I find cities and sustainability fascinating. It’s predicted that by 2030 more than 60% of the world’s population will be urban. In the UK, the figure will stand at a whopping 92%. That’s an awful lot of people crammed into very tight spaces (and a good excuse to buy a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches for the next Harris hack/tweed run). To help get to grips with the huge issues that face urban planners (and how we can help them), I recently ordered a copy of ‘Cities of Tomorrow’ by Peter Hall from Amazon. It arrived today, thudding through the office letterbox, landing square on my foot, causing an almighty yelp and delivering the trendiest of injuries; a likely broken metatarsal *. If it’s an injury that’s good enough for pampered premiership footballers, then it’s good enough for me. This book is a chunky old tome.
The first thing that struck me was the cover illustration. There isn’t a car in sight (or any other motor vehicle for that matter). Wide boulevards, groups of pedestrians, a suspiciously damp looking civic centre, but no cars. I wonder if that tells me anything about the contents or more about the desired aesthetic?
Believe it or not, being a glutton for punishment and talented in the how-to-use-up-all-your-spare-time-when-little-exists department, I’m quite looking forward to wading through its contents and learning more about the origins and destinies of 20th city infrastructure. I very much suspect that bicycles will feature prominently, as will public transport and greater pedestrianisation. As we all know, Bikes are practical, cheap to run, healthy, soulful , beautiful and arty. They represent our honourable past and our hopeful future. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
To bolster the bold statements above and to support the points made in the article below, here’s a nice little video from Amsterdam entitled ‘the walz of the bikes’. Uplifting, civilised and sunny, I’d like to think that this city of today is a transportation model for the city of tomorrow. Amsterdam is somewhere currently on my ‘nice possibilities for the free weekend that never happens’ list, sandwiched between Malmo and Berlin. If I ever go there, I’ll probably still be reading ‘cities of tomorrow’.
*I did drop it on my foot, but only because I couldn’t hold all of the post in my hand at the same time. It hurt fleetingly, but it’s very unlikely that the metatarsal will rule me out of any major championships. I’m available for international duty if needed. Don’t mind which sport as long as the kit is nice.