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Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may need your help

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  • Eric Britton
    [See full message set just below following text.] This is getting interesting, and once again we are seeing a fair spread of views as to what this is all
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 21, 2006
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      [See full message set just below following text.]

      This is getting interesting, and once again we are seeing a fair spread of
      views as to what this is all about. So in order to see if we can put our
      collective intelligence to work on this, I have coped the four messages on
      this to date just below, thinking that it may help you to get a feel for
      what we are groping toward.

      The main point that I can see coming out here is Lloyd’s idea of a double
      entry: car-free vs. car-lite. Since I am myself a lite guy – lots fewer cars
      in our city with lots less negative impacts – this has some attraction for
      me. But then on the other hand, I wonder if wiki-wise we might be stretching
      things a bit thin. To be the devil’s advocate: just because we see this
      distinction and find it important, it may not have much resonance for most
      of the people who pop into the WP for help.

      Also bear in mind, that the present entry was at one time marked for
      deletion and it was only the forceful entry of Randy Ghent into the
      dialogue, along with his subsequent adjustments of the text, that served to
      keep it there. Here are a couple of sticking points that I am not yet quite
      clear with:

      1. Are we correct to call this a “movement”? Is there a better word?
      For example for the entry on sustainable transportation that I have been
      working on with a number of you helping, we call it just that: ST all by
      itself, no movement or anything else. I think that works for us there, but
      what about here?

      2. (Actually if you go to
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_Transportation_Movement (an earlier
      entry) you will see that it now segues into
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transportation, which makes sense
      to me.)

      3. What do you think? Does that bring us to “Car Free Cities” as a
      better title for the entry? Well, in fact I have given this a try, as you
      will see at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfree_Cities. But of course we
      have to be careful not to let this whole thing look like the dog’s lunch.
      (On the other hand we can reference entry titles so that near-shots will
      take you to the main entry. But in this case what should that be?

      4. Which still leaves us with Lloyd’s idea of a ‘car lite’ entry,
      including all his caveats. Hmm.

      Where does that leave us as to next steps? One thing is for sure: and that
      it is time now for me to get out of the way and to hear what you have to

      Eric Britton

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Eric Britton [mailto:eric.britton@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 12:50 PM
      To: 'CarFree@yahoogroups.com'
      Cc: 'carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com'
      Subject: Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may need your help

      There is some interesting discussion going on over in the Wikipedia entry on
      the Car-free Cities movement at
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Car-free_movement – to which I would like
      to draw your attention.

      The CFC entry is still somewhat rudimentary and needs to be deepened and
      firmed up – all while bearing in mind that the goal is to make a neutral and
      authority encyclopedic statement of what this is all about – and not an
      advertisement of ones views.

      And if I say that it needs work, this is not intended to suggest that I
      think that the collective input process is off to a bad start. To the
      contrary, I very much like the balanced voice that comes out of it. Just
      what the doctor ordered in my book.

      For a bit of background on how the WP works – indispensable before getting
      your hands dirty on this – I would suggest that you click the Wikipedia link
      on our Car Free Days website at http://worldcarfreeday.com and have a good
      look. As a note of caution, if you stray too far from the necessary balance
      you will meet some new friends, volunteers who are in there to assure the
      quality of this collective work. And if they may not always know a lot
      about the topic, they are often real bright and need to be convinced.

      Happy hunting!

      Eric Britton

      PS. You may also find some value in the “Discussion” section of the entry
      (you’ll see and be able to click to it up top.). I have just weighed in
      there with a few words to support the entry (there are those who are
      claiming that it does not belong here), and I hope you will do so as well.

      Eric Britton entry in CFC Discussions page of this date: Tuesday, February
      21, 2006: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Car-free_movement

      Let me just put in my two bits here, based on long and I hope balanced
      experience in quite a few bits and pieces of this.

