Cities are for people

February 2, 2012 at 14:29 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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I started back at work on the third of January – earlier than many people, who took off that week as well. What really struck me was how quiet the city streets were. There was virtually no traffic; when I went out an lunchtime the streets were deserted.

There were still quite a few pedestrians, however. And of course, the traffic lights were still giving the majority of the green time to the non-existent motor traffic, with pedestrians (or at least those not prepared to jay walk) forced to wait for several minutes just so they could cross an empty street when the green man told them to.

It really highlighted the problem we have in Sydney. The amount of traffic on those days is the amount of traffic we should have on any day. Congestion charging, punative taxes, road closures  – do whatever it takes to get the city streets less busy. And then let people, rather than cars, have the streets. Let people be able to walk from one end of the CBD to the other without endless waits at traffic lights on every corner.

Of course, many readers will cry out that this is impossible; that traffic has to be in the city for it to function, for economic activity to occur and for people to be able to work. Well, I don’t agree. On those days in early January, there were the usual number of buses, taxis, delivery trucks and couriers. Yet the streets felt empty. It was the private, single-occupant cars that were missing. Only about ten percent of people get to the CBD by private car – and yet the rest of us (the 90% who make better choices) allow that small, selfish minority to clog up our streets, make it hard for us to get around by bus and bicycle, and force us to wait ages just to cross the street. Get rid of ’em, I say. If they really don’t like it they can go somewhere else – and I reckon than the 90% of the population that remained would be so much more happy and productive to be in a people-friendly city they could make up for the economic activity undertaken by that selfish 10%. Heck, I’d work 10% more hours if the streets could be like this all the time…


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  1. You’re not allowed to cross when there is a red man?

    That’s not the case here in Scotland.

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