My definition of an urban environment is one where it is easier to not own a car than to own one. New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore fit this description. Oddly enough, it is not necessary to be in a big city to be in an urban environment. There are many small towns/cities around the world that also fit this description, like the aforementioned Italian hill towns, or maybe little towns on the sea in Greece. Note that I said it is easier not to own a car, meaning that one can go about the business of life (going to work, shopping etc.) without a car. It may well be more fun to have a car, if you can afford it, which is also the case for New York, but even in this case the car tends to be used only every other weekend. - Nathan Lewis
What a difference from my own town. Here cars have more worth than people. And almost nothing is within walking distance.
I simply LOVE this car-free atmosphere ;-)
|What is most holy, the cow or the car?|
People move well on their feet. This primitive means of getting around will, on closer analysis, appear quite effective when compared with the lot of people in modern cities or on industrialized farms. It will appear particularly attractive once it has been understood that modern Americans walk, on the average, as many miles as their ancestors -- most of them through tunnels, corridors, parking lots, and stores.Nei, vi løser ikke problemene bilen har gitt oss med batteri/hydrogen-elektriske biler, men ved å designe for apostlenes hester, dvs. tradisjonell før-automobil urbanisme!
People on their feet are more or less equal. People solely dependent on their feet move on the spur of the moment, at three to four miles per hour, in any direction and to any place from which they are not legally or physically barred. An improvement on this native degree of mobility by new transport technology should be expected to safeguard these values and to add some new ones, such as greater range, time economies, comfort, or more opportunities for the disabled. So far this is not what has happened. Instead, the growth of the transportation industry has everywhere had the reverse effect. From the moment its machines could put more than a certain horsepower behind any one passenger, this industry has reduced equality, restricted mobility to a system of industrially defined routes, and created time scarcity of unprecedented severity. As the speed of their vehicles crosses a threshold, citizens become transportation consumers...
More energy fed into the transportation system means that more people move faster over a greater range in the course of every day. Everybody's daily radius expands at the expense of being able to drop in on an acquaintance or walk through the park on the way to work. Extremes of privilege are created at the cost of universal enslavement. The few mount their magic carpets to travel between distant points that their ephemeral presence renders both scarce and seductive, while the many are compelled to trip farther and faster and to spend more time preparing for and recovering from their trips.
The captive tripper and the reckless traveler become equally dependent on transport. Neither can do without it. Occasional spurts to Acapulco or to a party congress dupe the ordinary passenger into believing that he has made it into the shrunk world of the powerfully rushed. The occasional chance to spend a few hours strapped into a high-powered seat makes him an accomplice in the distortion of human space, and prompts him to consent to the design of his country's geography around vehicles rather than around people.
The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society's time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry. - Ivan Illich
At the international Walk21 conference this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, an eminent authority on streets boiled the walkability of cities down to the number of street intersections per square mile.- 'Messy' street patterns boost walking
Venice has 1,725 intersections per square mile. "It's very complex, it's very messy, and people walk," said Allan Jacobs, urban design consultant, former San Francisco planning director, and author of Great Streets.
Brasilia, near the opposite end of the spectrum, "has 92 intersections, and you don't walk there," The Vancouver Sun reported Jacobs as saying. "Irvine, California is the classic automobile city. It has just 15 intersections, the lowest I've ever counted."
Other places that are good for pedestrians, Jacobs said, include the Market Street area of San Francisco (300 intersections per square mile), Tokyo (988), Savannah, Georgia (538), Portland, Oregon (341), and Paris (281).
The most complex and messy stret patterns provide the most walkable and enjoyable experiences for both visitors and residents, according to Jacobs.
Today, we have achieved the goal of total separation of uses in the man-made landscape. The houses are all in their respective income pods, the shopping is miles away from the houses, and the schools are are separate from both the shopping and the dwellings. Work takes place in the office park - the word park being a semantic gimmick to persuade zoning boards that a bunch of concrete and glass boxes set among parking lots amounts to a rewarding environment - and manufacturing takes place in the industrial park-ditto. This has some interesting, and rather grave, ramifications. - James Howard Kunstler, "The Geography of Nowhere", page 118