Category Archives: climate

Op-Ed: Do you know your ecological footprint?

Toward the end of each year, I take a few minutes to run my personal Ecological Footprint scan to see if I can get a handle on how I am doing relative to myself, to others and to the planet. Seems like the least I can do, not less because it does oblige me to think about my life pattern and choices in the greater scheme of things. “Walk the talk”, etc., etc. (PS. On a more global basis, to get a feel for where the high scores hang out, this map of earth lights at night will provide you with some good clues.) Continue reading

The World – the Climate – the Strategy. Come argue with me.

Part I: Ten steps to get the job done:
Let me sketch out an easy to understand (or reject) climate/transport foundation strategy that presents some stark contrasts with the ideas and approaches that are getting the bulk of attention when it comes to targeting, policy and investment in the sector — and which in a first instance is quite likely to earn me more enemies than friends (that goes with the territory). At least until such time that these basic underlying ideas are expressed in a manner which is sufficiently clear and convincing that we can with confidence put them to work to turn the tide. So here you have my first brief statement of the issues, the basic strategic frame and the key pressure points to which I invite your critical reactions and comments. In a second piece in this series, to follow shortly, I intend to have a look at the package(s) of measures, policies, tools, modes, etc. which can be sorted out, combined and refined to do something about it. Or maybe not.

– Eric Britton, Editor Continue reading

Kaohsiung 2010 Papers. Sharing/Strategy for a Small Planet. Part I

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 — there is considerable evidence accumulating that we have already entered into a world of new mobility practices that are changing the transportation and city 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 institutions directly concerned. Continue reading

Kaohsiung 2010 Papers: Thoughts on Share/Transport from Chengdu, China

This essay has been contributed by one of the 2010 Jason Chang International Fellows, Jane Voodikon, who introduces herself as follows: “Since my interest in transportation and planning is purely personal – I have no professional background in any transportation-related field – I hope to walk away from Kaohsiung 2010 with a more informed picture of transportation possibilities and the goals and objectives related sectors should be working toward.” – Jane Voodikon, Concerned person and editor. Los Angeles and Chengdu, China. Continue reading

Transport and the lock-in problem

Politicians are reluctant to confront the economic and environmental costs of transport. The task: to reduce the demand for mobility. I probably don’t write about transport as much as I ought to, and that was brought home to me at an event on The Future of Transport in Leuven in Belgium, at which I was also a speaker. There’s a case for regarding transport as a climate emergency, given that it accounts for about a quarter of Europe’s carbon emissions, and that in the last decade (unlike pretty much every other sector) emissions from transport have continued to grow sharply. And before I continue, even if you’re a climate sceptic, this represents a significant policy issue: the transport sector (at least, the non-human powered transport sector) is 97% dependent on fossil fuels. As these become scarcer, more expensive, and more prone to interruption, we will have an incipient social and economic problem which is serious enough to prod policy makers.  … Read More

via thenextwave

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.

"Boys will be boys." And why it is important to change this now

Editorial: In the triple nexus that is the defining concern of World Streets – namely, mobility, land use and climate – we have to be ready to take stock and face up to the reality that most of the problems we face today in each of these areas are the result of the domination of an “old order”, a certain way of seeing and doing things. What have we got wrong? What can we do about it? And what might this mean to COP15 and beyond? Continue reading

The One Per Cent Solution

The goal is to put World Streets on a solid financial footing, to ensure its continued high quality contribution through 2012. After the first year of highly acclaimed daily publication, we are off to a strong start but are going to need outside support to continue. Fortunately, we have a plan:

* Before you take this any further, you may wish to have a look at what our readers are saying about World Streets and how it is fitting in with their daily work routines and quest for new ideas and perspectives. Click here for more – http://tinyurl.com/ws-readers.

Contents
1.The One Percent Solution
2. Program summary (Opens in own window)
3. Ten reasons why
4. Next steps
5. Afterword: Why one per cent?
______________________________________________________________

1. The One Percent Solution

To support the work behind this four-year collaborative project, we have decided to turn to a certain number of cities, public agencies, transporters, consultants, foundations, certain private sector groups, and others known to us and leading the way through their own actions and efforts, and invite them to step forward and contribute a very small portion of the finances needed to cover the costs of the Journal.

Specifically, we are proposing an annual contribution from each on the order of one percent of our operating costs. Let us explain this somewhat unusual idea.

2. Program summary

To be quite sure that our case is fully understood, we would ask you to spend a few minutes with the following four-page PowerPoint summary which has been prepared to provide a brief but comprehensive overview of what this project is all about — and which you can access directly here – http://tinyurl.com/ws-sum. (Opens in own window.)

