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        Showing posts sorted by relevance for query arrogance of space. Sort by date Show all posts
        Showing posts sorted by relevance for query arrogance of space. Sort by date Show all posts

        11 September 2014

        The Arrogance of Space - Paris, Calgary, Tokyo

        The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 001
        Yeah, so, there I was on summer holidays with the kids, standing atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Been there, done that many times before, but it's always a beautiful experience looking out over a beautiful city. If you're afraid of heights, the rule of thumb is "don't look down". When you work with liveable cities, transport and bicycle urbanism... it would seem that this rule applies as well. Don't look down.

        I did, however. I looked down at the intersection on Quai Branly where it meets Pont d'Iéna over the Seine. This is a place with easily hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and more and more cyclists. It is also clearly a place dominated by The Arrogance of Space of last century traffic engineering. It is a museum for failed, car-centric traffic planning - sad and amusing all at once.

        You may recall my earlier article about The Arrogance of Space in traffic planning. I talk a lot about it in my keynotes, this Arrogance of Space and I decided to revisit it.
        The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 002
        I did a simple thing. I squared off the photo with (very roughly) one square metre squares. It's not totally exact and it doesn't really matter. Creating this grid, I gave the urban space colours based on who it is intended for. It's pretty self-explanatory above.

        Worth noting, however, that while I reluctantly gave the goofy bike boxes the "space for bikes" colour, I refused adamantly to do so for the sharrows in the intersection. They are ridiculous and should never, ever, be classified as bicycle infrastructure.

        With the colours you soon see how much space is allocated for motorised transport. Arrogantly so.

        The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 003
        Removing the photo gives you an even better idea of the blatant injustice of space allocation.
        The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 004
        In this version I roughly mapped out the actual space taken up by the motorised vehicles (dark red) and bicycles (dark purple). There were only two bicycle users and a pedicab with two passengers in the intersection at this moment. Yes, cars take up a lot of space, but man... look how much space they don't even occupy. Space that could easily be reallocated to a few hundred thousand pedestrians and many bicycle users.
        The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 005

        When you actually count the number of individuals using the space the injustice becomes more and more apparent. The Arrogance morphs into pure mocking of the majority of citizens and visitors to the city. Pedestrians clustered together at crossings waiting for The Matrix to reluctantly grant permission to cross. Bicycles thrown to the hyenas into the middle of the Red Desert.

        The Arrogance of Space - Paris Montparnasse 001
        Clotilde, an urban planner here at Copenhagenize Design Company, gave me another photo. This one taken from the Montparnasse Tower in Paris. The intersection is Boulevard du Montparnasse around Place du 18 Juin 1940.
        The Arrogance of Space - Paris Montparnasse 002
        Here is the space allocated to motorised transport... including, it's worth noting, a number of buses.
        The Arrogance of Space - Paris Montparnasse 003
        Simplied further, there is an arrogant ocean of red and bits and pieces of painted bike lanes. Bikes heading to the right can use the bus lane on the Boulevard, which isn't exactly pleasant. I've tried it.
        The Arrogance of Space - Paris Montparnasse 004

        Here are the individuals using the space. Buses are great, of course, so let's count on 50+ people on board. But still a shocking amount of space for a few red dots. Only one bicycle user in the middle of nowhere safe. This photo was taken in 2011, by the way, so a lot of that "dead" space is probably repurposed.

        The Arrogance of Space - Calgary 001
        For contrast, I found this photo taken from the Calgary Tower in my archives. The first Arrogance of Space article was based on Calgary, so let's revisit the city. Sure, I shot this photo facing south and that's the roof of a car park in the foreground, but let's add some colour.
        The Arrogance of Space - Calgary 002
        Mars. The Red Planet.
        The Arrogance of Space - Calgary 003
        I only marked out the space I could see, so sure... that sidewalk at middle right will continue to the left, but I couldn't see it.
        The Arrogance of Space - Calgary 004

        In a liveable city you should be able to climb to a high place, look down at any given moment and see humans in the urban theatre. In this shot I could only see four human forms.

