Cycling safety + Get Britain Cycling Report

Our vision is to realise the full potential of cycling to contribute to the health and wealth of the nation, and the quality of life in our towns and local communities. We believe this is both possible and necessary.
We need to get the whole of Britain cycling: not just healthy people or sporty young males, but people of all ages and backgrounds, in urban and rural areas.
We need to change the culture of how we use our roads, so that people are no longer afraid to cycle or allow their children to do so. Our streets, roads and local communities, need to become places for people, where
cycling and walking are safe and normal.
Increases in cycling recently achieved by towns in Britain (even with quite modest investment), and other cities like Seville and New York, suggests that this is possible, if the funding and the political will is there. 
Some strong messages came from the enquiry:
  • the need for vision, ambition and strong political leadership, including a national Cycling Champion.
  • the Government needs to set out an action plan for more and safer cycling with support from the Prime Minister down.
  • We need transformation of our towns, streets and communities, and to the way we think about cycling, whether as drivers or as people who might take up cycling ourselves.
  • Our vision is for a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of
  • people who cycle, because they see it as a safe and normal activity.
  • We suggest that the long-term ambition should be to increase cycle use from less than 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% of all journeys in 2025, and 25% by 2050".
Fonte: "Get Britain Cycling Report":


Cities bypass slow government to lead the way on climate change

Bogota transport Photograph: Alcadia Mayor de Bogota
"Cities are where the greatest climate change challenges and opportunities lie, and where mayors are pioneering initiatives

Guardian Professional,

Efforts by national governments to tackle climate change and other sustainability challenges have been mixed at best over the past 20 years, but there is one level of government that has embraced the challenge with gusto – and success.
"National governments have largely failed to act, while cities embody the spirit of innovation we need. When it comes to climate change, cities are where the most exciting progress is being made," said Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, speaking by videolink to the City Climate Leadership Awards in London this month. He added pointedly that, "mayors do not have the luxury of just talking about problems. They have to deliver results."
Partly, this is a matter of necessity – more than half the world's people live in cities, they consume two-thirds of the world's energy and generate 70% of carbon emissions. "If we want to win the war against climate change, it has to be won in cities," said Roland Busch, head of Cities and Infrastructure at Siemens, sponsors of the awards.
Many of the world's megacities are situated on the coast and their vulnerability to sea level rise and the effects of extreme weather events has been highlighted in recent years by disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, which devastated New York last year and Hurricane Katrina, which had a similar effect on New Orleans. But it's not just rising seas – each city has its own challenges, from the wildfires that threatened Melbourne in 2009 to the floods that deluged Bangkok in 2011, severely disrupting the entire Thai economy, to the choking smog that afflicts Beijing, New Delhi and Los Angeles.
But equally, the world's urban areas are where the opportunities lie – they generate more than 70% of global GDP and cities are growing faster than other parts of the economy. "If you want to provide infrastructure for people in the most cost-efficient and effective way, you do it in cities," said Busch.
Perhaps the fact that people in urban environments are "squished together" makes them more accepting of the need to take action, said Matthew Pencharz, an adviser on energy and environment to London's mayor Boris Johnson. While national politicians' pronouncements can sometimes seem too vague for people to get to grips with, "mayors have found a way to take action that is accountable to the population and brings them visible, tangible benefits that improve their quality of life."
Mayors have a lot of the right power, argues Rohit Aggarwala, special adviser to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and former director of planning and sustainability in New York. "The politics align well and, in addition, many of the interest groups that are most opposed to climate action are simply not as prominent in cities."
The consultants McKinsey argue in a new report entitled How to make a city great, "that leaders who make important strides in improving their cities do three things really well: They achieve smart growth. They do more with less. And they win support for change."
These improvements do not need to cost a lot of money if they are imaginative enough – McKinsey reports that the former mayor of Bogotá, Antanas Mockus, "famously hired 420 mimes to make fun of traffic violators: this entertaining public ridicule reduced traffic fatalities by more than 50%."
Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, explained how his city has a plan to double the number of trees in the city by planting an extra 30,000 saplings, which he said would cut temperatures in the centre by 4°C, as well as making the city more liveable and sustainable.
Sinagore transport
Singapore transport Photograph: Land Transport Authority of Singapore
Other initiatives are more complex and all-encompassing – Tokyo won the finance and economic development prize at the awards for introducing the world's first city-based carbon trading programme, which since its introduction in 2010 has cut the Japanese capital's emissions by 7m tonnes by focusing on emissions from buildings.
Meanwhile, Singapore's Intelligent Transport System, which incorporates a range of smart transportation technologies and allow the city state to enjoy one of the lowest congestion rates of a city its size anywhere in the world, was awarded the Intelligent Infrastructure Prize.
The old days, when the various aspects of city life were tackled separately, are gone, according to Busch. "A city is like a human organism – everything has to work together. A comprehensive view of infrastructure, disregarding silos, is the key to the future development of cities."
And while every city is different, they can learn a lot from each other about what works best – and they are prepared to do so, in a way that national governments do not seem to be. That is why Boris Johnson, opening the awards, said that whoever won the awards, "you can be sure that we in London will shamelessly nick your ideas".
One of the lessons cities have learned is the importance of measuring their impacts. "If you know where to start, then you know where to go," said Busch. One example of this is the decidedly chilly city of Oslo in Norway, which discovered that along with heating in the winter, cooling buildings in summer was a significant source of emissions. "We were surprised," said mayor Stian Berger Røsland, "but it enabled us to look at using seawater for both heating and cooling."
By refusing to wait for action from national governments and international bodies, cities are leading the way in addressing the risks posed by climate change, said Bloomberg. "Using innovative local approaches, cities are having an impact on climate change globally.""

