- 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.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

ROADBLOCK! - we are having fun here

One of the (many) great things about Japan is the festival experience. The festival season generally runs from Spring through Autumn, with each local event running to its own traditional schedule. Some, like the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands, while others are extremely local. However they all have one thing in common - for the duration of the festival the streets are cleared of cars and once again returned to the people. That in itself seems to bring people out in their thousands just to enjoy the atmosphere of walking down a street free of cars. Perhaps this is why the Japanese tend to naturally understand that automobile traffic should not be no#1 priority.

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