        The Arrogance of Space Shibuya Tokyo 001
        For contrast to the contrast, this is the view from my favourite hotel in Tokyo, overlooking the Shibuya crossing - which just may be the world's busiest crosswalk. I don't stay anywhere else when I'm in Tokyo simply because I love this view.

        There are often bicycles in the crossing, as you can see in the film, above, that I shot a few years ago. There are probably more bikes in the bike parking areas around nearby Shibuya Station than in many countries.
        Shibuya Parking - one of the many bike parking areas near the station.

        The Arrogance of Space Shibuya Tokyo 002

        The Arrogance of Space Shibuya Tokyo 003
        Time for some colour. No bike infrastructure here but goodness me... look at that blue.
        The Arrogance of Space Shibuya Tokyo 004
        According to my EXIF info I took this on Friday, May 22, 2009 at around noon. Not so busy at this moment, but still great to see. Pedestrians here get their own signal in all directions, including diagonally.

        If we want to change our failed traffic planning tradition from a previous century, it's time to change the question.

        09 May 2017

        Arrogance of Space - Copenhagen - Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard

        Great new data from City of Copenhagen. 62% of Copenhageners ride a bike to work or education. Only 9% drive a car.
        The City of Copenhagen released its latest mode share data yesterday and the numbers look fantastic.
        62% of residents in the City ride a bicycle daily to work or education in the city. 21% take public transport, be it bus, metro or train. Only 9% drive a car - even though car ownership is around 25%. Basically, 91% of our citizens DON'T drive a car in the city - here in one of the richest countries in the world. All good, right?

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen
        You would think so, but even Copenhagen suffers from a serious case of Arrogance of Space. We took a section of Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard - the 1950s urban planning travesty that carves the Danish capital in two - and did a quick arrogance of space analysis.

        It's the busiest street in the Kingdom with between 50,000 - 60,000 cars a day roaring past, most of them firmly in the "parasite" category. These are not people who live in the municipality and who therefore do not pay for the road space that we provide them. There has been talk for years of burying this street and reclaiming the space it occupies. While not a bad idea - albeit an expensive one - it wouldn't remove the cars from the city, since they would pop up out of the tunnel at some point.

        As you can see on the graph, a whopping 64% of the transport space in Copenhagen is allocated to cars - both car lanes and curb parking. This is most apparent at the location we are looking at here.

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Bike Infrastructure
        When we map out the space allocated for cyclists, it looks like this. There are 26,400 cyclists along the boulevard on weekdays, according to the latest count in September 2016. Add to that around 10,000 who merely cross the boulevard from the side streets. Certainly not one of the busiest bicycle streets in Copenhagen but the numbers are respectable. On the map you can see how the infrastructure is part of a cohesive network.

        Basic Urban Math - Copenhagen Style
        Here is a snapshot of one light cycle in the morning rush hour from this location.

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Bus Lanes Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Pedestrian Space
        Here are the maps for the space occupied by bus lanes or trains, at left, and the space allocated to pedestrians, including squares. The trains are not relevant for this exercise, as they disappear underground, but buses are a key transport form on this corridor. 360 of them roll past between 7 AM and 7 PM. With an average capacity of 50 passengers, that would add 18,000 people moving back and forth along this stretch. And yet there is a severe lack of dedicated space for them.

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Shared Space
        Out of interest, here is a map of the "shared space". Not the classic and cute "shared space" that works in small, rural towns and residential neighbourhoods but merely parts of the transport area without separation.

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Motor Vehicles
        What IS relevant is this. The amount of urban space given over to motorised vehicles. Most of it handed free to motorists who do not pay taxes in this municipality. Motorists, it is worth mentioning, already have it easy in Denmark. It's cheaper to buy a car today than during the oil crises in the 1970s and the same applies to gas, rendering the tax on cars here rather irrelevant. In addition, a resident's parking permit only costs around 750 DKK (€100) per year - despite the fact that a parking costs the city - and the taxpayers - around 50,000 DKK (€6,600).

