Friday, February 26, 2010

A first look at carsharing in Croatia:
World Streets Annual New Mobility Country Reviews

Carsharing, a different way of owning and using a car -- wherever you find it certainly got started one day with a stray thought, a dream even, often as not in the head of one person. Someone stuck in a car or sitting in a sidewalk café, looking at the traffic and letting their mind wander, and who then starts to talk about the idea. Then all you have to do is come back a year or two later and, if we are all very lucky, you may see that this idle thought has taken a few steps toward reality. Let us have a look at how the concept is just starting to unfold in Croatia, a country under attack from rapid, aggressive and utterly unthought-out automobilization. Carsharing. . . ?

Editor's note:
In this series we are reporting on the 2010 status of carshare programs in something like twenty countries around the world where the carshare agenda is already well advanced. But you will find here as well first coverage of several examples of projects and programs that are just starting to get under way (including thus far Iceland, Greece and some Portugal). This report on Croatia is part of this "starting-up" series.

We are grateful to have this fine contribution since it is our firm view that it is extremely important for the concept of carsharing to find its rightful place in Eastern Europe, as well and quickly as possible. After the long nap of the largely "car-free" Communist era, the cities of Eastern Europe have over the last two decades come under increasing attack from virulent and largely unthinking knee-jerk automobilization. The built environment and cultural heritage of centuries is quite literally being sacked. This is putting enormous pressure on towns and cities, people administration's across the region, and unfortunately until now the dominant thrust of public policy has been in repeating the old sins of their neighbors to the west. Forecast, build, and auto-expand to the next higher around of congestion, environmental degradation, and pressure on the taxpayer.

We need more and better carsharing in Eastern Europe not only because of the real benefits it can bring to cities and people across the region, but also bearing in mind that as it takes hold and begins to be understood and appreciated, this puts pressure on all of the concerned public agencies and politicians, along with the media and the voting public themselves, to improve their understanding of what sustainable transportation is all about. Carsharing turns out to be a great way to open up the necessary public conversations about sustainable transportation. It has been called "the last nail in the coffin of old mobility", which seems like a pretty good image to us.

Now let us have a look at how this process is getting underway in Croatia in its first and still very modest steps.
Car Sharing In Croatia

- Marijan Skroza, Auto Divisio Croatia, Prvic Sepurine, Croatia

Croatia is more or less known in Europe as a beautiful country. For those who haven't discovered yet beauty of our country, let me invite you to visits

Don't you think that this beautiful country with such a splendid, privileged natural environment deserves to be ecologically clean? This is one of the reasons why we placed the head office of our company on Prvic island where we don't have any problem with finding a parking place, since there are no cars at all.

Here you see a view of Prvic island, where we have established the headquarters of Auto
Divisio Croatia. This is the way we send our message to all the cities throughout Croatia, so that they try to give the city centers back to the man himself, so that we entrepreneurs together in cooperation with urbanists, traffic experts create the city oasis, without disturbing one's mobility.

How did we come up to the idea?

Just like all the other ideas this one also comes as a result of previous work, experience and knowledge investment. Ten years ago I started noticing that Sibenik city becomes more and more taken by the vehicles. Instead of growing more green surfaces, former children's playgrounds were being turned into asphalted areas. Therefore I made a promise to my childhood friend I would solve this problem, but life drew me to the other side of the world, more exactly to Australia, where I learned that one could lead a life in harmony, regardless of nationality, since majority respects the rules. I went to some other countries and compared it, yet always returned home. I was thinking about the solution and three years ago said to my wife: I'm sick of getting up in the middle of the lunch or worse in the middle of the night to move our car! Let's share our vehicle with someone else!

Discovering the Car Sharing world

I was fully aware that I was not about to "discover hot water“ so I went online and searched for mobility and carsharing, where I found Mobility Car Sharing in Switzerland. Shorlyt after I sent them my first e-mail, and soon enough received an answer from Mr. Peter Muheim, Mobility International Ag, manager at that time of the consulting company focused on transferring their knowledge and implementing Car Sharing to all the interested persons and companies all over the world.

Searching on the internet we discovered more and more information on Car Sharing and crucial persons who work on promoting that kind of individual transport. We contacted almost all of them but the best relations remained the ones made with Mobility.

Given the examples from all over the world where Car Sharing companies are mostly set up as cooperatives or associations, and lately appeared some global players and investment funds more like join stock companies , we decided on setting up the cooperative in our first phase. The name Auto Divisio Croatia is a Latin name for Car Sharing Croatia

We were also guided by the idea of gathering all the persons who would share our point of view in sharing and who also had shown some real results on their fields. For the moment we are a team of 12 working on this project (Marijan, Marijana, Kristijan, Anita, Petar, Mirko, Anita, Dubravko, Ivica, Borivoj, Margarita i Dario) most of us with advanced university degrees.

We gave ourselves the tasks and everyone's working on his job. This volunteer approach and everyone's share in time, knowledge, things or money and with only one person employed within ADC saved us a lot of money and built us the strong base for the fast and safe company growth.

Which Car Sharing concept to choose?
Given more Car Sharing models, more or less successful, existing worldwide, we examined all the advantages and disadvantages and then decided not to copy anyone, but to build our own unique concept. Normally, due to the lack of educated personnel in providing the Car Sharing services, we will not realize immediately our concept, but take one step at the time. We could easily call it the Car Sharing third generation.

Political support
It is understood that this kind of project seeks a strong and determined political support.
As a matter of fact, we put a most of our time in lobbing and presenting carsharing service as the best form. We have a support from:
* Ministry of Economy, Labor and Entrepreneurship, Zagreb -
* Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, Zagreb -
Switzerland is the best example that if you want to have a successful Car Sharing service, you don't need just a good carsharing company but also have developed public transport system (bus, tram, train) Here in Croatia, things are not so great on that field, so we are little careful. In spite of some objective factors, we realized the following cooperation:

Parking companies
ADC is a member of Croatian Parking Association (HPU), we chose HPU as our strategic partner, given that parking place is very valuable resource, and very important link in giving carsharing service. In Croatia as in other countries there are some laws on which basis City Administration decides on how many space is possible to give on lease to individuals or to companies. Our chance is that by HPU we convince the city council to consider Car Sharing as mobile garage places.

Rent-a-car companies
There are 4000 rent-a-car vehicles in Croatia, including local agencies and almost all global franchises such as Avis, Hertz, Budget, Sixt... We already introduced ourselves to them but they are not so supportive, given their doubt in implementing Car Sharing in Croatia

Taxi service is the most developed in the capital, Zagreb, and the total number of taxi vehicles is 2000. Unevenness in prices and services, as well as lack of management stand in the way of realization a good cooperation. Anyway they are familiar with our projects and hope we both will do in our best interest.

Public transportation
Public transportation are heading some major tasks in quality developing and better intercity relations. Boat transport company Jadrolinija and Railway transporter still belong to the state, the government often talks about reforms and privatization but still nothing happens. Private companies partially manage the city and 100 % intercity transportation,

And only several amongst them are on the level that could implement our Car Sharing service, referring to the fact that carsharing users could use both services by using only one „smart card“.

Vehicle producers and importers:
For the moment, Croatia has only one vehicle producer, company named Dok-ing who will present their first electric vehicle on the next car industry fair in Genève. We made the contacts with them given that Car Sharing also includes carsharing electric vehicles, similar to what Paris is planning for 2011. This strongly depends on somehow stronger political support and having some bigger investors.