      * The car-free cities movement does in fact exist and has a long and
      indeed honorable history (you can see some of this in the timeline set out
      in Car Free days
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Car_Free_days&action=edit> ).
      * On these grounds I believe that it has its rightful place in the
      Wikipedia. (Indeed, if the WP is unable to provide full and proper coverage
      of these building blocks of our societies, no matter how conceptual and
      unfamiliar to many, then it will suffer greatly as a first-stop shop for
      information and perspective.)
      * And BTW, I think that the entry as it stands is a great start. We
      can do better of course, but it would be a mistake to run away from this for
      reasons of personal prejudices or views. The issues are real. The movement
      is real.
      * There are a fair range of flavors in the CFC movement and its
      ancillaries, some of which deliberately "in your face", others more
      * All that said, I think it is fair to say that it has had little
      on-street impact up to now.
      * The reasons for this? Well, it's a coin toss, but one certainly is
      that there is a lot of noble thinking and nostalgia in the movement, but not
      much when it comes to the impacting on the policy interface in order to get
      the job done.
      * This may come from the basically negative, conflictual visions
      involved for the most part. All great stuff if you are a fairly comfortable
      lad or lass with parents who have always paid most of your bills, but if
      engineering change in a pluralistic democratic society is your game, other
      approaches are required.
      * I think that the day in which the CFC movement can get together with
      other concerned groups and currents in order to provide practical menus of
      step by step progress toward a "less car" agenda (as opposed to hermetically
      'car free'), then we will have more than resentment and nostalgia to build

      Finally a quick personal note: I appreciate these people and groups, though
      they often exasperate me by their hectoring and ineffectiveness, and I would
      much like to see them evolve into being part of the solution (in an always
      imperfect world). To this end, I shall go today to the "idea factory" of the
      [World Car <http://worldcarfreeday.com> Free Days] program and invite the
      250 or so people from around the world who check into and contribute to this
      collective process (much like the WP in fact, though more pluralistically
      activist than encyclopedic balanced) and invite them to come in here and see
      how they might contribute to deepen this entry. (I have also warned them
      carefully about the rules of the game here and referred them to the key
      sections prior to getting their hands into this). We’ll see what that gives.
      ericbritton <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Ericbritton> 10:27, 21
      February 2006 (UTC)


      Randy Ghent contribution of same day, same page:

      I don't think the carfree movement has little to do with nostalgia, purity,
      or desire for confrontation. It's more to do with the recognition that cars
      have an overall negative impact (even when present in small numbers), that
      the "need" for cars can be eliminated through positive changes in
      infrastructure and urban form (reducing distances and making other modes
      more convenient), and that a car-lite environment does not provide the
      quality-of-life advantages of a carfree environment. But pragmatically
      speaking, I would like to have a car-lite and a carfree environment built
      side by side so that the public can judge which they prefer. Practically
      speaking, there are quite a few carfree residential developments that have
      been built in recent years. Also, I think the terms "carfree cities
      movement" and "carfree days movement" should not be used as they just
      complicate things. The following is the definition of the carfree movement
      from the World Carfree Network website: User:randallghent
      14:35, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

      What is the Carfree Movement?:

      World Carfree Network uses the term "carfree movement" rather broadly, to
      refer to:

      * those promoting alternatives to car dependence and car culture,
      including alternative modes such as cycling, walking and public transport;
      * those promoting carfree lifestyle choices, within either a
      car-dependent, car-lite^ or carfree local context;
      * those promoting the building of (usually mixed-use) carfree
      environments# on either brownfield or greenfield sites (usually sited to
      ensure easy access to a variety of non-automotive transport modes);
      * those promoting carfree days, using the events as tools to bring
      about long-term on-the-ground change in infrastructure and priorities
      (example: Bogota); and
      * those promoting the transformation of existing villages, towns and
      cities (or parts of them) into carfree environments.

      Car-lite - Either a person or place that is not completely carfree, but uses
      or allows for a variety of alternative transport modes in addition to the
      car. (Car-lite environments tend to still devote at least half the street
      space to the automobile, with street widths usually similar to those in
      car-dependent environments.) The New Urbanists - an influential North
      American group of architects, developers and planners - are an example of
      people who promote and build car-lite environments, expressly stating that
      the automobile must be accommodated.

