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The Utopian City

Old 08-26-01, 01:14 PM
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PapeteeBooh
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The Utopian City

It may difficult to avoid driving a car because many cities (all of American suburbia I think) are build for car. I read recently that car space (road, parking) occupy on average 60% or urban and suburban space. I think that however utopian it is, we should think of building radically different cities.

Are there any cities build in a bike-friendlier model? I seem to remember that Sienna (Italy) for instance does not allow motorized vehicle in its center (the city of course was built initially well before cars so cars are not suited for it).
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Old 08-26-01, 03:37 PM
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Originally posted by PapeteeBooh
It may difficult to avoid driving a car because many cities (all of American suburbia I think) are build for car. I read recently that car space (road, parking) occupy on average 60% or urban and suburban space.
I think it's pretty similar all around the world. I was reading some similar statistics over here a couple of years ago. This means that people use more space for their cars than they actually live in! I honestly believe the solution is to simply have fewer car parking spaces in the city. That way, the cost of them will increase, and the only ones who will actually pay for them are those who need to.

I think this is actually done in Singapore and seems to work pretty well. Maybe the government could run the system and use the proceeds to fund an efficient public transport system.

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Old 08-26-01, 10:10 PM
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check out carfree.com, an amazing site. The site covers it all
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Old 08-27-01, 07:30 PM
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It boggles my mind the way our land is developed. Our primary form of transportation should be walking. All our daily needs should be within walking distance; work, stores, entertainment, friends, family, etc...

This may mean that the core of the city would be pedestrian only. Bikes and public transit would be used to travel further and visit the countryside. Cars would be negated to toy status as racing and touring vehicles, as they were originally intended to be.

Instead, all I see is our land be developed in the same homogenous way. Housing developments and strip malls and parking lots and wider roads. Sucks to that.
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Old 08-27-01, 10:47 PM
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I think part of the deal about urban sprawl is that people think they are getting away from the car and other congestion in the city. They think they're "moving out to the country." I hear time and again in articles about sprawl about people who move out to the suburbs because they want a house where there's a cornfield or the like across the street. Then they're surprised when five years later, that cornfield is a mall with a Home Depot and a McDonalds and a new subdivision full of big houses. In the big cities today, you have to go increasingly further and further out to get to that house across from the cornfield. And sadly, that cornfield will be taken over by McStores and McHouses in less than five years. The "Chicago Metro Area" now extends two counties into Indiana and all the way to the Wisconsin border, or even past it. Of course, when the sprawl extends this far, it's impossible to bicycle all the way to where one needs to without making it an huge day ordeal. Amazingly, people will drive 50 miles to work, then 50 miles home again. Ridiculous.
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Old 08-27-01, 11:38 PM
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Originally posted by HillaryRose
I hear time and again in articles about sprawl about people who move out to the suburbs because they want a house where there's a cornfield or the like across the street. Then they're surprised when five years later, that cornfield is a mall with a Home Depot and a McDonalds and a new subdivision full of big houses.
It's funny, I was talking to a friend about that same thing not so long ago, and we came up with the same conclusions. I myself have never understood why people want to live miles and miles from where they work. I mean, they talk about the lifestyle bit all the time but it makes no sense to me. What sort of a 'lifestyle' is it when you spend four or five hours a day commuting?

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Old 08-28-01, 08:07 AM
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Sounds like Chicago is becoming L.A.

I work with people who car-mute 130 miles a day. It absolutely baffles me.

The need for expensive houses, cars and lifestyles will cause people to make all sorts of lousey choices.
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Old 08-28-01, 08:41 AM
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at least Chicago has a decent commuter-rail network. People can actually live out in Rockford, and commute daily to the loop! Actually, if you can bike to the Metra station (and not have your ride stolen during the day), then this is an improvement.
BTW, I have heard that the CRTA has been allowing limited bike transport on the El? how is that doing? Is Metra doing the same? What about the South Shore? Taking your bike out to some of the places they serve would be nice! I haven't been in Chicago for a while, but I have friends there, and was thinking about Amtraking me and my bike out there, then touring back. The south shore route would be perfect, making it easy to avoid the south side, as well as Gary, In.
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Old 08-28-01, 09:23 AM
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In a trip through several cities in Holland and Belgium I found most of the smaller cities were very bicycle friendly with cycle pathways, bike lanes, even signal switches for the crossing lights placed at perfect height for cyclists.

The larger cities were a little too congested to navigate without some concern of being clobbered by a vehicle.
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Old 08-28-01, 05:24 PM
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Originally posted by Greg
Sounds like Chicago is becoming L.A.

I work with people who car-mute 130 miles a day. It absolutely baffles me.