Meanwhile we achieve in cooperation with some vehicle importers in Croatia who expressed their interest in investing vehicles in pilot project realization, and depending on the results they would continue the investments in the next commercial phase.

There is a long way from one idea until it's realization. After some time spent in researching, thinking of the concept design we came up to decide how, when and whom with realize the Car Sharing in Croatia.

Carsharing technology
There are about 10 producers of Car Sharing technology in the world. After a big study we made some contacts with Mobility, Switzerland and Eileo, France. We will wait some time to decide , since we still negotiate with both of these companies, but given the situation more likely we will start on creating our own Car Sharing technology.

Pilot project
Last year we were intending on starting our pilot project in our city Sibenik (without Car Sharing technology). We provided seven Opel vehicle , but then some political obstacles made out. Since we lost lot of time, and meanwhile more changes happened in Car Sharing world, we no longer think that pilot project is reasonable to start without the Car Sharing technology. We believe that this year we will start with our pilot project with local or imported Car Sharing technology.

Commercial phase
2011. should be the year when we would start in providing Car Sharing services in Croatia.

We will developed our brand ODDO Carsharing. We invented this name ODDO as two words OD and DO meaning in Croatian FROM – TO, which describes the best our activity FROM place TO place, FROM state TO state, ...
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About the author:

Marijan Skroza is chairman of Auto Divisio Croatia. He can be reached via

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Victoria Transport Policy Institute Winter 2010 Newsletter

This carefully compiled seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool and up to date source guide for researchers and policy makers worldwide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references you will find handy to take these entries further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.

News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Winter 2010 Vol. 13, No. 1

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website ( has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues.

Editor's note:
All of the content of the extensive VTPI site including their extremely useful Online TDM Encyclopedia -- -- can be conveniently searched using the special New Mobility Knoogle Combined Search Engine that you will find in the left column here, which scans the content of the close to two hundred carefully selected Key Sources, Links and Blogs. You can also access it here direct by clicking

New Documents

"Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit" ( )
High quality public transit consists of service sufficiently convenient and comfortable to attract travel that would otherwise be by automobile. This paper uses data from U.S. cities to investigate the incremental costs and benefits of high quality transit service. The analysis indicates that high quality public transit typically requires about $268 annually per capita in additional tax subsidy and $104 in additional fares, but provides vehicle, parking and road cost savings averaging $1,040 per capita, plus other benefits including congestion reductions, increased traffic safety, pollution reductions, improved mobility for non-drivers, improved fitness and health. This indicates that residents should rationally support tax increases if needed to create high quality public transit systems in their communities. Current planning practices tend to overlook or undervalue many of these savings and benefits and so result in underinvestment in transit quality improvements.

"Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines: How More Efficient Pricing Can Help Solve Parking Problems, Increase Revenue, And Achieve Other Planning Objectives" ( )
Efficient parking pricing can provide numerous benefits including increased turnover and therefore improved user convenience, parking facility cost savings, reduced traffic problems, and increased revenues. This report provides guidance on parking pricing implementation. It describes parking pricing benefits and costs, ways to overcome common obstacles and objections, and examples of successful parking pricing programs. Parking pricing is best implemented as part of an integrated parking management program. Current trends are increasing the benefits of efficient parking pricing. Legitimate objections to parking pricing can be addressed with appropriate policies and strategies.

Updated Documents

"Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth" ( )

"The Future Isn't What It Used To Be" (

"Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs" ( )

* * * * *

Published Elsewhere

"Evaluating Carbon Taxes As An Energy Conservation And Emission Reduction Strategy," Transportation Research Record 2139, Transportation Research Board (, pp. 125-132; at
Carbon taxes are based on fossil fuel carbon content, and therefore tax carbon dioxide emissions. This paper evaluates British Columbia's carbon tax, introduced in 2008. It reflects key carbon tax principles: it is broad, gradual, predictable, and structured to assist low-income people. Revenues are returned to residents and businesses in ways that protect the lowest income households. It supports economic development by encouraging energy conservation which keeps money circulating within the regional economy.

"Transportation Policy and Injury Control" Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, 2009. ( )
This short article describes a paradigm shift occurring in the field of transport planning, and its implications for traffic safety. The old paradigm assumed that "transportation" means automobile travel. The new paradigm recognizes a wider range of options and planning objectives.

"The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?" TRB Annual Meeting session video recording ( ).

"Complete Streets" (EIP-25), Planners Advisory Service Essential Information Packets ( ), American Planning Association ($30)
Complete streets accommodate all users. Over the past several years, communities across the country have embraced a complete streets approach to the planning, design, construction, and operation of new transportation facilities. In this Essential Info Packet, PAS compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources detailing best practices for planning and building complete streets, including the VTPI "Introduction to Multi-Modal Transportation Planning: Principles and Practices."

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( ):
* "Raise My Taxes, Please! Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall"
* "Carfree Design Manual"
* "Accessibility, Mobility and Automobile Dependency"
"Report from TRB"
"Fun With Research: Higher Fuel Prices Increase Economic Productivity"

* * * * *

Current Projects

Canadian Tax Exempt Transit and Cycling Benefits
"Cost Estimate of Proposed Amendments to the Income Tax Act to Exempt Certain Employer-Provided Transportation Benefits from Taxable Income" ( ).
Proposed Canadian legislation C-466 would exempt from income taxes employer-provided commuter benefits up to $1,800 annually for transit and park-and-ride expenses, and $250 for cycling expenses. This study evaluated the fiscal impacts of this legislation. It concluded that net tax revenue foregone would be negligible overall, and the reduced vehicle traffic should provide economic benefits leading to increased productivity and therefore tax revenues.
To support this legislation send letters to:
Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
21st Floor, 110 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
A model letter is available at .

Drive Less, Pay Less: Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Performance Standard ( )
VTPI is working with a coalition of transportation and environmental organizations to develop a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) vehicle insurance performance standard to help regulators, insurers and consumers identify truly effective PAYD policies. This standard defines specific requirements for policies to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings. For more information see .

* * * * *

Upcoming Events

"Multi-modal Transportation Economic Evaluation: Cut Costs and Improve Mobility" at the Urban Transportation Summit, Toronto 3 March 2010 ( )

"Parking Innovation Workshop" at the American Planning Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 11 April 2010 ( ).

"Smart Driving: Evaluating Mobility Management" at the Edmonton International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety, 28 April 2010 ( ).

* * * * *

Useful Resources

"Preventive Medicine; Special Supplement on Active Communities for Youth and Families: Using Research to Create Momentum for Change," Vol. 50, Supplement 1, January 2010; at ( ). This special, free journal issue contains articles describing new research on the relationships between land use policy, urban design, travel activity (walking, cycling, transit and vehicle travel), body weight and health outcomes.

"Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report" (
This comprehensive study by the Alliance for Biking & Walking reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars. While 10% of U.S. trips are by bike or foot, and 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, yet biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. The report indicates that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. International comparisons indicate that the U.S. investments less in biking and walking and has less biking and walking activity than its peers.

"Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America" by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp. 79-104; at

"Child and Youth Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning: Guidelines and Literature Review" ( ) is developing guidelines for municipal transportation and land-use planners as tools to create communities that meet the needs of children and youth - and everyone else.

"Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual" ( )
This innovative Manual provides guidance to planners and designers on ways to create more walkable communities. It introduces the concept of the pedestrian realm as an integral part of the overall street composition. It uses extensive illustrations, examples and instructions to help designers, planners and decision-makers implement a new vision of urban development. It responds to the needs of a rapidly-growing city that desires to preserve cultural traditions and design features, provide natural comfort in a hot climate, accommodate diverse populations, and achieve sustainability objectives.

"Who Owns The Roads? How Motorised Traffic Discourages Walking And Bicycling," by Peter L. Jacobsen, F. Racioppi and H. Rutter, Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, pp. 369-373; ( ).
This article examines the impact of vehicle traffic on walking and bicycling activity. It indicates that real and perceived danger and discomfort imposed by traffic discourages walking and bicycling, and interventions to reduce traffic speed and volume can improve public health by increasing walking and bicycling activity.

"A Study on the Impact of the Green Transport Mode on Public Health Improvement," KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1, Korea Transport Institute, May 2009, pp. 6-8 ( ).
This study found that commuters who switch from automobile to walking or cycling for eight weeks experienced significantly reduced lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity and improved cholesterol counts. It estimated that commuters who use active modes achieve annual health and fitness benefits worth an average of 2.2 million Korean Won (about $2,000). They found that incorporating these values into transportation policy and project evaluation significantly affected outcomes, resulting in higher values for policies and projects that increase active transportation among people who otherwise achieve less than 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.

"Transitway Impacts Research Program" ( ) investigates how high quality urban transit systems affect travel activity and land use development.

"Analysis Finds Shifting Trends in Highway Funding: User Fees Make Up Decreasing Share" ( )
This analysis of Federal Highway Statistics found the portion of U.S. highway funding paid by motor vehicle user fees has declined significantly. In 2007, 51% of highway construction and maintenance expenditures were generated through user fees (fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls) down from 61% a decade earlier. The rest came from other sources, including income, sales and property taxes.

"Estimates of the External Costs of Transport in 2007" KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 3, Korea Transport Institute (, July, pp. 8-10; at .
This study estimates that during 2007, South Korean household expenditures on transportation totaled 11.4% of GDP, and external transportation costs (congestion delays, accident damages and pollution emissions) totaled 5.4% of GDP. The study compares South Korea's transport costs with other countries and indicates changes over time.

"Transport: External Cost of Transport In Switzerland" ( ). This comprehensive research program by the Swiss government provides detailed estimates of various transportation costs, including infrastructure, accidents and pollutants.

"International Fuel Prices 2009" (
The 2009 International Fuel Prices report provides an overview of the retail prices of gasoline and diesel in more than 170 countries, discusses pricing policies, presents case studies on the impact of high and volatile fuel prices in 2007/2008 in developing countries and provides access to numerous additional resources.

"Rethinking Transport and Climate Change" (,Rethinking_Transport_and_Climate_Chan.pdf ) and "Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Transport" ( ).
These two new reports by the Asian Development Bank conclude that current transportation planning practices are unsustainable and discuss policy and planning changes needed to create more efficient and equitable transport systems.

"Transit Benefit Ordinance" ( This new website provides specific information on how municipal governments can encourage or require larger employers to offer transit benefits.

"Carfree Design Manual" by Joel Crawford, International Books ( ). This comprehensive and attractive book, featuring hundreds of photographs and drawings, describes the theory and practice of carfree (and car-light) urban planning.

"How Free Is Your Parking?" ( )

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About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Should car advertising be more heavily regulated, etc., etc."
More on, this time from Canada

Yesterday's feature article under this title generated a number of immediate comments and responses from readers in Australia, Canada and Germany, including the following announced "Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising", a "stakeholder approach" to dealing with these thorny issues. We produce it here in its essentials together with URLs for further information. But does it actually do the job?

Richard Campbell from Vancouver Canada wrote in this morning as follows: "There are similar standards in Canada that just came into effect. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws.

It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions. Here is the complaint procedure:"

Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising

Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) maintains the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code), the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada. The Code sets the standards for acceptable advertising and forms the basis for receipt and review of consumers’ complaints about Canadian advertising. The Code is augmented by Interpretation Guidelines that are designed to enhance industry and public understanding of the interpretation and application of the clauses of the Code.

On September 24, 2009, ASC published and implemented Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses #10 or #14: Motor Vehicle Advertising. The Guideline was developed to help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws. It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions.

Developed by a working group, the motor vehicle advertising guideline initiative was led by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), in conjunction with ASC, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Association des agences de publicité du Québec.

The working group was convened following the adoption of legislative provisions obligating the SAAQ to “in collaboration with automobile manufacturers, advertising agencies and highway safety stakeholders …establish guidelines aimed at prohibiting any advertisement that portrays a road vehicle and conveys a careless attitude with respect to road safety by presenting situations that encourage reckless, dangerous or prohibited practices or behaviour.” The auto advertising issue was of interest to other Canadian jurisdictions, several of whom joined the working group (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Transport Canada.) The working group’s adoption of the Guideline was supported by all Canadian jurisdictions.

The positive cooperation from the other stakeholders meant that the guidelines could be built on the existing self-regulatory structure, thereby avoiding the need to adopt more binding measures. (Our emphasis.)

* Click here for the new Guideline:

Interpretation Guideline #4 – Alleged Infractions of Clauses 10 or 14: Motor Vehicle Advertising1

(Editor's note: These are the "eight questions" referred to above.)

4.1 When evaluating complaints about advertising involving depictions of motorized vehicles that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety), Council will take into account the following questions:
a. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration of the vehicle convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits?

b. Does the depiction of a vehicle’s handling ability involve potentially unsafe actions such as cutting in and out of traffic, excessively aggressive driving, or car chases in a residential setting?

c. Does the depiction appear realistic or does it appear to be unreal, as in a fantasy-like scenario that is unlikely to be copied or emulated in real life?

d. Would it be reasonable to interpret the depicted situation as condoning or encouraging unsafe driving practices?

4.2 When evaluating complaints involving depictions in automobile advertising that allegedly contravene Clause 10 (Safety) or Clause 14 (Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals), Council also will take into account the following questions developed and endorsed by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association:
a. Is the vehicle operated in violation of applicable laws or beyond reasonable speed under the circumstances taking into account the portrayed road, weather, traffic and surrounding conditions (e.g. children in the area,) or over usual speed limits in Canada?

b. Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration and braking of the vehicle, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits or to otherwise operate a vehicle unsafely or illegally?

c. Does the depiction of racing and rallies, and of other competition environments, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual (both images and text) and audio messages, convey the impression that production vehicles could be driven like racing or competition vehicles on a public roadway?

d. Is the advertisement encouraging or endorsing vehicle use that is aggressive, violent or injurious toward other road users, or that denigrates or disparages cautious behaviour when using a vehicle?

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Editor's commentary:

This proposal strikes these eyes as a possible step in the right direction; however we fear that calls for "reasonable behavior" will be about as well accepted by the main actors involved in this sector as it would be in the more aggressive edge of the financial community.

Let's not kid ourselves. Self-regulation? Getting agreement from the "main stakeholders"? Whoa. You or I can say anything but the only thing that counts is what we do.

We do not see that anything of worth can be achieved in this domain unless there are real teeth to it. Where are the teeth? Where is the responsibility? Where is the good governance needed as a framework for working democracy, healthy entrepreneurship and society?

