Category Archives: Car-free

A car to improve lives

What is that famous definition of an intelligent person? Someone who can keep two contradictory ideas in mind without her head exploding? Here is pretty interesting test of this for our more thoughtful anti-car friends.  And yes of course, your comments, caveats, etc. are warmly welcome. Let’s turn this one around a bit and have a look at it in the cold light of day. Continue reading

Every day is a great day to take a few cars off the street and think about it.

Mid-year 2011 update at World Car Free Days
Here you have a quick update of the materials and sources available on the topic from the World Car Free Days Consortium and several other key sources.

Continue reading

Why transport planners need to think small

No matter how big or small all movements have their heresies and orthodoxies. In the domain of transport policy, questioning the primacy of motorized public transport over cycling and walking is like suggesting that the world may not be flat after all. The mercury rose and emails flew on the Sustainable Transport Sustran online discussion group earlier this week when Beijing’s announcement to make the city ‘a public transport city’ by 2015 hit the wire.  One contributor questioned Beijing’s strategy, which was based solely on raising levels of rail and bus ridership to 45%. Once the mainstay of China’s urban transport system, the bicycle, didn’t even get a mention. Continue reading

Comments: Europe Imagines Its Suburbs Without the Car

There is some telling US style discussion of this article in yesterday’s New York Times which you can pick up here .

To my mind, most of these discussions invariably have more to say on (a) why it won’t work or (b) at best only at the margin. Not all that useful.

World Streets aspires to do better. We have to look more broadly for inspiration and ideas.


What about this for a bit of mind-feeding counterpoint on this topic? Click here to see our short video with some views on exactly this topic from the perspective of one man on the street in city of Groningen.

Your comments?

Again that link is http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/carless-in-america/

Op-Ed: On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

– Bina C. Balakrishnan, Transportation Planning and Engineering, Mumbai *

Mumbai is encouraging car- users to leave their cars behind for the commute to work, through parking initiatives.

Currently over 90% of the parking demand is met by on-street parking, which is either free or very nominally charged. A parking policy has been worked out, where there will be NO free parking and all parking will be charged –the concept of “Universal Pay & Park”. These rates will gradually be raised so as to be reflective of the real estate values of the locality- after all, a car is a personal property that is using public space for a period of time!

All residential parking demand is also met on-street, with resultant loss of carriageway capacity throughout the road network. In order to release this space for community use such as pedestrian movement or movement of traffic, the concept of “Parking Facilities” is being introduced. These will be off- street parking areas (under ground, multi-storied, or on in-frequented side lanes), with add–on features such as basic maintenance / repair facilities, valet drivers, car wash services- all under the charge of a registered contractor who will be fully responsible for the safety of the car. The entire facility can be monitored by CCTV, and connected to the Police network as well as the Internet, so that both the Police as well as owners can ensure that vehicles are not being misused. It thus becomes more attractive to park in these facilities rather than on- street.

Also, given the security concerns today, the parking concessionaire and his staff can be trained as “Neighbourhood Watch”, providing assistance to the locality if required, as well as supplementing the Police in their work, forming the lowest tier in the security set-up.

Additionally, on-street parking on all arterial roads is banned, and off-street parking facilities have been recommended in commercial areas also. The owner makes a call to the facility nearest his destination just as he is approaching, and valet drivers will be dispatched to pick up and drop off the cars.

Multi-storied parking is also being provided near train stations, connecting them through Skywalks to the train platforms, in order to encourage Park- and-Ride trips.

The road width thus released could be reallocated, and used for an exclusive bus lane on arterial roads, or to increase the width of pedestrian pathways, which are almost non- existent in Mumbai.

Reference:

http://www.visionmumbai.org/images/projects/report_parking%20issues.pdf
http://www.binabalakrishnan.com/transport.htm

Mrs. Bina C. Balakrishnan, binac@rediffmail.com
Transportation Planning & Engineering
Mumbai, India

* 28 April 2009. Mrs. Balakrishnan is the one hundredth concerned citizen to join the informal World Streets Sentinels program (Eyes on the Street) since its inception on 2 April 2009. Click to http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/03/world-streets-correspondents.html for map showing the latest listings. Are you ready to be the 101st?

America before streets were civilised

Some Reflections from 2017
Looking back at 2009 from the closing days of Barack Obama’s presidency, it is sometimes surprising to appreciate how much has changed in the relationship between people, places and traffic, and to grasp the effect of the dramatic policy change that took hold back then. Aware that successful cities are judged on the quality of their public realm, policy makers began to transform city streets from soulless arteries for vehicles into spaces shared equally by pedestrians, cars, taxis, buses, bicycles and every kind of social activity. Given the huge benefits that sprang from the multiple use of public urban space for safety, movement, accessibility, and economic vitality, it is now hard to recall how different typical streets once looked.

Until 2009, they looked like everywhere else. In those days. the roadways providing running space for vehicles were carefully separated from pedestrian spaces. Kerbs, steel barriers, bollards and paint markings reinforced this separation. Different organisations looked after the two worlds that this segregation created, one managed by “traffic engineers”, the other by “urban designers”. Traversing this divide required specific crossings controlled by traffic lights, buttons and beeping signals. Standardised signs, traffic islands, poles, control boxes and illuminated bollards littered the spaces between buildings. Behaviour in the roadway was controlled by the state via cameras, and normal social courtesies were discouraged.

Inspired by pioneering examples from Europe, and particularly by the work of Hans Monderman from The Netherlands, people suddenly realised that all this highway clutter was no longer needed. Without traffic signals, signs and markings, traffic flowed slowly and more smoothly. Congestion diminished. Casualty rates, particularly for children and vulnerable pedestrians, declined sharply. Shops flourished as pedestrian footfall increased, with people negotiating their way through slowly moving traffic using informal communication and courtesy. Bus companies reported more reliable running times. Every street in America began to reflect its history, context and purpose, reflecting the richness and diversity of the country’s huge geography and infinite variety.

Only the most busy traffic arteries remained segregated, such as the freeways and major arterial highways. All the remaining city streets became “shared space”. Back in 2009, most found the change surprising and a little daunting. It seemed almost perverse and counter-intuitive to take away rules and regulations, signs and signals, and to rely on people’s commonsense and adaptive skills. And yet, just as crowds seem to develop an intuitive choreography in busy complex spaces such as railway station forecourts and departure lounges, so drivers and pedestrians engaged in a new respectful relationship at busy intersections. Speeds remained below 20 mph. Delaying a bus or lorry became a serious social gaffe. Eye contact and hand signals became more sophisticated. Driving behaviour adapted to the times of day and rhythms of the city, with quite different styles when schools were coming out, when the bars were closing, or when streets were empty before dawn. Pedestrians walked where they wished to walk. Bicycling became the norm in the low speed, smooth flowing streets. Taxi drivers still grumbled. Traffic signal engineers were retrained as park keepers and window cleaners. Civility flourished.

So many changes in the past eight years, but none more significant for the quality of everyday life in America as the moment when engineering merged with creativity and commonsense.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie, ben@hamilton-baillie.co.uk
Hamilton-Baillie Associates Limited, www.hamilton-baillie.co.uk
Bristol, United Kingdom

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See www.messages.newmobility.org for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.