(This Mission Statement is at this point just a working draft. We intend to start by posting this, and then modify it in steps as we learn in the weeks and months ahead. Nonetheless, even in this incomplete working form, it will, we hope, give you dear reader a first idea of what we hope to accomplish. And if in the meantime you have comments, suggestions or criticisms that can help us improve, we hope you will share them with us. But at the end of the day, it will be the content of what you see in these pages that will best permit you to understand what we hope will be the modest contribution of The Streets of Iran.)
A worldwide problem
We are facing a worldwide problem of transport in cities. What used to be good enough or at least acceptable back in the 20th century when there were fewer cars on the road and when public policy in most parts of the world consistently favored private cars, is no long working with well or fairly. We need to make some changes.
As in the vast majority of cities around the world, extensive use of cars is causing serious issues in Iranian cities. Heavy traffic, increased congestion, long commuting hours, and road accidents have become one of the biggest issues in many cities around Iran.
Beyond this the increasing cost of car ownership and use is intensifying the economic pressure on individuals and the government alike. Our excessive dependence on private car ownership and use over these last decades has affected us not only locally in terms of health and environment, but it is also significantly responsible for global warming and world resource depletion.
And finally our present dominant transport system is just unfair. Cars are already expensive, and with rising world fuel prices, owning and operating your own car is going to become too expensive for a very large number of Iranians. More than that, there are many people who will never have full and fair access to their own cars: those who are too young or too old to drive, those who cannot drive or for various reasons should not drive, everyone with a mobility or other handicap, or simply those who cannot afford it. The truth is that the car-based transport systems of the twentieth century never served more than a minority of all citizens at best. In the 21st century we need to do better than that. And we can.
Reacting to the challenge
The truth is that our transportation systems are not only inefficient, unfair and outdated, but that we also need to change our attitudes and behaviours toward them. It is obvious we cannot start from scratch, redesign our systems drastically, and change everything overnight. At the same time, we cannot just let our cities continue to go on the way they have for the past few decades. This is a problem in cities across the word, and it is a problem in the cities of Iran.
How should we react to this challenge. Well, the first step has to be to admit that we have a problem and then to see what we can do is to increase our knowledge of the challenges and solutions. For that reason, the Streets of Iran is being established to provide a public online knowledge base aiming to highlight the mobility challenges, accomplishments and opportunities in the Iranian cities.
The focus is on creating an improved understanding of the transportation decisions and behaviours in the urban fabric of the Iranian society, and how they can be improved through sustainable transportation. The goal of The Streets of Iran is to promote sustainable transportation and more sustainable living by sharing knowledge and learning from other success stories and failures around the world. We firmly believe that every city, every country in the world can be well served by:
a) International: Knowing more about what is happening in other cities around the world that are taking the lead in studying, innovating, and doing their best to choose, adapt and implement a careful way within new ideas and practices in the field of sustainable transport.
b) Internal: While at the same time developing better internal information and collaborative networks which give those who share these concerns across Iran – different cities, different institutions, different disciplines, and different schools of thought concerning what cities and people need
With that in mind, the objective of The Streets of Iran is to:
1) Introduce examples of sustainable solutions to transportation problems from all around the globe, and the lessons that can be learned in Iranian society.
2) Understand more about the transport systems, problems and accomplishments in Iranian cities and the current and most important transportation challenges within the urban areas. That involves creating an informal network of interested people from students and transportation professionals, to the concerned public agencies both locally and country-wide, as well as ordinary residents of Iranian cities who are challenged with everyday issues in their cities.
3) Create a common data base for everyone both inside and outside of the country that can be used for understanding complexity of transportation issues in Iran and to conduct further research in any of those fields. We are interested in creating a virtual learning environment and a shared place for discussion and collaboration.
We invite all those individuals and organizations interested in these issues to join our effort in making The Streets of Iran an online source of information in sustainable transportation for all those inside and outside of Iran. We are free from commercial interests and we will strongly avoid any political involvement with any group or individual. We discourage all political commentaries and we intend to stay firmly focused on the challenges of transportation and sustainable living.
Our "clients" are all people who use the streets of Iran every day to get to work and school, to obtain goods and critical services, to shop and go to meet friends, and to walk, cycle and move thought the streets in ways that are safe, efficient and agreeable for all.
To get an understanding of what we mean by that, we invite you to look at the growing collection of photographs of daily life on the streets of Iran that you will find at http://tinyurl.com/6bqb6vv