Category Archives: public space

More on public, private and social space. Andrew Curry reports from occupied London – Part II

Hopefully we have learned at least one hard lesson of life, and that is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And here right before our eyes we have a case in point with the Occupy movements that are sweeping Europe and North America, a public crisis that is most unexpectedly taking place on “public land”. And then suddenly, with no advance notice, everything starts to morph and the issues involved start to encompass not only the continuing unchecked egregious abuses of the financial community but also important (for democracy) issues of public  space — one of our consistent concerns here at World Streets. So in an effort to make sure that we do not miss the opportunity behind this crisis, we pass the word back to Andrew Curry so that he can build further on his article under this title earlier this week Continue reading

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More on public, private and social space. Dispatch from Andrew Curry reporting from occupied London

We think quite a lot about space here at World Streets, from at least two perspectives. First and naturally enough given that the goal of transportation/mobility/access is specifically to find ways to bridge space, in one way or another, and for better or for worse. And second, because when we get to cities, and given the bulimic, gorging nature of our present dominant transportation options, space starts to get in very short supply (the so-called elephant in the bedroom syndrome). But it is not just space per se; no less important is the quality of public and social space in cities that is (or at least should be) a continuing concern of policy makers and citizens alike. So when we spotted a thoughtful piece such as Andrew Curry’s short article that follows, we are glad to be able to share it with our readers. Continue reading

Tragedy of the Commons: The car as enclosure

Chris Bradshaw, Canadian planner and new mobility innovator, takes us on a quick peek into cars as “enclosures” of what should more rightly be the common domain in our cities. When we look at it this way, the concept of a “right to park” starts to look quite different. We are once again back to the concept of “worst practices” on the one hand, and on the other, our the understanding of space as public, private . . . or social. All of a sudden we have a new and quite different base for discussion and policy. Continue reading

Moving Beyond the Automobile – Exit Parking

The tenth and final video in Streetfilms’ Moving Beyond the Automobile series, looks into the necessary reasons and some of the techniques for parking reform. While the context is New York City, the  lessons are universal. From doing away with mandatory parking minimums, to charging the right price for curbside parking, to converting on-street parking spots into parklets and bike corrals, cities are latching onto exciting new ideas to make more room for people in our cities and repurpose the valuable public space that lines our streets. Continue reading

Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

The author of this careful and quite extensive book review of the battle for America’s streets is Karthik Rao-Cavale, a graduate student at Rutgers University and an associate editor of our sister publication, India Streets. He writes: “This review was originally written for a class I am taking with Prof. John Pucher here at Rutgers University. I am putting up this review here even though the book reviewed talks mainly about the United States, because I feel that the lessons learned are most immediately applicable to developing world. It is a lengthy read, but I hope you will enjoy it.”

Continue reading

Energy and Equity, Ivan Illich.

Earlier this week I proposed the idea of a group read and commentary on Illich’s incisive and important 1974 book “Energy and Equity”, but as I thrashed through my personal library I was unable to lay my hands on what I remember as a small book with a yellow cover. Luckily Jane Voodikon, a Jason Chang Fellow and journalist from Chengdu, came to the rescue with a link to the full text which follows (thanks in turn to clevercycles.com and certainly with the full approval of Illich given the fact that Amazon’ best price for the hard cover edition today was $269.21). How do you think these remarks and views stand the test of time? We need to bear in mind the political (Vietnam, Cold War, Allende,  1968, etc.) currents of the time, along with the Oil Crisis, Club of Rome, The Limits of Growth,  etc., discussions, concerns and panics of the early seventies.  But none of this detracts from the singular vision that this exceptional observer and finest of men has given us.

So here you have it. The whole thing. Print it out. Mark it up. Share your thoughts. Let me take a single phrase from the book to get the ball rolling: “Participatory democracy postulates low-energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology.” (And this almost two decades before the phrase “sustainable development” first appeared on the radar screen.  So off we go with Illich as our guide!) Continue reading

Sixteen practical things you can start to do today to combat climate change, get around in style & meet some nice people

After many decades of a single dominant city-shaping transportation pattern (i.e., old mobility) — there is considerable evidence accumulating that we have already entered into a world of new mobility practices that are changing the transportation landscape in many ways. It has to do with sharing, as opposed to outright ownership. An important pattern that is thus far escaping notice at the top.

“On the whole, you find wealth more in use than in ownership.”
– Aristotle. ca. 350 BC

Sharing in the 21st century. Will it shape our cities?

After many decades of a single dominant city-shaping transportation pattern – i.e., for those who could afford it: owning and driving our own cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles, getting into taxis by ourselves, riding in streets that are designed for cars and not much else (i.e., old mobility) — there is considerable evidence accumulating that we have already entered into a world of new mobility practices that are changing the transportation landscape in many ways. It has to do with sharing, as opposed to outright ownership. But strange to say, this trend seems to have escaped the attention of the policymakers in many of the places and institutions directly concerned.

However transport sharing is an important trend, one that is already starting to reshape at least parts of some of our cities. It is a movement at the leading edge of our most successful (and often wealthiest and most livable) cities — not just a watered down or second-rate transport option for the poor. With this in view, we are setting out to examine not just the qualities (and limitations) of individual shared mobility modes, but also to put this in the broader context of why people share. And why they do not. And in the process to stretch our minds to consider what is needed to move toward a new environment in which people often share rather than necessarily only doing things on their own when it comes to moving around in our cities worldwide.

Sixteen sharing options you may wish to give some thought to:

1. Bikesharing

2. Carsharing (formal and informal)

3. Fleetsharing

4. Ridesharing (carpools, van pools, hitchhiking, slugging – organized and informal).

5. School share (Walking school bus, walk/bike to school)

6. Taxi sharing

7. Shared Parking

8. Truck/van sharing (combined delivery, other)

9. Streetsharing (example: BRT streets shared between buses, cyclists, taxis, emergency vehicles)

10. Activity sharing (streets used by others for other (non-transport) reasons as well.)

11. Public space sharing

12. Workplace sharing (neighborhood telework centers; virtual offices; co-workplace; hoteling)

13. Sharing SVS (small vehicle systems: DRT, shuttles, community buses, etc.)

14. Time sharing

15. Successful integration of public transport within a shared transport city (Including bus and rail)

16. Knowledge-sharing (including via World Streets)

For more:

1. Lyon Conference: If you want to learn more about this, consider going to Lyon France for their conference on transport sharing later this month (30 November, in French) – http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/11/transportation-sharing-and-sustainable.html
And while you are there, you can do worse to spend some time to see how they are progressing on the sharing front themselves: bikesharing and carsharing are both in place and doing well. And if you keep your eyes open you will see more.

2. Kaohsiung Conference: Or next September think about coming to Kaohsiung Taiwan for their first International Conference on Sharing Transport – see www.kaohsiung.newmobility.org . Again, a city that is already into bike sharing and looking hard at taxi sharing, among others.

3. You: And tell the world about your events, papers, media, accomplishments, problems and your ideas.

4. Us: And stay tuned to World Streets. We do sharing.

5. And now a few words from our sponsor. (30 seconds)

Pedal Power Doc on Sharing: Quick interview with Eric Britton
from Cogent Benger on Vimeo.