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How to drive a shift from private vehicle use to public transport, walking and cycling

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For the last 100 years, cities’ transport strategies have prioritised cars and traffic speed flows. Today, the cities with the most successful transport strategies are prioritising the movement of people, giving residents and visitors a wider variety of attractive transport options.

    Moving people, not cars1
    Moving people, not cars - 20th century: how many cars can we move down the street versus 21st century: how many people cam we move down the street

    Shifting private vehicles to more sustainable modes of transport delivers huge benefits for the health and prosperity of cities and their citizens, as described in Why shifting to green and healthy transport modes delivers vast rewards for cities. It is also essential for reducing urban greenhouse gas emissions.

    Cities can use a mix of incentives and disincentives to promote this shift in the short to medium term, and implement transit-oriented development to achieve a larger modal shift in the longer term. This article introduces the strategies cities can take to drive a shift from private vehicles to public transport, walking and cycling.

    Measure current modal shares, conduct analysis of modal share potential and set targets

    Begin by collecting data to gain a full understanding of the existing situation. Measure the number of people traveling by different modes and conduct analysis of the feasible potential for walking, cycling and public transport use. Based on this data, set ambitious and realistic targets. Modal share targets are usually set as a percentage of trips.

    London, Buenos Aires and Amman modal shift analysis and targets

    The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy 2018 sets a target of 80% of all trips in the city to be made by walking, cycling or public transit by 2041, up from 65% today.2 This target was informed by analysis that established how many current car trips in London might feasibly be made by walking3 or cycling.4 Buenos Aires achieved an 82% sustainable modal share in 2018, and is aiming for 85% in 2019. Amman is aiming to reach 40% by the end of 2025, from its current 14% baseline.

    Discourage private car use through road pricing, and driving and parking restrictions

    Making private vehicle use more expensive or inconvenient is essential to driving a modal shift. Cities such as Singapore, Milan, Stockholm and London have road pricing schemes that charge drivers for using their cars in city centres, or ban the most polluting cars from some areas – often through the use of a low emission zone as a policy tool.

    Other cities such as Oslo and Sevilla have introduced measures to make parking more difficult in target areas, by turning parking spaces into cycle lanes or pedestrian areas, or increasing parking fees. Cities including San Francisco and Mexico City are using demand-based parking fees that increase when demand is high.

    London achieves a 10% drop in trips made by private car

    In April 2019, London introduced an Ultra-Low Emission Zone with strict emissions standards that charge non-compliant vehicles to enter the zone at all times. This is on top of existing road pricing in the central Congestion Charge zone introduced 2003, which has already helped the city achieve a 10% drop in the percentage of trips made by private car.5 Read our article on road pricing in London for more detail.

    Provide real alternatives that people will choose

    Alongside disincentives for private car use, a shift away from private vehicles requires the provision of convenient, efficient, affordable and appealing alternatives that travellers will choose to take.

    To achieve this, cities need to give space to – and prioritise – alternative forms of transport on their roads; invest in alternative transport infrastructure; ensure multi-modal network connectivity; and introduce schemes and incentives such as cycle hire and smart ticketing to make them an attractive first choice.

    Read about how to design and implement attractive alternatives in the linked resources below:

    Most cities will pursue a combination of these transport options in parallel, according to their suitability for their city context.

    Promote sustainable travel choices through positive marketing and personal stories

    Cities should consider running public relations campaigns to market alternative transport options, based on their understanding of current social attitudes and norms.

    Cultural factors play a huge role in individual transport decisions. For example, car ownership is an enduring status symbol in many cultures, while public transport, cycling or walking may have negative social connotations. Norms will evolve as ridership increases and travellers start to see their peers taking advantage of these alternative modes. However, cities should also challenge unhelpful norms to speed up this process. Communication alone cannot bring about a modal shift, but it can be effective at driving uptake.

    Public relations campaigns that highlight positive personal stories of individuals who have used sustainable modes of travel and have saved time and money, reached their destination faster and more comfortably, escaped traffic and congestion, improved their health, or discovered new parts of the city are typically most successful. In this sense, cities can learn from the car advertising industry, which sells a desirable lifestyle and idealised image of driving on the open road.

