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Sustainability - Making cities to be of one-hour wide functionality

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Public Transport

Speech by Mr. Peter Newman is a must read for all City Adminisrators and Town planners. Please do spend time reading. Its dense but insightful.

http://www.metrostrategy.nsw.gov.au/dev/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=59&languageId=1&contentId=248

My take on it -

My take home message: there is a fine balance between population density, city size, transit times.... A bigger city needs faster public transport (or multiple CBD that are well planned).

But there are multitude of cities that make a choice to remain small and hence can do well with simpler, less speedy travel options (a
simple bus service, cycles and walking).

So first we ought to decide how big and dense we want to be. Indeed we could choose our cities to be small - Cambridge, Oxford, Copenhagen etc (where cycling takes up 30% of commutes as its faster to cycle 5km or about compared to any other transit mode).

Also its a cycle. One feeds in to another. If we become dense we need better and better PT (people in Bangalore want a bullet train). On other hand if we pour money to build Metro in advance, to sustain it we have to allow densification.

But some day we have to accept that resources (money) is limited and the cycle can't go on for ever.London and NY have stable populations for almost a century and hence better managed.

In short, limiting growth of a city is very valid. We do not have the financial means nor human expertise to get top notch PT - if this is the case we should plan to develop many small cities and towns where bus based trnasport and cycling suffices (Cambridge, Oxford, Copenhagen are great examples). New Bombay, India's only city with no slums was planned and is a city of 2 million. We may be better off creating 100s of such small cities (inter-connected by fast rail systems) rather than creating more Mumbai's / Delhi's. Pune and Banaglore are headed to becoming Mumbai and Delhi as the balance described above is lost.

Each city should have highway at its outskirt and not going thru it. Metro cities need a M25 like outer ring of Freeways so there is
no through traffic - God knows how much of Satara road traffic is going to South India for instance.

Ribbon development must stop ASAP.

Also transport sustainability need not be the sole criterian. Sanitation, water, electricity, healthcare, general quality of living - we need to be sustainable in all respects.

 

Hence I support cooling off the growth (but on basis of town planning principles alone and not language, cast, creede, religion and domicile).

ASJ

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Dysfunctional cities!

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Dr. ASJ,

 Thanks for pointing out to this very valuable speech and words of wisdom. Reading thru the speech, I am more convinced that it is time, we stop our cities from growing further. Mr. Newman is aboslutley right in saying cities which grows beyond one-hour wide functionality are dysfunctional cities. He further brings up a very interesting fact, it is sanity and wisdom to invest the public/state wealth in public transport system not in freeways and flyovers.

 Syed

 

 

asj's picture

Ground reality of urban life

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Syed,

Share your views. Here is a picture from day before -

Attached is an image of a train I and hundreds of other people could not get in to (and I just renewed my Annual card paying an amount worth two return tickets to India). Many of us had commuted from Hammersmith to Acton Town. I found myself having done about 2 miles in 20 minutes. The next train arrived 5 minutes later, some of us but not all squeezed in (it was not much different from Mumbai Locals) and overall journey to Hounslow took the usual 45 minutes. As 300 - 350 people made their way down the stairs, I over heard two women talking - ''This is crazy, it never used to be like this''. Like ants we made our way towards the 3 automated gates letting people out one by one. 15 minutes later I was home but not without having noticed the dozens of cars waiting to pick their loved ones outside the station. Some had an onward journey by bus and made their way to another herd of people shivering in the cold.
 
Having grown up in Mumbai, an hour long one way journey is just perfect for me. But when one takes stock of the situation and disrobes the mechanical way of going about the day one can't help but imagine how nice it would be if the journey was under 30 minutes.
 
Yes, there are cyclists, more than ever before - but NMT has limited role when city limits grow wider and longer. As commutes get longer, the cycle becomes less of an option. More so in a densely populated city which is an abode to 8 million but during working hours caters to almost twice as many people.
 
On balance I think we should have smaller cities, many more so, inter-connected with trains. The more the urban sprawl the more difficult it is to find a sustainable solution (or the costlier its bound to get).

Anyone wanting to live in large urban habitats - accept reality, commutes will not be fast, what ever one does.

The best way of coping with urban realities is to accept the problems that go with it. Solutions will come when we leave aside the pre-occupation with increasing speed of travel.

ASJ

idontspam's picture

Doesnt change a thing!

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would suggest you to read this speech by Mr. Newman

I did and it doesnt change my opinion!!! Satellite centers will allow Bangalore to cap growth and distribute load democratically without adopting Shangai methods.  