      Carfree environments - Places that do not accommodate (permit the entry of)
      automobiles. (An "environment" can be a an entire village, town or city; a
      portion of a village, town or city; or a place such as a resort, intentional
      community or university.) Some carfree environments allow motorised vehicles
      for deliveries and emergency services; other such places use non-motorised
      alternatives for some or all of these purposes, which is preferable if
      feasible. Some carfree environments have peripheral parking, and are thus
      still somewhat car-dependent; therefore solutions should be sought to avoid
      this. Some people take things a step further and work to encourage local use
      of local products, thus reducing the dependence of their carfree environment
      on long-distance goods transport and supporting the local economy over the
      transnational economy.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Lloyd Wright [mailto:lfwright@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:21 PM
      Subject: Re: [carfree_network] Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may
      need your help

      From my understanding, Wikipedia is an information source providing a
      neutral, objective perspective. Thus, I imagine that it would be
      appropriate for both car-free and car-lite perspectives to be represented in
      some form.

      However, in general, I share Joel’s view that discussion around car-free

      issues should not encompass directly car-lite ideas. While for some
      car-lite concepts are an eventual pathway to being car free, there is not
      much evidence to support this. Instead, car-lite concepts may at best
      dilute car-free arguments and at worst create an impression that progress is
      being made when in fact car-dependence is actually increasing.

      Thus, with regard to Wikipedia, I would suggest that a link be established

      between a car-free page and a car-lite page, but the two concepts should not

      be coupled together.

      Car-lite is also a fairly amorphous term, which could include many degrees
      of “liteness”: shared space, smart growth, home zones, traffic calming, car

      sharing, ride sharing, hybrid-electric vehicles, green SUVs, etc. I
      generally endorse efforts with shared space and home zones, but many of the
      other concepts make me nervous. Once you get to the point of encompassing
      things like hybrid vehicles, you are a long ways from the original intent of
      the “car-free” concept. It would thus be dangerous to link the two ideas
      too closely together.



      ------ Original Message ------

      Received: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 09:47:18 AM EST

      From: "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>

      Subject: [carfree_network] Re: [carfree_cities] Car-free Cities entry in

      Wikipedia - may need your help

      Hi All,

      Eric Britton posted to the Carfree_Cities list today.

      I have some comments, and I thought the discussion was

      relevant to WCN, so I'm cross-posting my reply.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Pascal van den Noort [mailto:operations@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:37 PM
      Subject: RE: [carfree_network] Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may
      need your help

      Is car-free a viable option or maybe more a focus for thinking?

      Pascal J.W. van den Noort

      Executive Director Operations Velo Mondial

      Executive Board Velo.Info

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Carlos F. Pardo [mailto:carlosfpardo@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:49 PM
      Subject: RE: [carfree_network] Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may
      need your help

      The question posed by Pascal is interesting. Sometimes I see it like Xenon's

      paradox. The current situation is A and the future situation (completely

      carfree) is B. You can get closer and closer and closer but will always be

      "almost in B". However, there are situations which are completely "in B" and

      that makes me think otherwise. Also, philosophy gives grounds for

      interesting exercises of thought, but in implementation you have to think

      further (which I think was Eric's main argument).

      Best regards,

      Carlos F. Pardo

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Lloyd Wright [mailto:lfwright@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:57 PM
      Subject: RE: [carfree_network] Car-free Cities entry in Wikipedia - may
      need your help

      I suppose that it is a viable solution in the sense that Venice, Zermatt,
      Fez, Bogotá and Quito (Sundays), September 22, and many other examples all
      exist. But yes, these are small drops in an ocean of cars.

      There is nothing wrong with both car-free and car-lite movements pushing

      forward. In many ways, they can be complementary. But we should probably
      not water-down the car-free position simply to make it palatable to all.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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