Water sensitive design: integrating water with urban planning

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. A water feature in the heart of a city will enhance the micro-climate and reduce heat island effect. Photograph: Murdo Macleod
"For too long we have been designing water out of our cities when we should have been designing it in

Sue Illman
Guardian Professional, Friday 19 April 2013

In March this year, the Mayor of London and RoDMA announced a tender to create the UK's largest floating village in London's Royal Docks, on an area one and a half times the size of Green Park. Planners in Norwich, meanwhile, will be scrutinising plans submitted earlier this year for a rain square and flood park that aims to create 670 homes and new public spaces on a flood-prone site at the juncture of the Wensum and Yare rivers.
As long as we want to keep developing in low-lying areas, particularly around our tidal rivers and coasts, then creating whole settlements that rise and fall as the water ebbs and flows is a perfectly legitimate solution. The Dutch – the ultimate early adopters when it comes to water – already boast examples such as Amsterdam's pioneering Ijburg community. But for the majority of people living in urban centres, floating villages aren't the future. In fact, they often obscure what we really need to be focusing on when we think about the relationship between our cities and water.
Those who visited Ecobuild this year had the opportunity to hear Professor Tony Wong, chief executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, talking about the steady progression up the agenda of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) in Australia. Successive years of flooding and some of the worst droughts in recorded history – which have not only threatened the health and wellbeing of the population but very nearly brought industry grinding to a halt – have prompted the Australian government to think differently about water.
The result has been a huge shift in mindset that has seen WSUD enshrined in planning and policy responses to climate change, and an acceptance that tackling flooding and drought doesn't have to be in isolation to creating liveable cities. A water feature in the heart of a city, for example, will enhance the micro-climate and reduce heat island effect, while whole productive landscapes can be supported by waste-water recycling.
A new report, Water Sensitive Urban Design in the UK, published by the CIRIA in March, reinterprets the WSUD concept for the UK and its conclusions might best be summed up simply as: for too long, we have been designing water out of our cities when we should have been designing it in. The introduction to the report sets out the challenge we face: "Water shortages, flooding and watercourse pollution are all signs of stress where developed areas have a troubled interaction with the natural water cycle and where, conversely, water has become a risk or a nuisance rather than an asset or an opportunity."
The evidence has been stacking up for some time. Flooding in 2012 caused the biggest insurance industry losses since 2007, when 13 people were killed and more than £3bn of water damage claims were filed. According to Defra, an estimated 5m properties in England alone are at risk of flooding – and their owners will be left even more vulnerable if the Association of British Insurers agreement to insure properties in high-risk areas is not renewed after July 2013. This isn't just about flooding either: 27% of water bodies in England do not meet European water quality standards, while 20 million customers in the UK experienced hosepipe bans in the 2012 to limit stress on water resources.
A survey of built environment professionals conducted as part of the report showed that 83% of respondents believe water management is considered too late in the planning and design process of developments. We have to start prioritising all elements of the water cycle when designing and developing new places. We can start by looking beyond the idea that a pipe in the ground is the best option for getting rid of rainwater. This is a 19th-century solution that is neither the best nor only solution to a growing 21st-century problem. Instead, we need a better understanding of the economics that allow soft-planted or bio-engineered drainage schemes to cost less while enhancing land values.
We already know, for example, that sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) – the creation of ponds, wetlands, swales and basins that mimic natural drainage – can be a cost-effective way to prevent surface flooding while creating valuable public amenities. But we need to go further than SuDS and start joining the dots between flood risk management and water resource management, and start putting water at the heart of discussions about what makes places great to live.
This is what we mean when we talk about WSUD, a process of looking at how, for example, we could be holding on to more of our flood water for reuse in meeting demand for drinkable water, while at the same time taking the pressure off existing infrastructure by reducing the amount of water entering the sewers. And a fundamental part of a water sensitive city is that we integrate the design of those features into the fabric of our towns and cities as attractive livable landscapes.
WSUD can be applied at all scales, from a single house to an entire city, and it can be retrofitted to existing developments as well as built in from the start. What we need are policies that see this thinking being adopted in every local plan and a commitment from the government to a comprehensive water management programme for the UK.