The need for expensive houses, cars and lifestyles will cause people to make all sorts of lousey choices.
Ya.

But when I drove, none of this baffled me much. I just cursed the increasing traffic volume.

Now, I have nothing against driving in general, with some exceptions:

1) Collateral damage (via paving, commercialism, pollution, etc.)

2) etc.



Cycling is so smart, eh? (and walking, they rock. Why are people so slow to catch on?)
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Old 08-29-01, 07:19 AM
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Dear Mister Smarty Pants,

Actually, L.A.'s rail system has blossomed over the past ten years.

I can catch a train three miles from my house at the beach and get droped off across the street from my office in downtown.

It is much cleaner, safer, and faster than many cities with outdated infrastructure.
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Old 08-29-01, 09:24 AM
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I have to tout my city a bit. Portland is doing a decent job of trying to integrate bicycles and other modes of transportation together. Of course, there are many hurdles that need to be overcome.

We have one bonus that cities don't have - an Urban Growth Boundary .(for more information click here) . This limits the sprawl to within a given area. There are still plenty of McMiniMalls and cul-de-saced neighborhoods, but things seem to be shaping up. We have light rail that extends to the airport with a mainline going to the suburbs. Also, a new streetcar opened downtown this summer.

So, all in all, Portland is a pretty livable American city --- if you can handle the rain! :thumbup:

I was in Munich this summer....talk about bike-able. Every major arterial street had a bike lane that was separate from the sidewalk and slightly elevated. We even had our own traffic lights. Drivers were much more aware of both pedestrians and cyclists.
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Old 08-29-01, 10:34 AM
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In the UK there are stll plenty of smaller cities with mediaeval street plans. These are ideal for cycling, and really bad for driving. The suburbs tend to be fairly compact, with a radius of about 5 miles max, befor the greenbelt (no building permitted).
London is a much bigger city, but surprisingly bike friendly.
The bike-hostile ones were re-developped along US lines in the '60s and '70s.
Surprisingly, the more affluent cities are often more bike friendly, and cycling , although not the norm, is a pretty everyday activity.
In my town, smaller and less affluent, cycling is pretty rare.
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Old 09-01-01, 09:33 PM
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Originally posted by D*Alex
BTW, I have heard that the CTA has been allowing limited bike transport on the El? how is that doing? Is Metra doing the same? What about the South Shore?
The CTA now allows bikes 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday. On weekdays, the hours are more restricted. You can't bring the bike on board between 4am-10am and 2pm-8pm. The hours are a bit restrictive on weekdays, but it's a vast improvement over no bikes allowed at all.

The Metra is doing a pilot project for a few weekends, but the pilot is not really usable. On weekends, you have to meet all of the following criteria:
1. make a reservation
2. pay extra
3. board or get off only at certain stations
4. Board on the 'bicycle car' which only has one inbound and outbound in the morning, and then only one inbound and outbound in the evening.
(I have however seen a folding bike user fold up their bike and take it on the Metra without any problem.)

The South Shore line still does not allow bicycles.
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Old 09-02-01, 05:03 AM
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I live in a small town /village that is very historic (roman times) unfortunately narrow streets that were designed with nothing larger than a horse and cart in mind now have to put up with hgv vehicles , double decker buses etc .
This can be a nightmare for local residents to put with.
Our local authorities do little to change things preferring to "bury there head in the sand" attitude
The council are swayed by a large influx of opinion from local traders ie. shopkeepers into believing that any form of motorised transport restriction would lead to a serious loss of trade and livelhood to their business.
In the meantime this standoff causes a great deal of stress to inhabitants , until someone can come up with a solution we have to put up with the problem.

HOPE THE OIL RUNS OUT SOON !

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Old 09-02-01, 04:12 PM
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Originally posted by willic

The council are swayed by a large influx of opinion from local traders ie. shopkeepers into believing that any form of motorised transport restriction would lead to a serious loss of trade and livelhood to their business.
Chris L cannot see where these people are coming from. Chris L knows of a similar situation around here where the Southport Mall was turned into a street because many of the local businesses were struggling. As far as Chris L can tell, they are still struggling.

Chris L thinks this is because there are too many shops on the Gold Coast for the population that's here and that this has nothing to do with motorised transport.

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Old 09-03-01, 08:33 AM
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I quite agree Chris L , any town traders concerned about loss of income owing to restrictive motorised transport ought to look at places where this has been introduced.
Contrary to loss of trade, with the odd exception , revenew has increased .probably because these places are much pleasenter centres to shop in. Without the stink of exhaust fumes in your face.
But convincing shopkeepers is a difficult task. the merest hint of change has them up in arms.

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