I don't think that we can responsibly run away from this one.

Eric Britton,
Editor, World Streets

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Question: Should car advertizing be more heavily regulated? Or taxed? Or mandate compensatory advertizing? Or or . . . ?

Our sustainable colleagues over at Nuova Mobilità, our Italian-language sister publication, have shown more consistent aggressiveness concerning debating the issues of car advertising then we (which points out the advantages of diversity) -- but from time to time we too consider that it is useful to give this some thought and dialogue. N/M picked up the following quite contentious article on the subject today from the Guardian, which we are also pleased to share with you for your information and comment. (Ours appear at the end of this article).

Want to promote cycling? Cut back car adverts now

- Tom Bogdanowicz, London. Wednesday, 17 February 2010.

The UK spends £500m a year on car ads and fetishises auto-ownership – no wonder cycling is stuck in the slow lane

Step out of your home and what do you see? There is a subliminal and overt message on the streets and in the media to buy cars and use them. You'll find it on TV, on your computer, in the newspapers you read. It makes the promotion of any other form or transport, such as cycling, an uphill struggle regardless of how convenient, healthy and sustainable it may be.

The advertising spend on the promotion of motor vehicles in the UK exceeds £500m a year. And, by and large, it works: car ownership has grown steadily since the 1940s and, after the current economic crisis abates, it will likely continue to do so.

In sharp contrast, the promotion of cycling and walking is almost non-existent. When Transport for London ran a TV ad promoting cycling it was a unique occasion. The number of cyclists on UK roads has dropped sharply since the 1940s, and London stands out as a rare example of a city where cycling has doubled in six years.

While the government encourages us to walk, ride bikes and use public transport, it knows that car advertising is persuading us to do the exact opposite. Instead of sharing one car, households buy two or three so that everyone can express their own personality through their vehicle. If you believe the advertising, your car will make you more attractive, more popular and more successful. How many car ads show the reality of being stuck in traffic or the frustration of searching for a parking space?

Cycling gets the occasional media boost when team GB sweeps the Olympic medals or cycling in London soars, as more people realise it's faster around town than driving. But very few companies pay big money for bike ads, so newspapers don't have cycling sections – with notable exceptions, such as this blog - and there is no cycling equivalent of Top Gear.

The outcome of all that PR for cars is more sales as well as more congestion, more pollution and a greater demand for scarce parking spaces. There would have been no need for the congestion charge in London if not for the success of the auto industry's publicity machine and the popularity of motoring programmes.

Reversing the trend of ever-increasing car ownership and use is not as difficult as it seems. If governments were to limit car advertising, as they did with alcohol and tobacco when the health impacts were recognised, people would take decisions about their mode of transport based on common sense rather than the promise of open highways, high speeds and glamorous locations. Common sense might well encourage cycling or walking for more journeys.

The survival of cycling as a transport mode and its growth in London is a tribute to its convenience and simplicity. Surveys show that one-in-five of us would like to cycle. If the barriers to cycling were removed – such as perceived danger and a lack of cycling infrastructure – cycle journeys in the UK might increase tenfold to the levels seen in Holland or Denmark. The benefits are obvious: more cycling and walking would help prevent health problems as well as climate change.

Holland is lucky to have invested in cycling before car-oriented planning created a road system that discourages cycle use. The UK, unfortunately, has seen several decades of car-centred planning. But, as London shows, the UK can still join the virtuous circle. Local traffic management schemes can be redesigned to allow cyclists through them and urban gyratories can be removed.

If reduced auto promotion stemmed the growth in car ownership as well, we could see more people cycling and drivers might discover that the roads were less busy and parking spaces easier to come by. In fact, there is little choice; Britain's urban population continues to grow – unless we enable people to cycle and walk more, and stop persuading them to use cars, we face gridlock.

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About the author:
• Tom Bogdanowicz is campaigns and development officer for the London Cycle Campaign

* Source:

* Reader comments here:

From the editor: A Personal Reflection:

It is not exactly that recourse to the law is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but it - that is the crude hammer of the law - is certainly the last refuge of citizens and political leaders who are not able to come up with a better and softer path to get the job done. Which is to say that we approach matters like this with a heavy heart, but then are ready to hear the arguments from both sides, all while not forgetting what sustainability and social justice are all about.

The bottom line: As an essentially naïve person, I always tend to confound or confuse (or wish hopefully about) advertising as having primarily an information function. Of course when any of us has a point we wish to make, there is also a human tendency to try to make that point in a way which renders it agreeable for the public you are trying to get on your side. At one point of course this can become a matter of more even than simple cajoling , namely attempting behavior modification, and this brings us in front of an ethical choice, or maybe better a dilemma.

I, and I am almost certain you also, have reached the conclusion that advertising in public places and the media can be extremely useful in matters in which society is having a problem or two: smoking too much, speeding too fast, drug dependency, various forms of unfair discrimination, the long list goes on. No reasonable person can deplore the intelligent and in a surprising number of cases pretty effective advertising/information campaigns that have been run over the last several decades in order to modify behavior of large numbers of people and create really a better and safer society for all. Moreover I, and once again I bet you too, want to see more of this done wisely and effectively.

Now back to our topic, namely the at least highly dubious habits of the automobile industry advertising practices. And here I have to put my cards on the table and state that I am not an anti-car guy. I have had quite a range of cars over the years which by and large I greatly appreciated and I think have used wisely. On the other hand, we are all increasingly aware that as things stand today there are many situations in which "own-cars" are not always necessarily the best way to get around every day (particularly in cities of course). Anyway, we shall soon enough have a billion of them raring to go all over the planet, so it is our job as citizen-guardians of the concept of sustainable transportation to provide perspective and, if we can manage it, wise counsel as to what exactly is going to be their proper place in society. After all, that is what governance is all about.

For starters, anyone would have to be blind or soft in the head not to see the pernicious qualities of much of the car advertising that we presently have in our various print and electronic media. Much of this goes well beyond giving us simple information about their products, and with the help of very sophisticated media specialists and experts in behavioral psychology often combine to create pattern and attitudes which are far from being in the public interest.

The fixation with speed, the subtle ways of manipulating and implying speed as a personal (to some) if not a social value -- and hey! everybody knows that speed kills -- gives us a great place to start. Some of the rest is more puzzling and is going to be more difficult, so until we can sort this out, speed gives us a good training ground to get going and figure out how to handle the rest.

My position on this today then is that I feel there is every reason for the vigorous public debate in as many fora and places as can be reached. Tom Bogdanowicz's points are worthy of reflection, and it is good to see him looking at all of this from the perspective of cyclists. And if you click here - - you will be taken to the extremely lively commentary that his article has excited, and which also might find it useful to spend the time with.

I wish I could tell you that I have a way to wrap this up so that you can put it all behind you and move on to other things. But I cannot and so as resourceful citizens we have to keep thinking about it, talking about it, and pretty soon doing something about it.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Profile: Robin Carlisle in South Africa. "A helluva lot of people don’t have cars. I have to look after them"

To move from the unfair and hopelessly inefficient deadlock that is old mobility toward sustainable transport and sustainable cities, we need concepts, dialogues, demonstrations, projects and programs. But none of this is going to happen if we don't have the people: the warm, surely fallible but somehow thoughtful, daring and courageous human beings who are needed to bring all this about.We need more heroes, wouldn't you agree? Our Profiles here on World Streets are intended to remind the world that whenever something good happens, it is because there are real live people behind it. Let's take Robin Carlisle who is working for change in Capetown South Africa for example.

