Wednesday, 29 October 2014

To ban or not ban cars in the city centre – The Big Debate from Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce

Last week, the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce hosted a Big Debate on the subject, 'Business would be better in Brighton if we took cars out of the city centre.' The debate attracted a large audience to the Main Hall at City College Brighton and Hove, where speakers from the panel and from the floor covered a wide range of issues surrounding transport in the city and the effect on businesses.

Chaired by journalist and media coach Steve Bustin, the debate kicked off with four ‘points of view,’ contributed by Anthony Probert of BioRegional; Anne Martin, general manager of Brighton Pier; Martin Williams of Mayo Wynne Baxter; and Chris Todd of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth. I was invited along to give a Living Streets perspective.

What was interesting was that, after the debate, the vote was finely balanced between the ‘ban cars’ vs the ‘don’t ban cars’ factions. The evidence that more cars don’t equal more prosperity seems to be having an effect.  Equally fascinating was the result of the final vote on the question “Do you think it’s essential to own a car in Brighton and Hove?” Not a single person said yes.

Comprehensive coverage of the debate in the Argus, here.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Walk to School: Video from Living Streets

Over 70% of today’s parents walked to school. Now, fewer than 50% of children walk to school. The Department for Transport has announced it’s cycling delivery plan, which includes a new target for 55% of primary school children to be walking to school by 2025, and is now out to consultation. Although this target was in a policy document about cycling, it’s the first time government has considered a target for walking.

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As Living Streets says, it’s essential that the target stays in there after the consultation, and then there will be a need to secure adequate funding to make the target achievable. This video from Living Streets shares some favourite memories of walking to school – the campaign will help today's children enjoy their walk to school and make some memories of their own.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Things You Don’t See from a Car: Hove goes global

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Spotted in a shop window in Hove.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Manifesto for living streets, from Living Streets

For sure, all the attention is on UKIP at the moment, what with last week’s by-elections. And it’s true that the next general election isn’t until 2015. But Living Streets has got in early with its manifesto for streets, aimed at making walking safer and easier. It’s a handy primer to the main issues and something that everyone who cares about obesity, health, pollution, safety and quality of life should look at. Not just prospective parliamentary candidates. Read it here. And don’t forget to send a copy to those wannabee MPs.

LS Manifesto

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Brighton and Hove transport infogram

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As part of the preparation for LTP4 (Local Transport Plan 4), which Brighton and Hove City Council is required to put in place, council officers have prepared a briefing pack for members of the transport partnership. Here’s a useful infogram from the brief, which sets out some key facts about transport in and around Brighton and Hove. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that 38.2% of households in Brighton and Hove do not own a car or van.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Quick video on an urban walking dilemma

A dilemma for urban walkers - artfully shot in moody b&w, and worth 2 minutes of your time – what do you do?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Carfree Reflections on Rotterdam

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Just back from giving a presentation on behavioural economics at the conference of the European Social Marketing Association in Rotterdam. The conference (of which, more here) was all about behaviour change, and when it comes to getting people to build more physical activity into their daily lives, there are few better observatories than the Netherlands.
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Rotterdam is a city of 600,000 people, and home to the world's second-biggest port (it used to be the biggest, until Shanghai pipped it to the post). Rotterdam has a metro, trams, a good bus network, and several main line rail stations, including the extraordinary Centraal station (pictured above and below). A 3 day €14 ticket gets you unlimited access to the metro, buses and trams.

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Of course, there are cars in Rotterdam, but they are not allowed to be dominant. Rotterdam is a city which has been configured for people on bikes and people on foot. It's a city with lots of green and lots of water, where people are purposeful. But it’s also a noticeably calm city - presumably a result of effective public transport, those endorphins from active travel, and not being forced to breathe an invisible miasma of traffic fumes.

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As well as the Dutch default of segregated cycleways, Rotterdam also has extensive pedestrianisation, including Europe's first pedestrianised shopping street, Ljinbaan.

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Active travel in Rotterdam means that trams and buses have priority, and cars are required to give way to bikes and pedestrians. That's down to urban planning, street design and people-friendly liability laws that favour the non-mechanical over the mechanical. What a delight, as a pedestrian, to press the button at a traffic crossing and get an immediate green man signal. Over time, it’s not just the cityscape, but the culture that changes. And one other thing we observed: anecdotal evidence, maybe, but we saw very few overweight people and only a few that could be described as obese. UK health officials, take note!