CARFREE TOKYO

- 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.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A warning to the world

This article should stand as a stark warning to Australia, Europe and the USA, about to embark on probably the worlds greatest ever experiment in fiscal stimulus.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=aYomskNBwinE&refer=japan

I expect that more of the same "business as usual" economic stimulus such as this will do nothing but create facilities that are an ongoing liability to the nation. Money for projects that have no popular support but are funded simply because they inflate the economy will entrench a pork-barrel industry addicted to the swill of easy government money for useless projects that bankrupt local governments with ongoing costs liabilities. Japan is even today faced with the ongoing issue of dealing with these problems, and should stand as a stark warning to the rest of the world -

choose your projects very carefully, because they will define your country and its future for decades to come.

So what will it be? Highways, tunnels, airports, more cars and more sprawl? Or investment in trains, subways, and safe walkable communities?

3 comments:

Jonathon said...

Hi mate, Dave's mate Jonno here. I loved this story, I've flashed it to the editors of Australian Aviation to see if they will run it in conjunction with a piece about Australian Gov't Green Paper on Aviation etc.

hope you're well
Jonathon

StompinRhino said...

Thanks Jonno. I don't expect Australian Aviation magazine will particularly love the idea of more trains and less airports... but then that is the way things work isn't it. Many economists argue that a free economy means endless choice. But often it just means you have the choice to buy into the status quo or not buy anything at all. Once a society starts going down a particular road it can be very difficult to step off that path because to do so - even for good reason, would cause the economy to deflate, even if only temporarily. I am sounding like a Catholic priest, but it really is time we bit the bullet.

Anonymous said...

More good post recently.

An old one from elsewhere, but I thought you might enjoy this :

http://democracystreet.blogspot.com/2007/10/dignified-divorce.html