Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tribute to Streetsblog and New York City
Think Local, Act Local, Act Strong, Act Now!

In closing out the old year we would like to invite you all in your cities around the world to reflect on this. Something that our friends over at Streetsblog in New York City have just published and which is part of their long term commitment to drawing attention to the terrible injustices (the phrase is not too strong) our transportation arrangements and enforcement and legal systems are perpetrating on innocent pedestrians and cyclists on the streets of our cities every day. Shouldn't you be doing something like this in your city?

Have a look at this uncompromising, no excuses editorial that appeared yesterday in Streetsblog's New York City edition. You will see their sentence: "Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life." At least one city now has someone who is doing the arithmetic and making it public. Surely a first step in the process of redressing these outrageous wrongs.


In Memoriam

Post by Brad Aaron

Each year, scores of pedestrians and cyclists die on New York City streets, while thousands are injured. Though the total number of road fatalities is trending down, those who get around the city on foot and by bike have seen their casualty rate rise.

Incidents of vehicle-inflicted violence are so frequent that many go unreported in the papers or on TV news, even when the outcome is death. Based on Streetsblog coverage, media stories and reader accounts, what follows is a record of those known to have lost their lives in 2009.

The victims listed below were killed on their way to and from work, church, or the corner store, while taking their dogs for a walk or coming home from a birthday party. They were grandparents, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, best friends. Many died alone or anonymously, their names never appearing in any public forum. Others were mortally wounded within sight of loved ones. With few exceptions, thanks to lax enforcement and scattershot prosecution of weak traffic laws, their killers are behind the wheel today. Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life.

As this list is undoubtedly incomplete, please use the comments to share remembrances of those named here, and the names and stories of those we missed.

memoriam_array.jpgSuzette Blanco, Janine Brawer, Miguel Colon, Yvette Diaz

  • Howard Adrian, 84, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 23 on Staten Island; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)

  • Ibrihim Ahmed, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 6 in Queens; Driver Charged With Suspended License (Streetsblog 1, 2, 3)

  • Suzette Blanco, 20, Pedestrian, Killed June 7 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Charged With DWI and Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Hit-and-Run (News, Post)

  • Janine Brawer, 17, Pedestrian, Died Nov. 19 on Staten Island; Drivers Not Charged (Advance)

  • Donald Bryan, 31, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Aug. 23; Driver Not Charged (News, Courier)

  • Guido Salvador Carabajo-Jara, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 11 in Queens; Drivers Not Charged (City Room 1, 2)

  • Francisco Chapul, 21, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 14; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 2 Drivers Not Charged (Post, NY1)

  • Miguel Colon, 37, Pedestrian, Killed July 12 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (NYT, News)

  • Angela D'Ambrose, 15, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Post, News)

  • Concetta DiBenedetto, 78, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 19; Driver Not Charged (Post)

  • Yvette Diaz, 28, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)

  • Li Qun Fang, 43, Pedestrian, Killed March 12 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News 1, 2

memoriam_2.jpgConcetta DiBenedetto, Li Qun Fang, Marilyn Feng, Paula Jimenez

  • Marilyn Feng, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 7 in Manhattan; Driver [Jersey City PD] Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, Post)

  • Kyle Francis, 13, Pedestrian, Killed May 18 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post)

  • Joshua Ganzfried, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Suspended License (News, Post)

  • JoAnne Hayden-Weissman, 55, Pedestrian, Killed April 16 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)

  • Linda Hewson, 50, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 26 in Manhattan; Driver Driver Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (Post, MT)

  • Javier Jackson, 79, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Manhattan; Driver [NYPD] Not Charged (Post, News, NY1)

  • Hugo Janssen, 73, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (News, Post, NY1)

  • Paula Jimenez, 34, Pedestrian, Died Aug. 30 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (News, Post)

  • Jerome Johnson, 48, Pedestrian, Killed June 12 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run, Charges Unknown (News, Post)

  • Seth Kahn, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 4 in Manhattan; Driver [MTA Bus] Charged for Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)

  • Matthew Kim, 30, Pedestrian, Killed July 3 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (Post, News)

  • Violetta Krzyzak, 38, Pedestrian, Killed April 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (Streetsblog 1, 2)

memoriam_3.jpgJames Langergaard, Harry Lewner, Diego Martinez, Eliseo Martinez

  • James Langergaard, 38, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 14 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)

  • Harry Lewner, 58, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 17 in Brooklyn; 1 Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Not Charged (NY1, Gothamist)

  • Vivian Long, 73, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Manhattan; Driver [Access-A-Ride] Not Charged (News)

  • Diego Martinez, 3, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog)

  • Eliseo Martinez, 32, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 7 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (Ghost Bikes)

  • Virginia McKibbin, 65, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 2 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Post, NY1)

  • Julian Miller, 45, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 18 in Brooklyn; Motorcyclist Also Killed (The Local 1, 2)

  • Virginia Montalvo, 71, Pedestrian, Killed April 7 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News, NYT)

  • Hayley Ng, 4, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog

  • Drana Nikac, 67, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 30 in the Bronx; Driver [Off-Duty NYPD] Charged With DWI, Homicide (R'dale Press)

  • Robert Ogle, 16, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post)

  • Axel Pablo, 8, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 13 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (Post, News)

memoriam_4.jpgJulian Miller, Drana Nikac, Hayley Ng, Robert Ogle

  • Alex Paul, 20, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post

  • Nathan Pakow, 47, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 26 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog)

  • Pablo Pasaras, 27, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 8 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog, Gazette)

  • Sonya Powell, 40-42, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 27 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (News, Post, NY1, WABC)

  • Ysemny Ramos, 29, Pedestrian, Killed March 27 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (NYT, News)

  • Solange Raulston, 33, Cyclist, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Bklyn Paper, Gothamist)

  • Luis Rivera, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 31 in the Bronx; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (AMNY, News)

  • Lillian Sabados, 77, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License

  • Peter Sabados, 78, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (NYT)

  • Edith Schaller, 87-88, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 30 in Brooklyn; Drivers Not Charged (News, Post)

  • Susanne Schnitzer, 61, Pedestrian, Killed April 8 in Manhattan; No Known Media Reports (NYT, Streetsblog)

  • Juan Sifuentes, 67, Pedestrian, Killed July 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (AP)

memoriam_5.jpgAxel Pablo, Nathan Pakow, Sonya Powell, Solange Raulston

  • Matvey Smolovich, 25, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Brooklyn; Driver [School Bus] Not Charged (News)

  • Catorino Solis, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 21 in Manhattan; Driver Charged for Unlicensed Operation and Moving Violations (News)

  • Andrzej Suchorzepka, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News)

  • Dan Valle, 26, Cyclist, Killed Feb. 18 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (MTR)

  • Vionique Valnord, 32, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 27 in Brooklyn; Driver [NYPD] Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (NYT)

