Sunday, November 27, 2011

Missing in action: "Zone 30" in WP in English???

Oops. I have been asked to open the plenary  on “Urban mobility: Achieving social efficiency” at next week's Smart Cities conference in Barcelona (full details on which available here , and one of the central themes of the talk is the high importance of taking a strategic approach to slowing down and smoothing traffic in cities.   As part of my due diligence I decided to check out the Zone 30 and Twenty is Plenty entries in Wikipedia. Where I found to my disappointment: (a) that there was no entry on Zone 30 in English (and if in French, German, Italian and Dutch, not (yet) in Portuguese, Spanish, etc.) and (b) nothing at all on the important Twenty Is Plenty program out of the UK.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The New Mobility Agenda gets a hearing in Barcelona with a "Come argue with me" session

This is to invite you to "attend" at least part of a session of a conference that is to take place next week in Barcelona on the topic of "Smart Cities". You can find full information on the conference here, along with links to all working papers and videos that will be presented over the four days  The particular bit I would like to point you to is my keynote talk and challenge which opens the plenary on "Urban mobility: Achieving social efficiency". A full set of working notes and background materials for my presentation is available here. As you will note I have serious reservations about pushing the concept of a "smart city", which to my mind is a pretty loaded phrase, complete with tandem mindset. I invite your comments and critical remarks on any of the points that appear here, and I shall try to deal with them as possible. Thanks in advance. The final talk will be available on video, as will the presentations for all the speakers in this interesting session.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Carsharing competition heats up (and you better watch out)

Paris, France. 19 Mar 2001 8:00 AM

Spring came fast that year at the New Mobility shop in Paris; we were working under pressure to muster world-wide support for the first-ever "Earth Car Free Day" due for 19 April, which we were organizing  with a team from the Earth Day Network. As part of this effort, we wrote a series of articles that appeared in the lively Grist e-mag exploring some less known new mobility concepts and strategies , which you can see here. And of these the most widely read had to do with carsharing and a gentleman from the Mafia. [Please be sure you read Paul Minett's take-no-prisoners comment at the end of this piece.]

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend musing: The bicycle helmet rears its ugly head

Under our World City Bike program we have for several years now been looking at the yes/no sudden-death helmet issue in the context of public bike projects . If you click here you will find several postings that make an effort to report in a balanced manner (to the extent possible) on the issues, trade-offs and implications of creating legal requirements that force all cyclists to use helmets. An absolutely well-intentioned position which has turned out to be no less than the cold hand of death strangling nascent public bicycle projects in various projects around the world. Pity to spend all that public money on a nice bike sharing system and then find that they are not being widely used while honest citizens add pounds of fat to what should be their lithe frames. In the event, here are a handful of short videos from YouTube that take a pretty good whack at it from several perspectives. Have a look and decide for yourself.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

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

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

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 17, No. 3

The Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice is the long-standing idea and print partner of World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda since 1995. The Autumn 2011 edition appears with articles by Theo Haris, Michelle Zeibots and John Elliott, and Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy. In the article that follows you will find the hard-hitting lead editorial by founding editor John Whitelegg. (For a more complete introduction to World Transport click here.)

- - - > To obtain your copy of WTPP 17/3 click here.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

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

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

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Musing: What do you get if you use an iPad to access World Streets?

An iPad is not a PC, for a number of reasons. Always on, always near, always open, it provides the user with an entirely different and far more personal 21st century interface with the Internet and its extensions.  So for this reason we  decided to give a bit of attention to seeing how it might be useful to retrofit World Streets so that it provides a friendlier and more creative source for those deciding to come in via iPad or similar tablet technology. We shall look into this more analytically in the coming weeks; however for this weekend day let us simply invite you to point your iPad to us and tell us what you think.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Battle for the Street: Who won? Who lost? What next?

