Let’s make a Green Spring for China in 2011!

Dear Rory,

Let me try to summarize in a few lines the main points I just mumbled through in that first-rate exchange we had brainstorming on an eventual joint demonstration project, starting with your proposed “You’re better off by bike “Ciclovía” project for Zhuhai maybe for March. By the numbers:

1. While we have a pretty good idea of how this thing might work – again thinking about the good old Ciclovía that got going decades ago in Bogotá and which then spread immediately to Cali, Medellín, and other cities across Colombia, before taking off to create a pattern for similar projects in cities around the world. Great concept: practical, effective, popular, cheap, limited in time (i.e., combing street-sharing and time-sharing), and — very important ! — Viral.

2. Now how can we take this good idea of others one giant step further in China? We have to start somewhere, since great ideas are always traceable to a place and a small group of people, who are looking at it from the vantage of their city. That’s great, but we also want to be viral. Both across China and beyond.

3. We need something a bit different form the rest.

a. And we also want it to be clearly recognizable from the very beginning.

b. So let’s start with a name: What about Green Spring? That should work very nicely in Chinese but what does it mean?

4. Green Spring: A series of three “Ciclovía” type Sunday projects, which build also on the good Italian example of more than a decade ago when some smart people there created their “Domenica Ecologica” program back in 2001, in which the country’s environment ministry got behind the idea of supporting cities and encouraging them to organize one Sunday a month during a four month period a “day without cars and with sports and life on the streets”. It worked well and continues to be popular in many cities across Italy.(I am copying this to Enrico Bonfatti as editor of Nuova Mobilità in Bergamo, who will be able to correct me on any of these details which may not be exalt right since I am doing this from memory)

5. Back to Green Spring in China. Here are my first crude thoughts:

a. A Green Streets program to be organized in the cooperating host city on the first Sunday of the month for a three month period.

b. The first Green Sunday should be organized not for ambition but for success. The idea is that in the successive Green Sundays, we will be able to fine tune and expand – building on our learning experience.

c. The third and “last” Green Sunday in this cycle will be followed a few days later by an open conference, evaluation and ideas session, attended by the public, schools, and of course all the concerned public agencies.

d. The goal of this meeting, to decide based on the experience of the first Green Spring among three options:\

i. Since it did not succeed, put an end to the program

ii. Consider doing it next year.

iii. Or perhaps on every first Sunday of each month, starting as soon as the team behind it is ready to guarantee success.

My guess is that this choice of language and images will look very nice in Chinese. Or at least I hope so.

I look forward to working with you on this Rory. It’s a great idea, and I hope too that once we have something solid we can put this before Jason for his views and eventually other of the senior team members for the fine Share/Transport conference in Kaohsiung — and perhaps too, as you suggest, our Future Leaders program in some way. To get us going, I will copy this as well as to Enrico to Jane, who I am sure will have some surely interesting ideas and comments for us.

Let’s make a Green Spring for China in 2001. Which means that we really need to get moving on this now.

Best/Eric

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