I will draw notice to some points he has made which are very important

1. There is no correlation between car use and wealth - none. The wealthy cities of Europe have half the car use and greater wealth than the American cities. Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong have less car use than Manilla and Jakarta and those other Asian cities and are 10 times wealthier. They have just taken their wealth and put it into different infrastructure and a different kind of city.

2. The buses average around 19, the trains 42. So it is important to have train systems that can in every corridor enable a faster speed. The sad thing about the developing Asian cities is that they are very slow in their traffic but even slower in the public transport system.

3. If to keep within that one-hour budget the only way you can do it is by car you will do it. You will not somehow switch to using public transport because it is more comfortable or something. It will only compete if it can get you there quicker and as a way of keeping within that budget. So we need alternative options in infrastructure and land use that keep within the one-hour travel budget.

4. vision for Sydney ... you have a light rail system that has shown you can do it; you have shown that you can build around it. It is clear from the Marchetti principle that if you do provide a good public transport system it will attract a market for dense walkable developments

 

 PS: I have removed reference to Syed´s comment in my previous post so it doesnt sound like I am elaborating the points he is making. Apparently he has divergent views on this subject.

idontspam's picture

Public transport vs road myth

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I have also observed that just because you have a good public transport system doesnt mean you dont have to invest on roads. We must note that these are complementary.

One example is I can give is Stockholm. Despite having good public transport for over half a century and investing in Light Rail as recently as 2000, they have embarked on signal free ring road recently. They completed the southern section called södra länken which is 6 km in length, of which 4.7 km is in tunnels. This makes it the longest urban motorway tunnel in Europe. This was completed in 2004.

asj's picture

Shifting goal posts

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Newman's speech is dense, its full of contradictions if one decides to read it pedantically. But the contradictions can be read as 'need for balance' between population densities and city size and commute times.

The thing is we can't have goal posts being shifted all the time. No one is saying we do not need quality roads. In fact I have highlighted the absurdity of ribbon developments and conversion of highways in to inner city roads.

The problem is we call outliers as satellite townships but basically these are developments cropping up around ORR / PRR. In my books, like the London M25 which is in true sense a signal free motorway (unlike the nonsense in the name of signal free we get thrown in to) is also the outer limit of London - beyond it is a massive green belt.

In contrast - we have Mumbai: There is no snese of boundary left, Greater Mumbai is made up of 6 municipalities. Pune and Bangalore are on same path. The other day TOI, Mumbai had a feature on Western railway running local trains up to Surat!! While it will benefit some businesses, as a city of 30 million + by 2030, Mumbai is doomed for ever - no matter what they do, sea link roads, tunnels, underground trains, mono rail, elevated roads - they will all be still clogged as they are now.

Time and again city development plans have been disregarded to allow relentless growth (London and NY have a stable population which has grown in last 100 years at snails pace compared to our cities where we have doubled in a decade).

We can't have it both ways. And in all this, we still have focused only on issues pertaining to transport sustainability (what about health, education, open spaces, quality of life in general).

ASJ

psaram42's picture

London is Magic and Mumbai a Slum dog

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 After reading ASJs comment shifting goal posts I got tempted to add to the confusion.

On ASJ’s recommend at the beginning of the thread I tried reading the Speech by Mr. Peter Newman which according to ASJ was a must read as on 30 Jan 2009. I could not do enough justice. May be it was due to the high density and the contradictions. I failed to get any insight I must admit.

Now coming to ASJ’s comment on London I quote:

“The problem is we call outliers as satellite townships but basically these are developments cropping up around ORR / PRR. In my books, like the London M25 which is in true sense a signal free motorway (unlike the nonsense in the name of signal free we get thrown in to) is also the outer limit of London - beyond it is a massive green belt.

Coming to the reference to Mumbai again I Quote ASJ:

“ In contrast - we have Mumbai: There is no sense of boundary left, Greater Mumbai is made up of 6 municipalities. Pune and Bangalore are on same path. The other day TOI, Mumbai had a feature on Western railway running local trains up to Surat!! While it will benefit some businesses, as a city of 30 million + by 2030, Mumbai is doomed for ever - no matter what they do, sea link roads, tunnels, underground trains, mono rail, elevated roads - they will all be still clogged as they are now.”

Now my question:

How did London stop growing with its green belt intact, while Mumbai is not able to do that? Is it because their (Great Briton) population stopped multiplying by some magic or they have continents like North America (USA + Canada), South Africa and Australia to migrate? Where as we Indians and Chinese have no such options open. I wonder.

We were 400 million in 1950s and 1.2 billion in 2000. We are adding 1 Indian every second. 

The word  "Slum dog" is contesting to be the millionth word in the English Language!!

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