and changing lanes, he still had the time for a chat on his cellphone.

By the time the taxi, 25 minutes later, dropped me at the corner of Maude and West streets in Sandton, I had reached two conclusions…

Firstly, that as much as South Africa’s public transport system is better than that of other African countries, we still have a long road to cover before we can claim to have a world-class system.

And secondly, it is a no-brainer why Sowetans have deserted the taxis. Give me BRT anytime. Although with taxis you stand a good chance of being squeezed between two beautiful sexy things wearing miniskrits. That explained why, I thought further, there was a shop just outside Noord taxi rank that was selling uqanduqandu.

# # #

Thanks to the author and Mobility Magazine Africa for their permission to simultaneously publish this excellent article.

About the author:
Sihle Khumalo is the author of two books – Dark Continent My Black Arse, and Heart of Africa – which tell of his travels by public transport throughout Africa.

For more information on the Rea Vaya BRT, visit

And for more from World Streets on Rea Vaya:
* "Take a ride where the drivers aren’t rude to you" -
* "Transport Realities in South Africa: Slow, but maybe a start" -

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World Streets Annual New Mobility Country Reviews:
An ultra-short progress report on carsharing in Iceland

This series strives to try to provide a balanced view reporting on how the practice of sharing cars is progressing in countries and cities around the world. Including in places that have yet to create their own carshare operations or pubic programs to investigate or support them. The case of Iceland is one among many, showing how the roll-up takes time and the importance of convincing of those who have yet to embrace the broader new mobility approach to transport and environment. Let's have a look.

This in today from Morten Lange, World Streets Sentinel in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Here is an ultra-short report from Iceland:

1. At present there is none.

2. The relatively new NGO here in Iceland called Society for a Carfree Lifestyle ( Samtök um bíllausan lífsstíl, ) applied for a grant from the government last year to write a report exploring the possibilities for a carsharing club or company.

3. Sadly they were turned down, and since that not much has been happening on that front as far as I understand.

4. They might be interested in joining the World Carshare Forum so, I copied this email to a contact within the board at Bíllaus, whom I promised to inform about the World Carshare forum and this series.

# # #

The author:
Morten Lange describes himself as "as an advocate for cycling and other healthy transport (in my spare time and then some)". He lives, works and pedals in Reykjavik Iceland

# # #

With a regional population of about two hundred thousand, distinguished by per capita car ownership among the highest in the world at more than 500 vehicles per 1000 residents (an average of well more than one per household), and a high standard of living despite the recent economic meltdown, it is hard to imagine that there is not ample space for some kind of carsharing operation or at least a preparatory program in the region -- if only to take a first hard look at how it might play a role in the area's transportation system. And if we add to this otherwise favorable situation for carsharing, the fact that income levels have plunged as a result of the crisis, it would seem that the considerable economic advantages that carsharing can offer should make it an important part of the current policy scene.

It is a fine thing that Morten Lange and others in Iceland are taking the time and trouble to get more people to thinking about carsharing in their country, and it is great luck that he is not alone in this. When we set up the World Carshare Consortium back in the closing years of the last decade, one of our objectives was to provide an open forum for peer group support and exchanges of information and experience in this key sustainable transport mode. And gradually over this decade we have seen others come in to do the same with strong programs of their own.

Among these the original "Moses" project of the European Union - "Car-Sharing project within the City of Tomorrow - mobility services for urban sustainability" (see for a good summary of this program); and currently the (somewhat wierdly named) successor program – "momo: More options for energy-efficient transport through carsharing" at (We hope to present a report on this important long term EU effort to help inspire and support more and better carsharing at a later point in this series. The EU is to be congratulated for sticking to this program; continuity being one of the vital keys to the transition to sustainable cities. )

Likewise since 2005 the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has created its own UITP CarSharing Platform at, aimed at bringing together all actors of the sector, i.e. car-sharing operators, public transport operators, organizing authorities, the industry, and academic members and stimulating interaction, debate, and the exchange of good practices in order to promote and develop car- sharing worldwide.

In addition to these international efforts we are seeing a plethora of national support programs organized in various ways in almost all of the countries that are already well into the carshare development cycle. These you will see more about in the various country reports in this series.

Stay tuned. More follows.

The editor

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Monday, January 18, 2010

World Streets / Haitian Streets: Part I.
What to do once the emergency has been met.

