Intersection in the central OSK demonstration site
The following PowerPoint slides were created to accompany a fifty minute keynote address by the editor of World Streets to the International Forum on Livable City and Eco-Mobility hosted by the Hsinchu city government in Taiwan on 29 January 2015. (A video of the address to be made shortly available.)
The presentation addresses and comments on the challenges being faced by this recently elected new administration, including in the context of his book in progress “Convergence: General Theory of Transport in Cities “, with discussion as well of sections of the recently published book of the Canadian urbanist and writer Charles Montgomery, “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design”.
In addition to looking at the mobility challenges facing the new government from an overall integrated state-of-the-art policy perspective, with special attention to the importance of integrating transportation and land use planning and urban design, the speaker spent some time commenting on the proposed One Square Kilometer (OSK) Walkable City demonstration project which the new administration is considering.
The other speakers and audience were all Taiwanese, and the main language of the forum was Chinese, with simultaneous translation to English.
A morning like all others in Taipei traffic
Lyon, 3 February 2015
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It had been a year and a half since I last worked in Taiwan, the longest separation since I started collaborating with colleagues there in 2009. During much of this interval, in addition to my teaching, editorial responsibilities, and advisory work, I have been working on a most challenging new book under the title “General Theory of Transport in Cities”. The book aims to set out what I believe to be a much needed, consistent base for planning, policy and investment decisions in this important and fast changing field where ad hoc decision-making by unprepared politicians and ambitious interest groups has all too often prevailed.
This last year has been a period of deep reflection on my accumulated experience in the transport and sustainable development fields in cities around the world over more than four decades. As a result of this ongoing process, I find myself this time looking at the issues in Taiwan from this broader international perspective. My keynote address to the International Forum on Livable City & Eco-Mobility in Hsinchu on 29 January was the first in a series of international “road tests”, which are giving me a precious opportunity to present some of the main arguments from the book before expert audiences to test them and seek their critical comments and views. The lively discussions that took place in Hsinchu during the forum and my four days there proved to be most valuable.
In the late spring of 2012 the diligent editor of World Streets was visited by a young Canadian writer who announced that he was working on a book about “Happy Cities”, and in this context wanted to talk about my experience in and thoughts on the happiness arena, with particular attention to issues concerning ordinary people, people like Thee and Me in our day-to-day lives: issues of mobility and public space, needs meet and unmet, time and distance, behavior and equity, economy and democracy . . . in Paris and around the world. Why not? Maybe I will learn something from him.
We agreed that I might be able to make some small contributions, subsequent to which Charles Montgomery’s grilling interrogation lasted a full day and was followed by extensive correspondence over the course of the next year. Toward the end of 2013 “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York. One year later the 368 page book has just appeared in an affordable paperback edition, and is now widely available in bookshops, and of course the Internet. (PS. Support your local bookshop, it is a happier experience!) We thank the author and the publisher for permission to share the following extracts with our readers to celebrate the low-cost editions now available.
The following excerpt has been taken from his Chapter 9, entitled “Freedom”. (We’ll come to that in a note at the end of this chapter.)
Paris, 7 January 2015
What is happiness? What is well-being? What should we be targeting for our societies? It is important for active citizens in a participatory democracy (there is no other) that we come to a broadly shared vision of where we want to go, a straight-forward, consistent strategy for how to get there, and some kind of measure so that we can see how we are doing. Sad to say all three are lacking on the political landscape today and we all are paying a high price for it. And if anything especially today.
Listening ot the radio a few hours after the murderous attack at Charlie Hebdo, I turned on my computer to find a short essay just in Sandra Waddock, Professor of Management at Boston College, responding to an on-going discussion of “The Degrowth Alternative”, currently underway under the aegis of a program of the Tellus Institute, The Great Transition Initiative – http://goo.gl/guWVeD (Prof. Waddock can be contacted at waddock(at)bc.edu). She reminds us at a time in which there is considerable though not always well informed discussions about the concept of “growth”, and just behind that the not-so-easy concept of “well-being”.
The Tellus Institute of Boston Massachusetts has recently initiated a collaborative program looking into alternative Urban Mobility Futures which will certainly be of interest to many readers of World Streets. Initial background information on their program along with direct links to the appropriate sites will be found below. But today we thought to see if we might be useful in response to a request from them which has just come in, as follows:
With the dawn of a new academic semester for some members of this group, we aim to identify resources (especially video materials) that are useful for classroom use on the general subject of “post-automobility futures.”
No problem: World Streets can be of some help since we have made it a habit over the years to identify, keep track of and share widely particularly interesting videos that will be of use to students, researchers, environmentalists, the media, activists and others wishing to follow new ideas and approaches on various aspects of the New Mobility Agenda.
* As of this date the World Streets Vidéothèque offers a collection of 63 films which are conveniently available at http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/videotheque/, coming from two dozen countries and showing us the good, bad and the ugly of transport in cities.
And while you are at it, it certainly would be a pity to miss the excellent collection of original videos which has been assembled over the last eight years by Clarence Eckerson and his team of talented videographers that you can find freely at http://www.streetfilms.org/.
This New Year’s editorial contributed by Sujit Patwardhan focuses on his home city of Pune, India’s eighth largest city with five million people densely packed into a land area of about 700 sq. km. But despite the vast dimensions of their problems, the potential solutions are basically the same as those encountered by cities around the world that are struggling with these challenges. As Sujit reminds us, the key, the crux, the indispensable thing that will do the job is to apply the strong medicine which most cities and national governments find simply impossible to swallow: namely major curtailing of car access,parking and traffic in the city. And yet, and yet . . .