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1804Re: WorldTransport Forum Re: ODP: [WorldCityBike] Why are we losing the war on sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives?

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  • Richard Layman
    Jul 21, 2012
      I don't disagree with you that we can separate out ridesharing as a different category.  Although I would argue that a rideshare option isn't always a sustainable choice on an absolute basis, but maybe on a comparative basis.

      E.g., it's better to carshare than to own a car.  But is it better to use car2go (a one way carshare program offered in US cities) instead of biking, walking, or transit? 

      Shouldn't taxis be allowed to carry multiple fares within one ride to better use the vehicle?  What about jitneys?  But in many cities, including DC and Arlington County Virginia, otherwise one of the US's best examples of sustainable transportation planning, taxi service isn't even addressed in the transportation element of the master plan. 

      Does Autolib in Paris promote driving rather than more sustainable modes such as walking, biking, or transit, while on the other hand does it reduce car ownership, because it enables occasional use especially for trips involving multiple passengers or heavy packages? 

      Should we consider package delivery services as an element of sharing or enabling more sustainable transportation choices too?  Pretty much we aren't.  e.g., http://www.freetrailer.dk/  (I've have talked with this company about the US market, and they are interested but mostly they say, "In the US, cars are so much bigger than in Europe and many people have SUVs anyway, so we don't think there is much of a market for this kind of service.")

      Or bikeshare is criticized in places like Montreal because fewer than 15% of the trips are diverted from the car, but I would argue having ridden the Metro in Montreal, which is often very crowded plus the cars are narrow, that easing the congestion on the Metro through bikesharing would be a net positive.  (Similarly, in DC, bikesharing for residents is mostly diverting trips from transit.)

      And your points about carpooling are right on (at least for commute trips), but somewhat problematic because origins and destinations are so dispersed.  It's hard to be efficient.  OTOH, the DC region is known for the "slugging" phenomenon, which aids car utilization through the incentive of HOV lanes and faster trips.

      In the Washington DC region, home of the US federal government, vanpooling is a particularly successful component of TDM.  OTOH, we can criticize this method for enabling people to live very far distances from work and contributing to sprawl.

      And note that one of the lines of business of my firm is bikesharing (and this book on collaborative consumption is top notch: _What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption) so I am all for sharing.

      I think we need to still figure this out, we haven't wrestled with all the issues.  

      With regard to your general point, in DC proper, while we have some roads that are almost permanently congested because they are major entrypoints in and out of the city generally, or in particular districts-sectors of the city, for the most part, streets aren't congested much at all.  This has been a progressive phenomenon that I have noticed over the 25 years I've lived in DC. 

      I think it's a demonstration that a combination of the walking city spatial pattern given to us by L'Enfant, complemented with a subway system and surface transit, plus walking and biking, enabled with increasing amenities in neighborhoods derived from an increasing population (density) reducing the need to travel longer distances to accomplish tasks works very well to reduce car use/improves sustainable mobility.

      Even though the quality of the subway system is in a period of steep decline, for the most part, the system works.  It's a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of transit (as it is in Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens New York as well).


      From: Paul Minett <paulminett@...>
      To: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com; WorldCityBike@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 10:15 PM
      Subject: RE: WorldTransport Forum Re: ODP: [WorldCityBike] Why are we losing the war on sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives?