    Messaging that aims to make drivers feel guilty is not usually effective. In addition, cities should avoid focusing messaging around public transit or cycling on negatively-perceived safety issues.

    Implement transit-oriented development to achieve a longer-term, larger-scale modal shift

    In the longer term, cities need to pursue urban development that enables citizens to end their reliance on private cars. Transit-oriented development (TOD) facilitates this by concentrating well-designed, urban development around mass-transit nodes. TOD policies ‘up zone’ for greater building density around transit hubs or corridors, and often replace ‘parking minimums’ regulations with ‘parking maximums’ to discourage driving, among other measures. São Paulo6 and Mexico City7 are among the cities to have abolished parking minimums.

    TOD is the accepted best-practice for sustainable urban planning. This is spurred by success stories such as Curitiba in Brazil, which achieved a sustainable modal share of over 49% due in part to TOD policies encouraging denser development along a network of bus rapid transit corridors.8

    Successful TOD requires long-term commitment and an integrated approach to planning that incorporates transport, real estate, urban design and equity considerations.

    Finance the modal shift

    The needs and approaches for financing a modal shift differ depending on the strategy taken to achieve it. Large transit projects are very expensive and require long term investment. However, relatively cheap strategies can also have a large impact, such as streetscape alterations for walking, cycling and priority bus lanes, marketing campaigns and car-free days. Policies such as road pricing can generate new revenues that can help to finance parallel efforts to promote sustainable transport options. You can find financing information for each transport alternative in the related articles.

    Where next?

    [1] Copenhagenize (2018) Copenhagenize your city: the case for urban cycling in 12 graphs
    [2] Mayor of London (2018). Mayor’s Transport Strategy
    [3] Mayor of London and Transport for London (2017) Analysis of Walking Potential 2016
    [4] Mayor of London and Transport for London (2017) Analysis of Cycling Potential 2016
    [5] Transport for London (2018) Travel in London: Report 11
    [6] Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (2014) New São Paulo Master Plan Promotes Sustainable Growth, Eliminates Parking Minimums Citywide
    [7] Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (2017) How Mexico City Became A Leader in Parking Reform
    [8] Data submitted to C40 Mass Transit Workshop, February 2019.

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    Arts

    Chautauquas and Lyceums and TED Talks, oh my!

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    Our future is in OUR Hands

    We are aiming with Mobilized to create a vibrant forum for ideas.  “Big deal”, you might say, there are already places for that.

    Well, you’re not wrong.  There was, in the earliest days of the web, a loose and wild forum called The Well.  The great and powerful Google had as it’s mission the goal of “bringing all the knowledge of the world to every person”… before it pivoted to a new goal of just making money off of what it knows about us.  That change was a real pity.  There have been sites such as Wiser Earth, which aimed to be a global directory of people and non-profit organizations so that collaboration could happen on a larger scale than ever before.  It lasted about two years, sadly; not long enough to create a legacy.  Huffington Post had a good run in its’ early days, sharing ideas widely and helping to boost its’ contributors in the public’s mind.

    What’s important to know, is that as of this writing, there is not really a widely recognized forum online or in ‘meat-space’.  There are print publications such as YES! magazine, Tikkun, The Sun Magazine, and The Utne Reader, all of which which reach a population of hundreds thousands.  Great, but their reach could be even more broad, in my humble opinion.  Within social media sites there are plenty of good ‘groups’ but they also don’t reach enough folks outside of their own memberships.

    Probably the most popular comparable live events right now are the TED talks, which do serve a valuable purpose.  Sadly, they also tend toward the ‘Gee-Whiz‘ and the ‘Shiny New Buzzword‘ in their contents.  Mobilized really wants to focus on the proven, the existing, and the hidden.  There are already, all over, groups doing wonderful work, but too many of them are laboring in obscurity.

    So, how do we do that?  Well to begin with, we’re not trying to be a technology startup.  There is no secret sauce, no fancy algorithm at work here.  Almost all the underlying code behind Mobilized is made with off-the-shelf parts, such as WordPress.  There is zero reason to re-invent the wheel, and frankly the notion that one must do so has tripped up several earlier attempts at building a successful progressive community.  We take the approach of using the tools at hand to build our house.

