Here we are, it suddenly 2012, and time to get down to work on Q1 of the 2012 Safe Streets Challenge. This first quarter is to be given over to reaching out: making contacts and collecting information, ideas, analysis and points of view concerning alternative concepts, approaches and examples, in the hope that we will eventually be identifying and drawing attention to a very broad range of useful things to consider and study together in the hope of rendering our streets safer, more convivial and more efficient (bearing in mind that we also need to be a eternally vigilant when it comes to “more efficient” for whom and what).
What is it about what the English call a motor car that, when an otherwise perfectly decent human enters it and slams the door shut, somehow there is a total transformation of that person gripping the stirring wheel into something, into someone who is just a little bit less decent and a little bit less human. A consistent theme of World Streets is that over the last hundred years or so our cars have not only transported us but they have also in the process also transformed us. Oops. And in the process they have fatally (I chose my word) altered the dimensions of the space in which we live our daily lives, and in the same process made this thing that was supposed simply to transport us from A to B at our leisure, into a defining part of our daily lives — and indeed in some ways part of ourselves. A cruel critic might say, half Faust and half Frankenstein. Continue reading
This is certainly among the saddest posts to appear in World Streets at the end of each year; it consists of nothing less than a word for word, image by image reposting of the annual carnage memoriam of traffic in New York City, that is published yearly by our friends and colleagues Streetblogs.org. We do this not only in homage of all those who lost their lives on the contested streets of the Big Apple, but also in the hope that other civil society groups that deal with issues of transportation, public space and well-being in other cities around the world will follow this lead. We do not see how the voting public and responsible politicians cannot be moved by such tragic personal stories with names and faces of innocence, no matter how brief. Of course we need to keep the pressure on them. Unrelenting vigilance. The eternal task of the civil society. Continue reading
* Credit: Nasser Nasser/AP. Click to enlarge
The French poet Louis Aragon told us some two generations ago that “Woman is the future of man”. And if we had any doubts about that as we enter into 2012, we have today before our eyes this exceptional, moving photograph of a street demonstration yesterday in which several thousand brave women marched through central Cairo in an extraordinary expression of anger over images of soldiers beating, stripping and kicking female demonstrators in Tahrir Square. Continue reading