Category Archives: shared space

Safe Streets defining principles: Remembering Donald Appleyard

Safe Streets is a collaborative worldwide project which will aggressively network over the whole of 2012 in our search for shaping ideas with some of the leading thinkers, groups and programs in the field , looking to the future but also not forgetting the past — including drawing attention to the defining contributions of a certain number of leading thinkers. teachers, writers and sustainability activists, who are no longer with us but who through their work have laid down some of the most important principles which we now need to recall and take into account as we move to create a broad common framework for sustainable streets all over the world. For those of you who do not already know about the formidable vision and work of Donald Appleyard, we have pulled together a collection of reference points that should give you a good first introduction, and at the end of this piece some additional reference materials for those wishing to go further (as indeed you should).
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The Battle for the Street: Who won? Who lost? What next?

[Have a look at this good historical piece by Christopher Gray which appeared in today’s New York Times under their Streetscapes/Traffic Wars rubric.]
IN the future, perhaps our time will be known as the first decade of the Bicycle Wars, with righteous armies fighting over traffic lanes, bike paths and sidewalks, indeed over the very purpose of the streets themselves. Like many wars, it’s a question of territory, and the pedestrian has been losing for years. Continue reading

SLOWTH: Or why it is so very important (and so very easy) to slow down traffic in cities

It is the consistent position of this journal that much of what is wrong with our current transportation arrangements in cities could be greatly alleviated if we can find ways just to slow down. It is very powerful — and it’s just not that hard to do.  Get comfortable and have a look. Continue reading

Sharing: Humankind’s oldest technology is ready for a comeback

Long before automobiles and even science humankind discovered sharing tools, housing, roads, and wharfs, a natural way to reduce scarce labour and materials. And long before Adam Smith, we used the “profit” from such sharing to develop specialized skills and knowledge, both of which required sharing, and to build shared infrastructure. Now that we face rising prices for resources, thanks to looming shortages and better understanding of “externalities,” we need to face the prospect of putting on the brakes of our rush to individual consumption. Do we do without or do we share in ways that increase, rather than, reduce, our quality of life? Continue reading

Street Talk: Ivan Illich on Sharing in Transport

“The habitual passenger cannot grasp the folly of traffic based overwhelmingly on transport*. His inherited perceptions of space and time and of personal pace have been industrially deformed. He has lost the power to conceive of himself outside the passenger role. Addicted to being carried along, he has lost control over the physical, social, and psychic powers that reside in man’s feet. The passenger has come to identify territory with the untouchable landscape through which he is rushed. He has become impotent to establish his domain, mark it with his imprint, and assert his sovereignty over it. He has lost confidence in his power to admit  others into his presence and to share space consciously with them. He can no longer face the remote by himself. Left on his own, he feels immobile.”

Ivan Illich in Energy and Equity (Chapter: Speed-stunned imagination) Continue reading

No need for speed

As our regular readers know well, World/Streets believes that there are a lot of excellent reasons for slowing down. And every time we run into something that we think can help advance this worthy objective, well here we are. This time the irrepressible Elizabeth Press, peripatetic videographer from New York City’s StreetFilms project, got on a plane and made a short film about what happens when cities slow down their traffic in a uniform and substantial way – in this case the terrific UK program ” 20’s Plenty for Us”. Her five-minute film went on-line yesterday. Continue reading

Kaohsiung 2010 Papers: Are streets meant for travel alone?

