Friday, December 19, 2008

Second Class Citizens

Walking or riding my bicycle I often feel like a second class citizen. The first class citizens, of course, being the cars. Even when they do add sidewalks or bicycle lanes, there doesn't seem to be any consideration that they have to connect, and actually go where you might want to go. And then there are all the places where the "freeways" (funny choice of name when you think about it) virtually block any foot or bicycle access to large areas.

It's nice to see signs of this improving, like this article on WorldChanging:

Copenhagen, Melbourne & The Reconquest of the City

I wonder how some of these approaches could be adjusted for cold climates like Saskatoon. No one is sitting at sidewalk cafes at -30. Maybe we could design our malls using some of these ideas. (Not that I'm a big fan of our current malls.)

1 comment:

  1. North Americans designed and built their cities for cars. Europe, because of its age, hasn't been able to wholeheartedly adopted this "modern" trend. I spent a month in England and France this summer and was delighted to find that every city I visited had a pedestrian area - in many cases quite extensive. Lille, the fourth-largest city in France, eliminates vehicles from its core every summer. Many of the French cities had large parking lots just outside the downtown core so people could park and then walk. Of course, these are also countries with a healthy rail network and downtown train stations so that it's easy for non-car owners to move about. And the trains were busy - students setting off on a camping holiday, retired people going to the nearest large town to do their grocery shopping, families visiting relatives. And French trains are cheap and frequent. And when I arrived at my destination I could admire the architecture without worrying about getting run over and sit at an outdoor cafe and watch the people passing by. Canadian cities are much less friendly. Cities like Winnipeg sprawl so far that it's demanding to walk from site to site. And after dark, I didn't feel safe as there were so few people about. European cities are much more people friendly. Setting up a beach and pool in a central square is a little odd, but the kids were enjoying themselves and their parents were enjoying a drink with friends. The music wasn't to my taste, but it was a lively people place - and everyone could enjoy it, regardless of income.