  • Dorothea Wallace, 38, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 3 in Brooklyn; Driver [Off-Duty NYS Corrections] Charged With Suspended License (News, Post, NY1)

  • Fred Wilson, 66, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Post)

  • Hui Wu, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 20 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (News, NY1)

  • Stanislaw Zak, 65, Pedestrian, Killed June 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (News, Post)

  • Unnamed Cyclist, 72, Killed June 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Bklyn Paper)  

  • Tina [Surname Unknown], Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 21 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Post)

memoriam_6.jpgYsemny Ramos, Peter and Lillian Sabados, Edith Schaller, Hui Wu

  • Two Unnamed Pedestrians, Killed April 8 in Manhattan and Queens; Hit-and-Runs (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 20, Killed April 15 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI (Post)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 15 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 26 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run (NYT, News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 22 in Queens; No Known Media Reports (Gothamist)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 48, Killed Nov. 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run, Driver Not Charged (Post)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 1 Driver Not Charged (News)

  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 79-80, Killed Dec. 15 in Brooklyn; Driver [Ambulance] Not Charged (Streetsblog)

  • Unnamed Wheelchair User, Killed Sept. 1 in Brooklyn; Charges Unknown (News

# # #

Look at those faces. Think of those lives so terribly truncated, simply because we are not smart or fair enough to do better. But it does not have to be that way.

We know of course the answer to this: (a) Fewer cars on the street, moving far more slowly (we trap them through slow street architecture), far better protection for all others out on the street, and drivers who when at the wheel have the fear of their life of what will happen to them in the event they are the source of incident, injury or death. This coupled with (b) clear and simple laws, that are made widely known, together with draconian enforcement coupled with strict and immediate punishment which is comparable to the offenses committed. And no exceptions or exemptions. Sometimes life is simple.

The editor, World Streets

--> Read on:

Monday, December 28, 2009

(From our 2009 archives and worthy of your attention)
"Transport Refugees – Victims of Unjust Transport Policies"

The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.

[Back on July 22nd of this year we published some extracts of this important thinkpiece, which has recently become a subject of vigorous discussion in our Sustran Global South Forum, specifically in the context this time of the continuing push by certain authorities to ban rickshaw pullers in Dhaka from plying their trade. This tendency of many authorities to try to concentrate on buying and building expensive imported technologies, instead of innovating, improving and working with what they have ,is something of a phenomenon we are seeing in many parts of the world, North and South. Spend a bit of time here with Sudhir and Bert. It will not be time wasted, pointing us to valuable lessons good not only for Dhaka, but Detroit and Dar es Salaam, Dortmund and Djakarta, and beyond. (And if your time today does not allow you to read the full article here, may we urge you to check out their World Streets 22 July summary here-.)]

Transport Refugees – Victims Of Unjust Transport Policies
- Sudhir Gota and Bert Fabian, Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

Becoming “refugees” in our own cities

According to international refugee law , a refugee is someone who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution "on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group”. Authors draw parallel from the term “refugee” in order to emphasize the growing social discrimination and exclusion of vulnerable road users while making transport decisions.

The authors have investigated various documents and news reports to argue as to how we are increasingly becoming victims of our own solutions and thus becoming refugees in our own lands. In the subsequent sections, the authors have tried to explore various issues in order to prove this facet, while the WHO (2009) in the latest study provides a very good summary of victimization of vulnerable people.

“Our roads are particularly unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists who, without the protective shell of a car around them, are more vulnerable. These road users need to be given increased attention. Measures such as building sidewalks, raised crossings and separate lanes for two wheelers; reducing drink-driving and excessive speed; increasing the use of helmets and improving trauma care are some of the interventions that could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. While progress has been made towards protecting people in cars, the needs of these vulnerable groups of road users are not being met”

The externalities of transport

Outdoor air pollution alone causes an estimated 800,000 deaths each year. Research from the East & West Center based in Hawaii, U.S. on commuter’s exposure to PM 10 while walking in Hanoi (2006) are as high as 495 µg/m3. The Health Effects Institute hospital and household studies in Ho Chi Minh City (2007) found a strong link between air pollution, especially ozone and NO2, and health impacts on young children in the form of acute lower respiratory illness.

In a 2009 survey, one in every five people in Hong Kong said they were considering leaving the city because of the air pollution. One in 10 was either seriously considering leaving or already in the process of leaving. Also results indicated that severest health effects aggravated by air pollution are associated with income with poor people as major sufferers.

The WHO in a 2009 study estimates around 150,000 deaths occurring in low-income countries each year due to climate change from four climate-sensitive health outcomes – crop failure and malnutrition, diarrheal disease, malaria and flooding. 85% of these excess deaths were found in younger children.

According to latest WHO estimates, nearly 1.27 million people die in road traffic crashes every year. In addition, road crashes cause between 20 million and 50 million non-fatal injuries every year and are an important cause of disability. Important aspects to be noted are:

• High share of “vulnerable group” in the traffic accidents. In fact, in low-income countries of South East Asia over 80% of those killed are vulnerable road users

• Over 90% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries which has 48% of vehicles

• 32% of countries in world have national or local level policies on walking and cycling

• 50% of world’s population lives in countries which do not have speed limits on urban roads (of less than or equal to 50 kph) and for the countries which have some sort of speed limits, enforcement is very poor (in a rating evaluation only 9% of countries scored 7 or more in the range 1-10)

• Projections suggest that road traffic fatalities would be the fifth leading cause of death by 2030 with an estimated 2.4 million fatalities per year
Data from many cities (Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, India and Philippines) suggest that average ambient noise levels range from 50-100 with 112d b being maximum. Research on noise pollution is indicating that it causes more deaths when compared to heart disease. There is growing evidence that noise pressure levels exceeding 50 db(A) during night time are related to the development of high blood pressure and exceeding 65 db(A) during day time increases the risk for heart attacks in men. Research (footnote 6) indicates that, In a German city “Cologne”, for every third household moving out of city, noise and air pollution in the city was a crucial reason. It is to be noted that people walking, cycling and using public transport face the highest exposure thus are at greatest risk.

Urban sprawl induced development

Asian cities undergo a “push-pull” phenomenon. Many people are abandoning the cities in search of better quality of life and environment and moving out of such cities (push), on the other hand, there are still a high number of people migrating into such decaying cities in order to make a living (pull). Also, the trend of ‘slush and burn development’ is on the raise in many Asian cities. Private real estate developers are developing various periphery business districts and new commercial areas while abandoning the old decaying sections of the city in order to generate the economic boom. This kind of development needs to be understood in context of poor people.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization report points out that the overwhelming majority of the hungry live in the developing world with 65% of them in just seven countries - India, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Majority of such poor migrate to cities and live in slums next to major corridors. Some reports indicate that Asian cities currently accommodate nearly 60% of total world’s slum population. In Delhi, approximately 45% of population are clustered into slums and live in inhuman conditions and have to face transport discrimination daily.