This essay contests the idea that streets are for travel alone by critically examining the logic and language employed by the elite to delegitimize two marginalized groups using streets for non-travel purposes: hawkers and pavement-dwellers. Further, court cases interpreting constitutional guarantees in the context of hawkers and pavement-dwellers are examined. Based on these discussions, an attempt is made to provide an alternative framework for the governance of streets, in which streets are seen essentially as shared commons whose use is subject to democratic decision-making based on shared goals of society. Continue reading

Kaohsiung 2010: The Third Way of getting around in cities

Share/transport — the largely uncharted middle ground of low-carbon, high-impact, available-now mobility options that span the broad range that runs between the long dominant poles of “private transport” (albeit on public roads) and “mass transport” (scheduled, fixed-route, usually deficit-financed public services) at the two extremes. The third way of getting around in cities? Come to Kaohsiung in September and let’s talk about sharing. Continue reading

Cars and the no-choice syndrome

World Streets gives considerable time, space and thought to the whole complex tissue of the relationships that exist between people and cars. Auto-dependence and freedom of choice. People and the ways in which they access and use cars. Their reasons for owning a car. And when it comes up, people vs. cars. Robin Chase, one of the founders of Zipcar has given a lot of thought to this too, and today shares with us some ideas about the inevitability of choosing cars.

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Message from Mumbai: Streets are for People

When we set out to lay the base for this journal in 2008, we never for a moment considered calling it “World Roads”. Our focus was and is on the fact that if roads are for vehicles, streets are definitely for people. Let us have a look at what one young “lapsed engineer from India” has to say about this in the context of his home city of Mumbai, with lessons that ring just as true in places like Manhattan, Madrid, Melbourne . . . or surely your city as well. 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.

The Battle for Street Space – Part II

Innovations that Expand Public Realm in the Streets

– Paul Barter, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore


Traffic Calming—The First Wave
For several decades there have been efforts to use roadway modifications, such as humps and chicanes, to control motor vehicle speeds on streets whose primary roles are non-traffic ones (Hass-Klau 1990). Such traffic calming began in north-west Europe and by now is familiar almost everywhere.

Early traffic calming tended to focus on streets at the lowest levels of the roadway hierarchy to reinforce the primacy of access and pedestrian activity at that level. More recently, adaptations of traffic calming techniques have been applied to some streets at higher levels of the hierarchy, such as short stretches of shopping streets and the main streets of towns. An early Dutch traffic calming innovation, the Woonerf or “home zone”, involved a complete redesign of urban residential streets to make it clear to motorists that they were guests in a home environment. This was a precursor to the more ambitious shared space experiments.

Tempo 30 Zones (Or “Twenty’s Plenty”)

A variation on traffic calming is to simply signpost very low speed limits, notably 30 km/h (or 20 miles/h). Many European cities now have extensive Tempo 30 zones (Figure 1). Graz in Austria has been a pioneer, with a blanket 30 km/h speed limit over much of the city. Only major roads allow higher speeds of 50 km/h or more. Sweden’s “Vision Zero”, which aims to eliminate road deaths and minimise the effects of the “foreseeable crashes” between pedestrians and motor vehicles, has prompted more Tempo 30 zones in that country.

Shared Space (Or “Naked Streets”)

The shared space approach to streets emerged in the 1990s, pioneered by the late Hans Monderman in towns across the northern region of the Netherlands. Sometimes called “naked streets”, this approach is also seen as a second generation of traffic calming that has been spreading rapidly with trials underway in many countries. Shared space completely overturns the idea that urban road safety depends on predictability and on clearly defining who has the right of way (Hamilton-Baillie 2008). Shared space designs often remove most traffic lights, signs and kerbs. No particular user or movement has automatic right of way. This forces road users (car or truck drivers, bicycle users and pedestrians alike) to proceed cautiously and to negotiate their way forward, mostly through eye contact. Australian innovator, David Engwicht (2006), calls this “safety through intrigue and uncertainty”. If this is difficult to imagine, then the videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Sharedspace will help.

Low speeds are both a consequence of and a necessity for this social mode of negotiated motion. In high-speed traffic the human mind is not capable of negotiating with other road users through eye contact. We can only do this at or below about 30km/h. Both crash incidence and the probability of death or injury, even for pedestrians, are very low at these speeds (Shared Space project 2005). Trials have included main streets and intersections in town centres. Surprisingly, travel times hardly suffer because, although top speeds between junctions are much lower, there is much less stopping at intersections.

