22 April 2014

The New Question for 21st Century Cities

The New Question for Cities
It's all so simple if we want it to be. For almost a century we have been asking the same question in our cities.

"How many cars can we move down a street?"

It's time to change the question.

If you ask "How many PEOPLE can we move down a street?", the answer becomes much more modern and visionary. And simple. Oh, and cheaper.

When I travel with my Bicycle Urbanism by Design keynote, I often step on the toes of traffic engineers all around the world. Not all of them, however. I am always approached by engineers who are grateful that someone is questioning the unchanged nature of traffic engineering and the unmerited emphasis placed on it. I find it brilliant that individual traffic engineers in six different nations have all said the same thing to me: "We're problem solvers. But we're only ever asked to solve the same problem."

This graphic is inspired by the wonderful conversations I've had around the world about my keynote. How many people we can move down the street is the New Question for liveability and transport in The Life-Sized City.

With urbanisation on the rapid rise, we need to think big. Think modern. We need to travel Back to the Future for the solutions that will serve our growing populations best. Cycle tracks. Trams. Wider sidewalks. It's all right there for the taking if we dare to take it.


Wetneb said...

The poster is great, but when you read it from the top to bottom, it looks like the question changes from "how many people" to "how many cars".
I would have put cars on top and people below, it would be more natural to me. Start with the twentieth century, move to the twenty first century.

RaveDiver^ said...

Yes, I agree with the change. Although the message is still understandable, there will always be someone who will use it to change the real meaning!

Jeffrey Jakucyk said...

I would take it one step further and ask why so many people need to be moving down the street at all. Is there not enough "there" along the street to be an origin or destination point of its own? What about all the non-moving uses of streets like for playing, food vendors, street performances, people-watching, plantings, etc.? Yes it's very 20th century to ask "how many cars" but there's more to just "moving" people too.

Rob said...

I feel like this poster is not as effective as the graphic comparing the actual number of people moved down the street via different modes/lanes.

Unknown said...
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johnmassengale said...

Jeffrey is right. Many city streets should not be transportation corridors, but destinations where people want to get out of their cars and off their bikes and walk around.

City streets are where public life takes place. Public life is not about "moving" or "throughput," but about placemaking—creating streets where people want to be. On those streets both cars and people should slow down. That simultaneously saves lives and simplifies good urban design and civic art.


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David Van Den Heede said...

"If you ask "How many PEOPLE can we move down a street?", the answer becomes much more modern and visionary. And simple. Oh, and cheaper."

You forgot 'cleaner, healthier, quieter and cosier' :)