Sometimes the cleansing, densification and beatification process carried out for city development (sometimes solutions such as transport focused development which induces sprawl along public transport routes) creates more victims then solutions. Major benefits accrued by land because of such transport development are squeezed by rich people thus further marginalizing the poor.

Reports from Mumbai indicate that 1,5000 million INR Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) is being opposed the very expert committee which was authorized by government. Reports indicate that the reason being possible damage to the livelihood of local people as well as the burden it will add to an already-densely populated area. Some reports indicate that from a city like Chennai alone about 100,000 people will be shifted out of the city as part of a clean-up. A news report quotes Jeb Brugmann as saying

“I have studied migrant communities in several places and one thing that stands out is that they all have a unique psychological profile — they are risk-takers with a strong entrepreneurial drive. Shifting these people to the margins, cutting them off from resources and opportunities is only a recipe for revolution,”

Several research papers have documented the impact of rail system on Bangkok land market. It is true that Bangkok has seen some transformation because of improvement in public transport facilities. But not many people have documented the impact of such projects on vulnerable people. ADB’s Urban Transport Project in Bangkok has documented some impact of the ADB’s urban transport project. Nearly 1220 households had to be relocated. The Performance Evaluation Report notes that

1. Increase in commercial area around the corridors ( exploitation of land for commercial reasons)

2. Of every 100 vehicles on the roads that benefit from the project road, 45% of the persons in them are estimated to be bus passengers.

3. Although the information is patchy, the main conclusion is that the relocation has not improved the lives of the relocated people because of project. The main issues were increased travel distances to work and separation from relatives. There were indications that a portion of the resettlers had become worse off: 49% had economic problems, and 44% took more time to travel, with only 9% taking less time.

With such increasing challenges, research from India and China indicate that people spend more on transport then on housing, health and education. With increasing prices, people tend to consume less food in order to afford higher transport costs.

Subsidizing the rich at the cost of the poor and the underprivileged

In 2008, increase in fuel prices severely affected governments that subsidized fuels. Fuel subsidies cost annually about 0.1-15 billion USD across various countries. The Indonesian government acknowledged that “with the increasing fuel subsidy, the government’s ability to fund programs which are oriented to the improvement of lives for the poor has dramatically reduced. These programs include education, health facilities, National Program for Community Empowerment, small business credit facilities, and the development of infrastructure. On the other hand, the fuel subsidy is mainly consumed by those who are not targeted by the program. As much as 40 percent of high income families benefit from 70 percent of the subsidy, while 40 percent of the lowest income families only benefit only 15 percent.”

The Elite and poor Neighborhoods in New Delhi

A recent walkability survey in Delhi by CSE, points out the deficiency in investment planning. It evaluated pedestrian facilities in a low income neighborhood with a high income neighborhood and found that- In Govindpuri (low income neighborhood) where about 100 persons walk per five minutes during peak hour had poorly designed if any foot facilities and in Aurangzeb Road (high income neighborhood) lined with ministerial bunglows, where only 3 persons were seen walking in ten minutes during the morning peak hour, has well designed and spacious footpaths.

Banning Cycle Rickshaws in New Delhi

In May 2006, the High Court of Delhi passed an order directing the municipal government to stop granting licenses for cycle rickshaws on Delhi roads, complete a ban on use of cycle rickshaws in Delhi's Chandni Chowk area, and introduce compressed natural gas buses in the area to replace the rickshaws. The reason citied was high congestion caused by cycle rickshaws. Estimates suggested that cycle rickshaws save more than 10 million motorized trips daily across the capital. Infuriated by the authority’s unjust intervention, many NGO’s fought the battle in judicial courts.

Many studies were quoted in the exchange. According to the latest reports, the Delhi High Court took an exception to the ‘unrealistic approach’ of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in banning cycle-rickshaws in parts of the capital and slammed it for not fixing a limit on the number of cars a person can possess.

It suggested - ‘We find the guidelines are unrealistic. Why are you so enthusiastic in banning cycle-rickshaws? Why don’t you issue guidelines limiting the number of cars a person can have in the city?’

Though the court battle is still on but the condition of cycle rickshaw drivers have deteriorated over time due to harassment by authorities and fellow motorists. According to a survey by ITDP, the majority of cycle rickshaw drivers (54%) were landless laborer and over 30% were small/marginal farmers with majority of them illiterate. Their earnings from running the cycle rickshaw was around 2$-6$ per day.
It is to be noted that there has been no reports on reduction in congestion at the places where ban took place.

Banning Cycle Rickshaws in Dhaka

One of the main reasons of Cycle rickshaw growth in Dhaka has been the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), decision on September 1, 2002 to ban two stroke auto-rickshaws. The demand for informal public transport and short trip lengths (<5km)

DUTP – 1998 report showed that the Rickshaws took only 38% of road space while transporting 54% of passengers in Dhaka. The private cars on the other hand, took up 34% of road space while only transporting 9% of the population.

HDRC study captured the before and after impacts of Cycle rickshaw ban. Few of the conclusions are presented below
a. Average monthly net income of rickshaw pullers decreased by 32%, from 3,834 to 2,600 taka

b. The amount of money sent back to their villages also declined following the ban. Before the ban, on average rickshaw pullers spent 64% of net income and sent the rest (36%) to his village. Following the ban, the amount spent in Dhaka decreased by 27%, while the amount sent to the village decreased by 41%.

c. Pullers compensated for loss of income by reducing food consumption, particularly of fish, meat, and cooking oil: for NMT pullers overall, 85.9%d ecreased their consumption of fish, 87.5% decreased consumption of meat, 65.1% decreased consumption of cooking oil, and over half (55.3%) decreased consumption of vegetables.

d. There was an increase in the number of income earners in the family from 1.24 to 1.37. This suggests that some children have been taken out of school to compensate for lost income, or that the burden on wives of the pullers have further increased as they must earn money as well as do all the family and household labor.

Sharifa Begum et al. did research on income and poverty aspects of cycle rickshaw drivers and concluded that
a. urban rickshaw pullers in Dhaka come from very poor economic backgrounds consistent with the characteristics of chronic poverty

b. rickshaw pulling provides a route for modest upward mobility for those chronic rural poor who come to the city for work.

c. rickshaw pullers are susceptible to systematic health risks; deteriorating health, combined with health shocks, can impose a significant burden on the urban poor, dragging down the pace of upward mobility during their lifetime.

d. rickshaw pulling represents an unsustainable livelihood, as the initial welfare gains taper off with length of involvement in the sector.

e. intergenerational mobility of rickshaw-puller households is constrained by very limited schooling and the poor range of occupational choices for children.

Before and after studies conducted on some roads proved that there was no travel time gain for fuel dependent vehicle was achieved due to rickshaw ban but instead over the years the travel times for buses did undergo significant deterioration with a 26.1% increase of travel times. Also for shorter trips, there was significant increase in travel time due to non availability of transport-mode.

