- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


For the last six months or a year, I've been a member of a mailing list of a Sydney bicycle advocacy group called BikeEast. These guys are really great. They work with local and state governments on specific projects, go on rides together, organise community events, seemingly tireless in the effort for better communties.

That's why I am particularly disgusted when I see news of the new NSW state premier planning to reverse the Sydney tunnel plans. As I understand it, the tunnel (a disgusting pork barrel project to start with) won popular support because the plan included promises to block surface roads to traffic, thereby reducing motor traffic among local communities. Well they proposed that sweetener, got the tunnel, built it, and blocked off surface traffic as promised, much to the chagrin of motorists (who in Sydney are chagrined when they can't drive to the toilet). Now, sure enough, the new Premier has taken it on himself to open up these roads again, and free the downtrodden driving masses. I'm getting cynical again, but honestly, it really tries my faith in democracy when this kind of thing happens. I just really hope the people there wake up to reality before they really do need a car to go to the toilet.

This kind of broken promise could only be done by the government. In business, it would be called fraud and the company would be hauled over coals, directors indicted and had rocks thrown at them.

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