In The Headlights: Street-fighting man

- Profile by Gail Jennings, Editor, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town

In-between drags of his cigarette and stories about bicycle-commuting, Robin Carlisle, MEC for Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape Provincial Government, talks to Gail Jennings about his plans to get the province moving.

MEC Robin Carlisle states his position upfront: he doesn’t intend to change the world. That, he says, belongs in the realms of consultants’ fantasies; he merely intends to change direction, reverse our local trends in transport and re-align them with international trends. This, of course, will change for the better the personal worlds of multitudes of people in the Western Cape.

Current trends in South Africa are more roads, more cars, more congestion; decreasing air quality and increasing road fatalities (particularly pedestrians and passengers); and ‘magic fairy’ solutions appearing in provinces to the north. International trends are moving toward a re-definition of the problem: for as long as we regard long commutes, gridlock and spatial segregation and isolation as transport-problems, we’ll look for transport-related solutions…

The Western Cape, with MEC Carlisle in the driver’s seat, will be somewhere in-between, a damn-sight better place to be than where we are right now. Which is stuck in the traffic, losing time, losing money, and losing opportunities for economic growth and wealth.

Carlisle knows, and supports, the arguments for better spatial planning and densification of Cape Town in particular, which would bring people and work closer together. He admires the work of Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Minister of Transport and outspoken advocate of better land-use planning.

But his mission, his mandate, is to bring people to their places of work, no matter how far away these might be – easily, cheaply, quickly, in greater comfort and with greater dignity. And there’s something ‘Penalosa’ – another transport philosopher he admires – about the way in which he’ll do it, without excessive concern for ensuring his re-election.

‘We’ve set modest targets for modal shifts, but most importantly these signal a change in direction,’ he says. ‘Public transport will become more widespread, more accessible, and there will be a detailed, step-by-step scheme, within the next six months.’ This scheme, he says, ‘will be irreversible by 2014, around the time in which I retire!’

What will we see on the roads?

The nitty-gritty of the Western Cape’s transport plan, and its implementation strategy, has not yet been designed. But the overall philosophy is there: ‘What have I got? What can I add to it? And what can I take away later?’

‘Public transport is like a drowning person,’ says Carlisle. ‘You can’t just pull out a leg or an arm – you have to pull out the whole person. It’s a package, and is best developed sectorally.’

The key to Carlisle and his team’s system is connectivity, and it involves a combination of trunk routes, feeder services – reported in the local press as Bus Rapid Transit – and increased rail services. Funding will arise from the redirection of spend from road-building to public transport.

‘BRTs do have an important role – that of overcoming road-based congestion – but they’re not the magic solution. We don’t need to go and build new BRT roads; we simply need to take road space from private cars. This will come within about four years, you won’t be able to bludgeon your way into the rapid lanes unless you own a tank.’ Carlise leans back, takes out another cigarette and considers his retirement once more…

The formula is this: rail, trunk operators (‘probably buses’) and feeders (‘I see no reason why these can’t be modestly converted Quantums, running to a schedule and enjoying some sort of subsidy.’) ‘Licensed taxi operators don’t have to come into the system if they don’t want to,’ he points out. ‘There’s been no transport master plan so far because no-one wants to bite the bullet that is the taxi industry…’

And this is a bullet that Carlisle has already bitten: ‘These front teeth – I got these replaced after my first collision, on my bicycle on Wynberg Hill. My left shoulder, that was another close encounter …’ (Carlisle commuted by bicycle for more than 17 years, undeterred.)

‘I’m not afraid of the taxi industry, and I’m not going to prescribe to anyone. I need about 50% of the current licensed taxi industry to get the system going, and the smart guys will see the value in it – congestion has already cut some taxi mileage by up to 30%.’

How is it going to happen?

‘Funding and good managers: that’s what makes any project sustainable, and that’s what we’re going to get. It all starts with National Treasury, the sole conduit for 98% of revenue. This is where you have to contest for funding, and this is where I need to win the funding fight over the R300, for example. That will give us enough money, and if I give 50% to PRASA, this will fix our rail problems…’ The planned extensions to the R300, from Melkbosstrand in the north and to Ladies' Mile Road on the M3 in the south, will cost an estimated R14-billion, which would be better spent on developing public transport infrastructure, says Carlisle.

‘We need to open up the conversation nationally, about how we spend our mobility funds. SANRAL builds good roads, and gives good value for money, but what is the aim? What are we building roads for? Roads, especially periphery roads, are not my priority. A helluva lot of people don’t have cars. I have to look after them.’

In the Western Cape 35% of commuters use rail, suggests Carlisle’s research. ‘Rail knows how to move many people, which is what we need to do. And we do it well: the Fish Hoek to Cape Town line is one of the few in the world that is close to break-even. With a good feeder service, better park-and-ride facilities, and increased hours, this would be a quick way to ease congestion in one area alone.

‘It bothers me that you can’t put a bicycle on a train, even off-peak,’ he says. ‘And yes, we’ll get this done …’ But he cautions the bicycle-activist in me: ‘I’m prepared to look into a package of measures for bicycle commuters [his years of riding were made more pleasant by showers and safe parking at his office], but it’s not a raging priority. In the Central Karoo, with rural roads, bicycles make more sense, but in the city, bicycles are not yet aspirational.’

Carlisle’s focus on Cape Town is because 90% of the actual commuter population of the Western Cape is based here, he explains. Already in Cape Town and surrounds – Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington/Drakenstein – ‘all the key elements for better public transport are there; we simply we need the investment.’

George’s mobility strategy, on the other hand, is a ‘test to see if, in one of the few areas outside Cape Town where we have a mass mobility problem, we can find a solution.’ [See Mobility issue 6]. ‘We’re almost ready to kick off – it’s been a slow process of gaining trust,’ he says. ‘Our job is to work with the towns, not put in transport schemes: it’s about community ownership.’
The Western Cape’s ‘modest’ targets
• Increase public transport use to 40% over the next four years
• Improve rail transport
• Provide rapid trunk routes for existing public transport
• Formalise the taxi industry
• Shift 10% of road freight to the rail network by 2014
• Reduce maintenance backlogs by 16% by 2014
• Reduce road accident fatalities by 50% over the next three years
• Continue to support bicycle transport (Shova Kalula) in rural areas

# # #

About the author:
Gail Jennings, Mobility Magazine, Cape Town, South Africa. Gail writes about issues such as social and environmental justice, energy and climate change, community-based projects, non-motorised transport, and edit Mobility Magazine (a quarterly transport publication for the southern African public sector).

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Drinks: From Beer to Eternity?
(Or more than a pretty web page)

When we first set up shop here in Paris some years ago, we thought a lot about creating lively and inviting environments for all kinds of people to get together and exchange ideas and learn from each other in our areas of common interest. But for the most part this took the form of the familiar mix of workshops, conferences, and of our various virtual get-togethers on the web. Then one day in 2007 we learned of Green Drinks, and thought to give it a go in Paris.

Introduction: Our goal back then was to create here in this big and busy city an inviting environment which would encourage serendipitous encounters which cut across the usual professional and disciplinary lines. For us it was important that participation be easy and open, and that it bring in young people and as many women as possible. And a wide range of different kinds of backgrounds and views. As luck would have it, a group of young Parisian professionals agreed to take over the actual running of the project, which they continue to do successfully to this day.