It can be derived from various research reports that banning cycle rickshaws do not serve any purpose and instead efforts should be made to improve the life of such people by offering them security and benefits. Banning is not a solution as it does not improve the congestion of city, road safety and life of such drivers but instead restricts the accessibility, mobility and increases motorization and environmental damage.

How about the old & persons with disabilities?

There are nearly 207 million aged (65 or>65 years) people in Asia (constituting approx 6% of total population). With mandatory retirement age of 55-60 years , and with huge proportion of older people being poorest people all their life with no savings , aged people become dependent on families as governments in many countries don’t play an active role in providing benefits across various dimensions. From the transport sector, in many countries it does not provide any relief but acts as a catalyst in aggravating the problems. Consuming polluted air for major part of life and travelling in torturous transport services over the later part of the years inflates the problems. Inefficient public transport services with encroached non-motorized facilities by traffic leaves them with little options. Research indicates that very few old people access public transit services in developed countries but its opposite in Asia.

The old people who manage to use public transport facilities often find themselves in mercy of crowded fellow passengers for getting a seat. Deprived of accessibility and mobility over the years, people are left to fend themselves from high motorization externalities.

Some Asian governments provide little transport-finance incentives such as

1. The Government of India has provided a 50% discount for bus transportation for older people (in one state free transportation is allowed on city buses)

2. In Nepal, the elderly get a 25% discount on transportation courtesy Nepalese Municipal Authority.

3. For the elderly in Thailand, only half price is charged for third-class journeys from June to September

Reports suggest that only about 15% of the loco motor disabled in India are able to use public transport. The term “barrier free” movement is yet a vision in Asian cities (exceptions include some developed cities such as Hong Kong and some Japanese cities). Experience from Philippines suggests that only 2 percent of children with disabilities have access to elementary education with the major barrier being “absence of accessible transportation”.

The following is an excerpt from the Persons with Disabilities Act from Malaysia, Philippines and India -

Malaysia (2008) - Access to public transport facilities – “Persons with disabilities shall have the right to access to and use of public transport facilities, amenities and services open or provided to the public on equal basis with persons without disabilities”

Philippines - Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (National Law), Accessibility Law in 1983: purpose of enhancing the mobility of persons with disabilities by requiring public utilities to install facilities to make transportation accessible. Enactment of Republic Act 7277 provides in Section 25 thereof for a barrier-free environment

India (1995) - the act emphasizes the need for access of children with disabilities to school. It further suggests
a. adapt rail compartments, buses, vessels and aircrafts in such a way as to permit easy access to such persons;

b. adapt toilets in rail compartments, vessels, aircrafts and waiting rooms in such a way as to permit the wheel chair users to use them conveniently.

c. installation of auditory signals at red lights in the public roads for the benefit of persons with visual handicap;

d. causing curb cuts and slopes to be made in pavements for the easy access of wheel chair users;

e. engraving on the surface of the zebra crossing for the blind or for persons with low vision;

f. engraving on the edges of railway platforms for the blind or for persons with low vision;

g. devising appropriate symbols of disability;

h. warning signals at appropriate places.

Though many cities provide subsidies in tickets, in-accessibility of public transport terminals and vehicles proves to be a major barrier. Even with the passage of such laws, transport in many cities is yet to become disabled friendly.

Recent news reports from Indonesia suggest that “Instead of requiring level footpaths and ramps, lawmakers voted unanimously this month to demand disabled people wear signs announcing their condition so motorists won't run them down as they cross the street.” Though the reports are yet to be confirmed by authors, but if this is true then it indicates further marginalization of persons with disabilities.

And the women?

Marginalization of women in transport can be understood from the fact that gender specific travel data is rarely collected at national and local levels and with such a mindset, rarely it may happen that the “women” were involved in the project design thus making the modes, mindset and infrastructure are rarely feminist sensitive. The transport challenge faced by women stretch across various dimensions such as safety, equity, accessibility and mobility. Transport opportunities often forces women to make restricted choices in employment as they have limited options in accessibility. For example, in one of surveys conducted in Dhaka, About 58% of women regarded the present bus service as overcrowded and accessibility difficult.

Sharifa et al. researched that many of rickshaw drivers in Dhaka who had switched jobs ( due to variety of reasons) had reduced monthly income. The wives of such drivers showed increase in incomes thus indicating more stress and hard work. Experience from Pakistan also indicates the similar story. Reports indicate that “uncivilized behavior” of some of the public transporters and unavailability of public transport are the main reasons for restricted trips.

One of the interesting findings of Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration Study (1996) was that the trip production rates of women over the years (contrary to the logic where people expect increase) have decreased. In 1980, trip production rates were 2.17 (women) and 2.28 (men) which changed to 1.78 (women) and 2.40 (men). Perhaps due to growing inefficiencies in the transport system, the women were the victims with restricted mobility whereas mobility of men increased.

In one of the surveys in Delhi, it was found that women either travel by foot (54%) or use buses (39%) for work purpose. Important thing to note here is the incidence of women spending 2-3 hours in commuting (17%). This creates high impact as they not only need to undergo longer work hours but also work at home and manage the family chores. Sad part is that they are wasting more time travelling lesser distances then men because of the inefficient transport systems.

What about the people living on streets? Research from Delhi indicate that at any given time, there are 10,000 homeless women in Delhi who live on streets as there are insufficient shelters (3) available for use by homeless women. Such women are not only exposed to the increased risk of illness and starvation associated with life on the street, but also heightened vulnerability to violence.

Does our transport system help them or victimize them further?

Clearly our transport system has become more and more injurious to health and inequitable. Over the years, we have tried to compartmentalize and segregate many of the problems of transport and tried to derive piecemeal / quick fix technical solutions without much success. Congestion costs as accessed by various researchers from various cities range from 1-8% of GDP. Current transport and city design severely restricts the accessibility and limits people earning capability.

Already the citizens are avoiding non motorized trips and shifting to motorized trips in order to escape the discrimination in accessibility and mobility. Several researchers have established that Asian cities which are conducive for walking and cycling with large number of trips with length less than 5 km are increasingly accessed by motorized modes. The cities are yet to invest huge amounts of money on pedestrian accessibility as they are yet to acknowledge pedestrians as road users. Thus it can be concluded that In spite of decades of investment on roads and infrastructure, cities are yet to realize solutions. The problems have magnified and so called solutions have become counterproductive.

There is a huge disconnect between policies, practices and proposed solutions. Past decades of inefficient policies have made us victims of our own solutions. Transport services in cities instead of providing relief; aggravate the problems and causes marginalization of vulnerable group. Increasingly people are getting dissatisfied and becoming “refugees” in their own cities. Thus top of pyramid solutions create more unrest and victims and the need is to plan and provide solutions for vulnerable people.

Transport Planning focused on such refugees would provide equitable solutions!