Sue Illman is president of the Landscape Institute, which published Green Infrastructure: An integrated approach to land use about the benefits green infrastructure can bring by creating multifunctional landscapes."

Philadelphia water management: from grey to green infrastructure

Philadelphia has become a leader in green water management. Measures include replacing 30% of its concrete roads with porous ones. Photograph: Corbis
"The city is emerging as a water management leader, investing in green infrastructure to capture water where it falls
Every year storm-water run-off causes nearly 10tn gallons of polluted water to be dumped into America's rivers and oceans. As cities across the country struggle to comply with federal regulations surrounding pollution, Philadelphia is emerging as a model of innovation in water management by opting for cost effective natural solutions to an expensive man-made problem.

Concrete and rainfall

It's not by chance that Philadelphia has become a leader in green water management. Two major rivers flow through the city, and historically it had a vast network of creeks and streams. Over the past 100 years or so of relentless development, many of these creeks and streams have been replaced with concrete pipes and sewers, and most of the city's naturally porous surfaces have been paved over, making it impossible for rain water to be absorbed where it falls.
As Larry Levine of the Natural Resources and Defense Council (NRDC) explains: "When we pave over the earth and prevent water seeping into the ground, we put barriers in the way of natural processes. Storm water has to go somewhere. Today, most of it goes into concrete systems."
Unfortunately, these concrete systems are not always able to accommodate all the storm water that comes their way. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) estimates that, when all the impervious cover in the city is exposed to one inch of rainfall, it generates about 327m gallons of storm water. This first inch of rainfall gathers most of the surface pollutants before being routed into the city's combined sewage systems. If the system becomes overwhelmed with excessive runoff, it is designed to overflow. When it does, you get raw sewage mixed with polluted storm water spewing directly into the rivers and creeks.

From grey to green infrastructure

A few years ago, when faced with having to come up with a viable long-term storm-water management plan to meet their obligations under the Clean Water Act, the PWD saw an opportunity to reinsert nature into what had become an unnatural equation. Instead of opting to expand the traditional grey infrastructure and build more pipes and tanks to treat waste water, they chose to invest in green infrastructure to restore nature's ability to capture water where it falls and treat it as a resource before it ever becomes waste.
When a cost benefit analysis showed the latter option to be far less expensive than the former (around $2.4bn over 25 years for the green approach as opposed to $8bn for the grey), the city became convinced that it was making the right decision.
Managing water the green way involves a multi-pronged approach, ranging from distributing rain barrels to residents free of charge and planting strategically located rain gardens in parks, on curbsides and on rooftops, to the more challenging and costly task of replacing 30% of the city's concrete roads and pavements with porous ones.
The ultimate goal is to minimise the need for large storage tanks and treatment plants by enabling the water to be captured where it falls. The PWD's public affairs manager, Joanne Dahme, is quick to point out, however, that the new green infrastructure is not meant to replace the old grey infrastructure, but to complement it. "The green approach could not work without a good traditional foundation. Pipes and sewers are the backbone of our system, but the green helps the grey do a better job."

Bills, bills, bills

So far the programme is mostly funded directly by the city's ratepayers, some of whom have not been happy to see their storm-water bills increase. However, the PWD did not simply institute an across-the-board rate rise,but switched from a meter-based system to a more equitable system based on parcel size. This has meant that some businesses, such as parking lots, which would have had relatively low bills based on water usage, are now paying much higher rates based on how much storm water their property generates to the sewer system. Meanwhile, high rises that do not have a lot of impervious cover will have seen their rates decrease.
The beauty of the new fee system is that it incentivises private property owners to retrofit their sites with green infrastructure. Those who take advantage of the credit incentives will not just see their rates go down but ultimately as the city becomes greener and there is less storm water to deal with, rates will go down for everyone. The new fees will not be fully phased in until 2014, but Dahme says that business owners facing higher storm-water fees have already expressed a lot of interest in working with the PWD to retrofit their properties, and the city is looking at several cost-sharing opportunities.