So on the occasion of your next trip to Paris if you want to take the temperature of the green agenda here in all its varieties be sure you check out the webpage at On the last Monday or each month, the action starts at 19h30 at the Café Epicerie, 38 rue Sambre et Meuse 75010 Paris. you can also check out the organizers blog at

And oh yes, why don't you give some thought to creating a Green Drinks in your own city. You just may surprise yourself? There are more people and more brains thinking about and working on these issues than most of us would ever guess. Try it and let us know how it works out.

Now let's hear what Edwin Datschefski who was there at birth and is the International Coordinator of Green Drinks has to tell us about how all this came to be.
Green Drinks: From Beer to Eternity?

A bunch of us who work in the environmental field used to meet up for a beer in London once a month. It was a nice gathering, and we always encouraged people to invite others, so you never knew who would be there and they were always interesting people and great connections were made and cool ideas were had. We started in 1990 and called it Green Drinks.

We used to call round the week before and tell people the date and venue, and for a while we tried mass faxing, but it was quite hard work and this was of course just in our spare time and "borrowing" office resources etc. so we were very pleased when email finally became widespread and we could set up an email list to send out reminders.

We also set up a fixed date (second Tuesday of the month) and venue so people could easily remember the rule and also put it in their diaries ahead of time.

In 2000 I set up a website as an easy-to-remember URL and soon after that we realised a few friends from Oxford were having their own Green Drinks too so we listed them on the website. Soon there were quite a few listed on the website so I handed over organisation of the London Green Drinks to Paul Scott, who still runs it, in order to concentrate on the now-international website. When I say 'concentrate' bear in mind this is all stuff in my spare time, the odd hour here and there.

New York City joined as the first US GD in 2002 and as Green Drinkers travelled the world and relocated jobs, more sprung up. Today in 2010 there are 600 Green Drinks in 62 countries.

I specifically used biological thinking in the design of Green Drinks. I wrote the Green Drinks Code ( as a code of practice but also as a genetic code, the DNA of the organism.

Green Drinks is biological in that it is:

Distributed -- there is no central organisation, each city organiser can do what they like and maintains their own list of members.

Viral -- member-get-member is the basic principle -- a simple concept spread by word of mouth.

Adaptive -- each Green Drinks city has its own logo and traits, the ones that work best for its location -- some are a little formal, some rather random, some have speakers to break the ice (like in Scandinvia and some US cities), most are just freeform. The freeform nature of most of the mingling is the key, and this can be enhanced by good hosting and introduction-making on the night.

I think the strangest thing about Green Drinks is that the goals are so vague and the benefits hard to quantify -- but they are undoubtedly there. Sometimes people say we should get some charitable or government funding, but then others will insist that independence is far more important. Of course it's not much of a proposal in conventional terms -- 'We need this funding so me and my mates can go have a few beers together' ...

I've upgraded the website a few times in recent years, and we are flirting with on-line social networking via Facebook, Ning, Twitter etc but there are countless online environmental networks, and Green Drinks is fundamentally about face to face interaction in a room.

I have never made any predictions or even plans about Green Drinks, but I would guess we will continue to expand though this may well slow as of course sometimes cities drop out and that has to be matched with new cities joining up.

I think Green Drinks has some good lessons for other types of organisation who want to grow, and staying informal and ad hoc is a key one of them. Go along to a Green Drinks near you to see how it works, or drop me a line if you think I can help with any ideas on your organisation design.

# # #

Edwin Datschefski is the International Coordinator of Green Drinks, . Edwin's latest book, The Total Beauty of Sustainable Products, is proving to be a contemporary classic, introducing everyone from students to CEOs to the delights and nuances of sustainable product development.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

World Carshare Consortium 2010 Operations Plan:
Coming to a bend in the road

Since 1998 we have actively supported the development of carsharing projects and programs in cities and countries around the world. Over that time the concept of sharing a car has grown from a largely unknown transport option, to the extent where today there are more than one thousand cities in the world where you can find a shared car this morning. The main instrument of our collaboration has been something we called the World Carshare Consortium. But as you will see here are a few changes in store for the way in which we run this part of our sustainable transportation initiative.

Short introduction:
The World Carshare Consortium which you can handily access at has been run on an open and free basis, much like World Streets, over all these years. However for reasons of hard economic realities we are now constrained to start to change that formula, which is the purpose of this posting. This may interest you, since it is relevant to how all of us can go about combining our knowledge, energies, and resources to advancing good sustainable transportation ideas. And good carsharing is certainly one of the best.

If you have any questions or require further background, a great starting point is the world carshare site itself, and in addition you can address them to the editor here at World Streets.

New Mobility Partnerships, Paris. 18 February 2010

Dear members and supporters of World Carshare,

After twelve years of long and faithful service to the concept of carsharing as a great and even noble way of getting around in our day-to-day lives, today is the day in which I am obliged to change the rules of the game for World Carshare. As most of you know, after more than a decade running this as a wide open shared enterprise, I do this with no little regret. But as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tze reminded us so long ago: after ten years of notoriety even the greatest poet in China should change his village and change his name. So in this Year of the Tiger and with his good counsel in mind, I will keep my name but today is the day we make a few changes in our village.

The new rules of the game: Rather than being free and open to all, from this day on our World Carshare will be run along, let us say, more "commercial" lines. No not commercial really, but nonetheless as I have indicated in an earlier note on the subject, for reasons of necessity we now have to get better at sharing the load. You understand of course that world carsharing simply cannot be a one-man job.

Now while my earlier calls for support have gone pretty much ignored by the great majority of the close to five hundred people currently signed in to this forum, happily several handfuls of you have stepped forward to help share the burden: something like two dozen individuals, a total of one carshare supplier, and as of yesterday a generous grant from one of our national partners who shares our belief that carsharing is something that is really worth supporting. These are good steps forward to help us make this work, but until all this work is fully and fairly supported, we now have to move to our new and somewhat more austere rules set. It works like this:

As of this morning, all standing subscriptions of our close to five hundred members are being canceled. In exact parallel with this, I am sending out letters of invitation to those people and groups who have recently been in touch either with individual (subscriptions) or collective support -- or as volunteers indicated that they will continue to be ready to share with us their information and insights on the sector. In addition to this, we will continue to maintain free access to anyone coming in from the developing countries, unfunded local environmenal and similar public interest groups, and of course students and others of limited means and high interest.

Several of our number have indicated their willingness to work with us to identify and eventually secure more substantial support from public agencies in their country who share our interests. This would be extremely important to guarantee our future viability, and I hope that others of you will now get in touch so that we can discuss how we might work together to tailor and put this approach to work in your country. If we can get a handful of committed public sector partners behind this, we will be able to return to our former wide open working context, which to my mind is far the best way to get the job done.

The months ahead are going to be extremely active ones in our slice of the sustainable transportation puzzle. This work is going to be led by the communications within and collaboration from members of the consortium. I very much hope that you will be among us to take part in this process of building knowledge and consensus on a literally worldwide basis, and in an area in which both are much needed.

So there you have it World Carshare friends. 2010 is the Year of the Tiger and if we are going to make sustainable development work in our cities and daily lives, it will not be because we are docile little pussies. I hope to hear from you and that you will join us as part of the solution. I promise you, the world needs us.