    Secondly, we are going into the future with an eye firmly on the past.  And that leads us to the point of this essay, a look at how America became America.  We can take many lessons from the past.  One of our best ideas as a nation was the Chautauqua movement.   It had it’s heyday from the 1870’s right up until the beginning of World War II.  In part, it helped spawn a Lyceum movement, the Vaudeville traditions in the theater world; and had an effect on the earliest days of the motion-picture industry.  Here’s why it was so popular: the average person, anywhere in the land, could go to a Chautauqua when it came to their town, and engage in spirited discussion with the brightest minds of the day.  It was direct, person-to-person, and offered a mix of local and national ideas and people; presented on a rotating basis.  So ideas could be hashed out and spread rapidly.  And they did.  In no small part due to these two movements, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age were defeated.  The Great Depression was tackled too, and along the way no less than Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain became huge fans.  No part of society could, or wanted to, ignore the notion that average people could teach other average people.

    Mobilized aims to help bring that back into common understanding.  In the present era, there may well be a place for tents and lecturers setting up in farmer’s fields.  There certainly is a crying need for an educational platform that is accessible to the masses.  And now, there exist enough robust tools for us to re-create the ethos of a Chautauqua on the internet.

    We, the people, when it really mattered and the stakes were high, collectively taught ourselves how to better ourselves.  Now, in every corner of the world, the stakes are once again pretty high.  It is time for a new Chautauqua movement, and this one will be truly global.  So step right up, come on inside our virtual tent.  Welcome to the show.

     

     

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    CITIES

    Rethinking Democracy From the Perspective of Political Ecology

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    The issue of the governance of human societies immediately leads us to the issue of democracy, since the so-called democratic model is one of the pillars of modern civilization, today in crisis. Seen in historical perspective, governance — the ability to make collective decisions that are adequate to the extent that they are fair because they respond to the interests of the individuals who make them — became more complicated as societies grew in number of inhabitants and in functional complexity.

    By Victor M. Toledo, originally published by Resilience.org

    Ed.note: This piece originally appeared in Spanish in La Jornada, December 1, 2020

    Translation into English by Jane K. Brundage

    The issue of the governance of human societies immediately leads us to the issue of democracy, since the so-called democratic model is one of the pillars of modern civilization, today in crisis. Seen in historical perspective, governance — the ability to make collective decisions that are adequate to the extent that they are fair because they respond to the interests of the individuals who make them — became more complicated as societies grew in number of inhabitants and in functional complexity.

    In the first extractive and agrarian societies, which make up 99 percent of the history of the human species, governance was carried out in a direct and balanced way. Governance began to become problematic with the appearance of the first cities, the State, class society and the diversity of work tasks. The democratic model, which according to E. Dussel was born not in Greece, but in Egypt and other Mediterranean cities, was defined as the power of the people in order to differentiate it from the various autocratic or despotic forms.

    Today, modern governance in non-autocratic societies is generally synonymous with institutional, representative, electoral, formal or bourgeois democracy, in which decisions are made by representatives who are distantly elected by vote and usually through political parties. A good part of Western thought has forgotten or concealed the existence of another democracy, which was prior to the representative one, and which can be described as direct, participatory, radical or local. Four thousand years later, it continues to exist essentially among the planet’s 7,000 villages of indigenous peoples. Today, in the presence of the crisis of modernity, it resurfaces as the basic cell for constructing an innovative governance scheme that runs up the scale from the local to the global.

    Today, the supreme and greatest challenge for contemporary science is to contribute to overcoming the crisis in which the modern world is plunged and to offer clarifications, clues, alternatives. The ineffectiveness of electoral or representative democracy as a way of reaching consensus and above all,  as a way of offering solutions to the phenomena of social injustice and the deterioration and depredation of nature, requires study and research. Modern democratic systems are also highly expensive. In Mexico, the National Electoral Institute (INE) will spend a budget of 12,493 million pesos in 2021 to organize elections and sponsor political parties.

    In this context, because its long civilizational history has left a current legacy of 25 million Mexicans who identify themselves as indigenous and live in thousands of traditional communities, the Mexican case provides numerous living examples of a radical and participatory democracy. There are innumerable examples in the territory, especially in those regions where an inextricable relationship survives between culture and nature, together with a vigorous defense of communal territories.

