“If a problem cannot be solved,” Donald Rumsfeld as soon as wrote, “enlarge it.” I’m not about to reward him for his accomplishments, however he had a fairly good eye for diagnoses. Which takes us to the issue of city transit. I complained recently that I didn’t care about scooter startups, as a result of I couldn’t think about cities ever altering in a means which made scooters actually work. But lo, the scales have fallen from my eyes.
What could appear to be the issue: scooters are helpful and enjoyable for a lot of, however discarded scooters are an unpleasant mess. What’s truly the issue: cities are dominated by the iron fist of King Car. Even with most scooter distribution and nil regulation, the actual property occupied by scooters (and bicycles) will solely ever be a vanishingly tiny fraction of a vanishingly tiny fraction of that occupied by roads and parking areas.
The resolution, clearly, is to allocate a few of the latter to the previous. No, not bike lanes. I imply, they’ve their place, however they’re cramped, they’re tough to go in, and their area remains to be solely ever an adjunct to that allotted to the all-devouring calls for of King Car. If you desire a fourth type of transport (after vehicles, public transit, and good previous strolling) to actually succeed, don’t put in additional bike lanes. Do one thing a lot less complicated. Ban vehicles from roads.
Hang on now. Don’t get apoplectic on me. I don’t imply all roads, by any means. I’m something however anti-car. I personal a automobile, drive steadily, and Lyft greater than I ought to. But in the identical means downtown plazas and streets are being transformed into pedestrian-only zones — take into account Times Square and Herald Square in NYC, (quickly) Ste.-Catherine Street in Montreal, and so on. — high-density cities ought to start to transform some complete multi-lane roads to thoroughfares for two-wheeled electrical/guide automobiles solely.
If optimized accurately, the variety of vehicles you’d get off the highway due to lowered demand for Uber and Lyft ought to vastly outweigh the site visitors displacement and lowered variety of parking areas. Cars will nonetheless be capable to cross, after all, at lights synchronized for the lowered tempo of two-wheelers. Bike lanes, as an alternative of being haphazardly strewn about in a random and sometimes disconnected sequence of routes, will grow to be feeders for these scooter/bicycle superhighways. And after all streets not shared with vehicles can be vastly safer.
Add a congestion cost, such that persons are incentivized to park their scooters/bikes both alongside these arteries or in designated storage zones scattered alongside bike lanes, and the pull of financial gravity will pull them away from cluttered sidewalks and in direction of well-understood, well-contained areas. Businesses may complain — till they notice they’ve vastly extra site visitors than earlier than.
Think large. Think Park and Amsterdam Avenues in Manhattan; Turk and Sutter/Kearny in San Francisco; Church / Davenport / DuPont in Toronto. But notice on the similar time that you simply’re pondering small; simply a few roads apiece, in cities which have been dominated by vehicles and vehicles for therefore lengthy that options appear unattainable, unthinkable, laughable. But pondering that means is a type of realized helplessness. Change for the higher is fully doable on bodily, monetary, technical, and/engineering ranges. All that cities lack is creativeness and public will.