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

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  • Randall Ghent - WCN
    Hello everyone, I would propose that this discussion be only on the carfree_cities list from now on. That way the lists remain distinct. It s also our normal
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 21, 2006
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      Hello everyone,

      I would propose that this discussion be only on the carfree_cities list from now on.
      That way the lists remain distinct. It's also our normal policy is to have practical project
      discussions on carfree_network, and send theoretical discussions to carfree_cities.
      Excuse the very long post, but it's my last on this subject (on the carfree_network list).

      NOTE: By going to www.worldcarfree.net/listservs/, people can find out how to
      subscribe to the digest version of carfree_network (means all posts will be combined
      into one message per day), as well as either version of carfree_cities.

      - RG

      Eric Britton wrote:
      > 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.

      I think it's likely that people will hear about the carfree movement because we are
      using that term in the press, etc., and so they might go to Wikipedia to find out more
      about it. Or they could go to www.worldcarfree.net/about_us/ and get the definition
      Also, I think there's a fundamental misconception that we're just talking about "few
      cars" versus "no cars" -- implying that the "no cars" position is simply a stricter version
      of the former. This isn't necessarily the case, because the urban form proposed by the
      two can be fundamentally different.
      To make this absolutely clear, see the map at of Sfax, Tunisia at
      www.worldcarfree.net/conference/sfax-proposal.php. There you see two areas of
      equal size. One is carfree and the other not. But the street pattern of each is totally
      different. The carfree area is a fine-grained pedestrian environment that provides for
      up-close interaction involving literally all the senses. There is no room for cars -- or if a
      few might fit here and there they would seriously detract from the atmosphere (and
      the space available for interaction) if they were allowed.
      The car-dominated area is a typical grid pattern. Those proposing "car-lite" would look
      at the area and be likely to find various ways to reduce car use -- but they would leave
      the urban form as they found it. Those proposing "carfree" would be likely to modify
      the urban form in order to intensify the use of the space (creating more "places" within
      the same geographic area). This increases liveliness, level of interest, and the number
      of destinations reachable within a short walk. For example: we might build
      passageways through buildings, divide wide streets into narrower streets by placing
      kiosks or buildings or other destinations in the middle, convert courtyards into outdoor
      cafes or playgrounds, etc. So I see this as a fundamentally different approach to "car-
      lite." And it is much more in tune with the David Engwicht's often-cited definition of a
      city: "an invention to maximise exchange and to minimise travel." (It is simply
      impossible to simultaneously maximise exchange and devote 10-60% of the urban
      surface to roads, parking lots and other infrastructure that provides little if any social
      exchange space. Nor is it possible to minimise travel while simultaneously
      accommodating the automobile or other high-speed, space-intensive transportation

      > 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.

      I'm not sure what was forceful about it. I just went to that page today for the first time
      and added a comment on the discussion page. I didn't modify the actual definition

      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?

      I think "movement" is the best way to describe those promoting carfree solutions.
      Small movement maybe, but still a movement -- one which is set to grow.

      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.)

      I think that both "alternative transportation" and "sustainable transportation" are not
      what carfree is all about. Both terms seem to reinforce the misconception that I
      described above. Again, we're talking about minimising travel and maximising
      exchange (interaction), not just making transportation more sustainable. The following
      is from my recent article "Top Ten Myths About the Carfree Movement" (people can
      skip this part if they know this already):

      Myth 10: It�s All About Sustainable Transportation

      Many people, when introduced to the carfree issue, might often see it as a theme
      neatly contained within the broader field of transportation. However, what the
      movement seeks to do could better be described as minimising the role of
      transportation in society and replacing it with interaction, exchanging mobility for
      That is, we would like to have less obligatory transportation and more time and
      space freed up for the exchange of information, ideas, goods, services, skills,
      experience and culture. Human settlements were built to enable these types of
      exchange, and their urban form reflected this priority until recent history. Streets were
      not race tracks (what we call �busy streets�) or boring dead zones (�quiet streets�), but
      places to talk and play, buy and sell, laugh and cry.
      Walk out the front door of your home and imagine the streetscape as you�d want it
      if you had to spend the rest of your life in that very spot. Would it be a stream of
      vehicular traffic or a lively people-oriented space with lots to see and do?
      Successful communication of this message (a focus on quality of life issues) could
      result in much greater public participation in the carfree movement. Being �carfree� is
      for everyone � men, women, and children. This would represent a shift from technical
      discussions of �modal shift� to practical, creative matters of how we want our road
      space to look and what we want it to be used for.
      In describing this movement, the adjective �sustainable� is often placed in front of the
      word �transport� or �transportation.� But the crux of the issue is not so much what can
      be sustained, as what should be sustained. After all, some practices that can be
      sustained shouldn�t be. Torture, war, greed... While we could argue about whether
      mass automobile use can be sustained (and for how long), the carfree movement
      above all believes that it�s not desirable, and should not be sustained.

      3. What do you think? Does that bring us to �Car Free Cities� as a
      better title for the entry?

      No, I think we still need an entry for "carfree movement" -- or the main entry could be
      "carfree" and then "carfree movement" would be a sub-set of that. It's not just about
      carfree cities. And we already have a definition for the movement (at

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

      Yes, a "car-lite" entry is needed too.



      Randall Ghent, Co-Director
      Kratka 26, 100 00 Prague 10, Czech Republic
      tel: +(420) 274-810-849 - fax: +(420) 274-772-017
      <info@...> - <http://www.worldcarfree.net>

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