Interview: World Streets editor interviews busy mayor on his sustainable transport strategy

Asking the mayor of Freedonia to walk the talk

groucho at deskFreedonia City Hall, 19 June 2015.09:00. The mayor is comfortably seated  at his  imposing desk, looking fondly at an unlit cigar.  The editor of World Streets knocks lightly and waits timidly at the door, entirely drenched and  more than a bit disheveled. Not a pretty sight.

The Mayor: Well sir, you are a fine mess. Careful, you are dripping on my favorite chair. Continue reading

A PETITION From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, Sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting.

To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Gentlemen:

France Frédéric BastiatYou are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.

We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.

Continue reading

Why I am Reasonably Optimistic about the Sustainability Transition

Twelve Transformative Realities and Trends for 2015-2020

eb-tallinn-statementOne of the great recompenses of having watched the sustainable transportation and related technology developments evolve over the course of several decades, is that if one takes the time to step back and scan the evidence for pattern breaks, one can readily spot a certain number of fundamental structural changes, quite a few of which bode well for a different and better future for transport in and around cities. Here are a handful of the fundamental underlying changes which I have spotted over the last decades and which I would like to share with you this morning.

Continue reading

Nobody saw it coming (Well almost nobody)

Two decades after the end of the Second World War,  an enormous pattern was taking over cities across Europe, as each day more cars were being put on the road and as their prime target began to unceasingly take over public space in city after city. And yet, few cities were prepared to face the challenge. The metastasis was so grindingly persistent and day by day that it simply seemed to be part of Europe’s  new and hard won prosperity. And who after all  can be against progress?  Certainly not most politicians.

But here and there, starting already in the late sixties, individual citizens and small civil society groups opened their eyes began to take on the challenge.  There are stories of how these actions played themselves out in many European cities. Here is one the comes from Amsterdam and that we share with you thanks to Pascal van den Noort and Velo Mondial, who passed this along from a story entitled “Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972″ put  online by Bicycle Dutch – https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/ .

Here we are today and the challenges and the stakes from these same problems are even greater than ever.  I would say that we have a great deal to learn from the past. Let’s start by listening to the voices of several children on the streets of Amsterdam in 1972.

Continue reading

Keynote: International Forum on Livable City and Eco-Mobility – Hsinchu, Taiwan. 29 January 2015

taiwan Hsinchu eb in traffic smaller long

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.

The speaker has written up his final conclusions and recommendations for Peer Review and commentary in a second document now available at http://wp.me/p1fsqb-1ua

Continue reading

Taiwan Mission Recommendations: 23–30 January 2014 (Draft for Peer Review and Commentary)

taiwan - taipei - scooters at stop light

 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.

Continue reading