Even though shared space includes motor vehicles, they become very much part of the public realm at low speeds. Monderman made clear that shared space design is only for the parts of the network that can be designated as public realm. His vision of an expanded public realm includes many surprisingly busy streets. However, it does not include those major arterial roads on which high speeds remain important. These remain traffic space.

Accidental Shared Space

The informal emergence of shared space street dynamics can be seen when pedestrians and/or slow vehicles dominate a street space, leaving motorists little choice but to proceed on a negotiated and cautious basis. This is common in inner urban streets of many developing countries (Figure 2). It can be seen also on the narrow streets of Singapore’s Little India area. Such “chaos” is of course widely lamented, with pedestrians and other road users blamed for indiscipline. Moreover, at times of low pedestrian activity, traffic speeds do rise and crash risk and severity can become very high. However, the imposition of traffic-focused design in such places would often be a mistake. A better option for these streets might be shared space by design rather than by accident.

Bicycle Boulevards/Slow Streets Network

Traffic-calmed “bicycle streets” on which bicycles have clear priority over motor vehicles are common in German cities, among others (Pucher and Buehler 2008). A number of North American cities, notably Berkeley, California, have successfully used bicycle boulevards to enhance their network of safe, low-stress routes for bicycle users. Bicycles enjoy relatively uninterrupted journeys along these streets, whereas motor vehicles often face detours.

Multi-way Boulevards

Surprisingly, it is also possible to create public realm and local access functions on very busy roadways that move a large volume of fast-moving traffic. Multi-way boulevards are one way to do this. The Boulevard Book by Jacobs et al. (2002) highlights their potential and provides guidance on design. The trick this time is to create slow spaces at the edges

Some of the most elegant and successful streets in the world, such as many of the avenues in Paris, are multi-way boulevards. They are typically grand streets that have a central zone that is primarily traffic space. Then there is a tree-lined landscaped zone with walkways. This wide median separates the main traffic lanes from a smaller roadway next to another footway and the building line (Figures 3 and 4). In the best boulevards, this side-access street forms the low-speed public realm where traffic, bicycles and pedestrians can share the space safely. The authors argue that well-designed multi-way boulevards, such as Avenue Montaigne in Paris or the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, have good safety records, and the traffic lanes work better than equivalent space on conventional roadways. Many countries in Asia, including India, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, also have a tradition of multi-way boulevards. Some, such as CG Road in Ahmedabad, already work well while others could benefit from an effort to ensure low traffic speeds in the service lanes in order to include these lanes and their adjacent medians as part of the public realm.

“Road Diets”

“Road diets” is another innovation that allows public realm to be created with minimal impact on the utility of traffic space. As you may guess from the name, arterial roads have their traffic lanes reduced (and sometimes narrowed). However, a centre turning lane or turning bays are added, often with medians and an expansion of pedestrian and cycling space as well. In many situations, all this can be done without a loss of vehicle capacity.

References

Department for Transport (DfT) U.K. March 2007. Manual for Streets http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/ manforstreets

Engwicht, D. 2006. Int
rigue and Uncertainty: Towards New Traffic Taming Tools. Creative Communities International (This is an e-book which can be downloaded via http://www.lesstraffic.com/index.htm).

Hamilton-Bailie, B. 2008. Shared space: Reconciling people, places, and traffic. Built Environment 34 (2), 161- 181.

Hass-Klau, C. 1990. The Pedestrian and City Traffic. Belhaven Press, London.

Jacobs, A.B., Macdonald, E. and Rofé, Y. 2002. The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Patton, J.W. 2007. A pedestrian world: Competing rationalities and the calculation of transportation change. Environment and Planning A, 39(4), 928 – 944.

