March 14th, 2011

People, no parking, equals much cycling

Cycling is dominant in cities that are flat, and that were built up before the advent of cars, meaning the old building stock does not provide any car parking. Amsterdam is the most conspicuous case. People, no parking, equals much cycling. 

The conditions behind Amsterdam's high rates of cycling, can be recreated in any flat urban area. Simply raise allowable densities (that's not the same as raising allowable heights) and ban the provision of car parking in any new building. At the same time, make further development on the urban fringe less appealing, by lowering speed limits, by not making new roads, and by not allowing any more urban sprawl.

I'm mindful at this point that many people, and no parking, equals many taxis hooning along Manhattan's Avenues. It's like a Death Star battle every time a traffic light turns to green. Circumstances behind this, include the through-traffic in Manhattan from other boroughs (curse you bridge-n'-tunnel scum), plus American car-love more broadly. Really though, there's nothing here lot's of traffic calming could not reverse. Which is why calming Manhattan's traffic has been the first thing most planners try to address. 
My small city, Newcastle, has draconian planning laws, requiring the provision of 1 to 2 parking spaces for every new dwelling unit built in the city. All our councilors live in the burbs, or else in over sized city houses. None cycle to planning meetings. Rather, they complain about how far they had to walk from the car space they found. With all due respect Newcastle City Council, you are what I referred to in my last post as: "humanity's lard, Charles Darwin's apes, the eugenicist's rejects." If you were any more backward, you would be quaint. I thank you for my perverse sense of irony, without which I would have gone mad. 

When safety is paramount

I have something similar in a sketchbook, that I designed when I was a kid. Mine is much better, of course. Lower, more stable. Radically different. To be kept hidden in a drawer until after my death, when my sketches will be taken and held with Leonardo's.

Though with age and wisdom, I thought better of actually making a contraption so dangerous it could not be put to any practical use.

John Cassidy, think of the kiddies

Oh I change like the wind darlings I know, one moment not encouraging newcomers to cycling, calling them lard, and this minute saying the opposite, because (and I shall put this to you as a slogan):

OMG, and sizzle my nizzle yo mo fo, I am in touch with my inner activist. A lifelong commitment to selfishly using the roads, footpaths, bushland etc., as ways to my own transport means, is being diluted. I am thinking the world needs to be safer, now that my own offspring are riding. Mind you, I care not for the offspring of anyone else (phew, let's not slide headlong into altruism here, and entirely spoil the tone of my blog), though for the public funds I will need to make the world safe for my own little vegemites, I will need to make it safe for your children too. No biggie.

Add to the potent sanctimony of my slogan, "Let no child be endangered cycling to school", the sheer number of groups who will support such a plan: the national heart foundation, private health insurers, health ministers (who stand to save millions, according to this kind of research), every kind of environmentalist, transport ministers, climate change ministers, bike shops, business chambers and retailers (once they see how much money cyclists have left in their pockets), and I just don't think the 4WD clubs, oil companies and car manufacturers will find they hold the balance of power. I really think they're becoming the minority. That is certainly the case in affluent inner city areas, such as Manhattan.  

The normally boring copies of The Yorker that come to my door, have been rather more lively of late, with coverage being given to debates for and against that city's new cycleway system. Speaking for the luddites, sour pus John Cassidy has a case that relies, when rendered down, upon his view of mob rule. He has no polling to go on, yet is convinced the politicians responsible for all those green lanes, will be voted out next time around, and those bike lanes will be given back to car drivers. To me this looks like an ugly old economist lecturing politicians on the topic of popularity. Isn't that what polies know best? Conviction politics died long ago. Nobody listens to agitators. Politicians do what they judge will be popular. John [butch] Cassidy looks like Rooster Cogburn, a little, don't you agree? Yes, a cowboy grumbling how "ain't nothin' the same since all these changes." Cowboys didn't like it when roads were tarred, for cars and cyclists, because they would have to put shoes in their horses. The cowboys of our day also feel left out, and bitter. And I don't like them. They don't care about my kids' health or safety, or the state of the planet my kids will inherit.