World Economic ForumOct. 29, 2019 By Marcela Guerrero Casas
A future in which everyone travels in driverless flying cars may still dominate the popular imagination, particularly when it comes to media and marketing hype. But if we are to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on sustainable cities and communities, a more revolutionary (albeit more low-tech) picture will unfold, in which people are moving freely and swiftly — but not by car.
Reducing our dependence on petrol cars is not only better for the planet and our individual wellbeing, it will pave the way to a better future for our cities. From improving mobility and ensuring civic participation in how cities are designed, run and experienced, to public health and strengthening the social fabric that will make our communities more resilient, a shift towards fewer cars can help our cities not only survive, but thrive.
The process may not be simple, but there is a practical and easy strategy that can help people see streets differently: temporarily taking cars off the street.
Cars contribute to a public health crisis — air pollution
How to get people out of their cars continues to be a global challenge. Even in cities where public space and public transport are safe and reliable, this can be difficult; it is especially so in places where these amenities are unsafe, unaffordable and unreliable. This is where temporary interventions such as car-free days can unlock a whole new approach to movement and mobility.
In the mid-1970s, Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, saw the birth of what would become a global movement to make streets safer, more inclusive and more appealing to city dwellers. It is called Ciclovia, often known as “open streets” in English-speaking countries, and entails the creation of car-free routes throughout the city every Sunday and public holiday.
La #Ciclovía, hoy cuenta con 120 kilómetros donde apróximadamente 1.700.000 personas, disfrutan cada fin de semana de este maravilloso espacio
The swarms of cyclists that take over city streets on these occasions is a real spectacle. Even though the impact on mobility patterns has not yet been fully understood, it is clear that in places like Bogotá, Ciclovía was the genesis of bicycle infrastructure in the city and perhaps the country. Culture and environment has helped the movement to grow bicycling in Colombia: people have relied on the bicycle to travel for more than 100 years and professional cycling is a source of national pride. This might not be the case everywhere, but the worldwide frenzy around urban cycling makes this an opportune moment to try car-free street programs and put them to the test.
On most days, our city streets are clogged with motorized traffic and, in some cases, crime and pollution. Temporary car-free space thus becomes a platform to exercise our right to the city and to co-create a new urban vision.
In most Latin American capitals, governments run a weekly Open Streets program. As acknowledged at a recent congress of Ciclovia initiatives in the region, many local officials have bought into the concept and one of the key objectives of this program is to bring happiness to their citizens. This, as far as non-material infrastructure goes, is what city-making is really about: the sense of belonging, involvement and self-determination, which is best expressed in physical joy.
Great efforts have been made to measure the impact of Ciclovia in Latin American cities’ public health. In Colombia, for instance, researchers from Los Andes University have demonstrated that for every dollar spent on the program, three dollars are saved on public health. The Ministry of Sport has also helped create a national network to promote the program in more cities and towns of the country and continues to carry out rigorous studies to ascertain what type of physical activity curriculum is most effective. In getting a regular dosage of physical activity as recommended by medical practitioners, there is no better place than kilometers of car-free space in which thousands – and in the case of Bogotá, millions – are also exercising and moving. As the Latin American network likes to explain, “It is a healthy epidemic.” And it is one that keeps growing, not only in Latin America but across the globe, with African cities most recently joining through the creation of Open Streets programs in places like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Abuja, Nairobi, Kigali and more.
In cities where people have been historically segregated and economic disparity continues to dig deep trenches between communities, creating a space of inclusion can be powerful. In Bogotá, the impact is such that areas which are normally out of bounds, both because they exclude the poor or because they are deemed to be too dangerous, become welcoming spaces for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Similarly, in Cape Town, where the program has been tested in different parts of a city where spaces of racial and social integration are rare, Open Streets is a symbol of a new future, because young people are able to experience a city where streets are democratized and inclusive of all ages, races and backgrounds.
To ensure sustainable cities all around, we must take steps to shift away from the current over-dependency on the automobile. We can begin this process by thinking how we re-organize and utilize public space for the benefit of not only new design and infrastructure, but also for new generations to think of that space differently and therefore create new narratives around it. Temporary interventions work with existing assets and focus on shifting people’s perception which will ultimately shape how we view and exercise sustainable urban planning in the long term.
Marcela Guerrero Casas is the founder and an associate of Open Streets Cape Town.