        Arrogance of Space Copenhagen
        Here is the complete map with all the transport forms together. The Arrogance of Space is clearly visible.

        There is a total disconnect between how Copenhageners get around and how the space is divided up. This is not urban democracy on this boulevard at all. It is the same car-centric dictatorship that so many other cities in the world suffer under. Yes, it is safe to cycle along this stretch, on separated cycle tracks. But this is not transport democracy. This is not the Copenhagen that inspires so many people around the world.

        Public-Private Disconnect
        If we valued public space in an economic sense as much as we value real estate value - instead of a massive majority subsidizing the transport habits of the few, we would be much better off. Here is just one idea of how to reallocate the space more intelligently.

        We would be more rational and this city would be not only healthier and more dynamic - it would be the leader that it should be.

        See more articles about Arrogance of Space with this tag.

        10 June 2016

        Fools and roads. Arrogance of Space in Moscow

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 001

        Fools & Roads - The Arrogance of Space in Moscow
        By James Thoem / Copenhagenize Design Co.

        After an unreal week of ribbon cuttings, bike parades and Russian saunas in our client city of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, the Copenhagenize Design Co. team retreated to Moscow to see what Europe’s second largest city has to offer. Sure enough, there was no shortage of awesome sights, fantastic parties and delicious food.

        But what hit us right away was the sheer scale of the city. Stalinist era administrative and residential building blocks taking cues from Viennese facades and neoclassical styles were blown out of proportion. Any one of Stalin’s gigantic ‘Seven Sisters’ skyscrapers always seemed to loom on the horizon. Most oppressive of all, however, were the roads. The roads! We’re talking about a network of roads 8 to 14 lanes wide stretching through the entire city. Uptown, downtown, suburbs and all. And of course, traffic never ceased to fill the city (Check out Taras Grescoe’s Straphanger for a more thorough account of Moscow transport). If you need any further proof of induced demand, visit Moscow.

        While sitting for drinks on the O2 rooftop bar at the Ritz Carlton hotel, we couldn’t help but gawk at the size of the roads. Tverskaya lay below us in all it’s arrogance. Mockingly starting back up at us. And it wasn’t long before we started talking, as we do, about the arrogance of space. The outdated transport engineering concepts of last century live on in Moscow.

        Back in our Copenhagen office, we turned to our Arrogance of Space methodology. Here it’s quite obvious that the city has been handed over to the automobile. An ocean of red (no pun intended) is wildly apparent. Pedestrians wishing to cross the street must walk to the nearest dingy pedestrian tunnel before continuing on their way. If stairs aren’t easy for you, good luck. There are even a few cars parked on the sidewalk, because hey, why would you park on the road? The road is for driving (facepalm).

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 002
        Removing the underlying photo gives an even better idea of the blatant arrogance of the city's pornographic obsession with the automobile.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 003
        Then look at the space the cars are actually occupying. Plenty of opportunity.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 005
        And, finally, in the interest of equal representation here, we show the individuals using the space. A shocking amount of space used by so few individuals. Where is the rationality here?

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 004

        There’s a old Russian proverb we learned during our stay: "There are only two problems in Russia: fools and roads". In the case of the modern Moscow, it’s quite obvious that it’s the fools who are planning the roads. Ignoring the Bull in society's china shop. It’s time to change the question, stop asking how many cars we can squeeze down the road, but how many people.

        Graphics by Mark Werner/Copenhagenize Design Co.

        Дураки и дороги. Дорожное обжорство в Москве

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 001

        После фантастической недели перерезания ленточек, велопарадов и русской бани в Альметьевске команда Copenhagenize Design Co. вернулась в Москву посмотреть, что может предложить второй по величине город Европы. Будьте уверены, мы не испытывали недостатка в удивительных достопримечательностях, замечательных вечеринках и изысканных блюдах.