      While I agree with you that we are not thinking big enough, I take issue with your central statement that:  there are 3 elements to sus. trans. -- walking, biking, transit  + the livability/placemaking/streets aspect + the general issues of land use and mixed use
      You are missing ridesharing – or perhaps I should say you are missing ‘passengership’.  A car that has four people in it is as energy efficient per passenger mile as a bus that is 40% full: and the carpool does not deadhead empty to collect more riders.  Of course people will ‘split off and pursue the aspect that interests them the most’ if you leave out huge chunks of the solution-set.
      I agree with your suggestion that we should take ‘much harder core positions, and criticize easy compromise, and wimpiness’.
      At the Ridesharing Institute we talk about defeating traffic congestion, which can be done with surprisingly small amounts of personal change on the part of commuters, but it is a position that people are uncomfortable with.  I think their discomfort stems from an expectation that we will fail if our goal is too grandiose.  They think we will fail in two ways:  one by not being taken seriously, and one by not achieving the goal because it has not been achieved in the past.
      The worst examples of traffic congestion in US cities could be defeated by every person choosing to become a passenger just one day out of five, or about double the current rate.  The current approaches to reducing congestion do not focus on what it takes to get people to make this choice, but rather to providing solutions that we hope fit in the category of ‘if we build it they will come’.  Experience shows us that this does not deliver.
      Kind regards
      Paul Minett
      Ridesharing Institute
      64 21 289 8444
      64 9 524 9850
      From: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Richard Layman
      Sent: Saturday, 21 July 2012 12:38 a.m.
      To: WorldCityBike@yahoogroups.com; worldtransport@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: WorldTransport Forum Re: ODP: [WorldCityBike] Why are we losing the war on sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives?
      we might be losing the war, but it's because we aren't thinking big enough.  People are mostly looking at things too narrowly.
      People are enamored of the small changes but the reality is that they need to be part of a bigger whole, a sustained movement.  It's complicated by the fact that becasue there are 3 elements to sus. trans. -- walking, biking, transit  + the livability/placemaking/streets aspect + the general issues of land use and mixed use -- and there isn't a unified voice and program as many people split off and pursue the aspect that interests them the most.
      I am a big proponent of Growth Machine theory, from sociology, which posits how local land use and political elites are unified around a pro-growth agenda.  The political scientists have a competing theory, that of the Urban Regime.  I think that GM theory is better at explaining why the local elites do what they do, but the UR theory is excellent for explaining how it's done.  In any case, most any big road project (or transit project for that matter) illustrates GM/UR theories, and are usually top-down projects.
      This is from an old blog entry:
      Professor Stone was kind enough to send me his recent paper, "Now What? The continuing evolution of Urban Regime analysis," from 2005. He writes:

      An urban regime can be preliminarily defined as the informal arrangements through which a locality is governed (Stone 1989). Because governance is about sustained efforts, it is important to think in agenda terms rather than about stand-alone issues. By agenda I mean the set of challenges which policy makers accord priority. A concern with agendas takes us away from focusing on short-term controversies and instead directs attention to continuing efforts and the level of weight they carry in the political life of a community. Rather than treating issues as if they are disconnected, a governance perspective calls for considering how any given issue fits into a flow of decisions and actions. This approach enlarges the scope of what is being analyzed, looking at the forest not a particular tree here or there. (emphasis added, in this paragraph and below)

      In discussing Atlanta, Stone writes: "Land use, transportation, and housing formed an interrelated agenda that the city's major economic interests were keen to advance;" and

      By looking closely at the policy role of business leaders and how their position in the civic structure of a community enabled that role, he identified connections between Atlanta's governing coalition and the resources it brought to bear, and on to the scheme of cooperation that made this informal system work. In his own way, Hunter had identified the key elements in an urban regime – governing coalition, agenda, resources, and mode of cooperation. These elements could be brought into the next debate about analyzing local politics, a debate about structural determinism. 
      So the issue is creating a comparable effort that works over the long term--a "sustained effort".
      As a bicycle planner, you get people who come up to you who say "why can't we be like Portland?" (because they haven't been to Europe, this is close to the ideal for the US, although I am a fan of Montreal's cycletracks myself) and this is paralyzing, as even most planners aren't familiar with the 40 years of decision making in Portland--starting with the decision to tear down a waterfront freeway in 1970, to not build another highway, and to prioritize investment including transit in downtown--that got Portland to where it is today.
      It's a process.  
      Now I don't think every locale needs 40 years to get to where Portland is today, but "critical mass" bike rides and Occupy movements that refuse to use microphones aren't going to get us there.
      The Stanford Business School magazine had a couple articles a few years ago about work by their professors on social movements and business changes aided by "social movements."  I wrote about it here:

      A different way of thinking about social movements

      Comes to us from the organization behavior department of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and their magazine, which profiles various efforts by faculty at the school. 