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The orginal article will be found here -

Note - this study quotes many websites, research papers and news articles. Please contact the authors in case you would like to have the full references.

About the authors:

Bert Fabian has worked on transport and environmental issues in the last 10 years and has been with the CAI-Asia Center for 7 years. He enjoys the outdoors and cycling in his spare time. Email:

Sudhir Gota – a former highway designer has abandoned designing roads to work on sustainable transportation issues. He enjoys doing research. Email:

Both are from Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

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Friday, December 25, 2009

AUGURI (Season's Greetings from Italy and France)

What better way to announce a short break than to quote word for word from today's posting of our Italian friends over at Nuova Mobilità, announcing that they'll be back in the saddle on the 4th of January. A well deserved rest after six months of daily publication, five days a week. (Sound familiar?) Now let's give the word to them:
Questo post solo per comunicarvi che dopo 6 mesi di quotidiano e pervicace monitoraggio sui temi della Nuova Mobilità abbiamo bisogno di qualche giorno di riposo. Ritorneremo on line il 4 gennaio 2010.

Buon Natale e buon anno a tutti.

I am sure you got that, but just in case: "This post is just to inform you that after 6 months of daily monitoring and stubborn publication on the New Mobility scene, we are taking a few days of rest. Back on line January 4, 2010."

Read Nuova Mobilità at

And if it's not clear, clich for a pretty fair machine translation into English.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Editorial: Après Copenhagen. Now what?

Five times since late evening of the fatal Friday 18th in Copenhagen, I have attempted to get out a strong editorial on this important subject, sustainable transport included, but thus far I have yet to crack my task. Be patient and in the meantime remember what kind old Henry Ford once so famously wrote: "Of all the kinds of work I known, thinking is the hardest. And that's I guess why people do so little of it".

But should you be at all curious to follow my tortured path, during all of which I was trying hard to find a way to be at once both lucid and useful, if you click here you will find my first late Friday night attempt. If I may, there are a few thoughts in there that still may be worth a minute of your time. However upon careful inspection I decided to back away from the early versions of the posting because I found it too verbose, muddy, too roughly reasoned and still incomplete.

But above all I found that in its first iteration it was too openly, one might even say arrogantly critical, and not sufficiently positive. At this point we need to lay off the criticism and carping, that's the past, and now get put our heads and hearts together to see what needs to be gleaned from all this terrible experience (the word is not too harsh) for the future. Which is after all ours to grasp.

Have a look at the revised version here in the next few days. I am confident that you will find it better and hopefully even of some use as we struggle to pick up the pieces from COP15.

The editor

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Lessons from COP15 : Staring the challenge in the eyes.
Three Failures – Three new beginnings

It's close to midnight on this fateful Friday the 18th, as COP15 suddenly trudges unfulfilled sadly into our past. And as I sort through the debris, I am struggling to figure out what might be the main lessons of this experience. Let me share with you my late-night thoughts concerning three event-shaping failures, or at least stark short-comings which I suggest we will all do well to learn from. After all we have the planet waiting for us.

[This posting is in process. Come back later today for a complete article.]
1. The Future of the World Climate Policy Process
2. The Future of the Sustainable Transport Expert Process
3. The Future of World Streets
4. And you

World Streets needs to catch on before my feet get wet.
A reader from the Netherlands.

Let us not for one minute be seen as minimizing the enormous effort and high competence that have gone into the process behind the Copenhagen events over the last years. We all owe a huge debt to the people and organizations behind these efforts. COP15 may have given birth to far less than one would have hoped or our planet needed, but it was nonetheless a magnificent effort and all those involved, all those who have worked so hard behind it deeply deserve our respect and thanks.

But at the end of the day, the result that was and is so badly needed was not there. That's a fact.

While I am not in a position to judge all that has gone on at the level of detail that is appropriate for final summing up of the COP15 events and their antecedents (but you can bet there will be plenty of those), I have been following carefully from afar and would nonetheless like now to point to three critical shortcomings that in my view have marred these events and the processes behind them, lessons from which we have much to learn.

These are in turn: (a) The process failure behind COP15; (b) the missed leadership opportunity of our transport-environment expert community; and (c) the failure of this publication to make its voice heard. Let's look at each in turn, and from there see if we draw some useful lessons for what should happen next

Note to the reader: This posting is going to be steadily edited and repositioned in the coming days as a result of the flow of comments and suggestions that the author very much hopes we will be receiving here at World Streets. We will however keep on record each original of this editorial, so that the progress, if any, can be traced.

To this end we invite your comments either directly to this piece (see Comment button just below) or if you prefer more privately in an email addressed to the editor via In the latter event please let us know if you wish your comments to be shared or prefer to keep them private.

Finally we invite you to share this editorial with friends, colleagues, groups, publications and mailing lists that share these concerns. We need to stir up this debate if all this is to make a difference.

1. The Future of the World Climate Policy Process

We failed for a reason. And if is my view that a good part of that had to do with (a) the process and (b) the actors.

Mumbled justifications, wishful statements and talk-arounds aside, it is fair, I am afraid, to characterize the present process, with enormous variations depending on whom you are looking at, as: well-intentioned, high technical expertise, dominated by wishful-thinking, hubristic, hypocritical, self-centered, incompetent, piecemeal, mechanistic, failed, dangerous, humiliating, worrying, inconsistent, bumbling, last minute and utterly devoid of a practical game plan in the face of the challenges.

And leadership-lite. As we look back on this process we can see the extent to which it highlighted all the stark differences between leadership and administration. Let me try this again: this time we brought in the people who had to understand the changes and make the tough decisions at the tail end of the process. Perhaps we needed a mechanism whereby they are targeted from the very beginning. Think of it as a sale job if you will, for which we have to go to the person with the purse.

It will be clear to all that the problem is not the overarching goal of GHG reductions - whether justified in terms of precautionary principal or hot incontrovertible evidence as sure proof, that goal is or at least should be not up for discussion. No the problem I believe lies in the dilatory manner in which all those concerned, including each of us as voters, knowledge-workers and environmental activists, have attempted to deal with the challenge.

Lesson learned: We now need to shake up the process. Question: Where to start?

We need what in American slang is called a "game changer", something strategic and fundamental that will somehow work to alter the process. Here is one proposal that I hope you will think about.

Let's start by changing the overall profile of the key players, i.e., those actors who have up to now actively dominated the key elements of the process, whether at the international level or at that of the national delegations and other representatives who are in a position to influence not only the events at the time of the final round-up as in Copenhagen over these last weeks, but also in all that goes, that should go before.

A quick peek at the socio-economic profile of the majority of those sitting in the driver's seat this last time around reveals the following strong central trends:
• The leadership is predominantly male.

• They are individuals enjoying relatively elevated and privileged positions in society. They have almost to a "man" gone to university (of some sort), have jobs with for the most part salaries and levels security that are far above their respective national norm, and they are either car/owner drivers, or at the very least accept the culture associated with private cars as if not an altogether desirable at least inevitable thing.