        Но что нас поразило сразу, это масштаб города. Пропорции административных зданий и жилых домов сталинской эпохи невероятно раздуты. «Сталинские высотки» возвышаются над горизонтом повсюду. Но самое гнетущее — это дороги. Дороги! Сеть дорог, имеющих по 8—14 полос, покрывает весь город. В центре, в жилых районах, в пригороде — везде. И, конечно же, по этим полосам 24 часа в сутки ездят транспортные средства (загляните в книгу «Пассажир» Тараса Греско, чтобы лучше узнать про московский транспорт). Если вам нужны какие-нибудь ещё доказательства, что индуцированный спрос — не вымысел, просто съездите в Москву.

        Сидя в баре O2 на крыше отеля Ритц Карлтон, мы не переставали поражаться размерам дорог. Тверская лежала под нами во всей своей заносчивости. Словно бы с издёвкой глядя на нас. Всоре мы уже говорили на одну из наших «любимых тем»: пространственные излишества (на самом деле это даже не излишества, а настоящее дорожное обжорство). Москва живет устаревшими транспортными концепциями прошлого века.

        По возвращении в копенгагенский офис мы обратились к нашей методике выявления пространственных излишеств. Совершенно очевидно что Москва отдана на откуп автомобилям. На дорогах бесконтрольно раскинулся океан красного (я тут не подразумевал никаких двусмысленностей). Пешеходы, чтобы пересечь улицу, должны дойти до ближайшего обшарпанного подземного перехода. Если подъем по лестницам даётся вам нелегко, то вы держитесь. Несколько машин припарковано даже на тротуаре. Ну конечно, с чего бы люди стали парковаться на дороге? Ведь дорога — чтобы по ней ехать (рукалицо).

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 002

        Если убрать подложку, картина практически порнографической одержимости города автомобилями станет более явной.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 003

        Теперь посмотрите на пространство, которое на самом деле занимают автомобили. Просто море потенциальных возможностей.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 005

        И, наконец, чтобы иллюстрация была справедливой, оставим только людей, занимающих это пространство. Потрясающе огромное пространство используется таким небольшим количеством людей. Где здравый смысл?

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 004

        Есть одна старая русская поговорка, которую мы тут узнали: «В России только две беды: дураки и дороги». Применительно к современной Москве совершенно очевидно, что это те дураки, которые планируют дороги. Не замечая, что выступают в роли слона в в посудной лавке, которой является город. Пришло время изменить парадигму, перестать руководствоваться тем, сколько автомобилей мы можем пропустить по дороге, и начать говорить о людях.

        Иллюстрации: Марк Вернер (Mark Werner), Copenhagenize Design Co.

        21 March 2013

        The Arrogance of Space

        The Arrogance of Space
        We have a tendency to give cities human character traits when we describe them. It's a friendly city. A dynamic city. A boring city. Perhaps then a city can be arrogant. Arrogant, for example, with it's distribution of space.

        I've been working a lot in North America the past year and I've become quite obsessed with the obscenely unbalanced distribution of space. I see this arrogance everywhere I go. I see the insanely wide car lanes and the vehicles sailing back and forth in them like inebriated hippopotami. I was just in Calgary for five days and from my balcony at the hotel I watched the traffic below on 12th Ave. A one-way street that was never really busy at all.

        From above, the arrogance of space was very apparent. Even more so than in a car driving down the lanes. The photo, above, is the car lines divided up with their actual width. Watching for five days - okay, not 24/7 ... I have a life after all - I didn't really see  any vehicles that filled out the whole lane with their girth.

        So, in a very unscientific way, I decided to take a bit of each lane away.

        The Arrogance of Space
        Narrowing the lanes slightly, space was created. Obviously. Duh. And there was still ample space for the vehicles - including the big trucks and SUVs.

        We know that narrowing lane width improves safety. Just like tree-lined streets - or streets with utility poles, etc - make drivers slow down and concentrate, narrower travel lanes have the same positive effect. There were posters all around Calgary with the catchy headline "Crotches Kill". I can understand why texting is deemed easy when motorists are given so much space.

        So, narrowing lane widths is safer. But what to do with that extra space?
        The Arrogance of Space
        On so many streets I've looked at in North American cities, even a two-lane street can cough up enough space for a Copenhagen-style cycle track.

