Going car free and improving cities for humans
It was beautiful in Boston this weekend, so I went for a walk on Boston’s esplanade, a small greenway next to the Charles River where many residents ride bikes, walk, run, play, etc. Somewhere in between the cars rushing by on Storrow drive on one side, and the river on my other, I started thinking about major roadways and cities. You have to wonder why so many cities have major roadways that cut through a city instead of circling around it. It seems like our current system of high speed roadways act as pedestrian barriers, dividing neighborhoods, and often creating economic divides.
Many Americans love the idea of European cities — so what is it that makes those cities seem so romantic? One of the biggest appeals to me at least, is that the city seems like it’s built for humans rather than vehicles. There are roads which are either closed to traffic or just rarely used because there are so many people out enjoying the public space. There are squares… countless squares, filled with cafes, fountains, shops . . . people living life. And when you have people just hanging out together you foster a sense of community and creativity.
This is a really interesting video by Streetfilms on the city of Copenhagen, where much of the city that had been occupied by cars and parking lots was transformed into open areas. With more people now living in urban areas than rural, it’s time we really think about our urban spaces and designing them to be functional and people oriented.