    This is the case in the state of Oaxaca, where 80 percent of its 570 municipalities elect their authorities directly. Likewise, the neozapatista caracoles[1] in the state of Chiapas, and the most recent processes of self-management and self-defense in the municipalities of Cherán[2], state of Michoacán; Oxcub, Chiapas, and Cacahuatepec and Ayutla de los Libres, state of Guerrero. By the same token, keep in mind the actions of the self-defense groups of Michoacán, a project frustrated by the power of the State, and the community police still serving in 920 towns and communities within 51 of the 81 municipalities in Guerrero.

    All these experiences have been ignored, vilified, despised and repressed by the national system, because they contain the seeds of a profound transformation in the ways of governing. Their subversive power extends and multiplies beyond the local and acquires regional dimensions. In the Sierra Norte de Puebla, about 250 Nahua and Totonaca communities have held regional assemblies since 2014 (they have 30) with thousands of participants in defense of their territories, their forests, their springs and their mountains. Representative democracy, which maintains and conceals social exploitation and exploitation of the natural world, is under siege.

    These reflections were shared by this writer speaking at the program “Rethinking Democracy in the Current World”, organized by the UNAM [National Autonomous University of Mexico]. It was a very successful event owing to the quality of the speakers and the number of those who followed the conferences virtually (ours was attended by more than 20,000 people.

    For Dr. José Manuel Mireles, hero and martyr, for a true democracy.

    +   +   +

    Translator’s notes:

    [1] Caracol is the Spanish word for conch shell — long used by Mexico’s indigenous peoples in ritual ceremonies. Blown into, they emit an unmistakable, hauntingly plaintiff tone that, once heard, is never forgotten. In the autonomous Zapatista communities of Mexico, caracol is the name given to its organizational regions, created in 2003 to replace the earlier organizational structure, Aguascalientes [Hot Waters]. Formed in 1995, the objective of Aguascalientes was to serve as contact points between Zapatista communities and other cultures in Mexico, and with cultures in the outside world. The Zapatista Caracoles were formed following a period of extensive discussion about the necessity of changing the traditional relation between Zapatista communities and other Mexican communities, and between Zapatista communities and the outside world.

     

    In that sense, the objective of the caracoles is similar to its antecedent. In the Zapatistas’ own words, to be “windows for us to see ourselves, and for us to look outside” with “horns [ie, conch shells, in the sense of loudspeakers] to get our word out and to listen to those who are far away.” Source: Los Caracoles ZapatistasRaúl Romero, La Jornada, August 17, 2019.   (Spanish)

    [2] Cherán, an indigenous community|municipality located on the Purhépecha Meseta [Highlands] in western Michoacán, is a remarkable story of community resilience, resistance, persistence and triumph over seemingly overwhelming odds. It is all the more remarkable for having been initiated and driven by the community’s women and young people. Here’s a good review at the 5-year marker: Mexico Indigenous: Cherán Celebrates 5 Years of Autonomy and Dignity.

    Source: Resilience

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    A Smarter Conversation

    How localization leads to optimal health and well-being, hope and happiness.

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    At a time of rapid change, there is a better way forward. A path that leads to optimal health and well-being, hope and happiness. 

    Localization.

    As globalization and consolidation has changed many of the ways we live and work, it has also contributed to the depletion of resources, on-going pandemics and crises and human suffering.

    For four decades, Local Futures has revitalized  communities and local economies around the world

    Mobilized spent about one hour speaking with the visionary founder of Local Futures to the ideas into action for a better way forward.

    “A new human story founded on connection and diversity is emerging. It’s called localization.”

    Helena Norberg-Hodge, Founder and Director is the founder and director of Local Futures/ISEC. A pioneer of the ‘new economy’ movement, she has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for more than forty years. She is the producer and co-director of the award-winning documentary The Economics of Happiness, and the author of several books, including Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, described as “an inspirational classic”, and most recently Local is Our Future. She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh, and received the Goi Peace Prize for contributing to “the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide.”

     


    Become a Mobilized Collaborator in Creation and help to transform the news to the stories that serve, inspire and empower our collective human potential. Sign up now to be a collaborator in creation


     

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