- 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.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

All Tokyo Train Stations 100% Smoke Free From April 2009

So, as of April this year, all Tokyo JR train stations are completely smoke free. This is something of a milestone to be celebrated given that some stations have close to a million people pass through them each day.

I find it very encouraging that Japan has finally joined the anti-smoking movement. It should only be a matter of time before residents of the city realize that automobiles are just as "meiwaku" - but in many more ways than just the stink, carbon emissions (or noise). Tobacco kills, but for the most part only kills the persistent smoker themself in a way that might almost be seen as evolutionarily satisfying if it weren't for the issues associated with the drug and the demography of the addiction patterns. Allowing driving to become our main form of transport on the other hand, endangers all of us. In fact, it endangers the people around them more than the driver themselves, which does not engender responsible driving.

The big question is whether we will we realize this before billions are invested in EV technology, and before China goes too far down the automobile path...

I guess the only safe automobile might be a true AUTOmobile - one that drives itself. Whether or not that can be reconciled with the environment is another question given that high automobile use encourages urban sprawl, and the high cost of the systems necessary for automatic driving.

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