- 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.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Dark Shadow Behind a Happy Story

This is quite a quaint little story about how a cat has saved the day for a local railway company in rural Japan. Behind this little story however is a dark picture of decades of pork-barrel roads spending and urban sprawl that has drawn people away from the trains and into cars. Stuck between this ruddy great four-lane rock and the hard place that is a rapidly ageing society, railways across Japan are in decline. Once bankrupt, these lines cease operation, further entrenching automobile dependance. Transport is an interesting thing - people will generally use the most convenient mode which is made available to them. If sqadzillions of yen are spent on roads and highways each year, then it is no wonder that more people drive. Oh yea, I forgot - they don't. People are driving less and less in Japan. And still quantrillions are spent on new roads and highways! I just don't get it. Well, actually I do. It is apathy. The one saving grace for Japan is that the country really just isn't made for cars, and most people these days realize that - so no matter how much they spend trying to get us to foresake our trains/bicycles/walking shoes for cars, we still drive less!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One more nail in the coffin

Just as Nissan and Japanese banks spend up big in a desperate effort to squeeze out a profit out of Indian citizens, and as the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party "road gang" fight tooth and nail to retain bloated road building budgets in the face of stiff opposition to further roadwork pork-barrelling, precipitously falling car use in Japan and health insurance budget shortfalls... just as auto manufacturers are announcing falling earnings that seems to be painting a long term picture of an oversaturated world auto market in which citizens are finally seeing the limits to automobile's as a form of transportation in just about every part of the developed world ... here we have another nail in the coffin of auto-centric society. THIS ARTICLE describing a report on the direct connection between particulates and DVT is certainly a killer for gasoline vehicles - and hybrid electric automobiles aren't much better (if at all) because in most places, coal is burned to provide the electricity.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Who said Japan doesn't invest in cycling?

This thing really is nuts.

Thanks to The Aesthetic Elevator for that one. It's probably only 20minutes from my home but I have never seen nor heard of it.

Frankly I think good old on-street parking is pretty good (get rid of a few on-street car parking spaces and you could make a few thousand bicycle parking spots in a flash), but this sort of thing looks like just the ticket for a big train station like this.

Incidentally, this link from "TAE" is also a cracker - a short video presentation by James Kunstler at TED.