Partnership Call to lay the base for a New Mobility 20/20 Target Initiative for your city
Tuesday, October 26, 2004, Paris, France, Europe
Reference: Partnership Call to lay the base for a New Mobility 20/20 Target Initiative for your city
The objective of this note is to invite you consider and eventually possibly to participate in some way – or to help us find the right partners to do the job -- in an innovative public policy/action sustainability initiative still in its early stages of development, but which we believe has real potential in the until now hopelessly unequal struggle to move our cites toward something much closer to sustainable mobility. The bottom line: preparation of a broad-based phased city-wide collaborative action program that sets out to achieve (a) an explicitly targeted 20% area-wide reduction in traffic and associated public health impacts (CO2, accidents, etc.) in that place (b) within a target period of 20 months. (Hence 20/20.)
What is useful about this concept is that it is at once far-reaching, affordable and realistic. No less important, it targets highly ambitious near term efficiency and visible environmental improvements without requiring massive injections of hard earned taxpayer money. It also, with the right kind of preparatory work and support, can offer a very powerful political tool for mayors and city counsels who want to offer a better, safer, cleaner and more affordable city to their electorate.
Why are we contacting you on this today? Well, because we know from past international experience that programs such as this require highly qualified, energetic, well placed local partners who know the issues and the trade-offs well and have the technical capacities and networks to tailor and make this approach work in their city. And at the end of the day this approach is as much political as it is technical, and its pioneering nature makes it rather more than one more transportation project. And it is for this reason that we have set out to look for partners capable of facing these challenges in a first handful of cities to move ahead to prove these ideas.
Which brings us to the purpose of this note to you. We are looking with a high degree of urgency for a few leading organizations, groups and cities that want to have a closer look at this to see how it might be tailored and applied in one or more cities. A first round of efforts have recently gotten underway in Toronto, but it is our view that other cities should not wait. We know enough and the problems are grave enough to begin now.
With this by way of first introduction, this is to invite you to get in touch so that we can have a look together to see how this might be put to work in practical terms. Of course if you wish more background or details on how all this works, this is the right place to turn. The following notes plus the two web sites offer a fair amount of information in support of these ideas, but they are incomplete and in any event it is creative interaction in each specific context which is needed to move this closer to reality.
A New Mobility 20/20 Target Initiative for Your City?
In brief: The 20/20 policy consists of a coordinated, quite sizeable complex of time-phased ‘carrots and sticks’, all of which are geared to making more efficient use of the existing transport infrastructure of the city. In a sophisticated city like Toronto (and surely yours) we have seen that many of these measures are well known, but not all of them. It is the combination of packages of new measures, new ways of applying and coordinating known ones, and the creation of an overall coordinating framework with strong and extensive public commitment and corresponding technical competence that lies at the heart of this approach.
Hmm. At first glance this sounds a bit unlikely, at least for our city (“we are different”) but is it…
- Desirable? Something that seems to you and the voters in your city consider to be desirable? Or is it so far off the political screen as to merit no attention?
- Realistic? Is it an impossible goal for your city? We would certainly expect that your initial reaction should be at the very least skeptical. But hold on. Are you all that sure? Might it not be a good idea to have at least a closer look?
- Divisive? Is it a policy that is going to divide your population into two divisive groups and involve many negative, anti-car measures? Well, we think not, but this is certainly something that needs to be kept in mind as you move head in preparing any eventual program in this often conflict-ridden area of public policy and private practice.
- Costly? Is it going to require major increases in the amount of money available to the sector? The answer is, quite simply: No!
The Four Keys:
(1) Carefully setting clear, understandable, ambitious but safely meetable performance targets.
(2) Strong commitment of local leaders from the top -- at least to take this through the first Blueprint Go/No-Go phase.
(3) A very broad base of public support and participation.
(4) A highly committed local implementation partner with the technical virtuosity needed to get the fine detail planned carefully, executed and then consistently fine-tuned -- and the open community spirit and orientation needed to get the job done.
How to get this done? The answer is: very carefully. The 20/20 program requires strong leadership and communications skills, because behind there must be a broad based public/private/community partnership that will bring together and integrate the active participation of a far broader number and range of groups and interests than traditionally involved in the planning and implementation process. The preparatory and planning process – which we advise should be carried out in an intensive, broad-based 3 month “Blueprint Go/No Go Decision” effort – must be highly inclusive and carried out in an Open Society initiative. It should target to bring into the process not only those groups that traditionally favor environmental initiatives, but also those who have their doubts, including groups and interests who traditionally have opposed anything other than the now suddenly old-mobility process (i.e. and in brief: build and spend your way out of the problem).