Thank you for taking the time to do this. It makes it easier for us to give you the full context.
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3. Ten reasons why you should pitch in your per cent:

1. Because it is the right thing to do. (And it is simple and cheap.)

2. It demonstrates that you give credence to critical vital climate/transportation link and the need for acting no — 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. It is, or at least it can be, extremely time efficient for you and your team. The publication component of this four-part package can be channeled to your staff and associates in a way that consumes no more than a few minutes of their time. However it is also put before them in a form in which they can easily consult and expand their search for projects, concepts and tools they would like to know more about.

4. It does not bore — to the contrary, it challenges and energizes the minds of its readers. It will make your smartest people smarter yet.

5. 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, North/South, East/West (and South/North) focus, reporting from source, brings to your attention projects, ideas and clues that otherwise you are just about certain to miss.

6. By stepping forward you provide proof that you are part of the growing movement that is in the process of turning sustainable transportation from a marginal activity with a basically rhetorical feel-good spin, into the defining mainstream of 21st century transportation policy and practice at the leading edge.

7. By your initiative you are making World Streets available to others in your city or region and, in the process, creating an extended sense of common purpose which is largely still missing in most places.

8. 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 this one per cent.

9. 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.

10. And finally, if you do not step forward to do this, who will?

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4. Next steps

Get in touch and we can talk about your contribution and about how to make World Streets work best for you.

At the same time you will be a good world neighbor, helping others as you help yourself. The other half of sustainability is generosity. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Finally we want this to be simple and for our part we have a number of ideas about how these sponsor relationships can be organized so as to have substantial impacts on the city or sponsor in question. But all of that in due course. For now get in touch and we can work out the details.

Eric Britton
Managing Editor

8-10, rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris France
editor@worldstreets.org | +331 4326 1323 | Skype: newmobility

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Afterword: Why one per cent? A sustainable transport lesson learned

This is a deeply symbolic figure in the context of the worldwide struggle to sustainable transportation – a world in which there are no Big Bang solutions. Rather our day to day reality is the challenge of hi
ghly complex, ever shifting, kaleidoscopic, almost often genuinely chaotic situations of many parts. These are the kind of real life situations that require the identification and then the careful orchestration of very large numbers of mainly quite modest actions and measures which, when rolled into a strategic multi-layer package of policies and services can make that big, transformational difference.

Carsharing is an excellent example of this complexity, though far from the only one. After more than a decade of work and presence on the front lines of policy and practice in the field (see www.carshare.newmobility.org for details), we can state with conviction that carsharing constitutes a vital building block for the move to sustainable transportation. Let me say that again in other words because this is a critical point.

Again . . . It is altogether unlikely that any place on this gasping planet is ever going to move toward a truly sustainable mobility system in the very short delay envisaged by our project unless there is a good dose of carsharing in its local solution package. Now this is an important point, which few cities and agencies have grasped thus far. And of course, it changes everything.

But that is not the end of the carsharing story. The other half of this mature vision of suitable transport in and around cities is that, even when carsharing is up and working to its full potential, it is only going to account for no more than one or two percent of all trips in the service area. Some seize this point and conclude that this shows that carsharing is not very important in the overall scheme of things. Wrong! It is critical. We have stated it in these terms for years: “Carsharing is the hammer on the last nail in the coffin of old mobility”.

And, dear reader, that is exactly the nature of the complex building blocks and packages that make up sustainable transportation reform: they complement, they complete, and they synergize. And there are hundreds of them.

An excellent analogy of what we now hope to achieve in gathering support for World Streets.

6. Recent visitor map:

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Dialogue: Who is going to take the lead?

Who are going to be the main actors leading the transition to sustainable transportation in and around our cities?

This is not entirely self-evident since there are a fair range of what would seem to be possible candidates. However in order to sort this out, it will be important that we first have a realistic understanding of what has been going on up to now. And to say the least, the news is not good.

When it comes to “sustainable transportation” there is out there a rich world of rhetoric, claims, advertisements, notices, media pieces, announcements of projects and events, that taken together can give one the impression that something important, something even transformative is going on. But when you get down to the harsh reality of what is going on at the level of the street, a very different picture emerges.

The sad fact is that after twenty years of talk, and, it has to be said, a rising crescendo of messages and even actions, the sad news is that every day in just about every city on this planet, traffic is getting worse, the amount of scarce resources consumed continues to escalate, the injustices extended, the basic economics ever less viable, and the environmental cost steadily mounting and edging toward climate meltdown. We are failing to meet the challenge. It would be exceptionally weak-headed of us to be optimistic under these circumstances.

We all know that something must be done and that it should be done without further delay. However it is far less clear who is going to do what under these circumstances. The fact is that despite all of the conferences, reports, talk about treaties, and even pioneering projects and accomplishments here and there, there is a continuing leadership vacuum. Who is going to fill it?

The goal of this week’s open dialogue is to ask you for your views on this. Later we can build on your feedback and ideas in older to develop a broader analysis, but what better way to start than to ask the hundreds of knowledgeable people who check into World Streets every day for their own views.