• Finally, they are for the most part in the second half of their life span.

In summary, the present selection is too male, too secure, and too old. We need to reach more deeply into our society than that. (And oh yes, I can hear the screams.)

So, if we need to change the process one great way to get started will be to shake up and redistribute the players, those who are charged with thinking and working our way out of the climate box before it is not too late for our struggling planet and those most threatened by inalterable, irreversibly climate change. And to do this in a wide open public way as a statement of volition.

The proposal: All concerned national and international delegations and leading players should now be subjected to the following parity composition :

• 50% female
• 50% non-drivers
• 50% under 35 years of age.

This will be no magic wand in itself, but it would be a visible signal of the will to change. Otherwise what is likely to happen is that the same basic population of earnest, well-intentioned people is likely to trudge off and prepare a next round in Bonn, Mexico City or wherever the next way-station may be. And, unless the whole process is drastically reshaped, they will do what they do best. That is keep digging in the hole that have made thus far.

A quick word on the point concerning stepping up female leadership and participation all along the line and bringing it to something at least close to full gender parity. It is not as open and shut an argument as one may at first think.

A word on the concept of "gender balance".

Image three different types of decision fora: (a) all male, (b) mostly male, and (c) gender balanced.

Now, it is my observation that (a) and (b) invariably end up being pretty much the same in terms of their tone and outcomes, (with the all too rare case where there may be an exceptionally strong, aggressive even woman or women in the miniscule minority. There indeed you may see some sparks fly and different outcomes. But how often does this occur?).

On the other hand when you approach "gender balance" (let’s define it for now as a minimum of 35-40 % participation of the "other sex" - whatever that might happen to be), you open up a very different kind of social, communication and decision environment. The fact is that (a) and even (b) are in almost all cases dominated by male values, even if in most cases these may not be entirely palpable. But they are there and they influence the terms, and the outcome, of the debate and the decision process.

So when it come sorting out our planet, let's all get behind this concept of full gender parity at all stages of the climate debate, and decision process. Because if we don't we are going to lose this war. I promise you.

What else?

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that the whole idea of throwing this ball to an assembly of nations, led by and large by people who for the most part are very far from their own people's day to day lives, concerns and possibilities of adaptation, is probably not the best way to go. Part of the necessary solution no doubt , but certainly not all of it. Something important is clearly missing, a missing link if I may.

If we are looking for someone who is close to people, we certainly have to think about mayors, council persons, and local government more generally. How are we going to factor them into the process in this next stage?

Well without being able to sort out the fine details right here, we can at least answer this question in a first instance and with a certain authority. We can certainly say this: (a) We do need to bring them in and (b) and certainly not at seats on the sidelines. That's a pretty good start. Local government has to become a central part of the process, and now the only question is how to bring them in to play this role.

Historical aside: The first time the phrase "United Nations" began to have currency was when the US Secretary of State Cordell Hull started using it in early 1942 when the United States was at long last getting into the war effort . Despite his track record as a key thinker and mover in the Roosevelt cabinet, Cordell was told in almost exactly these words by the president: "Cordell, it's my war, not yours. You can think about what happens next."

So the good Secretary, sitting in his study, started to use the phrase "United Nations" as his own personal catchword for what soon the press and the world instead preferred to refer to as "the allies" (the earlier favored phrase being "the associated nations" (sound somehow familiar?) was quickly set aside.)

The trick in all that is that the Secretary and his able staff began to think through what kind of international cooperation was going to be needed to ensure that this latest war was not going to lead to another. To which his point of departure was to try to learn the lessons of the by then defunct League of Nations.

What's the point? Well this new organization did indeed get built and one result was that Cordell Hull was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945, and his work in laying the groundwork for the UN was high on the list of reasons that he was nominated.

The ideal was that these "united nations" would pick up the Western model and become functional democracies, and that in a very short time. Obviously we are not there yet, and what actually has taken place has turned out to be far outside of the vision that original founders had in mind.

But of course we have them and they have to be part of the process. But based on what we have learned over the last years and particularly in Copenhagen last week, they cannot be the only active players. Perhaps it is time to consider in this context setting up some sort of "second chamber" of authority, and in the context of global warming, such a chamber would have to have a strong, informed voice from and for our cities.

Obviously there is plenty of hard work ahead of us all in the coming months. And how is this admirable goal to be achieved. Through commitment and real leadership. My guess is that it will have to start from the countries that are already trying to push the envelope on this. I could make a guess as could you, but let's instead simply launch the challenge and see who picks it up. And once we begin to get the model up and working, I am sure that almost all of the rest will follow. That being after all what leadership is all about. Going first!

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2. The Future of the Sustainable Transport Expert Process

Now what about the missed leadership opportunity of the leading edge of the transport/environmental community (including us here at World Streets, the New Mobility Agenda and the author of this piece, by the way)? Is that a detail? Let's have a look.

Executive summary : Huge missed opportunity.

Before digging in here, I would remind the reader of the subtitle of the New Mobility Agenda ( which reads as it has for more than a decade: "The Politics of Transportation: New thinking & world-wide collaborative problem-solving". This is the spirit of these comments.

We, the transport sector broadly defined, are undeniably a huge part of the problem, averaging with variations something around 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions total. A fifth of this huge planetary problem is far too big a slice to be swept aside or ignored. But somehow we, collectively, failed even to dent the decision and debate process, and certainly not in a meaningful way.

Now the true tragedy of this is that our sector got right has something very important to offer. Namely that we do in fact know how to start to make those necessary sharp near-term reductions in our share of the planetary load. But our voices were well out of the mainstream.

Here's what I think is the problem. Just about all of us who have pretty high competence in the field of sustainable transport – namely the making of policy, planning and investment decisions in the sector in a way which is not only far more respectful to the environment but also takes a big step ahead in terms of life quality, economic viability and the quality of our cities and communities -- have for better or worse positioned ourselves as specialists, as the people and skill set that is good at making better and softer transportation projects. That's great and indeed very important. But in light of the present planetary emergency that is not enough.

We need not just more and better sustainable transport projects, but we need a whole new mental architecture about how they fit into the greater whole. We now need to shape not just the details but the politics of transportation decision making and investments. In the broadest sense.

Our debilitating short-coming exists at two levels:

The first is at the level of the city or community served. Our goal should not be just to do a good carshare operation, BRT, traffic calming operations, safe bike or clever pricing programs, or any other single worthy project or measure here or there. What we need is to be able to show how to combine all these important bits and pieces into an integrated, multi-level, synergistic city-wide transformative project. A sustainable city project is not only more than the sum of all of its parts, but also requires a new skill set: mastering the politics of transportation.