      The story "Market Rebels" features professor Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao, and his work/book on the link between technology and/or product adoption and the "social movement" actions both inside and outside of an organization that are necessary for the technology to become adopted.

      "Social Movements," features the work of Professor Sarah Soule, which has been published as Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility. From the article:

      ... how exactly do social movements create change? And at what stage do these movements have the most impact on governments and even on corporations?
      Image removed by sender. Book cover, Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility
      Sarah Soule, the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior, has looked at thousands of protests staged over numerous causes to find the answers. Her conclusions? Movements have their greatest effect in the early stages of policy debate on a given issue, before the debate becomes too broad and acrimonious and before cause supporters become too outspoken. And, she says, activism often begets more activism as groups that come together over one issue find future ground for agreement and take on yet more issues.

      Before 2000, researchers had not proven empirically the power of protest to create change, says Soule, who joined the Business School's organizational behavior faculty in 2008 after teaching at Cornell and the University of Arizona. She and colleagues set out to find evidence of whether social movements make a difference, and if so, when they have the most impact.

      A third article is about Green Marketing. It's not as scintillating as the other articles, but is interesting nonetheless. See "Green Business."
      They illustrate something I learned while working for one of the nation's leading consumer groups and as a local activist.  (Reprinted from another blog entry...)
      1. It's appropo at the beginning of the new year to repeat a line I have:

      When you ask for nothing, that's what you get. When you ask for the world, you don't get it, but you get a lot more than nothing.

      2. Which is based on something I learned a couple decades ago while working at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group with Nader lineage (which CSPI tried to disavow). I learned this through observation, it wasn't something that the organization taught to its staff people.

      Basically, you need to treat an issue as a continuum of positions, with a variety of policy-proscription points. I prefer to think of it as a kind of scatter plot, with the most conservative position on the far left of the line, and the most progressive position on the far right of the line, and all sorts of positions, all over the map, in between.
      Image removed by sender. Scatter Plot -
Issue continuum
      My sense of what I call the issue continuum.

      I learned that the best consumer groups stake out the hard core, toughest, most progressive position.

      You do this because in the end, you get much more movement towards the ideal, than if you were willing to compromise early, often, and far more conservatively.

      It means that you never win. Because there is always plenty that you end up giving up.

      But the end result, at the time, is far better than if you caved earlier.

      It's why I tend to stake out much harder core positions, and criticize easy compromise, and wimpiness.

      Some people and organizations have to stake out the harder core position in order get a better result. But the world is better as a result. Even if you personally are always disappointed, and seeking more.

      From: Utkin Marek <mutkin@...>
      To: "WorldCityBike@yahoogroups.com" <WorldCityBike@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 4:21 PM
      Subject: ODP: [WorldCityBike] Why are we losing the war on sustainable transport, sustainable cities and sustainable lives?
      > You can put Smiley stickers on these cars, on the screen or on the mirror, with as text asking them to respect the cyclists space and that of pedestrians, often their space is blocked as well.

      In Poland we used to put on cars "Punishment c0ck" stickers:

      For to keep gender balance, "Punishment Pu$$y" appeared:

      They're made with glue which is very difficult to remove.
      And it's A WAY better, than a fine -- if the boy (moronic thug) wants to impress her girfriend, parking his tuned 20-years-old BMW on two parking places or cyclepath, he will be not so happy, seeing this, when they're back from restaurant or cinema. If she would start to wiggle, it's a disaster for him...


      Marek Utkin
      Biuro Drogownictwa i Komunikacji (BD)
      Wydzia? Sta?ej Organizacji Ruchu
      ul. Solec 48, pok?j -, 00-382 Warszawa
      tel. +48224430659
      faks +48224430641

      Wiadomo?? ta jest przeznaczona tylko dla okre?lonych adresat?w i mo?e zawiera? informacje prawnie chronione.
      Zakazane jest rozpowszechnianie i przesy?anie informacji do os?b nieuprawnionych do ich otrzymania.
      Zabronione jest tak?e wykorzystywanie tych informacji w celu innym ni? zosta?y przes?ane.

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