No city, no place in the world can hope for a fair future if it does not have safe streets that work for people in their day to day lives. Streets are the circulatory systems of our towns and cities, They are not "roads" which tend to be treated as more or less isolated conduits down which we try to channel as many vehicles as fast as possible. No, streets are rather highly idiosyncratic, hugely varied human spaces in which people move and mill around but also do a lot of other things as well. Roads are for vehicles, streets are for people.

The strategic context of city transport policy and practice in Haiti:
A thinking exercise

Soon it will time to start to lay the base for transport policy and practice in post-trauma Haiti. In fact now is the time to start this rethink. Fully aware that others are getting to work on this, World Streets has decided to make its voice heard as well on this. The following posting is the first in a series, both by our editor and others who will surely be stepping forward, to develop a broader open discussion of how to build sustainable transportation into Haiti's cities.

We start here by looking at what we believe to be the broader context within which the issues of transport, mobility and access need to be understood and sorted out.

The importance of safe streets: But in their rightful place: We all know the old one that to a man with a hammer all problems look like nails. So of course we have to make sure that all that we think is important is properly understood in the broader context of the needs and priorities of the people in that place. Alanna Hartzok of Earth Rights Institute sent us this morning their list of priorities for rebuilding Haiti. Putting on my hat as an development economist, let me share with you my own revised read of the situation.

The overall priorities as I see them then, in some kind of rough order . . .
1. Public safety
2. Potable water
3. Access to basic food supply
4. Sanitation
5. Habitat
6. Jobs, income opportunities
7. Appropriate transport (safe, affordable, clean, available to all, sustainable)
8. Low cost first-line health care
9. Public schools
10. Reforestation

And not even one nanometer behind these:
1. Land reform
2. Agricultural fields (rice and root crops) and appropriate technology
3. Transparent public finance
4. Wind and solar energy
5. Dairy farms (goats, cows)
6. Cotton and hemp fields for fabric and building material
7. Mangosteen, mango, pineapple, papaya, trees
8. Nut trees/ coconut trees, ground nuts (peanuts)
9. Cooperatives.
10. Small industries
Debt Forgiveness: A critical step to help Haitians build a better tomorrow will be to convince global creditors to cancel Haiti’s $890 million international debt. This I believe should extend to all debts held by the poor. After bailing out the biggest banks on the planet we are not talking about huge numbers here. Doing so will help make sure that every possible future dollar goes towards rebuilding a stronger Haiti, not to servicing old debts.

United Nations Trusteeship Council: To all of which I have to add a much stronger role on the part of the much-neglected Trusteeship Council which needs a far more aggressive mandate for overseeing the next ten or twenty years in democracy and peace. In many parts of the world we have for far too long been fooling ourselves about the importance of that trip to the polls as a guarantor of democracy. The facts speak for themselves. True democracy requires a full stomach and a safe walk to the polling place. And there are times in life when we all can use a little help from outside.

International Partnerships for Sustainable Transport: And in this, our partial bailiwick, I hope that our collaborators around the world will now turn their eyes and hearts toward Haiti, not only for a bit of help from our wallets today but more actively in the months and years ahead. Already and in part in reaction to the great chaos that soured COP15 in Copenhagen last month, a broad range of groups and programs are already beginning to get together lay the base for more effective international collaboration in our field, and World Streets is but one small example of this. The OECD's International Transportation Forum is also an important force for international collaboration and support. The new International Partnerships for Sustainable Transport ( already groups brings together come fifty of the most active international, bi-laterals, NGOs and other actors in our field. Others are emerging and hopefully will be regularly introduced and tracked in the pages of World Streets.

So let's all of us get together to work on the fair transport agenda for poor Haiti. Because if we do not do it, what will happen? More of the old mobility thinking and investments that are far from the most important priorities of the people on the street? We can't let that happen. Can we?

Eric Britton

PS. I warmly recommend that you also read the following Comments just below. Very interesting and useful.

Haitian roads too: Which is not to suggest that roads and transport to and from cities and towns is not a significant economic and sustainability challenge in itself. In addition to the largest cities of Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Cap-Haitien, and Petionville, there are in Haiti a hundred smaller towns which, in this author's view, require a consistent sustainable transport approach to their internal circulation challenges. But once you get beyond the limits of the central areas, a new transportation challenge takes over, one that is of great importance in Haiti where the links to the country side have greater economic and social significance . And while there too there is plenty of room for the values associated with sustainability, the basic strategic approach is very different. Another but related policy paradigm. But to each their métier.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

We support Medecins Sans Frontières in Haiti today
And invite you to do the same

Paris. Sunday, 17 January 2010.
Greetings from a city living this mid-January 2010 day in peace, health and security. Our children are safe, our neighbors about to sit down to a full Sunday meal, and most of us will venture out onto the streets of our cities tomorrow morning to another full and peaceful day. You too I hope. But that is not at all the case in Haiti and its tragic streets. What can we do?

