Jan Gehl is a world renowned and visionary architect from Copenhagen. He was in Toronto and Ottawa recently to promote his new book ‘Cities for People’.
Take a look at some of his automobile-heresy from a Record article written about him
- Perspective of the pedestrian moving along a street at five km/h is the most important when new developments are planned
- The paradigm has shifted from city building for cars to cities for people
- Bike lanes are plowed first in the winter
- Parked cars are used to protect cyclists …, cyclists are not used to protect parked cars
I always thought that the way transportation planning was done was to make room for the cars on roads and parking lots. Then after that if it’s possible make an allowance for cyclists. Basically, the difference between mediocre and great biking cities was which and how many allowances were made.
But it seems like that level of commitment is not sufficient when making pedestrian or bike friendly cities. It takes a much bigger initiative from politicians, planners, and ultimately from voters since they deliver the mandates.
As the Record article linked above points out, Waterloo Region is ludicrously dependent on automobiles measuring 400,000 cars for 535,000 people. That’s the second highest dependency in Canada. And the trend does not seem to be reversing either with $70,000,000 city budget for parking garages downtown compared to the 20 year budget for bicycle infrastructure – $6 million dollars (you read that right – 20 years bike budget is $6 million).
Looks like downtown business owners are joining planners off the ‘cities for people’ wagon too showing their lack of support cyclists in the downtown area (note to business owners – put a bike rack out front or back instead of complaining; maybe you’ll be surprised).
So, to get where Gehl and Copenhagen are from where we are would require an about face in the priorities placed on how the city plans downtown and uptown development. Does anyone think that kind of bold leadership is possible within our lifetime?
I’m going to start by reading his book.