Helsinki’s Equity/Transport peer project kicks-off today

Today is the opening day of the 2012 Helsinki Equity-Based Transportation peer review program, the first in what we hope will become a growing thread of cooperating  city projects querying the impact of first reviewing and eventually restructuring our city and regional transportation systems around the fundamental core principle of equity. You will find details on the EBT site at starting at noon today.

Would you like to get involved as a reviewer, critic, informal work partner on the project as it unfolds. If so drop a note to me at, Skype newmobility or Tel +331 7550 3788 and we can figure out together how to do this most efficiently.

Again, our shared goal is to query what happens in terms of not only equity (already a monumental issue and concern) but also efficiency, environment and economy when the equity principle is put at the center of the strategy.

It will be good to hear from you.

Eric Britton
Managing Editor


Message from Kaohsiung

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Einstein on your mind

World Streets 2012 – Focus Programs (Review draft)

If you wish to review and comment the latest working draft for our 2012 program, please click here. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Evaluating Public Transport Health Impacts

In the last days on the Sustran Global South Forum, Gregorio Villacorta of Metro of Lima (Peru) posted the following question to the group: “We would like to find some paper about road safety and social inclusion relationated to Metros, or other massive public transport.” In the usual good spirit of Sustran there were immediately several communications offering to lend a hand. This one from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is one that we think is well worth sharing here. Continue reading

Progress report and work plan for 2012 – For comment and finalization

The Safe Streets Challenge has been chosen as a primary focus activity over 2012.  But there is safe, and safe. So the project turns out to be a lot more challenging than it may look at first glance. Continue reading

From the editor: Safe Streets? Who cares?

It is a truly dreadful thing for anyone, me for instance, to lay on you anything as hackneyed as: a picture is worth a thousand words. But let me show you a couple of pictures and leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. The topic is the first round of reactions to our ongoing 2012 collaborative project aiming at clarifying the concept of Safe Streets from a strategic planning and policy perspective. Continue reading

Carlos Pardo on Slow(er) transport?

I was thinking that, since the concept of “slow” has been around for a while, but applied to concepts such as food and “living” in general, one could think of applying it to transport policies and projects… that is, create the term “slow transport” or “slower transport”, but responsibly. Below are some notes that could generate ideas towards that direction: where the concept comes from, why and how we can apply it, and some obstacles or possible problems. I will be as brief as possible, since I could write for ages about this. My main concern would be to develop a (or yet another) way of justifying the promotion and development of sustainable transport. And my main worry is that we could just generate a new empty term related to urban transport (we have enough already). Continue reading

On Private Space, Public Space, Social Space . . . and Stuttgart Safe Streets Conference 2012

Jan Gehl a few decades back encouraged us to think more about “the space between buildings”, as we pondered how we want our cities to look and function. And within this broader frame, most of us have been pretty comfortable thinking about this between-building space as either public space or private space.  But real life in a city is a lot more complicated than that, and in July of 2011 in Stuttgart a couple of hundred  of us from some forty countries, North and South, East and West,  got together for a few days under the aegis of the 2011 Cities for Mobility Congress to take apart and discuss from many points of view the third dimension, namely that of social space. Continue reading

Safer Streets LA – Wrap a couple of spare neurons around this one

In the first quarter of our 2012 collaborative project on Safe Streets, we promised that we were going to keep eyes, ears and brains open to the fullest possible range of ideas, approaches and policies that promise, each in their own way, to somehow take on and perhaps do something about increasing the safety of our streets. Of course, we have our own ideas on this topic (who doesn’t?), but it seems preferable before sounding off from the bully pit to see if we might first challenge our thinking and in that process collect information and views from the wide variety of perspectives, including those which at first glance seem to be probably pretty unpromising.  All this in harmony with our long-held belief that “you never know where the next good idea is going to come from”. Continue reading

Roads vs. Streets: Wherein the greater danger?

Michael Blastland plays around with some statistics, usefully!, on roads vs. streets when it comes to accidents and safety  in this article that appeared in today’s BBC magazine. (Click here for his article in full and here for the  often quite stinging comments that it has triggered.)  Ours here is quite another focus, but it is interesting to keep our eyes open for short pieces like this.

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Geetam Tiwari on Pro-Poor Green Urban Transport

In this ten minute video Professor Tiwari takes a useful step back from the usual pure transport and all too often dominant technology/infrastructure perspective, taking us back for starters to the fundamentals of what is going on at the level of city dynamics and the daily lives of the vast. of the neglected great majority of all who live and need to get around in the cities in her great and sprawling country. She comes down hard on past policies that have heavily favored the well to do, while all too systematically ignoring the daily needs of the rest. And that of course is unsustainable. Let’s listen to what she has to say:

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John W. Verity on New Scare City

It’s a fictional streetscape we wander, here, a metropolis whose buildings, boulevards, and back alleys are in a constant state of flux. This is every place, and yet, no place at all – a city of dreams and a dream of a city. Continue reading

Safe Streets 2012: Opening brainstorm, invitation and stretching exercise

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).

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Man and car: Who is driving whom this morning?

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