- 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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Peter Newman

Peter Newman, author of "Cities as sustainable ecosystems: principles and practices" with Isabella Jennings, is one person who seems to have kept on fighting when the "traffic wars" of the 70s were thought to have been won decisively by the automobile. Peter does not appear to be anti-automobile per se - rather he objects to "auto dependence" a term he helped popularize. Now that the world is finally coming around, his ideas are having a huge impact on the way we think about our cities today.

A fantastic interview with him on the Science Show recently reminded me to write this little tribute. Personally I think he is spot on - cars, electric or otherwise, are just not going to be as big a part of our economy as they once were.

Thanks Peter. I am not much of a royalist, but you deserve a knighthood for bravely sticking to your principles while the world went gaga over cars.

Thanks also to Robyn Williams and the Science Show team for conducting the interview.

Interestingly, it was around 2002 that I had my little epiphany about cars, and 2005 that I started this blog myself - so right around that 2004 year that Peter mentions was the inflection point when the world began to turn away from cars en masse. Bring it on, I say.