Our cities in 20 years time – do you agree?

Our discussion on what a low carbon economy would be like 20 years hence raised some interesting points and it would be useful to know whether those who were not present agree
1) in 20 years time we will be driving around as much as today if not more – vehicles may look slightly different and have different forms of propulsion but the conditions we see on the road network would look similar to today
2) so while there will continue to be an increase in cycling and walking this will always be at the margins and traffic congestion will still be the problem people will be battling with
3) public transport won’t change much – rail/tram etc lead times are so great few schemes if any will be delivered and will impact on few people
4) home working and satellite working will increase as employers try to reduce their carbon footprint by shedding built space – lead to conflict for demand for more office space in suburbs/out of town and policy which wants to steer such development to town centre (which is good for public transport and economics)
5) the 9-5 culture which has slowly broken down over the years will continue to dissolve but working time may not be too radically different from today
6) higher density development will continue – which helps to reduce the need to travel supporting more mixed uses in areas
7) more pressure to green our cites and improve public realm if we have to live closer to our neighbours

3 thoughts on “Our cities in 20 years time – do you agree?

  1. I believe looking at this question from a network perspective is the wrong angle. We should be looking at mobility not at the networks.

    In very busy places like Central London or Central Paris, the automobile has definitely lost its competitive advantage as a mobility “product”, to the point that walking is back on the agenda. The network won’t change much in London from now because the network has already been transformed the past 10 years.

    The way we use this network however is about to be revolutionised. Your telephone will tell you which transport service to take, either a bus, a tube, but also a hired bicycle or a taxi; but more likely a chain of all the above.

    As for the carbon issue, it is a convenient excuse for people to tolerate a significant drop in living standard.


  2. The option I have given myself of cycling around London has greatly INCREASED my quality of life, and as it happens has significantly reduced CO2 generated in transport. I never get stressed by traffic conditions when going somewhere; I can stop practically anywhere I want to pop into a shop or other place of interest without having to worry about parking; and cycling has made the PTAL rating (public transport accessibility) of where I live a virtual irrelevance because my private transport is ready to go at a moment’s notice and I can cover Zone 3 to Central London in about 20-30 minutes – always. Have you thought about the implications for reducing the house price required to be in a convenient location? Not to mention the fact that my bicycle means I do not have to depend on public transport but use it when convenient. (And I haven’t even mentioned the health benefits yet!)

    As for our vision of the city of the future, the summary above may well be right but it strikes me as a bit defeatist to say that “the road network would look similar to today”. Who knows, the urban street pattern may be very similar (e.g. the City of London’s street pattern existed before the Great Fire of 1666) but the *nature* of those streets may well have changed a lot. Who knows how many more streets may become like Exhibition Road? Who knows how many lanes may be re-allocated to buses or bicycles? Who knows how many more pedestrian priority streets we may have? Where might the future X-crossings Oxford Circus style be?

    Working and living patterns will be a key determinant in what happens to transport, which goes hand-in-hand with planning policy. If more people seek to work from home rather than go through the purgatory of commuting hell then why not live more centrally where there is life on the streets and the shops are a walk away?

    The best hope of achieving a more sustainable lifestyle is by promoting the better quality of life that ensues by forgoing previous working/ living lifestyles. Most people do not aim to live life by reducing CO2, but they are attracted by a better quality of life. If we can make shorter trips by walking and cycling possible then the positive features of such a lifestyle will in themselves be attractive. And everyone, like me on my bike, will reduce CO2 without even thinking about it.

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