Private investment

The city is also working to leverage private capital to support the transition from grey to green. According to Eron Bloomgarden, a partner at EKO Asset Management, who specialises in this area, there are a lot of investors interested in environmental impact. The key is to develop compelling financial products for them to put their money to work in. "We can do for green infrastructure (GI) what the Energy Savings Corporations (ESCOs) did for green energy. ESCOs were able to encourage investment by demonstrating the long term energy savings, GISCOs can do the same thing for green infrastructure."
It's still too early to determine how successful Philadelphia's efforts to create private markets for storm water retrofits will be, but the city is seen as a test case.
Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters programme is also being closely watched by other American cities for benefits that have nothing to do with cost. Green infrastructure doesn't just give a city a prettier face, it has also been shown to remove pollutants from the air, lower asthma rates and other heat related illnesses, reduce heat island effect, create local jobs and increase surrounding property values. In other words, going green should be a win for everybody. If this proves to be the case, then Philadelphia's Clean Waters programme may well be the model for the future."

Tackling climate change: Copenhagen's sustainable city design

Copenhagen faces particular danger as sea levels rise and superstorms hit coastal areas with greater frequency. Photograph: Kontraframe

"Global warming poses a real threat to cities but planners in the Danish capital are taking visionary steps to ensure its resilience – and success – as far ahead as 2100

Visualise the world in 2050: convex streets that collect water from superstorms and pocket parks that absorb heat and can be turned into reservoirs. Welcome to Copenhagen, where planners are preparing the city for the effects of climate change several generations from now.
"We've looked at how climate change will affect Copenhagen in the long-term future", says Lykke Leonardsen. "For Copenhagen, the most serious effect of climate change will be increased precipitation, so we've developed a plan that addresses how to catch all the rainwater in the city." Leonardsen, a city planner, belongs to the 10-person team working solely on long-term climate change adaptation, planning ahead to the year 2100.
Like any city located by the sea, Copenhagen will face particular danger as sea levels rise and superstorms hit coastal areas with greater frequency. "In adapting to climate change, cities can choose either grey or green infrastructure," says professor Stuart Gaffin, a research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, who also advises the New York City government on climate change adaptation. "Grey infrastructure means building walls and barriers. In New York's case, we'd lose Long Island if we went for the grey option. The green option, which has growing support, includes green roofs, green streets that will capture storm water, and pavements that allow water to percolate through."
That's the option Copenhagen has chosen. Leonardsen's team envisions lowering the level of a local lake, thereby freeing space around its shores. This space will then be turned into a park, with playgrounds and running paths. When a superstorm hits, the lake and its surrounding park will be used for water storage.
And those convex streets? They are main thoroughfares designed by Copenhagen's city planners to capture water from storms and flooding and direct it to the harbour. Copenhagen in 2050 will also feature smaller streets with plenty of trees, which will slow anticipated flooding "so not everything comes bursting into the cloudburst boulevards at the same time", Leonardsen explains. Pocket parks will absorb heat and can be turned into water storage during weather emergencies. In addition to storms, flooding and rising sea levels, heatwaves are the most dramatic scenario facing cities as climate change worsens.
If all goes according to plan, Copenhagen's sustainable climate change adaptation plan – which recently won the Index Design Award – will be completed by 2033. To be sure, Danish city planners operate in an enviable setup, where politicians and local residents alike support sustainable climate change adaptation and are willing to commit the funds required.
Brian Vad Mathiesen, an associate professor of development and planning at Aalborg University, says: "The difference between Copenhagen and other major cities is that they're very concrete in the short term and also look at what they need to do for the very, very long-term future.
"But in Denmark, sustainable city planning is not a niche; it's just what we do. And you have to remember that sustainability is not just about the environment. It's also about creating local jobs."
Copenhageners, in other words, have realised that doing the right thing for the environment brings jobs – and higher living standards – to the city. "Both from a financial and a sustainability perspective, it makes sense to do as much as possible as early as possible," says Mathiesen. "If you don't build things like pocket parks, you'll have problems with flooding. We can't live with flooding that brings the city to a halt for several days each time."
Other cities are embarking on similar plans. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York this year presented a record $19.5bn climate change adaptation plan, with 250 specific projects reaching into the 2050s. Toronto, Rotterdam and Boston, too, have advanced plans with solutions from floating pavilions to terraced levees. Some 20% of the world's cities now have climate change adaptation plans in place. "While governments are mired in negotiations, cities are leaping forward," observes Gaffin. "City populations recognise the threats from climate change."
But while pocket parks and cloudburst boulevards sound charming, green infrastructure remains experimental. It's uncertain how effective percolating pavements will be, for example, and the trees in green streets face daily threats from cars. Besides, nobody really knows what the world will look like in 2050, let alone 2100.
But as far as Copenhageners are concerned, sustainable city design is the only answer to climate change. Morten Jastrup, a senior analyst at Sustainia, a Copenhagen-based think tank, says: "These measures will contribute to a higher quality of life in Copenhagen. We have to consider what will constitute a successful city in the future, because we need highly qualified people to come and work here.""