This is not easy admittedly, because it requires that we directly take on the hydra-headed monster of old mobility, which until now has been the unchallenged auto-pilot way to go: spending taxpayer money to facilitate life for moving cars and warehoused cars (i.e., parking). And we are unlikely to do this one project at a time, at least not in the time span which is dictated by the ongoing climate emergency.

Which I interpret to mean that we now have to become far more programmatic in our approach.

Now this is possible only if we have the full, unwavering support of the city leaders in each case. Hard to get, but if the transformation is ever to be made this is the only way to get the job done.

And as part of this, we all need to be giving more coverage of and support to those brave programs out there that are truly trying to put all the bits and pieces together to create a sustainable, livable, accessible city. We need not only more heroic cities, but also an ability to make all of our best knowledge and expertise available to support their programs. This will require more effective networking of competences and new formulae for bringing them in. And as part of this, we also must be willing to be critical of even our friends and allies when we see that their projects and programs are not going to achieve our necessary high ambitions. (Quietly of course but firmly.)

I am afraid that collectively in our sector we suffer from a fuzzy vision, a blurry perspective on what it takes to make a city transformative project work. Examples abound: There is a whole brave world out there that finds it comforting to point to places like Curitiba, Bogota and your own favorite "transformative city", as success achieved. But the real world is not like that and if you look hard enough (with local partners who live the daily reality of the city's present mobility arrangements) you may well hear quite a different story from them.

Sustainable transport in a sustainable city is not a one-time thing. It exactly resembles parenthood. You can't just do this or that good thing and then let it go. Every day, all day attention to the details is what counts, and what is so very rare.

Our leading cities here in Europe really do hold some excellent examples, though they are few in number. A close look at Copenhagen, Zurich, Vauban or Paris yields some good clues as to what is needed to keep this continuing revolutionary process going. At the end of the day we can call it culture, meaning that for it to work it has to be deeply embedded in the social and political fabric. It is not personal, it is not political in the most narrow sense of the word (i.e., partisan), it is cultural and, incidentally, require active citizenry and democracy that works.

What does this mean in a post-COP15 world? That those of us who have something to offer start to band together more effectively, that we get away from our emphasis on projects and start to think in more global terms, that we get behind any city innovations project that takes on the real challenge of GHG reduction on an area-wide basis together with upgrading the quality of mobility and daily life in the city or region.

To conclude for now. The mechanics of this transformation are relatively simple, at least to list. We need to accomplish two things in parallel. First to cut the physical quantum of motorized traffic (VMT, VKT) by some significant amount (via varying place-sensitive packages of measures and actions which range from the economic to regulatory to physical), and in parallel extend the palette of transportation alternatives in each target cities. And while this is not the place to get into these details here, you will find ample discussions and examples in the page of World Streets and the many sources and programs to which it links.

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3. The Future of "World Streets"

World Streets, and behind it the New Mobility Agenda, are, to the best of my knowledge the only programs in the world that have been claiming that the transport sector can, if the leadership is there, obtain big ticket reductions on GHG emissions in a quite short period. It is our vision, at least in and around cities and quite possibly more broadly as well, that these significant reductions can be achieved and demonstrated to the world as proof positive that this approach works and that we can indeed start to take better care of our delicate planet. These claims have not been very seriously taken, including by our expert sustainable transport colleagues and allies. They are considered visionary if not downright peculiar. Gut they are not.

The process, the chain of reasoning that we defend works along the following broad lines:

1. Climate change is the most important, urgent single issue on the international political agenda.

2. Countering climate change opens up a new economic agenda with its own strong growth paths. It does not require stepping down to a reduced life style.

3. Our immediate focus here at World streets, our area of competence, should be on day-to-day transport --in cities, small communities and outlying areas.

4. The policy challenge in the transport sector is to target and obtain significant GHG reductions in the one to five years immediately ahead. 5% reductions can be easily achieved. 10% is possible with strong leaderships

5. The only effective way to reduce transport-generated emissions within this time horizon lies in the (a) immediate, (b) radical, and (c) strategic reduction of motor vehicle traffic.

6. Systematic GHG/traffic reductions impact proportionately on fossil fuel savings, quality of life, environment, personal health, economic renewal, stronger communities, world peace . . . and better and more democratic transport for all.

7. To do this we need to clear the fog and focus 100% on those tools and measures that will specifically permit us to achieve the necessary scale GHG reductions. Starting immediately!

8. While in exact parallel, new and better mobility options must be opened up to all.

9. The leading edge of practice in the sector concurs that this necessarily aggressive policy is (a) feasible, (b) realistic and (c) effective --and has identified a broad spectrum of real-world mobility modes, measures, tools, solutions and strategies that work.

10. We will not be able to achieve these reductions in all places, but we can start and start with strong examples who can illustrate how a low carbon transport is not only possible but desirable.

11. Leadership by example is the only possible path to the degree of policy reform and performance improvement that is required. (Everything else is just conversation.)

[This posting is in process. Come back later for a more complete article.]

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cheer up! On your way back from Copenhagen, swing through Bologna for a clue to a sustainable planet

Okay. COP15 has been pretty discouraging thus far. But this is no time to give up. To the contrary let's start this next phase by energetically expanding our horizons, finding more common ground with people, cities and groups around the world who wish to act. Here as one example of something you can see every day in your own city. The great neglected overarching transportation mode that is the alpha and omega for every trip we take, is getting a close look in an exhibit in Bologna starting tomorrow.

Following quick-tranlsated from Nuova Mobilità, 18 December 2009:

"I cannot meditate if I do not walk: as soon as I stop walking I stop thinking; my brain works only with the feet in motion" - Jean Jacques Rousseau.

The cartoons of Altan, Stain, Vauro, Giannelli, Julian and his words of Piero Angela, Massimo Gramellini, Licia Colò, Carlo Lucarelli are on show in Bologna from 19 December to 24 January to remind us that "We are all pedestrians."

Dante making his way through a "hell" of a busy road, Little Red Riding Hood going to visit her grandmother, preferring to walk through the forest rather than the roadway where the cars whizzing, because there "one meets more than the wolf." These are some of the scenarios, here a little 'grotesque' and there purely entertaining vignettes that illustrate the trials of pedestrians and their life so full of pitfalls. Yet "we are born to walk" and even he who is driving a car at one moment will soon open the door and once again become a "footman".

"We're all pedestrians" was inaugurated Saturday, December 19 at the Archiginnasio of Bologna illustrates the irony of the most vivacious Italian brushes and pencils, and in addition to a tear or bitter smile, invite you to reflect on and to adapt more responsible behavior on the roads.

In Italy, every year, over 600 pedestrians are killed and over 20,000 are injured. Among the most affected are the elderly, over 50% of the victims are more than 65 years. This massacre is not due either to chance or to fate; it can be reduced drastically: simply enforce the rules. It is to be noted that nearly 30% of pedestrians lost their lives while crossing the street on the strips.