        Addendum: It's not possible to see it on these photos but the car parking at the bottom is an indentation in the curb in front of the hotel, so the cycle track runs along the curb, as it should.

        I tire of hearing the incessant "we don't have space for bicycles" whine, especially in North American cities. The space is right there if you want it to be there. Removing car lanes to create cycle tracks is, of course, doable. So many cities are doing it. Not making cycle tracks for those who cycle now, but for the many who COULD be cycling if it was made safe.

        However, when you live in an arrogant city, space is readily available. Often not even involving removing lanes or parking. It's right there. If you want it.
        The Arrogance of Space
        Another example from Calgary. Memorial Drive. A cyclist off to the right on this 60 km/h stretch. The motorist gave him a wide berth, exposing the arrogance of space for us.
        The Arrogance of Space
        Here's what could be possible.

        I can hear the traffic engineers complaining already. This, of course, messes with every computer model they have. It's not, however, about them anymore. They've had their century of trial and error - mostly error. We're moving on now. We'll redesign our cities and tell them what to do and how to help us - based on human observation, rationality and logic. They're brilliant problem solvers. We'll just be telling them what problems to solve.

        This quote by Andres Duany is appropriate:
        "The problem with planning is that it has been overtaken by mathematical models - traffic, density, impact assessment, public costs etc. discarding common sense and empirical observation."

        Ironically, I was reading a copy of The New Republic - found a copy at an airport - and saw the above snippet. The writer, one Tim Wu, clearly has time to ponder when he's sitting in traffic. He noticed the wide car lanes as well. His solution, however, was to promote narrower cars and increase the number of lanes - thereby creating "the first real drop in traffic congestion in decades", he claims. Note the tagline at the top right: "A more perfect world". This company is even producing narrower cars and their website makes the same claim: "This doubling of lane capacity can solve traffic congestion.

        Unfortunately, the myth persists. The sum of our knowledge after 100 years of traffic engineering is that if you create more space for cars, more cars will come. Period. Again, time to move on. A more perfect world is within our reach, once we get a flock of misconception monkeys off our backs.

        Montrealer Music
        Another street, this one in Montreal. Wasted space on the right, arrogance of space on the left.

        Take a look at the streets around you. This all applies to a great many of them. The space is right there for the taking.

        05 November 2015

        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona

        Barcelona Pity the Motorist

        Click here for a version in Catalan and Spanish // Feu clic aquí per una versió en català i en espanyol

        This week, Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau and the vice-mayor of the city will visit Copenhagen. Colau was elected in May 2015, for the alternative left and green coalition "Barcelona en Comú" - or Barcelona Together. We're sure there the Barcelonans will harvest a great deal of inspiration on their visit. Regarding bicycle urbanism in particular, there are specific things that they should be looking at, concentrating on and writing down.

        I'm fond of Barcelona. I, myself, have spent much time in the city, not least on two summer holidays with my kids. We can, by and large, cycle around large parts of the city and feel safe now that some infrastructure and traffic calming has been put into place. I see Barcelona as a city with massive potential for increasing the modal share for bicycles and expanding on their leadership role since 2008. A fair ranking on The Copenhagenize Index also indicates that the city has done well compared to other large cities around the world. There is, however, lots of work to be done.

        Together with the Copenhagenize Design Company team in Barcelona, Jordi Galí Manuel and Maria Elisa, we discussed what the city needs to do and what inspiration they need to take home from Copenhagen.

        Infrastructure and Better Engineers
        One thing that is bizarre about Barcelona is that despite the fact that Best Practice infrastructure has been around for a century, they've let their planners and engineers make stuff up. Making stuff up instead of using established and tested designs is not a wise use of taxpayer money.

        Barcelona Citizen Cyclists
        One example is the bi-directional cycle tracks leading down the middle of the boulevards. Cyclists in the middle of the street - this is the last place you should be putting them. Having cycled extensively in the city, we don't see the value of making stuff like this up. In addition, the lights are timed so that you have to cycle at a fast pace to hit the wave. At each intersection, there is an ocean of asphalt to cross. Barcelona should plan for the 99% and adjust the wave to human speeds like 16-20 km/h.