I: What we can do today
[Summary: Take 5 minutes, go to, and make your donation. You will be glad you did.]
But why do I interrupt your peaceful weekend with this unasked-for message? Because I am sure that somewhere in your heart you feel it is important that you take some kind of action in such an agonizing case. But what to do from so far away?

Here's a thought. As it happens over the last couple of decades through our work with The Commons (since 1973), the New Mobility Agenda (since 1988) and over the last year on World Streets, I have had the great luck to meet, correspond with, get to know, and on occasion work directly with several thousand highly creative and engaged people in some eighty countries on all continents, just about all of whom know about adversity, and who I know have big hearts and are good neighbors in all senses of the word. Now that's a lot of the right kind of people to know at a time of great need.

* Click here for video presenting MSF emergency report
Paul McPhun, MSF operations manager, gives a briefing here on the situation for MSF and our patients in Haiti, including damage sustained to MSF medical centres, our medical focus, the types of injuries and traumas we are seeing, further response plans, how medical teams are overwhelmed, having worked all night and concerns over staff and patients unaccounted for.
So following the latest from Haiti, here is the idea that struck me. Suppose you and I and the couple of thousand others we have come to know and resepct, come together to bond and carry out the same simple neighborly act that takes just a few minutes -- and which I am sure every one of us, even the most modest, can afford with no great pain? If I do it, if you do it, then others will do it too. We may amaze ourselves. Let's see how this might work.

It's simple: We move to our computer or "smart" phone, click to Medecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders at and make a donation, large or small. Say ten or twenty Euros/dollars as a symbolic statement. Or perhaps the price of a meal this evening with someone you love, that latest iPhone that you may not really need, or more, That will be your choice, but the important thing is that we make our donation here and now, or in some other way no matter how small. And if you already did it, well go ahead and do it again.

I had already been thinking about Haiti of late for several reasons. Recently we started work with an NGO -- EcoWorks International who maintain a small office in Port au Prince, where only two of their ten colleagues on the ground there have yet to report in– to lay the base for what we hoped were going to become a series of collaborative workshops with local groups, agencies and operators in support of low cost, high impact appropriate transport innovations across the country. The situation we were originally looking at on the ground was already about as tragic as you can imagine. But even that has been catastrophically cut short, for now, though we are ready to go as soon as circumstances permit. However as you are aware there is a great deal that must be done first.

So what about this, old friends and colleagues from all over this troubled planet? What about joining hands today in clicking to MSF's donation page at Once there all you have to do is pick your country and whip through their efficient donation cycle, using credit card or PayPal. I just did it here through their French site just now: it took all of five minutes, lightened my purse by a few Euros, and hey! I feel just one small bit better already. I am not just one more passive soul sitting this one out next to a blabbing TV. Of course I want to have done more, but we each do what we can afford.

May I then invite you, may I encourage you, may I entreat you to do the same? You will know that you have done the right thing. And once you have, if you find a minute please do drop a quick email to us here to to let us know that you have stepped up to the challenge, we can add your name to our World Streets honor roll.

If World Streets in all its forms and extensions and rhetoric and bustle does not care right down to our guts about what happens on the streets of the world, we are no more than idle chatterers.

Thank you for proving otherwise,

Eric Britton

PS. We next invite you to look to: World Streets/Haitian Streets: What to do once the emergency has been met

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Children, Transport and Mobility in Africa
Sharing experiences from Ghana, Malawi and South Africa

2010 is the Year of Africa on World Streets, and here you have the first of what we intend will develop into a engaging series of articles, ideas and information on problems, attitudes, responses, barriers and the ingenious work-arounds that African children and adults are so often obliged to find on their own.

This publication was funded by The Africa Community Access Programme (AFCAP) to help us better understand how children look at and deal with day to day challenges of transport and mobility in three African countries.

Sharing Experiences of Young Researchers in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Recent research has shown that some of the common challenges faced by children walking to school in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa are the long distances travelled and the domestic chores that must be completed before setting out. This can result in lateness or untidy appearances, both of which can be punishable by lashing, whipping and duties such as weeding. Children are also scared of wild animals (snakes and dogs) and bandits that they may encounter on their journey.