To get us started on this, you will find your left a small reader poll asking for your views on this. In addition, you will find is always that there is space for comments right below here, and we invite your contributions with real interest.

Here are our candidates. If we missed anyone important, please let us know.

* International organizations
* NGOs
* Scientific/academic community
* National governments
* Industry and private sector
* Cities and local government
* Local associations/transport, environment, etc activists/groups
* The media
* Children, schools
* Foundations
* World Streets
* You – as a citizen, parent

The word is now to you.

The editor

Plan B: The New Mobility Agenda ( Mission Statement)

Plan A, with its stress on supply, vehicles and infrastructure has been favored for decision-making and investment in the sector over the last 70 years. It is well-known and easy to see where it is leading. Responsible for something like 1/5 of all greenhouse gas emissions, costing us a bundle, draining the world’s petroleum reserves . . . Plan A is a clear failure. Time for Plan B.

World Streets is not exactly what one would call a neutral source. We have a very definite position on transport policy, planning and investment, the result of long experience of working with and observing the sector in its daily operation in cities around the world. It would not be true to claim that these views are unique to us; indeed they have been distilled over the years as result of contacts and work in collaboration with farsighted colleagues and policymakers in many places. They are shared, at least in good part, by many of our most distinguished colleagues.

It is only appropriate that I clearly state the underlying philosophy of this new sustainability journal in no uncertain terms right here at the outset. Our position on this is clear: namely, that we face a major planetary emergency that requires immediate high priority action at the very core of public policy, and that we have the means available to make the difference. But until now we are not addressing the issues at the level of intensity required. We need a plan of action. So let’s have a look.

The New Mobility Agenda in brief

The main reference point for all that you will read in these pages is the long-term program, the New Mobility Agenda, an international collaborative effort focusing entirely on transportation in and around cities. It has been in operation since 1988 with continuous interactive presence on the internet as one of the pillars of the collaborative knowledge-building process that is behind it. And this is what we have concluded:

Virtually all of the necessary preconditions are now in place for far-reaching, rapid, low cost improvements in the ways that people get around in our cites. The needs are there, they are increasingly understood — and we now know what to do and how to get the job done. The challenge is to find the vision, political will, and leadership to get the job done, step by deliberate step.

But we have to have an explicit, coherent, ethical, checkable, overarching strategy. Without it we are destined to play at the edges of the problems, and while we may be able to announce a success or improvement here or there, the overall impact that your city needs to break the old patterns will not be there. We really need that clear, consistent, omnipresent, systemic strategy.

The Agenda provides a free public platform for new thinking and open collaborative group problem solving, bringing together more than a thousand leading thinkers and actors in the field from more than fifty counties worldwide, sharing information and considering together the full range of problems and eventual solution paths that constitute the global challenge of sustainable transport in cities.

Managing the transition: Basic principles

And it must be understood that the shift from old to new mobility is not one that turns its back on the importance of high quality mobility for the economy and for quality of life. It’s just that given the technologies that we now have at our fingertips, and in the labs, it is possible for us to redraw our transportation systems so that there is less inefficient movement (the idea of one person sitting in traffic in a big car with the engine idling is one example, an empty bus another) and more high-efficiency, high-quality, low-carbon transportation that offers many more mobility choices than in the past, including the one that environmentalists and many others find most appealing: namely, getting what you want without having to venture out into traffic at all. Now that’s an interesting new mobility strategy, too.

Here you have in twelve summaries the high points of the basic strategic policy frame as we see it: principles that we and our colleagues around the world have diligently pieced together over the years of work, observation and close contact with projects and programs in leading cities on all continents under the New Mobility Agenda. (If you click here you can see in a short video (four minute draft) a synopsis of the basic five-point core strategy that the city of Paris has announced and adhered to over the last seven years. With significant results.)

1. Climate-driven: The on-going climate emergency sets the base timetable for action in our sector, which accounts for some 20% of greenhouse gasses. At the same time GHG reduction works as a strong surrogate for just about everything else to which we need to be giving priority attention in our cities, chief among them the need to cut traffic. Fewer vehicles on the road means reduced energy consumption, less pollution in all forms, fewer accidents, reduced bills for infrastructure construction and maintenance, quieter and safer cities, and the long list goes on. What is so particularly interesting about the mobility sector is that there is really a great deal we can do in a relatively little time. And at relatively low cost. Beyond this, there is an important joker which also needs to be brought into the picture from the very beginning, and that is that these reductions can be achieved not only without harming the economy or quality of life for the vast majority of all people. To the contrary sustainable transport reform can be part of a 21st century economic revival which places increased emphasis on services and not products.

