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What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world . . .?

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  • eric britton
    Dear World Friends (you will see why this opening in a minute), As a least some of you know there is a rather interesting project going on under the leadership
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 15, 2009
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      Dear World Friends (you will see why this opening in a minute),

       

      As a least some of you know there is a rather interesting project going on under the leadership of something called the National Journal in Washington, DC, where they have created an expert blog in which they've invited a couple dozen "transportation insiders" (in their words) in order to provide counseling guidelines to be transportation team of the incoming Obama administration.  You can see all about it at http://transportation.nationaljournal.com.

       

      The idea is that each week the editors are asking the expert panel to respond to a question in the hope that some interesting ideas will appear there and make their way into the discussions and considerations of the incoming team at the Department of Transportation. The question that will be posted over this weekend will be the following:

       

      “What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?

       

      “We Americans often think of ourselves as sitting at the very top of the social, economic, technological, entertainment, and political pyramid.  After all, we invented human flight, the Super Bowl, the Interstate Highway , the transcontinental railroad, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.  But perhaps we’re not as advanced as we like to think.  Perhaps innovations in transportation , land use, and energy consumption are much more evenly distributed around the world than we ever thought possible.  Indeed, perhaps America is closer to the middle or bottom of the pyramid when it comes to transportation investments.  What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?”

       

      Since they originally invited me to join this panel, I guess in part because they think I have something to say from an international perspective, I have had a bit of a role in getting this question onto the agenda.  As those of you who know me can well imagine, I think I have something to say on this . . . however I think I have an even better idea than that, so let me share it with you.

       

      Specifically, I would like to you the chance to respond to this question terms of the following routine, if you agree:

       

      1.     Please address one and only one idea or topic either to me privately via eric.britton@..., or if you feel it will be of interest to the group as a whole to the New Mobility Café at NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com  (if you do this, kindly conserve the above Subject line).

       

      2.     Kindly make your point in less than 250 words.

       

      3.     Sign it in a succinct matter with your name, institutional affiliation, country, and e-mail.

       

      4.     Allow me to edit it on the understanding that I will not denature your commentary.

       

      While we don't have a lot of time for this, I for one will be extremely interested to see what kind of compilation we can make of this if we put our heads together.  I just have to think that it's going to be frightfully interesting.  And I'm sure it will tell the reader almost as much about ourselves as it does about the ideas we are addressing.  As far as I'm concerned that's okay too.  After all the solo transportation is people.

       

      Let's see what happens now.

       

      Eric Britton

       

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    • eric britton
      What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 1, 2009
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        “What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?

         

        “We Americans often think of ourselves as sitting at the very top of the social, economic, technological, entertainment, and political pyramid.  After all, we invented human flight, the Super Bowl, the Interstate Highway , the transcontinental railroad, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.  But perhaps we’re not as advanced as we like to think.  Perhaps innovations in transportation , land use, and energy consumption are much more evenly distributed around the world than we ever thought possible.  Indeed, perhaps America is closer to the middle or bottom of the pyramid when it comes to transportation investments.  What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?”

         

        Here is that collection of interesting responses to my invitation of a week or so ago to provide very short brainstorming bits in response to the above famous question.  I share this with you with a couple thoughts in mind.  First by way of information, just in case some parts of this may be of interest to you.  Second, in case you have any suggestions about any of the entries you see their us far, including eventually URLs for reference for anyone who might wish to follow further on any of these ideas.

         

        And finally, might it be that you yourself might have a last-minute entry into this pantheon.  I think you have all of the necessary guidelines for this but if you can find them let me know and I will set them on immediately. It will take another week or so for me to whip this thing into final form for submittal to the editors, in part because I am hoping to pick up at least some additional messages on areas which I would like to have heard more about which are not yet cover her intercourse it is a huge universe of issues and approaches out there, but I would certainly have liked to have had a few more messages from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and the long list goes on. 

         

        And anyone mention China? India? Japan? Africa. Sure Europe is leading in many respects but there is a big world out there. (Reminds me, you may want to play with www.knoogle.net to see if and how that might help feed your curiosity on any of this. That after all is what it is for.)

         

        It is just that there is so many interesting things happening here that the world, and our friends back in Washington, really do need to know more about.  Of course we cannot educate them (and ourselves) in a single piece like this, but maybe we will elicit some interest and drive some initiatives that otherwise might not have been there.  If that happens, this work would have been well worth it

         

        Can you imagine that we have none or next to no-discussion of issues as important as value capture, carsharing, road pricing, digital hitchhiking, free public transport, parking policy, public bikes, linking better civil society with formal government, Vision Zero and other ideas that make people sit up and think, concepts like the "street code" "Code de la rue"), and oh dear this list goes on and on.  And not a mention of media to get these good ideas across. But if we can capture a few more of these great ideas in the week ahead, I would be most pleased and I am sure that a number of you would as well.

         

        When I have all this in hand, including whatever feedback you would care to share with me, I will dump this to the National Journal who will then circulate our contributions to something like 12,000, 13,000 "Washington insiders" (kind of scary that).  We can hope that they will read it, profit from it, and use some of this to make a difference. We need it over there.

         

        All the best and with many thanks,

         

        Eric Britton

         

         

         

         

         

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