Hamburg's answer to climate change

Hamburg is planning a green network that will cover not just the outskirts of the city, but also the city centre.
"The German city is planning a green network that will cover 40% of the city area, contributing to resilience and allowing biking, swimming and nature watching in the city
Boris Johnson, don't read this: there's a European commercial hub that promotes bicycling as the main mode of transportation. It is, in fact, embarking on a plan to build a network around bikes and pedestrians, linking car-free roads to parks and playgrounds, from the city centre to the suburbs.
Welcome to Hamburg, an environmental pioneer in the mould of its regional neighbour Copenhagen. Its planned green network will cover 40% of the city's area. "It will connect parks, recreational areas, playgrounds, gardens and cemeteries through green paths", Angelika Fritsch, a spokeswoman for the city's department of urban planning and the environment, tells Guardian Sustainable Business. "Other cities, including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you'll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot." The green network will even connect animal habitats, enabling critters to crisscross the city without risk of being run over. Perhaps more importantly, the network will absorb CO2 emissions and help prevent floods when inevitable superstorms strike.
"Hamburg has always been a green city with lots of parks", notes Jens Kerstan, leader of the Green Party in Hamburg's state parliament. "The green network makes sense from a climate change adaptation perspective, especially since our residents are quite progressive when it comes to climate change adaptation. Many Hamburgers are willing to give up their cars, which is very unusual in Germany."
Climate change will, in fact, leave cities little choice but to develop plans like the green network. Fritsch points out that thanks to its sea winds, Hamburg is better positioned to combat warmer temperatures than, say, Berlin. But increasing temperatures are already affecting this North Sea metropolis as well. "Today the average annual temperature is nine degrees Celsius, 1.2 degrees more than it was 60 years ago", reports Dr Insa Meinke, director of the North German Climate Bureau at the Institut für Küstenforschung (Institute of Coastal Research). "When we have a cold winter there are always people saying, 'so where's your climate change now?', but the cold winters are simply fluctuations." According to data from the Institute for Coastal Research, Hamburg had five hot (above 30 degrees Celsius) summer days last year, compared to two in 1952.
Climate change is already affecting the port city's water level as well. "Compared to 60 years ago, the sea level here has risen by 20 centimetres", explains Meinke. "As a large city, Hamburg is truly at risk. Storm surges could rise by another 30 to 110 centimetres by 2100." Hamburg, in other words, needs its green network because it will help limit the effects of floods.
There are benefits to tackling climate change early on. Cities know that if they make themselves greener and more pedestrian-and-bike-friendly, they'll attract more of the people they need to remain competitive. According to Fritsch, given that residents – especially children, the elderly and the ill – will suffer when temperatures rise, making the city climate as comfortable as possible is "very important in order to provide quality of life for our residents looking ahead to 2050". Dr Sven Schulze, an analyst at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), notes that the green network could take up space that's needed for housing and businesses, but "on the other hand, it brings economic advantages because it attracts highly educated and competent people to the city."
That's, of course, a recipe successfully pioneered by Copenhagen. But unlike Copenhagen, Hamburg hasn't got very far in implementing its grand design. "The green network is an excellent idea, but we're still in the early stages", notes Kerstan. "The visionary thinking is done by the civil servants, not by the politicians currently in charge. Ever since Fukushima, the focus in Germany has been on moving away from nuclear power, not on climate change adaptation."
Currently some 30 city staff are developing the green network, aided by personnel in the city's seven districts. When politicians make the green web a priority, it will be an extensive network indeed, covering some 7,000 hectares. And Fritsch's team envisions a network that doesn't just help residents get from point A to point B in a sustainable fashion. "It will offer people opportunities to hike, swim, do water sports, enjoy picnics and restaurants, experience calm and watch nature and wildlife right in the city", she explains. "That reduces the need to take the car for weekend outings outside the city, which further reduces the damage to the environment."
Modern city life: walking, biking, watching nature right where you live. Climate change is already generating a surprising mix of futuristic and back-to-nature solutions."