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Re: WorldTransport Forum "Old Mobility = mechanical solutions to biological problems. "

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  • Richard Layman
    related to this point is an article that discusses bike sharing systems in the context of digitally enabled solutions:  
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 1, 2010
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      ·         Old Mobility = Tries to fashion basically mechanical solutions to deal with what are in fact biological or organic problems. *


      I like it because I feel that it gives us in a nutshell an explanation for why we are failing so badly in the sector.


      Without wishing to be disrespectful to anyone in particular (we are all in any event prisoners of our pasts), is it reasonable to say this? The older generations of experts, institutions, and problems solvers are locked into mainly mechanistic approaches and ways of thinking: i.e., here is the problem we face, here is how we are going to fix it, and off we go. Solve problem, and then go fishing.


      But when and if we shift over to new mobility thinking, what we have come to understand is that we are not going to "fix" the problem or problems, because it is not their nature nor that of complex interactive systems to be "fixed" in this sense. Rather we are ready to work with them over time within a more complex strategic frame, try this or that here of there, use 21st century feedback systems and logistics to get a flow of information about actual performance and impacts, and then tweak as infinitum. If it sounds like nurturing a child, it is no coincidence.


      I hope this is not to muddled to exclude understanding and that there may be something here eventually useful and at least worthy of your comments.


      Eric Britton


      PS. Of as Lao-Tzu just may have said: "How can a man, riding on an ox, looking for an ox, ever find an ox?"


       PPS. One of my  Chinese colleagues who is working with us on the Kaohsiung project, said that she felt this approach has parallels with the tradition of foot-binding of women in ancient China -足. A mechanical solution to a biological problem.

      related to this point is an article that discusses bike sharing systems in the context of digitally enabled solutions:
      I will say that it challenged my own thinking about some of these issues, because while I am an internet user and blogger, I am not a user of social media including Facebook and I don't have a great mobile phone (neither Apple nor Android).
      I had just read an interview in _Mass Transit_ magazine where the outgoing exec. director of Tri-Met in Portland, OR stated that rather than have fixed displays in transit stations stating arrival times, they will shift to Internet-only media...
      Still, the point about "Old Mobility" and even the thread on the underused bus service in New Zealand(?), is also about using the right type of hierarchically based frameworks for the provision of public/mass transit services.
      Appropriate "responses" depend on the intent/service profile for the type of service provided.
      Also see a presentation I did about this a few months ago at the U of Delaware:

      --- On Sat, 7/31/10, eric britton <eric.britton@...> wrote:

      From: eric britton <eric.britton@...>
      Subject: WorldTransport Forum "Old Mobility = mechanical solutions to biological problems. "
      To: sustran-discuss@..., NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com, WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: Katherine.Freund@..., "'JasonChang'" <skchang@...>, "John Thackara" <john@...>, "'JasonChang'" <skchang@...>
      Date: Saturday, July 31, 2010, 6:27 AM


      I like this and while by itself it may not move the earth I would like to invite your comments and suggestions on this image which, self evident though it may seem, some of us at least may find of use from time to time(at least I would like to think that).


      In a conversation yesterday with Katherine Freund of ITNAmerica, during which we were  discussing her possible volunteer participation in the forthcoming World Share/Transport Forum in Kaohsiung next month, the conversation rolled around as to the reasons why the narrow binomial choices which seem inevitably to frame the transport policy issues/choices in most places – i.e., either spend money to help cars or public transit as the two main options – are destined to fail. And in the process we eventually worked our way around to the phrase . . . 

    • Ian Perry
      Hi Richard and all, On reading your blog: London is not yet the largest bike-sharing scheme. Paris currently has 1,750 docking stations and 24,000 bikes, Bixi
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 1, 2010
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        Hi Richard and all,

        On reading your blog: London is not yet the largest bike-sharing scheme.  Paris currently has 1,750 docking stations and 24,000 bikes, Bixi in Montreal has 400 docking stations and 5,000 bikes, and I believe that Wuhan in China has 816 stations and 20,000 bikes.

        London has 315 docking stations (will soon be 400) and 4700 bikes (soon to be 6000) - but some bikes have problems with their back brakes being stuck on - and others can't be pulled from the docking station at all.  Due to problems with the billing, all users on the launch day were refunded their money.

        Unlike Paris, London has invested in "super-highways" which bring people into the city from the surrounding districts, leaving those on the share bikes in central London little infrastructure, other than the normal roads.

        I'm also not convinced that relying on people having web access is the way forward.  I'm not there yet and I doubt my Mum ever will!

        A weakness of the "car system" is its ever increasing reliance on technology and ever shrinking support network.  Petrol/gas stations are closing every week and fewer local mechanics have the technology to repair ever more complicated engines.

        On my street there is an excess of many things.  Food, cars, lawnmowers, washing machines, etc.  After "Peak-Everything", individual ownership may/will have to pass to communities - and this need not require any technology. 

        For "New Mobility" to enter the mainstream, it will have to be simple for all people to use, using universally available, understood and used technology...  which may be a lack of technology.

        I have many solutions, but to impose them from above, I risk making the mistakes of the past.  I need to stimulate discussion,  inspire and allow the ideas to grow organically from the bottom, up.  Not easy.



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