Walking on Italian roads is not easy, while on the streets of other European countries the pedestrian is sacred. Besides the cartoons, even the faces and words of people who sign messages of good sense to invite to respect the pedestrian and to rediscover this ancient but often not considered a means of transportation: your feet.

This exhibition will present beside Massimo Gramellini Piero Angela, Carlo Lucarelli, Margherita Hack, Licia Colò, Vito and actors of "A Place in the Sun" Lucio Allocca and Germano Bellavia. Along with the texts of the poet Roberto Roversi, the philosopher Duccio Demetrio, the journalist Cristina Gabetti,and Franco Taggi, considered the greatest expert on road safety in Italy.

The cartoons are signed by Altan, Stain, Vauro, Giannelli, Rebora, Julian, Gomboli, Maramotti, Knight, Mausolus, Mencherini, Minoggio, Palumbo, Vitti, Zaniboni.
Centro Antartide, Osservatorio per l'educazione stradale e la sicurezza della Regione Emilia-Romagna, i sindacati dei pensionati Spi-Cgil, Fnp-Cisl e Uil, Ancescao, Comune, Provincia e Azienda Usl di Bologna, Auser, Archiginnasio, Legambiente
The initiative aims to help create a cultural environment that elicits sympathy and respect for pedestrians, because the city can not perceive them as obstacles on the roads of the driver but as "engine" of clean mobility. Mobility that is good for the health of humans and Earth. They who chose to walk neither pollute nor waste energy. The walker enjoys the streets and cityscapes like no other, stimulating even more their own good humor. To transform the street, you have to learn to love the street. And to love the street . . .

The exhibition "We're all pedestrians" is sponsored by: Antarctica Center, Center for road safety education and safety of the Emilia-Romagna, the unions of pensioners Spi-CGIL, CISL and UIL-Fnp, Ancescao, City, State and Company USL di Bologna, Auser, Archiginnasio, Legambiente with the sponsorship of the University of Bologna.

The exhibition will remain open at the Archiginnasio, Piazza Galvani 1, until 24 January. Opening Saturday, December 19, at 11. The exhibition can be visited also on the site


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If you wish to organize an exhibit in your city or neighborhood, get in touch with the editor of Nuova Mobilità Enrico Bonfatti at, who will be glad to put you in touch directly with the organizers.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You, me, technology, pattern breaks and unleashing the power of the market: Think Copenhagen Wheel

World Streets rarely gives in to "technical fix" solutions to our dual challenges of wrecking the planet and our cities staying stuck in hopelessly outmoded 20th century patterns and actions - because we know for sure that the answer lies not in the deus ex machine of technology but above all within ourselves. But hold on for a minute - let's have a look and give some thought to . . . the Copenhagen Wheel (nice name!).

Anything that works.

As we look around the mournful Nordic battlefield this morning, at the strewn bodies, broken hopes, and hastily retreating figures and CO2 streams that will soon have been all that remain of COP15, we have every reason to be ready to look hard at any and all ideas that may hold out promise for the future, for the near future, no matter how few, no matter how strange at first glance.

So today let's relax a bit and ponder something developed by a group of technology heads at MIT, which, surprise!, brings us right up before the necessary path to behavioral change -- a most obdurate challenge as we have been seeing in Copenhagen these weeks. Still there are times when technology can help us, not only do things differently but also to do them better. To help us make, one by one, more sustainable choices. That after all is what sustainability is all about.

So let's have a gander at the Copenhagen Wheel, an interesting playful, and idea-ful, example of how this can work. And oh yes!, let's not stop there.
MIT’s big wheel in Copenhagen

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —Dec. 15, at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, MIT researchers debut the Copenhagen Wheel — a revolutionary new bicycle wheel that not only boosts power, but can keep track of friends, fitness, smog and traffic. Though it looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center, the Wheel's bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife's worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions.

"Over the past few years we have seen a kind of biking renaissance, which started in Copenhagen and has spread from Paris to Barcelona to Montreal," says Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory and the Copenhagen Wheel project. "It's sort of like 'Biking 2.0' — whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system."

The first goal of the Copenhagen Wheel project is to promote cycling by extending the range of distance people can cover and by making the whole riding experience smoother so that even steep inclines are no longer a barrier to comfortable cycling.

Toward this end, the Wheel can store energy every time the rider puts on the brakes, and then give that power back to provide a boost when riding uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic.

"The Wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years,” says Ratti. "When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so that you can have it back to you when you need it. The bike wheel contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of an eye."

"Our city's ambition is that 50 percent of the citizens will take their bike to work or school every day," says Ritt Bjerregaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. "So for us, this project is part of the answer to how can we make using a bike even more attractive."

But there are also a variety of extra functions hidden within the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel. By using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the user's iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle's speed, direction and distance traveled, as well as collect data on air pollution and even the proximity of the rider's friends.

"One of the applications that we have discussed with the City of Copenhagen is that of an incentive scheme whereby citizens collect Green Miles — something similar to frequent flyer miles, but good for the environment," says Christine Outram, who led the team of MIT researchers.

The project also aims to create a platform for individual behavioral change.

"The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend: that of inserting intelligence in our everyday objects and of creating a smart support infrastructure around ourselves for everyday life," says Assaf Biderman, associate director of the project. “For example, the Wheel has a smart lock: if somebody tries to steal it, it goes into a mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power, and sends you a text message. So in the worst case scenario the thief will have charged your batteries before you get back your bike."

The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were developed along with company Ducati Energia and the Italian Ministry of the Environment. It is expected that the wheel will go into production next year, with a tag price competitive with that of a standard electric bike. According to Claus Juhl, CEO of Copenhagen, the city might place the first order and use bicycles retrofitted with the Copenhagen Wheel as a substitution for city employee cars as part of the city's goal to become the world's first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

* Click here to play video

The Copenhagen Wheel team at MIT is composed of Christine Outram, Project Leader, Rex Britter, Andrea Cassi, Xiaoji Chen, Jennifer Dunnam, Paula Echeverri, Myshkin Ingawale, Ari Kardasis, E Roon Kang, Sey Min, Assaf Biderman and Carlo Ratti. The project was developed for the City of Copenhagen in cooperation with Ducati Energia and with the support of the Italian Ministry for the Environment.

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Now what happens?

What about this? Let's assume this is something that really can be developed into a serious sustainability tool, so now what?

Let's assume that the goal – I am correct in this? – is to make the strongest possible contribution to a sustainable planet and more livable cities – what is the best, the fastest, the most powerful way in which this idea can be put to work.

Have no doubt about it, if the product really does fill a market niche, there will be industrial groups that will reverse engineer it in a few days and be able to put their own versions on the market before our MIT colleagues figure out what they are going to do next September. This brave new world, the global economy, and the forces of the market will see to that.

So, now what?

The editor

PS. Is there anyone who is brave enough to explain to our MIT friends about the perils of weird CaptALIZation? We need to save the planet AND preserve our languages. ;-)

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