Best from Paris -- a city incidentally where when World Carshare just getting underway there were zero carshare operators and zero understanding of the part of the city as to what their role in this might be. And where today there are a handful of highly competitive firms offering more cars, more rides, to more people every day, and all that under the benevolent eye of city authorities who have got the message and have shown themselves ready to do their bit to bring these great services to more and more people everyday. And you can take my word for it, that was no accident.

Eric Britton


Some final words of background and a few reminders just in case it may have escaped your attention:

1. The World CarShare Consortium (1997 text):
"This free, cooperative, independent, international communications program supports carsharing projects and programs, worldwide. Since 1997 it offers a convenient place on the web to gather and share information and independent views on projects and approaches, past, present and planned future, freely and easily available to all comers."

2. Why we support carsharing (1998 text):
"Why does The Commons support a concept that may to some appear to be so off-beat and marginal as carsharing? Simple! We think it's a great, sustainable, practical mobility idea whose time has come and whose potential impact is quite simply huge. Carsharing: the missing link in your city's sustainable transport system."

3. Comments and accolades from readers of World

4. Ditto from one hundred and one readers of World Streets

5. Entries over last year on World Streets concerning carsharingClick here.

6. Who came into World Carshare today:

Carsharing: The last nail in the coffin of old mobility.

I rest my case.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Op-Ed. Kaid Benfield on Vancouver's Carfree Olympic Village

The first and most important new mobility option is: to get what it is you want or need, without climbing into carbon transport. And while we here at World Streets tend to spend most of our time looking at sustainable transport modes and good ways of combining them to create superior mobility packages, we also follow car-free (or car-freer) environments and programs around the world. The city of Vancouver has just taken a giant step in this direction as part of their Winter Olympics package, so let us give the word to Kaid Benfield, Director of the Smart Growth Program of the NRDC in Washington, DC for his views on this.

Vancouver’s medal-worthy Olympic Village, one of the greenest neighborhoods anywhere

[For the full text of this article, complete with illustrations and videos, click to]
Vancouver’s civic leaders believe that the athlete’s village built for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and the planned neighborhood that will surround it, will be one of the very greenest neighborhoods in North America. I am inclined to agree.

The village is the central parcel in a larger planned redevelopment of a section of the city’s old industrial waterfront called, somewhat awkwardly, Southeast False Creek. When the Olympics and Paralympics are finished, the village will become a mixed-use community called Millennium Water, which sounds a lot more marketable to me.

I haven’t visited the site, but I have sifted through virtual reams of information about it, and I have paid particular attention to its plans and progress for some time now because Southeast False Creek is participating in the LEED-ND pilot. (It hasn’t been evaluated yet but the development is aiming for a gold level award.) The city’s summary information sheet explains the project’s goals:
“While maintaining heritage ties to the past, SEFC is being planned as a model sustainable development based on environmental, social and economic principles where people will live, work, play, and learn. SEFC will be a mixed-use community, with a focus on residential housing. This complete neighbourhood will ensure that goods and services are within walking distance and that housing and jobs are linked by transit.”

The 80-acre site’s mostly mid-rise buildings will provide ample density to support retail and walkability while still leaving 26 acres available for park land, including playgrounds and space for community gardening. There will also be an elementary school and new civic center. Some of the site’s historic buildings (notably including the Salt Building, shown in the photos) will be preserved, along with other reminders of its historic past. Transportation options will include rapid transit, a “skytrain,” a streetcar, multiple bus lines, three new greenways with cycling facilities and, of course, a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. The site also needed and received extensive brownfield remediation.

Most of the development’s buildings will qualify for a LEED-gold building certification (in addition to the LEED-ND goal for the project as a whole). One of them has been designated as a “net zero” building that will have no net carbon emissions. It will be converted to 64 homes for seniors after the Games. And the developer is aiming for a LEED-platinum rating for the community center that will be the village’s focal point during the Games and the most publicly visible of the neighborhood’s buildings afterward.

Southeast False Creek/Millennium Water will also sport the city’s first renewable district heating system, which will provide heat and hot water to all the neighborhood’s buildings, including those in the Olympic village. It will be the first time in North America that heat recovered from wastewater will provide a primary source of energy for an urban neighborhood. The wastewater technology will be supplemented by solar hot water.

The city began planning development of the site in 1997 and committed to a vision of sustainability in 1999. Eventually it will be home to 16,000 residents. Close to 3,000 will be housed there for the Games.

The environmental accomplishments and goals of the Olympic village (officially Village A, since there is a second athlete’s Village B in Whistler, BC, where downhill events are being held) are summarized in an overview on the Olympics’ official site. In addition to those mentioned above, they include ecological restoration of the waterfront; reintroduction of intertidal marine habitat and indigenous vegetation, and extensive green stormwater infrastructure. As shown in the images, most of the buildings will have green roofs. Other laudable elements include accessible design, job training and procurement for inner-city residents, and impressive (and sustainable) public art, including traditional and contemporary works by Inuit, Métis, and other First Nations indigenous artists from across Canada.

The village’s sustainability features are seen by the Games as part of a larger goal of sustainability throughout the Olympic venues and events, and by the city as consistent with its’ leaders vision of becoming “the world’s greenest city.”

As with any large development, especially infill and especially one receiving subsidies in the context of a recession, the project has not been without controversy. This is well-documented on the Web and was succinctly summarized by Jonathan Hiskes on Grist. The project was planned to be financed largely by Millennium Water’s investors and recouped by them after the Games as its units were sold. But a major source of the developer’s capital collapsed with other financial institutions and the city had to come to the project’s financial rescue (to be repaid when the development sells). There were also the usual construction problems and cost overruns. The financial squeeze meant that, unfortunately, some of the project’s Phase I affordable housing had to be scaled back. In addition, some Vancouverites have long resisted the idea of the city’s hosting the Games at all, and the village became a bit of a rallying point for the opposition.

But now the village has been completed and was handed over to the city on schedule, in November. It has received glowing reviews not just from environmental writers but also from real estate observers who believe Millennium Water will be a huge commercial success when it is handed back to the developer (see, for example, here and here). Based on what we can see, that’s hard to argue with. I can’t wait to see it for myself.

# # #

* For full text complete with illustrations and videos, click to]

About the author:

Kaid Benfield is Director of the Smart Growth Program of the prestigious Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. –, He describes himself as "Attorney, recovering litigator, cyclist, blogger, dreamer." He writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment. For more posts, see his blog's home page at

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

World Streets Collaborative Program
Contribute, subscribe, support, get involved

World Streets is an open collaborative program, and is entirely dependent on the support of readers, subscribers and others who share our deep concerns about sustainable transportation, sustainable development and social justice. Subscription is free for all who cannot afford it, and as a matter policy we do not accept advertising. We count on your counsel and support to be able to continue to do our part.

World Streets has one job: to inform and support sustainable transportation projects and groups around the world. After a first year of proving its worth, edition after edition, five days a week, bringing hundreds of carefully selected news items, expert views, questions, comments, inspirations, and leads to the desks of more than one hundred thousand visitors from more than seventy countries on all continents (that was our "business plan"), World Streets is now reaching out to get active sponsorship and support for 2010. We need your help to continue. Here is how it works:

1. Individual subscriptions
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4. Personal gifts, donations
5. How to make your contribution
6. Seven reasons why this is a good idea

Individual subscriptions

World Streets is a public interest publication which, as a matter of policy, we make freely available to all who are looking to understand, support, and contribute to the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world. We firmly believe that there should be no barriers, and especially not commercial ones, to the free circulation of news, tools, counsel and peer exchanges when it comes to important issues of sustainable development and social justice.

