- 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, June 15, 2009

Demotorizing our Urban Centres

With the popularity of PPS, Transportation Alternatives, Velib and the like, it seems many movers and shakers are finally realizing that "de-motorizing" the urban centres of our cities may be necessary to achieve the drastic cuts in fossil fuel energy consumption that are required to avoid the global warming disaster that scientists now seem to agree we are heading for ever more rapidly. De-motorizing a city results in drastically less CO2 emissions (transport is estimated to generate around a quarter of CO2 emissions) but also less pollution, less noise, less stress, less loss from death and injury, more human interaction, better sense of community and a range of other tangential benefits. And face it, who wouldn't enjoy walking through the city on a tree-lined (car-free) boulevard?

Speaking of which, am I the only one who thinks EVs are a fantastic great red-herring? If you believe the motor industry and battery making companies, EVs are the world's only hope. But surely it is marginal at best, for until most or all the energy for electricity generation, not to mention the factories that produce the EVs, and the mining for the resources that produce them, comes from clean sources there will be little or no net gain to the planet from switching to EVs. Doh!

By applying the KISS principle(Keep It Simple Stupid) those who choose to do so can deal with many of the critical transport issues on a personal level by simply riding a bicycle instead. I do not expect everyone to suddenly start riding bicycles - not at least until some of these boulevards are built.

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