        The city defends these wacky designs by claiming that they avoid conflicts with bus stop, trash trucks and that they improve safety at intersections. They only made this stuff up recently, so I doubt there is much comparable data - compared to Best Practice infrastructure. Bus stops? Do they seriously think that there are no busses in other cities like Copenhagen? The 5A bus here is the busiest bus line in Northern Europe, with 60,000 passengers a day. There are solutions in place for bus stops and bicycle infrastructure. Copy/paste. Save money. Get the best results.

        The city is also planning to make stuff up at a large roundabout. Nevermind the fact the Dutch have figured out best practice for roundabouts ages ago - let people make stuff up. It's only human lives you're playing around with.

        In effect, the City has said that "we don't have as many cyclists as Copenhagen, so we don't need more than narrow lanes in the middle of six lanes of traffic". Rule number one: you are NEVER planning for the cyclists you have now, you are planning for the people who COULD be cycling. Who WOULD be cycling if you had bothered to build decent infrastructure for them at the beginning, instead of paying the double for doing it twice, with taxpayers money.

        At the moment, the City doesn't have the engineering or planning expertise it needs to go the next level.

        The City of Barcelona has some data but they really don't have enough. Copenhagen is beyond a doubt the best city in the world to gather data about all aspects of urban life. This is a massive takeaway for the Catalans during their visit to the city.

        The Mayor would be much better prepared for arguing her case if she had reliable data to present to her opponents.

        Bolder Goals
        The City thinks it is planning for the people cycling now (even though nobody was cycling as recently as 2006) and they seem incredibly uninterested in increasing cycling rates that their official goal is to reach 2.5% modal share. For a city that has done so much for cycling, it's shocking that they can't be bothered to even aim for double digits.

        Arrogance of Space
        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
        We decided to apply our Arrogance of Space tool to some random streets in the city. Here is a classic boulevard intersection on Carrer de la Marina. The classic form as laid out by Ildefons Cerdà back in in the late 1800s is apparent here. Cerdà planned for humans and sustainable transport but it is clear that the past few generations of Barcelonan politicians have put their money on the automobile and seen these intersections as massive parking lots and high-speed thoroughfares. Cerdà didn't make stuff up but others have since then.
        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
        If you apply the Arrogance of Space tool to the intersection, it becomes apparent how undemocratic the space is.
        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
        Removing the photo and the arrogance is completely and utterly clear. A few people in cars are given an ocean of red space to move around in. Pedestrians have half-decent facilities but when it comes to bicycle urbanism and modernising the infrastructure to accommodate for them, space has clearly not been provided.

        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
        In Cerdà's grid system, the easiest way to fix the problem is to get a ruler.  Barcelona prides itself on its public space so there is ample opportunity to improve on that. Make the corners 90 degrees and create public space on each corner. Implement Best Practice bicycle infrastructure along the curbs, where it belongs.

        What a transformation that would be. Space for cars reduced to what they actually need and a massive win for pedestrians and public space. Cyclists would be afforded world-class infrastructure that would keep them safe and that would encourage more to to take to the wheel.

        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
        Another randomly chosen intersection on Avenida Diagnol. Cerdà would roll in his grave if he saw what had happened here.
        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
        Applying the colours and the same pattern appears.
        Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
        Complete engineering arrogance. Cars eating steak and bread crumbs for the cyclists. Pedestrians, too, have to navigate a veritable labyrinth in order to get from A to B.

        Barcelona has so many low-hanging fruits to work with. They have been brilliant at traffic calming their cosy streets in the old parts of the city. Cerdà laid the foundation for transport but Barcelona, at the moment, fails to see the potential in the wide boulevards and side streets.

        It is all right there for the taking. With Best Practice infrastructure, intelligent design and a focus on anthropology related to transport, Barcelona could rock the world with intelligent change.