- 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, May 21, 2009

The Carbon Cost of Hydrogen

Nice to see Reuters looking at this.

Hydrogen is definitely not the best answer. The best answer is for government to admit that supporting auto as an asset is not the way forward. If no private lenders will lend to people who want to borrow money to buy automobiles, then probably THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON. Why is the government supporting automobile credit? OK cars are handy sometimes, but WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH OF THEM. If we could just get our act together we could probably do just fine with a tenth of the cars currently on the road. And given the environmental crisis on our doorstep, and that hydrogen is not the answer people are hyping it to be, it may come to pass sooner rather than later. Is this the root of the crisis? It is of course tied up with demographics, because as people age they drive less and discover for the first time in their lives just how inconvenient, how inhospitable, how downright hostile Western cities are these days for the non-driver.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Depths of Disgrace

A little off topic, but wow. SEC employees under investigation for insider trading?! By whom? The SEC? HAH! These guys are supposed to be the watchdogs... What a disgrace.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Canadian Smokers (sorry, drivers) up in Arms

This article is great. It reminds me a lot of the "Great Whinge" that smokers kicked up when the tide of public opinion turned against them a decade or two ago. Front page on the Globe and Mail National Section, the article is a good whinge about how automobile lovers are under attack from all sides in the city of Toronto. The hilarious hypocrisy that says it all about this kind of view is the Porsche advertisement at the bottom picturing the automobile drivers wet-dream of a road - fast, scenic, pedestrian free, even sidewalk free, and no other vehicles on it except your own, not even a motorcycle. This is a dream that not only excludes all non-drivers but is also fundamentally unattainable. Yet, this is the very dream that generations of last century's Americans were sold, came to pine for and ultimately paid billions in real money in an utterly vain attempt to attain, the only lasting legacy of which is horrific snarling traffic, chronic sedentarism, pollution, the ongoing liability for maintaining these automobile dystopias left for future generations, and half a century of neglect for non-auto transportation infrastructure. I could go on, but you get the picture. I think this article shows the level that the auto-crowd have fallen to. Like the smokers complaining bitterly when the public first began to call for bans on smoking in pubs and restaurants a few decades ago, the next step is capitulation. Let's take it all the way.