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

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Readers' Choice. "Top Twenty", 2011

When we post an article in World Streets, as we do on most weekday mornings, we are always extremely careful about our selection of topic and the manner in which we present it for our busy readers. But once the day's feature has its hours of front page glory and takes its place in our ever-expanding database, which at this point consists of more than a thousand original pieces by more than a hundred no less original collaborators worldwide, it often comes as a surprise to us which postings turn out to get most attention from our readers. Which article is going to have several thousands of readers, and which just a trickle? Fortunately, life in the twenty-first century being what it is, we are able to track readership and are now able to share with you this listing of the "top twenty" articles consulted here over 2011. To me this listing is nothing if not surprising, but let me get out of the way here so you can go at it yourself.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting the most out of World Streets: Stocks and flows

As they put it in Economics 101 what you find here under this double-barrelled name functions both as a flow and as a stock. The "flow" component is basically the articles that appear here each week day on average, plus the abundant collection of related social media and discussion fora which variously stream in to and out of the flow.

The "stock" is a considerable base of resources which have been collected here through the extensive international work of the New Mobility Agenda in our assigned field over more than a decade. In the present website you will see them listed for the most part in your left-hand column, and since they are both extensive and useful it seems like a useful idea to explain it briefly. Let's take it from the top.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

CarSharing: A 1% solution (And why it is a critical 1%)

The learning process has been long and painful. But it is almost 2012, the results are in, and we now know this one thing for sure: There are no one single, mega-dollar, build-it, big bang, fix-it solutions for transportation systems reform. No, the process is far more complex than that. Successful 21st century transport policy depends on the coordination and integration of large numbers of, for the most part, often quite small things. Small perhaps in themselves, one by one, but when you put all these small things together you start to get the new and far better transportation systems that we need and deserve. Large numbers of small things, each doing their part in concert. We call them "one percent solutions". And carsharing is part of that complex process.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Rethinking Car Free Days in Taipei: Part II

Upon my return to Paris after a ten-day stint in Taiwan working with local colleagues in support of several on-going collaborative city projects there, and in particular in support of this year's 10th anniversary Car Free Day program in Taipei City, I received the following letter from the Commissioner of Transportation commenting on their follow-up and plans for the year ahead. (Note: For the first part of this report, click here.) It is highly satisfying to see this steady expansion and achievement when it comes to innovation in support of more people-oriented initiatives and services. If you are looking for a good example from Asia, we suggest that you consider putting Taipei on your list.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

P2P Carsharing galloping ahead in the USA

As we have seen in a certain number of articles over the last year or so -- click here to review -- the totally unexpected dark horse of carsharing which has emerged and is presently galloping with surprising speed in quite a number of places around the world is the concept of peer-to-peer (think do-it-yourself) carsharing.  Here is a good resume of the present state of play of P2P in the United States that has just appeared in a popular American newspaper.  And since carsharing. is a critical components of the overall sustainable transportation package for cities -- you can bet on it! -- there is good reason to stay on top of that if you are a decision-maker, entrepreneur, competitor  or source of counsel in our sector.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All?

Today we step back and look beyond our usual sectoral concerns, and consider what this important report from the UNDP released today may or may not offer to help us to understand in our up-hill push to sustainable transport and sustainable cities. At first glance, their linking of sustainability and equality as their main theme this year is right in line with our own policy focus. So let's have a look to see what lessons we might learn from their work and perceptions.

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Op-Ed: A divine solution for Car Free Days?

One of the sayings we use most often at World Streets is one that goes "you can never tell where the next good idea is going to come from". Here is an example.

As some of our readers certainly know, we have something of an affinity with the concept of Car Free Days -- which we nonetheless attempt to qualify with ample doses of realism and critical thinking (often sadly lacking). So as luck would have it we end up being something of a worldwide turnstile for news and views about how this or that concept of taking a few cars off the streets of the city and thinking about it for a day is treated in different places. Sometimes this can bring surprises.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

@World Carshare Inventory - 2011/12 Update

Paris, 1 November 2011

Dear World Carshare Colleagues and others who may be interested,

We are currently updating the several sites and sources that together constitute the World Carshare Consortium (see below). It's about time. If you go to our original program site in support of carsharing at, which first saw the light of day back in August 1999, you will see quite a cornucopia of information and sources, some of which still current and useful, and others of which starting to look a bit tired and needing either a major overhaul or quick trip to the trash basket.

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