The Downside: It is our firm belief that if you approach this with the care, energy and commitment needed, there is no downside. It may turn out that after your pre-study, you will elect different objectives and levels of ambition. But who can criticize a city for taking this challenge seriously and spending a relatively small amount of money and time to see if they can get on the right path?
Variations: It may be that after the careful Blueprint Implementation plan is completed, a rather different set of targets will emerge. One distinct possibility is that a consensus that 20/20 per se is simply too ambitious for your city. Fair enough. The team might end up proposing instead a 10/20 or even 5/20 program. Would that be a problem? We don’t think so. Even if “all” the city were to target and achieve would be, say, a 5% reductions over twice as many months, they would still be inching toward what we call “Kyoto Compliance”. Indeed, such a performance would be notable and offer great improvements which would mark your city apart from the rest who are simply and passively submitting to what they believe to be their destiny.
Please note: We are well aware that in many cities there is a lot already going on to make specific point improvements and if the city is lucky many qualified citizen groups and associations that are getting involved and trying to make their contribution both in terms of steering policy in the direction of being more sustainable, and in terms of specific actions on their part to make this happen. The objective of the New Mobility Initiative is not to get in their way or supplant their efforts in any way, but rather to reinforce them and define a consistent and supportive overall structure within which their energies and projects can be better supported and coordinated.
Some References: These are of course critical questions, and the purpose of this note is to at least start to address them. To get you going, you can find further general background information on the approach on the New Mobility Agenda site at http://newmobility.org. And for a specific city application (in process), you may wish to have a look at the Toronto New Mobility Initiative at http://ecoplan.org/toronto. But once you have worked your way through these materials certainly the best way to begin to deepen your understanding will be by getting in touch for direct discussions and exchanges.
- Sustainable transportation will, should not wait? The cost of the inefficiencies of today’s dysfunctional transportation arrangements in environmental, life quality and economic terms has already outstripped the carrying capacity of many cities and the planet as a while.
- Probably the most effective way of understanding the full extent of this dysfunctionality is to view it as a broad based ‘public health’ problem. To get a feel for how this works click “The Doctor’s Bill” at http://www.ecoplan.org/toronto/general/health.htm.
- Your city can, if it decides to, make significant near term inroads in congestion, pollution and life quality on its streets, without waiting for more international treaties to be signed, new technologies to appear from heaven, or large piles of government funding to build new roads, intersections, metros, LRT or fund costly, deficitory public transportation operations.
- Sustainable mobility at the level of a city or region – which is what this is all about – can be achieved in far less time than you ever thought through a (a) targeted, (b) aggressive, (c) locally-driven, (d) coordinated, (e) now-oriented pattern-break commitment on the part of local government and all concerned with the transport sector and its extensions and their impact on your city.
- There is a prudent process by which the program’s ambitious aims can be cheeked for consistency and do-ability, and which lends itself, indeed depends on very specific local tailoring and participation. But any eventual remedial action program along these lines that is going to yield results has to be accompanied (“sold”) by a clear target and process that the voters and public can understand, want to work toward, and which they are confident will yield visible near-term results.
- Does this imply 20% new money on top of everything in process? No! But it does require rethinking, redeploying and repackaging. And yes, a certain number of new synergistic initiatives as well, including some which perhaps you have not yet considered.
- Is this to suggest that the entire content of the 20/20 program must be new? Not at all. It is recognized that in many cities there are already projects and programs that are moving in this direction, or at least many elements of it. However the contribution of the 20/20 program is that it provides a broader underlying structure, higher visibility and a sense of urgency and support which has thus far been lacking.
- The planning period to develop a 20/20 program blueprint? Well, we propose an intensive focused 3 month effort, but only if there is major backing by and commitment of local government and the volunteer sector. Half-hearted support will just not work. Also requires considerable technical expertise on the part of transport planners and energetic entrepreneurship from both public and private sector actors in the city, to allow us to use their expanding toolkit to better understand and provide for the impact on the streets of the many changes that together constitute the New Mobility Agenda for the city.
- This is not to say that there is no place for long term thinking and action in the New Mobility Agenda, but rather the level of urgency of the problems in most places requires immediate remedial action. Thus, all longer term programs and thrust must be supported by aggressive and broadly supported near term actions, for which the scope is in fact very large. (Which by the way should not do you a great deal of harm if you happen to be mayor or councilman with an election in the wings).
We are now discussing a first round of 20/20 projects with local teams in a first handful of cities and concerned organizations world-wide, so why not with you?
The New Mobility Agenda is at http://newmobility.org
And Toronto’s New Mobility 20/20 Initiative at http://ecoplan.org/toronto
The Commons: Open Society Sustainability Initiative
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