Pucher, J. and Buehler, R. 2008. Making cycling irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Transport Reviews 28 (4), 495-528. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/01441640701806612

Shared Space project. June 2005. Room for Everyone: A New Vision for Public Spaces. Report of the European Union Iterreg IIIB project ‘Shared Space’. Available via http://www.shared-space.org

Shared Space project. Oct. 2008. Final Evaluation and Results: It Takes Shared Space to Create Shared Understanding. Report of the European Union Iterreg IIIB project ‘Shared Space’. Available via http://www.sharedspace. org

Svensson, Å. ed. 2004. Arterial Streets for People. Report of the ARTISTS Project (Arterial Streets Towards Sustainability). Available via http://www.eukn.org/urbanmatrix/ themes/urban_policy/urban_environment/La


Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.

This article appeared in the May number of JOURNEYS, a new LTA Academy publication (The Land Transport Authority of Singapore) and is reproduced here with their kind permission and that of the author. We felt that this is such a good survey it deserves wide circulation and international, and we are pleased to provide it here. To view the original article and illustrations, you are invited to click here.

The Battle for Street Space – Part I

Earning a Public Space Dividend in the Streets

– Paul Barter, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore

Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.

Introduction

What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.

The Battle for Street Space

The essence of a street is that it serves all these roles simultaneously—providing for traffic movement and access, and as public space for urban activities. However, mainstream roadway management has spent many decades seeking, like Le Corbusier, the “death of the street”. It tends to turn everything between kerbs into “traffic space” where motor vehicle movement is the design priority (Patton 2007).

Motorised traffic, slow modes and pedestrians are strictly segregated in both space and time. The role of streets as “public realm” has been largely restricted to the pavements (sidewalks) and to pedestrian zones. Most cities are desperately short of attractive public space and space for the networks needed by the gentle but vulnerable modes such as walking and cycling.

Since the 1930s, traffic engineers have routinely classified every roadway in a hierarchy according to the degree to which it serves either traffic movement or access. Major arterials and expressways which are at the top of the hierarchy are managed primarily for maximum vehicle mobility. Any access functions are carefully limited to contain “friction” with the mainstream traffic. Only streets at the lowest level of the hierarchy are used mainly for access. Furthermore, the planning process often seeks to remove as much activity as possible (and hence, the “public space” role) from roadways and their vicinity. The influential UK report of 1963, Traffic in Towns by Colin Buchanan, reinforced the idea that segregation was essential (Hamilton-Baillie 2008).

The roadway hierarchy has no place for streets that serve both traffic and multiple other purposes (Svensson 2004). Yet, traditional urban streets and main streets remain ubiquitous. They provide (inadequately) for both access and mobility and are sites of perennial conflict. Such conflict is especially obvious in the heavily used streets of many dense Asian cities. The conventional traffic engineering approach offers little guidance for such multi-role streets (Svensson 2004).

Expanding Public Realm without Evicting Motor Vehicles

Recently, a series of promising street management innovations has emerged that re- assert in new ways the multi-purpose nature of the street. (See Box Story “Innovations that Expand Public Realm in the Streets”.) They offer ways to increase the public realm without removing the motor vehicles or seriously undermining the utility of the motorised traffic system. Does that sound too good to be true?

These innovations exploit common insights and principles. First, they involve making a strong distinction between “traffic areas” or “highway” and public space or the “public realm” (Shared Space project 2005). Traffic areas are the realm of conventional traffic engineering where high-speed motor vehicle movement is primary, with its flow carefully segregated from slower users like pedestrians and cyclists.

Second, some of this redefined “public realm” can be shared. It includes new spaces designed for the peaceful co-existence of public place activities, slow movement by vulnerable modes as well as motor vehicles, especially those seeking access to the vicinity. The key to such co-existence lies in keeping speeds low, ideally to no more than about 30 km/h (Shared Space project, 2005). Low speeds mean that motor vehicles need not be excluded but those present will mainly be making access movements or on the “last mile” (or the first) of their trips.

Third, these innovations shift the boundary between public realm and traffic space, so that a surprising amount of what we now think of as traffic space becomes part of the low-speed public realm. In shared spaces and in other slow zones, such as Tempo 30 zones and bicycle boulevards, whole streets and intersections are converted to public space. In multi-way boulevards, public realm includes everything from the building line to the outer edge of the central, high-speed traffic lanes. This newly expanded public realm serves local motor vehicle access, slow-mode movement, public space roles and sometimes some through-traffic (with low priority and at low speed). Only the high-speed traffic movement is excluded and kept within traffic space.

