12 March 2011

Run!


This is a photo from Hong Kong by the photographer Dian Karlina. It really is the textbook example of a very non-liveable city. A city for machines, not pedestrians and cyclists.

It reminded me of these photos taken by Robert Doisneau in Paris in the 1960's.
Doisneau Traffic
Pedestrians dashing like mad to cross the street as the car traffic roars towards them. Thank goodness Paris is changing for the better. Doisneau once said, “It is not easy to catch a pedestrian, it is like a pigeon. It jumps.”

When they're running for their lives it certainly isn't any easier.

17 comments:

auto-mat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vrataf said...

It's only a model...

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. The first photo is made the way that it looks like diorama in about 1:50 scale. Nevertheless such cities should be allowed ONLY in scale 1:50 and smaller...

In Czech Republic we have nice speciality: There is no signal pointing that the green for pedestrians will finish (as e.g. blinking green). Pedestrian is allowed to finish his route on red signal if he walks on the crosswalk during green signal. On many places the green blinks only for 5 seconds (or even less despite it's under limit given by norms) and at the same moment cars are allowed to turn into them. The result is that pedestrians get red light in the middle of road, while cars are waiting. Of course, drivers must give way to the pedestrians. But there is the point that pedestrians have already red signal, while drivers have green. Have anybody invented more effective way to move pedestrians to run from such place despite they have legal right to walk with common speed?

Paul Martin said...

That could be anywhere in Australia too... sad.

@vrataf

Err... no. It is a photograph of a real street made to look like a model using a tilt-shift lens, or more likely in the age of digital manipulation, software blurring to give the impression that a tilt-shift lens was used...

ATX Bikette said...

I thought too that it was a model, but yes of course there is technology to manipulate the look of photos.

I hate that here in the U.S., they have a countdown for pedestrian crossings telling you how many seconds you have to cross the street. My poor Dad in Washington D.C. felt compelled to cross the street in the time allotted despite needing knee replacement surgery in both legs. The Czech method sounds more agreeable, even though in the US the pedestrian *technically* always has the right of way.

Bad Karma said...

Hold it right there!

Usually I'm a fond reader of your blog, content to ignore the haughty Nordic superiority that too often taints your posts. As someone who has lived in Hong Kong, I question the parameters you define a city as 'livable'. I resided there for a year just after the turn of the century, and whilst it was built-up and busy, I found it very easy to live in. Granted, cycling was next to impossible, but cheap, efficient, available public transport more than compensated for that, and despite the appearance in the picture, most residents do not own a car. I'd rather live there than in Brisbane anyday, and it probably pips Copenhagen for me too, as I don't deal well with the cold.

I understand the nature of the blog, but once again you've suceeded alienating a memeber of your reading public by your narrow focus and inability to compromise.

Good day, Sir.

Paul Martin said...

@vrataf

Apologies... I misread your post in haste! :)

Sofie said...

Well, I am living i Hong Kong at the moment and I must say, if people are in danger as a pedestrian it's their own fault. There has been build a large amount of elevated pedestrian roads in the most busiest areas in the territory, making it very safe to travel around by foot. And as mentioned, the public transportation options are sublime and makes your encounter with traffic like portrayed in the pictures very rare (some of the pictures are very old as well) So non-liveable - I don't think so!

But I will never, repeat never ride a bike here :)

Anonymous said...

vrataf - It's also a silly place.

Bad Karma & Sophie - The Achilles heel of the bicycle advocate is a blind spot caused by their narrow focus. The most livable cities do not have a great deal of bicycle use, because while they may prove extremely useful from time to time, they are not necessary.

The correct focus is not on how many bicycle trips are made, but on how few motor vehicle trips are made.

amoeba said...

Surely, a liveable city is not about being able to move around in boxes, whether they are cars, buses or trains.

What about the freedom to breathe clean and unpolluted air? Freedom from traffic noise?
The freedom to walk; dawdle; window-shop; cycle; run; sit with friends drinking our favourite beverage, while reading, laughing and talking and being heard - without the need to shout; just as the whim takes us, but all without significant risk of violent death or injury at the hands of a stranger in a speeding motor-vehicle.

Public transport alone is not the measure of 'liveability'. It has to be the freedom from ever-present noisy, dirty, smelly and dangerous motor-traffic.

Ditlev Norseman-Niszen said...

... and to say a city is "liveable" is not the same as saying it is "easy to live in".
It's a little like beer. A beer can be "easy to drink", but people who think that's the way a beer can be good, have never tasted really good beer.
A good beer and a liveable city should offer you more than what is just "easy".

Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

There are people in Hong Kong riding bikes, going everywhere. I have posted on my blog:
i-Brompton. HK is changing too. Though title of the blog is "Brompton", there are some other articles more than Brompton.
Of course, we got a long way to go...

wuppidoc said...

Could be shot in Britain as well. Anglo-Saxon countries seem to be the worst towards pedestrians and cyclists.

wuppidoc said...

Poor Sofie, she does not realise that the amount of women cycling in a city is the litmus test for communities and their degree of sustainable transport. Hongkong: Thumb down.

Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

Wuppidoc,
As a local guy in Hong Kong, your comment is hard to take. But it is true, especially in the busiest area of HK.
I am 40+ and I couldn't even ride a bicycle 3 years ago. But now, I commute by bike every day, and shopping by a bike during the weekend.
Things are changing, especially the suburbs, where are regarded as cities in terms of population density with Europe or America standard.
I can give you some examples I post in my blog.
Hong Kong "Cycle Chic"
And, your comment is much appreciated by me and my fellows in HK. And wish our government will take your comment seriously. Hope in the future, you have the opportunity to visit HK to have a clearer picture. Then you may share the same opinion as Sofie and Bad Karma.

beststeve23 said...

I lived in HK for 25years and now moved to NYC. NYC is doing well at city planning right now. What they do is just follow other successful example in other cities. However, Hong Kong people like cars, they think that having a car is a high-class people. They want to show off.
Hong Kong people say if the roads are reduced, that will cause more serious traffic jam. In fact, it won't. They do not understand. The basic rule of the system is whatever space you have for cars will fill up with cars. The more roads you have, the more parking you have, the more cars you're going to have. If you want to get rid of cars, you've got to get rid of parking. You've got to get rid of roads, and the cars will go away.

They just complain that the road is dangerous. The weather is hot and humid. But they said that HK cannot have a bike lane in midtown or downtown because road are for car use only.

Martin said...

Hey I cycle around Hong Kong every day. The city density means that everywhere is only a few minutes by bike. It's a great place to ride!

And the cycle-unfriendliness here (which is true) is no more fixed than it was in London or San Francisco a few years ago, or even Amsterdam in the 1970s.

So we just need to do what those cities did: lobby government, encourage cyclists to populate the streets, teach drivers and inform the public.

Martin said...

Hey I cycle around Hong Kong every day. The city density means that everywhere is only a few minutes by bike. It's a great place to ride!

And the cycle-unfriendliness here (which is true) is no more fixed than it was in London or San Francisco a few years ago, or even Amsterdam in the 1970s.

So we just need to do what those cities did: lobby government, encourage cyclists to populate the streets, teach drivers and inform the public.