Welcome back to Sunday reading! Here’s a neat post with detailed drawings highlighting the differences between Amsterdam and Copenhagen’s cycleways. It concludes with an appropriate dig on the designs in the UK. Amsterdam vs Copenhagen (part 2), “Amsterdam vs Copenhagen (part 2)“, Nicer cities, liveable places.
6. Oh… and then there’s the UK…
So to finish. Here’s what a standard level of support for cycling looks like in the UK. The same can be seen in many other countries. I’ve fitted four lanes of traffic into this space – it is exactly the same space as shown on the main junction designs for the Netherlands and Copenhagen that I drew above.
The standard infrastructure ignores (or almost ignores) cycling. People on bicycles have to mix with the other vehicles.
Of course there are exceptions. There are a few places in the UK where some (relatively) good designs have been built. But they are very few and there is no typical design. Even where there is some provision for cycling it is different in every city, and on every junction within a city. And often whatever is there is only just worth having at all.
In the UK we tend to strive for every possible road to be allowed to carry as much traffic as possible.
Here’s an interesting survey on what people think of the mandatory helmet law in Australia. “Bicycle Network lifts the lid on helmet survey“, Bicycle Network.
A survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.
It also found that if current mandatory helmet laws change to allow Australians to ride a bike without wearing a helmet, more than 30% of people would ride a bike more often.
— Ryan Mearns (@ryanmearns) December 6, 2017
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has delivered a Draft London Plan (PDF) that appears as ambitious as the transport manifesto on which he was elected. Feargus O’Sullivan, “London’s Future: More People, Fewer Cars“, The Atlantic.
The London of 2029 will hold more people, have fewer cars, and boast better public transit. It should also be easier to find a place to lock your bike or get a pint of lager—and harder to hit up a fast-food joint after school. That, at least, is the vision set out in London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new Draft London Plan, which sets out a vision of how Britain’s capital will change over the ten years following 2019.
The most eye-catching feature of the report is a near-blanket ban on new parking across much of the city. In Central London and in a constellation of new development zones grouped around outer transit hubs, new car parking spaces will be forbidden altogether. In the few, less central areas of inner London where new parking will be permitted, it will be at a rate of no more than 0.25 spaces per new housing unit.
This zero-tolerance policy may sound strict to future motorists, but it’s also part of a wholesale reimagining of London as a city where the automobile is an endangered species. (Already, private cars no longer dominate city streets.) There are major new transit links on the way, mentioned in the London Plan although not introduced by it. Beyond Crossrail 1— a major east-west heavy rail link due to start service next year—the plan predicts the approval of Crossrail 2, a new north-south counterpart that will ease access to central London from the suburbs and exurbs. Meanwhile, an extension of the existing Bakerloo tube line out to southeast London is also in the cards.
Big, fast growing cities are increasingly adopting new ways to move people and goods around the city. Here’s a look at a parcel delivery trial in London. David Williams, “Parcel delivery firm UPS trials environmentally-friendly bike trailers to replace diesel trucks in central London“, The Evening Standard.
Delivery giant UPS is aiming to fight congestion and harmful emissions by using fleets of electric-powered bicycle trailers in central London.
The first prototype goes on trial in Camden today, taking parcels from the company’s Kentish Town depot.
If the experiment is successful, UPS says the fleets could be rolled out across the capital and to cities such as Paris, Tokyo and Beijing.
This GIF is incredible. The steady expansion of NIMBY districts throughout the Bay Area: pic.twitter.com/d5xOoDqucu
— Shane Phillips (@shanedphillips) December 1, 2017
The battle over housing issues in “single-family” neighbourhoods rages on across North American cities. Conor Dougerty, “The Great American Single Family Home Problem“, New York Times.
Whatever the specifics, what is happening in Berkeley may be coming to a neighborhood near you. Around the country, many fast-growing metropolitan areas are facing a brutal shortage of affordable places to live, leaving to gentrification, homelessness, even disease. As cities struggle to keep up with demand, they have remade their skylines with condominium and apartment towers – but single-family neighborhoods, where low-density living is treated as sacrosanct, have rarely been part of the equation.
For centuries cities have served as ‘engines of prosperity, but that may have be changing now that housing costs are so high in fast-growing cities. Here are a coupe of articles on why people aren’t moving to cities as much, and what the means for people’s opportunities.
Alana Semuels, “The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs“, The Atlantic
“But over the past 30 years, that regional income convergence has slowed. Economists say that is happening because net migration—the tendency of large numbers of people to move to a specific place—is waning, meaning that the supply of workers isn’t increasing fast enough in the rich areas to bring wages down, and isn’t falling fast enough in the poor areas to bring wages up. Why is this? Why have people stopped moving? The reason, economists believe, is that while there are good wages in economically vibrant cities like New York and San Francisco, housing prices are so high that they outweigh any gains people stand to make in earnings. As a result, high-income cities are still appealing to many workers, but only highly skilled workers who can command salaries high enough to make it worthwhile to move. Low-income workers will end up spending much of their incomes on housing if they move, and so stay put.
This is the conclusion of Ganong and Daniel Shoag, a professor at Harvard and Case Western Reserve University, in a recent working paper. They find that though janitors still earn more in the tri-state area than in the Deep South, the move no longer presents an obvious opportunity because the costs of living in New York have gotten so high. Janitors in the New York area now spend on average 52 percent of their incomes on housing, the authors find, compared to lawyers, who spend just 21 percent of their incomes on rent. Their research finds that because of these factors, the migration patterns for low-income households are beginning to diverge from the migration patterns from high-income households for the first time in American history. High-skill workers are still moving to places that offer them high incomes, but now, low-skill workers are moving away from places where average wages are high.
Emily Badger, “What Happened to the American Boomtown?“, The New York Times.
The places that are booming in size aren’t the economic boomtowns — the regions with the greatest prosperity and highest productivity. In theory, we’d expect those metros, like the Bay Area, Boston and New York, to be rapidly expanding, as people move from regions with high unemployment and meager wages to those with high salaries and strong job markets.
That we’re not seeing such a pattern suggests that something is fundamentally amiss. The magnets aren’t working.
Some people aren’t moving into wealthy regions because they’re stuck in struggling ones. They have houses they can’t sell or government benefits they don’t want to lose. But the larger problem is that they’re blocked from moving to prosperous places by the shortage and cost of housing there. And that’s a deliberate decision these wealthy regions have made in opposing more housing construction, a prerequisite to make room for more
The RER, Paris' regional rail system, opened for operations 40 years ago today. The system now serves about 1 billion journeys a year and has completely revolutionized travel and land use in the Paris region. A few thoughts: pic.twitter.com/Wilv59G7ax
— Yonah Freemark (@yfreemark) December 9, 2017