- 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.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Geez some people just don't get it. Saw a woman riding a shopping bike with a toddler barely one year old standing up inside the basket in front. No helmet, no restraining belt, nothing. Made me think...

I ride a bike because :
(1) it is convenient
(2) it is fun
(3) I get fit, not fat
(4) it doesn't harm the environment
(5) I don't want to endanger other people's safety

Cars can maybe meet the first two sometimes, but none of the others. Let's have a look:

(3) Getting fit - well we all know there is an obesity epidemic so that one is down the tube;
(4) We all know the state of the environment;
(5) people's perception of safety - what is an acceptable level of safety - seems to me totally out of wack. There are no wars, police security is good, we are a wealthy society - yet we put up with several deaths and hundreds of injuries each and every day on our roads. Just getting about! If you have seen the emergency ward of any general hospital in any major city, you will know what I mean - it is predominantly traffic accidents. How weird is that? How weird is it that we don't think it is weird? - that we don't think we can do better? -that we treat this as an "acceptable" level of risk?

You want to know what I think? I think that because the majority of people in society are still so resigned to life with cars, that we have reached a stage where our whole society has collectively thrown away these other three goals as just unachievable. Thus we are fat, we ignore the environment, and we put up with unnecessary risks.

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