Fourth, a key design goal is that both the public realm and traffic space should work better by being kept distinct (Shared Space project 2005). Cities still need high-speed traffic space of course, just as some pure pedestrian space must also remain. But a surprising amount of shared public realm could be reclaimed without diminishing total traffic capacity. The key is that most of the expansion of the public realm envisaged here would take over traffic space that does not work very efficiently anyway. For example, the capacity of many of today’s motorised traffic lanes is reduced by turning movements, kerbside drop-offs, parking, loading and other street activities. After transforming such spaces into public realm, the remaining traffic space can be re-designed more thoroughly for its traffic function. Moreover, the new public realm retains some traffic function, albeit at low speed, as a safety valve at times of extreme congestion.

A high percentage of traffic volume in most cities is carried by roads at the top of the roadway hierarchy. Much of the remaining traffic is in fact short-distance traffic, or is on the first or last “mile” of a longer trip, or is circling for a parking spot. Such traffic does not need high speeds. In fact, a slower environment is more appropriate for access movement. Furthermore, although public realm requires very low peak speeds, the approaches discussed here also usually reduce the need for stopping and starting, so that average speeds and travel times are often little changed. Therefore, reclaiming such space as public realm has less impact on traffic performance t
han one would think based purely on the percentage of traffic space “lost”.

Expanding the low-speed public realm would also allow us to be much more tolerant of a diverse range of small, vulnerable vehicles that currently do not fit easily into our transport systems. These include bicycles, in-line skates, skateboards, kick scooters, wheelchairs and many other “Personal Mobility Devices”.

Barriers to Change

As with most innovations, change will take more than a simple policy decision. In most countries, roadway management practices are deeply embedded in institutions, their missions, objectives, performance-measures and boundaries of responsibility between agencies; in professional guidelines, codes and design standards; and in traffic rules and road user education.

Fortunately, little change is needed in conventional roadway management when it is applied to its appropriate domain i.e. the highspeed arterials and highways. It is only within an expanded public realm and at its boundaries that drastic change is called for. Standard practice must no longer apply to such spaces. Level of service (LOS) has no place here. Nor do conventional approaches to road safety, such as removal of “fixed hazardous objects”. Roadways that form part of the shared public realm should not resemble highways despite the presence of motor vehicles. Design principles for such streets, including signage and road markings, must be different from those for traffic space.

The public realm of streets needs a whole new set of procedures, guidelines and metrics of success. More research is needed to develop them. This is beginning to happen through experimentation in many countries (Shared Space project 2008; Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Jacobs et al. 2002). The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have revised their guidance manuals on street design (e.g. DfT 2007). Traffic engineers will need to adapt their problem solving to the special challenges of designing shared public realm. They will need to collaborate more with urban design professionals and urban planners, who will also need to take more interest in the streets that they have long neglected.

Conclusion:

This article has provided a quick review of promising new ways to reconcile movement, access and place-making within our precious urban rights of way. New public space is gained through including low-speed access movement by motor vehicles within the public realm. It is this “public space dividend” that has been my focus. It may be too soon to tell if these ideas can deliver on their promise. We may only find out by trying them out.

—–

This article was first published in the May edition of JOURNEYS, an Academy publication of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore(LTA). We thought that many of our readers might not have picked it up, so we are most pleased to reprint here with their kind permission and that of the author.

Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.

Slowth

This entry is offered here as a sort of movable feast. Rough and ready at this point, it can be greatly improved, both here and in the Wikipedia entry which I hope you will junp in on to do your bit. (Image may be subject to copyright.)

Some selected Streets references:

To win the war of new mobility, sustainable development and social justice, we need to change to vocabulary which, heavily encumbered with the luggage of the past, conspires to lock us in to the old way of thinking, speaking, and ultimately doing things.