The University of Durham led research project 'Children, Transport and Mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa' focused on main three issues:

1. The mobility constraints faced by girls and boys in accessing health, education, markets and other facilities.

2. How these constraints impact on children’s current and future livelihood opportunities.

3. The lack of guidelines on how to tackle them.
The principal project aim was to generate knowledge that can serve as evidence to help change transport policies and practices, especially where these have impact on the educational and health opportunities for children and young people.

The journey to fetch water:

The idea for the book came from the young researchers themselves. They wanted a vehicle for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider audience. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on their experiences as young researchers in the different contexts in which they had worked. The result is very much their own work, indeed most of the book was written by the young researchers, in their own words.

A foreword from the young researchers: 4
A foreword from the adult researchers: 6
1.1. The journey to school 11
1.2. The journey to the market, shops and town 12
1.3. The journey to the health centre 12
1.4. The journey to fetch water 13
1.5. The journey to fetch firewood 14
1.6. The journey to the farm 15
1.7. The journey to the maize mill 15
1.8. The journey to church 16
2.1. What did we like about the project? 18
2.2. What did we find challenging about the project? 20
2.3. What skills have we learnt and what has the impact been? 21
2.4. Particular challenges encountered by girls 23
2.5. “Surprises” or things we didn’t expect 24
3.1 Ghana (Forest Zone) young researchers 26
3.2 Ghana (Coastal Zone) young researchers 26
3.3 Malawi young researchers 27
3.4 South Africa young researchers 27
4.1. Individual Interviews 29
4.2. Focus Group Discussions or Group Interviews 30
4.3. Diaries 31
4.4. Accompanied walks 32
4.5. Observation or Counting by looking 33
4.6. Pictures 34
4.8. Life Histories

About this booklet:

This booklet arose from a workshop in Ghana, held at the end of the research project, bringing together some of the young researchers from the three countries.

The idea for the booklet came from the young researchers, who wanted a medium for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider public. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they and the other young researchers had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on the experiences of being a young researcher in the different contexts in which they had worked.

The result is very much the young researchers’ work. Most of the booklet was written by the young researchers themselves, in their own words. Some sections were written collaboratively between the young researchers and adult facilitators, who helped them to bring their ideas together. The adult researchers have added occasional footnotes where they felt clarification was needed. We hope you enjoy the result and find it useful!

Download the beautifully illustrated book here:
(Acrobat pdf 2.2 MB)

Find out more about the Children, Transport and Mobility Project here:

Production of the book has been funded by AFCAP


Ghana: Cyril Agbley, Daniel Aidoo Borsah, Emmanuel Cornelius Ampong, Exinovsky Ntim Asare, Emmanuel Owusu Danquah, Evans Egyir, Euodia Kumi-Yeboah, Emmanuel Teye Owusu, Lawrencia Tabuaa, Charity Tawiah, Dorothy Tawiah, Victoria Yeboah.

Malawi: Manes Banda, Alie Bwanali, Tendai Chiwawula, Lawrence Godfrey, Mary Kamphangwe, Dalitso Kaunda, Gift Kawanga, Bernadetta Kuchonde, Christopher Lyson, Ludovicco Magola, Esther Malimusi, Christopher Mbeza, Anthony Merrick, Brasho Moff art, Towera Mwaungulu, Smart Ng'oma, Alinafe Ntewa, Tionge Phiri, Georgina Pwere, Thokozani Tembo, Nenani Thinbo, Micklina Welesani, Monica William, Tisunge Zuwaki.

South Africa: Nokulunga Bara, Poniswa Protect Chauke, Buhle Dambuza, Noluvo Diko, Xhalisile Elliot, Kholwakazi Joseph, Nthahla Kelem, Tholakele Kelem, Vuyiseka Keyisi, Esrom Kgapola, Hope Lehabe, Zintle Mapetshana, Nelly Mathebula, Nosiphiwo Mbanzi, Sannie Molefe, Matshidiso Motaung, Zimkhita Moyakhe, Mzoyolo Matsili, Ntlatywa Mlondolozi, Matthews Mothupi, Zanoxolo Mseswa, Thembinkosi Msimanga, Mandilakhe Mtambeki, Sinathi Ndamashe, Felicia Ntuli, Odwa Noraqa, Christina Ramongane, Noah Setshedi, Wisdom Shuma, Ncumisa Thungilizwe.

All the photographs used were taken by the young researchers or the adult researchers during the project.

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