Subscribers have full access to the members-only World Streets Forum, Library and Archives - Click here for details. For those who use it and can afford it, we ask that you step up to do your part. (For payment procedures, click here. And
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4. New Mobility Agenda: Working groups/peer programs
Subscribers have full access to the peer networks and focus groups set up under the New Mobility Agenda over the last two decades. These include the World Transport Journal, World Carshare Consortium, Global South Forum, City Bicycle Forum, World Car-Free Days, Value Capture/Taxation Forum, Share/Transport Forum, New Mobility Kids, etc. Each forum serves an international expert community working in the given area for collaborative exchanges of information and views. Participants receive regular updates on events, discussions, and issues in their active topic areas.
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5. Supporting subscriber services/Outreach program
The principal challenge in this collaborative project is that of finding a way to efficiently channel the considerable content of World Streets in a form in which all concerned can quickly scan, select, access and make good use of it in a time-efficient manner. The target group for national sponsors often includes not only their own staff but other agencies and organizations in the country whom they choose to keep informed. We refer to this as the "last kilometer" component of the subscription.
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* Suggested subscription: EUR 5.000/10,000 (USD 7,000/14,000)
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Cities, Local government.
Local government are the ones closest to the issues and who make the decisions that count. Via the daily journal and the monthly edition we supply them with a carefully selected, easy to digest, steady flow of exception information, insight, clues and feedback from world experts that would cost them many times more than the annual subscription to develop on their own. It also gives them a chance to make their voice heard on a worldwide forum. Depending on size of city and available resources . . .
* Suggested subscription: EUR 2,000 (USD 2,800)


Public transport operators, other service providers and management groups
World Streets provides an efficient way for their officers and staff or these groups to stay on top of the issues, challenges, and accomplishments at the leading edge and from an international perspective. Again depending on size and resources . . .
* Suggested subscription: EUR 3,000 (USD4,200)

Private sector suppliers to the sector (goods and services)
This is more delicate, but this form of open public support is appropriate for companies and organizations who are firmly committed to the sustainable transport agenda. Suppliers of goods and services in such areas as insurance, non-motorized transport, carsharing, liftsharing, strategic parking, logistics, buses, delivery services, locational systems, integrated multi-modal ticket/access systems, transport logistics, spatial planning, and specialized consultancy, management and research groups are appropriate. Depending on size of enterprise . . .
* Suggested contribution: EUR 500/5,000 (USD 700/7000)

Universities and research institutions
World Streets offers a good fit and tool for university teaching and research programs at all levels. Various forms of collaboration and mutual support are possible. Get in touch so that we can discuss.

Incidentally, we have been told that the most efficient way to get universities support for this is to handle it as a standard subscription to a scientific or technical journal. In addition and if your time permits it, we would be grateful if university subscribers would toward the end of the academic year drop us a couple of lines telling how they have used these materials and what kind of reaction they may have gotten from professors as well as students. Also this would be a good occasion for you to give us suggestions for future extensions and improvements.
* Suggested subscription: EUR 700 (USD 1,000)


3. Foundations
Until such time that we have developed the necessary firm base of support for our continuing operation, once-off gifts and donations will go a long way to help us fund our early operational and start-up costs in these crucial first phases. We are particularly hopeful for the support of foundations, groups with such budgets, and well-to-do individuals who share our sense of mission. If you are among them, please contact us for more information. And if you have a lead or know someone we should contact for discussions, please let us know.


4. Private donors, personal contributions, gifts
We hope to get support from individuals and families of means who share our concerns, and who are ready to reach into their pockets to give proof that the struggle for sustainable cities must engage us all.

World Streets is going to need significant financial support if it is to continue through 2010. Despite the many volunteers pitching in with ideas, articles and encouragement, our programs are still costly to run and require an annual budget on the order of EUR 100,000 to get the job done. (There is a lot going on here, the iceberg under the tip, which is needed to get the journal out each day and which of course you never see, including management and oversight of all that goes into maintaining the New Mobility Agenda focus programs and sites – see to get an idea on that.)

This level of funding normally can come only from foundations, public agencies, or well-to-do individuals. But there is plenty of scope for smaller, more strategic donations as well, and here is maybe where you will have some ideas. Your counsel and initiative will be helpful in several ways.
• By making a contribution - large or small - you are sending us a strong signal that what we are doing has value.

• Your contributions will help us to fund the diversity of our existing programs at the quality level and frequency you are used to.

• An active contributor base helps us equally to turn to the foundations, agencies, and individuals that can make more sizable contributions to help us make-up a budget shortfall.

5. How to transfer funds:

Make immediate payment via Paypal or credit card:
Payment by Paypal is simple and fast:
(1) Click
(2) Enter your account (or set one up quickly (and safely) as indicated).
(3) Click "send money".
(4) Address:
(5) Amount.
(6) Click "Personal".
(7) Click "Gift".
(8) Thank you for helping World Streets to continue in 2010.
PayPal also has provision for paying by credit card. It is fairly well explained on the site.

To make direct bank wire transfers:
Account Holder: Association EcoPlan International
Account no. 00010465401
Crédit Industriel et Commercial de Paris
Succursale BR (Montparnasse)
202 Blvd. Raspail / 75014 Paris, France
IBAN : FR76 3006 6106 2100 0104 6540 105

If you prefer to send a check direct our mailing address is:
Association EcoPlan International
8/10, rue Joseph Bara
F75006 Paris, France
Kindly make your check payable to "Association EcoPlan International".


6. Seven reasons why you should pitch in and do you bit:

1. Your vote for the future: Because if you are a parent or active citizen it is the right thing to do for your children, for your city, for your nation, and yes, for the planet. (And it is simple and cheap.)

2.Act now: Getting behind World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda demonstrates publicly that you give high importance to the critical climate/transportation link and the need for acting now -- and not waiting about for some kind of long term deus ex machina that may or may not solve your and the planet's problems.

3. Worldwide focus: It gives you an efficient way to track some of the things going on at the leading edge not only in your own country or regional grouping. Its genuine worldwide focus -- North/South, East/West (and South/North) -- reporting from source, brings to your attention projects, ideas and clues which otherwise you are just about certain to miss.

4. Re-defining the mainstream: By stepping forward you provide proof that you are part of the growing movement that is in the process of transforming sustainable transportation from a marginal activity, into the defining mainstream of 21st century transportation policy and practice at the leading edge.

5. Share with others: By doing your bit, you are helping make these ideas and materials available to cities, researchers, activists, and others all over the world, including many others who otherwise cannot even afford it on their own.

6. Make your voice heard: As a colleague and supporter, you and your team are in a position to work with the editorial staff from time to time to let the world know about your leading projects and accomplishments.

7. Step forward: And finally, if you do not step forward to do this, if we do not step forward to do this . . . who will?

For the rest, thank you in advance for your contributions, your counsel and your support. And if you wish to talk about any of this, here is how you can get in touch. Believe me, we will not be able to do this without you!

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets
Tel. +336 5088 0787 • Skype newmobility or

PS. Have a look at who visited World Streets today. They have to be coming here for a reason.


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