If we are to be up to the sustainability challenges and the behavior changes that necessarily go with them of this difficult 21st century turning point, we are going to have to redraw the lines of the court and develop a vocabulary that reflects the necessary lucidity of thinking needed to break the impasses. Otherwise for sure are going to find ourselves once again in a lose/lose situation.

Here then is one word which I have been proposing and using, largely without success, the better part of a decade and I put it before you with a certain pride: slowth. About two years ago I created a Wikipedia entry for it, however I have been challenged because the entry lacks references and hence is subject to eventual removal, The gamekeepers over there suggest that “the best way to address this concern is to reference published, third-party sources about the subject”. Fair enough.

So my question to you is that, if you have a feel for the concept, can you possibly take the time to go in and make it a more solid reference? You can either work directly ohn the WP site, or alternatively ship your corrections, additions here and we will do the rest. The text presently reads like this:

Slowth (From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slowth)

Slowth is a transport planning concept, usually deployed in congested urban environments, where transport is calibrated for lower top speeds, but the result is shorter overall travel times across the entire system.[1]

The concept of slowth is sometimes compared to the story of The Tortoise and the Hare; the paradoxical notion that slowing the top speeds of transport will when properly engineered allow more people to get to their destinations more quickly. An example is that where there is sufficient traffic congestion, a bicycle may get to its destination more quickly than say a Ferrari. When a city adopts a policy of slowth, the top speeds will be lower, but congestion decreases because the slower speeds result in steadier traffic flow.[1]

This is a powerful model which urban planners and traffic engineers, with a few notable exceptions, are only recently starting to take seriously. An important new mobility concept, it is also referred to as “slow transport”.

In the report “Speed Control and Transport Policy” (Chapter 10, on speed limits in towns, Policy Studies Institute, 1996) Mayer Hillman and Stephen Plowden describe an experiment in Växjö, a Swedish town of 70,000, which showed very small time penalties arising from some fairly substantial speed reductions at 20 junctions. The Swedish researchers used the results to simulate what would happen if similar speed-reducing measures were introduced at 111 junctions throughout the town and concluded that there would probably be a small net time saving. [2]

In recent years it has gotten steadily increasing attention both in the literature but above all as part of the on-street sustainable transport strategies of a growing number of leading programs and projects around the world (See listing below).

1 Proponents
• John Adams, United Kingdom.
• Donald Appleyard, United States.
• Eric Britton, France
• Dan Burden, USA
• David Engwicht, Australia
• Jan Gehl, Denmark
• Ben Hamilton-Baillie, United Kingdom.
• Mayer Hillman, United Kingdom
• Hans Monderman, The Netherlands
• Peter Newman. Australia
• Stephen Plowden, United Kingdom

2. See also
• Cittaslow (Slow cities movement, in English)
• Home zones
• Livable Streets
• New Mobility Agenda
• Pedestrian#Pedestrianisation
• Public space management
• Road traffic control
• Shared space
• Slow movement
• Street hierarchy
• Sustainable transportation
• Traffic calming
• Walkability
• Walking
• Woonerf
• World Streets

3 References
Disappearing traffic? the story so far. London: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Municipal Engineer, Paper 1272, March
The paradox of congestion., Wood, K (2007). In IPENZ Transportation Group Conference, Tauranga, New Zealand 10-10-2007
Speed Control and Transport Policy, Policy Studies Institute, London, 1966. Mayer Hillman and Stephen Plowden
Gutman, Manisha (2008-02-03). “The Greening of Paris” (in English). The Hindu. http://www.hindu.com/mag/2008/02/03/stories/2008020350050400.htm. Retrieved on 2008-03-08.
Effekten av Generell Hastighetsdampningt i Tatort – C Hyden, K Odelid, and A Varhelyi. Lund Institutionen for Trafikteknik, Pub: 1992

4 External links
• Wolmar, Christian, “Power to the pedestrian,” The Independent, (London), Jun 17, 1996

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.