2. Tighten time frame for action: Select and gear all actions to achieve visible results within 2-4 year time frame. Spend at least 50%, preferably 80% of all your transportation budget on measures and projects that are going to yield visible results within this time frame. Set firm targets for all to see and judge the results. No-excuse transport policy.

3. Reduce traffic radically. The critical, incontrovertible policy core of the Agenda -is BIG percentage cuts in vehicle miles traveled. If we don’t achieve this, we will have a situation in which all the key indicators will continue to move in the wrong direction. But we can cut traffic and at the same time improve mobility. And the economy. That’s our new mobility strategy.

4. Extend the range, quality and degree of integration of new mobility services available to all: A whole range of exciting and practical new service modes is needed if we are to keep ou
r cities viable. And they need to COMBINE to offer better, faster and cheaper mobility than the old car-intensive arrangements or deficit-financed, heavy, old-technology, traditional public transit. We need to open up our minds on this last score and understand that rather than being stuck in the past with a 19th century version of how “common people” best get about, it is important to move over to a new paradigm of a great variety of ways of providing shared transport mediated in good part by 21st-century information communications technologies.

5. Packages of Measures: As distinguished from the old ways of planning and making investments what is required in most places today are carefully interlinked “packages” of numerous small as well as larger projects and initiatives. Involving many more actors and participants. One of the challenges of an effective new mobility policy will be to find ways to see these various measures as interactive synergistic and mutually supporting projects within a unified greater whole. A significant challenge to our planners at all levels

6. Design for women: Our old mobility system was designed by, and ultimately for, a certain type of person (think about it!). And so too should the new mobility system: but this time around it should be designed to accommodate specifically women, of all ages and conditions. Do that and we will serve everybody far better. And for that to happen we need to have a major leadership shift toward women and, as part of that, to move toward full gender parity in all bodies involved in the decision process. It’s that simple.

7. The shifting role of the car: State-of-the-art technology can be put to work hand in hand with the changing role of the private car in the city in order to create situations in which even car use can be integrated with a far softer edge into the overall mobility strategy . These advantages need to be widely broadcast so as to increase acceptance of the new pattern of urban mobility. The new mobility environment must also be able to accommodate people in cars, since that is an incontrovertible reality which will not go away simply because it would seem like an ideal solution. We are going to have plenty of small and medium-sized four-wheel, rubber tired, driver-operated vehicles running around on the streets of our cities and the surrounding regions, so the challenge of planners and policymakers is to ensure that this occurs in a way which is increasingly harmonious to the broader social, economic and environmental objectives set out here.

8. Full speed ahead with new technology: New mobility is at its core heavily driven by the aggressive application of state of the art logistics, communications and information technology across the full spectrum of service types. The transport system of the future is above all an interactive information system, with the wheels and the feet at the end of this chain. These are the seven-league boots of new mobility

9. Play the “infrastructure joker”: The transport infrastructures of our cities have been vastly overbuilt. And they are unable to deliver the goods. That’s just great, since it means that we can now take over substantial portions of the street network for far more efficient modes.

10. Frugal economics: We are not going to need another round of high cost, low impact investments to make it work. We simply take over 50% of the transport related budgets and use it to address projects and reforms that are going to make those big differences in the next several years.

11. Partnerships: This approach, because it is new and unfamiliar to most people, is unlike to be understood the first few times around. Hence a major education, consultation and outreach effort is needed in each place to make it work. Old mobility was the terrain in which decisions were made by transport experts working within their assigned zones of competence. New mobility is based on wide-based collaborative problem solving, outreach and harnessing the great strengths of the informed and educated populations of our cities. Public/private/citizen partnerships.

12. Pick winners: New approaches demand success. There is no margin of error. So choose policies and services with track records of success and build on their experience. (And there are plenty of them out there if you are prepared to look and learn.)


Where to from here
?

To move ahead in time to save the planet and improve life quality of the majority of the people who live in our cities — no, they are not all happy car owner/drivers; get out there and count them; you’ll see — we need to have a fair, unified, coherent, and memorable strategy.

There may be other ways, better ways one would hope, of facing this emergency. If so we are ready to learn, let us hear from you. This is the challenge to which World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda are addressed.

Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets, Paris, France

World Streets/World Environment Day 2009

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is combating climate change through direct citizen involvement, community action and global partnerships And since that too is our strategic bottom line — i.e., when we figure out how to achieve big GHG reductions we are well on the way to all the rest of our key objectives (See Mission Statement) — we are honored to make WED 2009 the principal feature of today’s edition. Team work for our small planet!

About WED 2009:

World Environment Day (WED) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day’s agenda is to:

1. Give a human face to environmental issues;

2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;

3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;

4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

The theme for WED 2009 is ‘Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change’. It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 180 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.

This year’s host is Mexico which reflects the growing role of the Latin American country in the fight against climate change, including its growing participation in the carbon markets.

Click here to go to WED site – http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/