- Car-free day: What is the impact? | The New Times | Rwanda ›
- World Car Free Day 2019 – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian ›
- 10 Reasons Why Cities Should Consider Going Car-Free ›
- World Car-Free Day on 22 September a great opportunity to reduce … ›
- Nairobi Is Planning Car-Free Days. What Are The Benefits? – Texas … ›
Boron, Pagina 12, Translated by Resumen. During the last few
weeks, neoliberalism faced a series of defeats that sped up its agony and are
leading to its death amidst large and violent upheavals. After nearly half a
century of pillage, outrage and crimes of all kinds against society and the
environment, we witness the downfall of the ruling model promoted
enthusiastically by the governments of advanced capitalist countries;
institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World
Bank; and self-righteous intellectuals and establishment politicians. -more-
By Stephen Sefton, Tortilla con Sal. More clearly than ever, addressing Western liberal imperialism in its several varieties as a rationality than can be persuaded or changed by challenging its contradictions is a fundamental error. Those contradictions are essential to ensure the various imperial needs of the Western ruling elites, especially submission to their phony moral authority, are met. Claiming to promote justice, freedom and prosperity, they and their political servants inflict savage injustice and brutal repression, systematically immiserate their victims and loot their wealth. -more-
By Alicia Jrapko,
Resumen English. As we are gathering today, in my country Argentina, there is a
very important presidential election taking place. If there is no fraud, it
appears that the progressive formula of Alberto Fernandez for President and
Cristina Fernandez for Vice-president have won. This is a good sign and very
close to my heart. I left Argentina in the seventies at the time of bloody
military dictatorship in South America, I was one of the lucky ones that was
able to survive to tell the story. This election is one example of the push
back against the imperial advances… -more-
By Diliff, Publicbankinginstitute.org. “Today, it is quite clear that only a radical break with the past will deliver us from the post-crisis malaise and the climate crisis that has emerged alongside it. … A public banking system must be established as part of this in order to direct capital away from speculation and towards productive, sustainable investment. These plans must be accompanied by greater state and worker ownership so that the returns from growth are not monopolised by a tiny elite. -more-
By Jaisal Noor, The Real News. For decades, low wage work and exploitive housing policies have reigned supreme in Baltimore. Today there are tremendous disparities in wealth and health outcomes and a lack of access to affordable housing, but a growing number of residents are fighting exploitation through collective ownership of food, labor, and land, showing that another world is possible. Worker owners and community leaders discussed these efforts at the 2019 East Coast Workplace Democracy Conference, which included tours of local worker run cooperatives, land trusts, and community gardens focused on community empowerment. -more-
By Erica Frazier, Portside.org. The United States has come to a political crossroads. Few Americans have favourable opinions of Congress. There is not a single third-party member of Congress, though there is widespread support for an alternative political group. Rampant gerrymandering means politicians choose their voters, and the Supreme Court has once again declined to intervene. Steven Mulroy’s book, Rethinking US Election Law: Unskewing the System, is an excellent response to what feels to many like a total impasse, exposing a number of structural problems as well as tangible, realistic proposals to address them. -more-
By Kevin Zeese and
Margaret Flowers. National improved Medicare for all is making tremendous
progress during the 2020 election cycle. Democratic presidential candidates,
Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who advocate for it, are
achieving record numbers of contributions and performing strongly in polls.
Candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, who opposes Medicare for all,
and Senator Kamala Harris, who came out with a phony plan she called Medicare
for all, are losing ground. This is happening because of the decades of
work by the single-payer movement to educate people, organize and… -more-
By The People’s Mobilization. For decades the U.S. government and its European allies have been illegally using unilateral economic sanctions (“Unilateral Coercive Measures”) as a weapon of war and mass destruction to topple governments that do not submit to the U.S. and European states’ domination of their country. The main objective of these unilateral sanctions is to destroy those small countries’ economies and bring their people to their knees through mass starvation so they will be left with no choice but to revolt against their own government. This criminal, anti-human policy of… -more-
By Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project. The Resurgence: 2019 Forest & Climate Movement Convergence took place over October 10-14, 2019. It brought together more than 300 people, including many front line community members and Indigenous Peoples, as well as organizers and grassroots activists from across the environmental and social justice spectrum. The event was organized into Strategic Action Sessions under seven themes, each of which accomplished key objectives and concluded with concrete action plans to move their work forward. As well, GJEP videotaped the entire event (excluding… -more-
By Katrina Kozarek,
Venezuelanalysis. On October 29, the rural village of Monte Carmelo, located in
the municipality of Andrés Eloy Blanco in Lara State, celebrated its 14th
consecutive Peasant Seed Festival. According to Juan Ramón Escalona, local
resident and member of the Collective Seeds of Solidarity, this festival was founded
in 2005 by local peasants and farmers concerned with the preservation of native
seeds against the onslaught of imported and transgenic seeds and increasing
prevalence of monoculture in agricultural production. For Gaudy García,
the preservation and reproduction of the native seed is a… -more-
By War is Boring, World Beyond War. A democratic socialist faction of the German parliament is demanding the United States withdraw all 35,000 American troops from their nation, claiming that a war with Russia is inevitable and that America’s mere presence is incompatible with Germany’s visions of peace. Known simply in English as “The Left” (In German, “Die Linke”) the party (which was founded in 2007) has claimed that America is responsible for illegal wars across the world, and that their presence within German borders is a violation of the peace doctrine enshrined in German law. “More than 35,000 US soldiers are stationed in Germany… -more-
By Alan Macleod, Mintpress News. Washington, DC – Max Blumenthal, the editor of independent media outlet The Grayzone, was secretly arrested on October 25 in a “SWAT-style” morning raid on his Washington D.C. home. He was held in D.C. Central Detention Facility for two days incommunicado, without the ability to communicate to the outside world, having been refused a phone call. He claims to have been shackled by his hands and ankles for some time and kept in a series of cages and cells. Blumenthal was arrested on a five-month-old assault charge stemming from an incident that took place during the… -more-
By Rebbeca Burns, In These Times. Over the course of an often-bitter battle, CTU and its sister union, SEIU 73, overcame a series of such ultimatums from the recently elected mayor. Before the strike, Lightfoot had refused to write issues such as staffing increases or class size caps into a contract at all. Following a budget address last week, Lightfoot vowed that there was no more money left for a “bailout” of the school district. But a tentative agreement approved by CTU delegates Wednesday night requires the school district to put a nurse and social worker in every school within five years and allocates $35 million more… -more-