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from the belly of the beastRe: [carfree_cities] Car-Free Day Haters: Pros, Cons and Some Lessons of Experience

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  • UrbanForest at listbot.com
    received your messeage from the belly of the beast los angeles andy liberman moderator urbanforest-subscribe@listbot.com ... === message truncated === =====
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2000
      received your messeage
      from the belly of the beast
      los angeles
      andy liberman

      --- "ecopl@..." <eric.britton@...> wrote:
      > Shortly we will be announcing a plan that is being
      > hatched with our
      > good friends from the Earth Day Network (www.eathday.net
      > <http://www.eathday.net <http://www.eathday.net> > ) for
      > Earth Car Free Day
      > 2001, which is slated to
      > take place on Thursday (great day for it!), April 19th.
      > But since we are not
      > quite ready to take our first big step in this - which by
      > the way is to
      > consult you for your ideas and reasons once we have the
      > basic support
      > structure on line and ready for you - I would like
      > instead to address some
      > of the more patient of you with a short essay which may
      > eventually find its
      > way into our box of tools.
      > Comments are invited, and as appropriate will be
      > incorporate into whatever
      > final version of this that may appear.
      > eric britton
      > = = = = =
      > Car-Free Day Haters: Pros, Cons and Some Lessons of
      > Experience
      > After more than a decade of trying to convince people by
      > word and example
      > that a car-free day can be a good idea for a town, city
      > or a neighborhood,
      > one of the most striking things have been able to observe
      > as we and others
      > try to go from concept to concrete experience (as it
      > were) is that the world
      > out there divides pretty sharply into four main camps or
      > attitudes: those
      > who never heard of it (the vast majority), those who have
      > and don't care
      > (next largest group), those who have and like it, and
      > those who have and
      > think it's a rotten idea. It's this last group that I'd
      > like to spill some
      > ink about this morning.
      > Car-Free Day haters themselves tend to be identifiable in
      > several guises and
      > for several reasons. Let me rundown this list quickly,
      > before getting to
      > the group to which I would like specifically to comment
      > this morning. But
      > before we get into the heat of the action, let me put my
      > cards on the table.
      > Your author is a 60 year old owner/driver who is lucky
      > enough to live in
      > place in which you don't need a car, family and people
      > lover, bit of an
      > intellectual but a hard worker who puts in 10-12 hour
      > days, roughly what
      > they call "nouveau pauvre", etc., and am someone who not
      > only thinks that
      > the car free day concept is a terrific one for a whole
      > variety of reasons
      > but who is also willing to work at it. On the other hand,
      > I don't hate my
      > car (in fact I rather like it) and I recognize that there
      > are a lot of
      > places in which as things stand today they are the best
      > transportation
      > option that many people have.
      > All that said, I also am fully aware of two more things
      > about cars. The
      > first is that even at best (for them) they offer first
      > class mobility
      > services only to a growing minority of people in our
      > societies (and we have
      > the statistics to back that up). Second, there are places
      > where they work
      > less well than in others, and chief among them are in
      > heavily built up areas
      > such as cities.
      > Now I have subjected you to this boring Curriculum Vitae
      > because I feel it
      > is important, if we are together to advance our great
      > shared idea, that we
      > know absolutely who we are, warts and all, and at the
      > same time are willing
      > to listen carefully to those who do not agree with us.
      > After all, those who
      > hate the idea of a car-free day are like us citizens,
      > voters, parents and
      > active participants in our pluralistic democracies, and
      > it would be stupid
      > of us not to try to understand what it is they object to.
      > Worse than
      > stupid, it would be counter-productive, since the odds
      > are that they
      > probably have some important things to say, and further
      > that at the end of
      > the day we are going to need if not all of them, most of
      > them on our side.
      > So now on to our list of those who may not agree with us:
      > 1. Politicians and Policy Makers:
      > This is a tricky group and, as we all know, tend to be
      > almost entirely
      > change-averse -- unless they think there are some votes
      > in it (which is
      > rarely the case). There are of course exceptions to this
      > rule, but the word
      > (exceptions) says it all. Now these good people tend to
      > have two strategies
      > for dealing with any car free day proposal that might
      > surge out of their mad
      > electorate. The first and most frequent is to ignore it
      > as long as
      > possible. A second - and this, a recent phenomenon that
      > we have been seeing
      > here in Europe of late - consists of going along with it
      > in a "reasonable
      > manner". This usually means a very reduced effort
      > lasting just a few hours
      > and which is cloistered in small section of the city in a
      > way that, above
      > all, manages to avoid conflict.
      > There is a third political/administrative group that
      > publicly says
      > approximately this: "These car-free days are poorly
      > thought out ideas that
      > can be greatly disruptive of our cities and their
      > activities, so we want
      > nothing to do with them." The mayor of Stockholm, to
      > name but one, made
      > precisely such a statement within weeks of awarding the
      > Stockholm Prize for
      > Environment to the joint car-free day effort of The
      > Commons and the City of
      > Bogot´┐Ż.
      > We have two quick points to make in this respect. The
      > first is that the
      > Mayor is absolutely correct: a car-free day, got right
      > and as we understand
      > it, is indeed a highly disruptive to a city. Making a
      > city work for people
      > is a serious business, and if one is going to make a
      > radical pattern break,
      > it is necessary to do this with the level of commitment,
      > public support and
      > resources that are appropriate to the challenge.
      > The second important point is that the mayor of Stockholm
      > is not alone in
      > his point of view. His is the majority position among
      > politicians around
      > the world. And this is the stark reality is what we must
      > be prepared to
      > confront and deal with.
      > 2. Traffic and Transport Planners:
      > By and large these professionals are not at all in favor
      > of a car-free day.
      > It makes a lot of work for them, and as often as not
      > under circumstances in
      > which they do not have the resources needed to do their
      > end of the job
      > properly. Often as not car-free day people tend to
      > underestimate the
      > importance of the technical aspects of planning such a
      > day and getting it
      > right. This is a major oversight on our part.
      > On the other hand, if we can figure out ways to give
      > these key technical
      > partners the resources, time and broad public support
      > they need to make it
      > work, these people can make a great contribution, to even
      > the most demanding
      > of Days.
      > 3. Local Commerce:
      > This is simple. They are almost always against. And if
      > you think it over
      > from their perspective - which as social activists who
      > would like to be
      > successful we really must - there is every reason for
      > them to take this
      > position. Car-free days, as we all know, are targeted
      > above all at the
      > crowded central cores of any given place. And that's
      > where
      === message truncated ===

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