Honk! The future for transport in Helsinki? (Have a stupid weekend)

As we get together here in Helsinki to swap ideas about what a more equitable transportation system might look like in a city, what if we take a moment this weekend day to travel back a bit in time and examine some of the more flagrant concepts floated by visionaries and accepted by many in the past? We here at World Streets always have problems with these “cities of the future” visions, not so much because they are almost always consistently wacky in some totally weird unreal-world way, but because they tend to project things so far into the distant, almost always thoroughly magical future, that they get us off the hook for doing anything about it TODAY. So sit back and relax, dear citizens and voters, and realize that you don’t have to do anything other than to passively await the future, and let the benevolent forces of the economy and technology solve the problem for you.

Again this background, and for your weekend viewing pleasure, we are pleased to share with you this excellent drawing of a future city which has been kindly sent along today by Mike Co of the Clean Air Initiative for our contemplation (see his note http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/node/4763).

And since the underlying text is a bit difficult to read, here is what the authors had to say back in 1925 about their future cities, only 25 years out:

How you may live and travel in the city of 1950.

“Future city streets, says Mr. Corbett, will be in four levels: The top level for pedestrians; the next lower level for slow motor traffic; the next for fast motor traffic, and the lowest for electric trains. Great blocks of terraced skyscrapers half a mile high will house offices, schools, homes, and playgrounds in successive levels, while the roofs will be airplane landing fields, according to the architect’s plan.”

Haw haw. Well perhaps not. When was the last time you checked out Dubai?

And since bad ideas die hard, let’s have a look at the latest issue of that same journal (now somehow appropriately relabeled “Popscicom”), where this time they offer up their vision of “The plan for tomorrow’s mega city, which they currently target 2030.

* Click here to view this eco-savvy blueprint

Here, we the innocent readers, babes in the woods, are told, “We present the most visionary ideas by scientists, engineers and designers to make the cities of the future what they were meant to be all along: sustainable”. To which they add in their transportation vision “an eco-savvy blueprint that points the way to fresh air, clean water, and traffic that never jams”.

When you check it out  you will see that their future city’s transportation system keys on the combined marvels of MIT’s near-ubiquitous PodCar, driverless buses, energy highways (“Save energy by driving faster” – nice!). and – whoopee – PRT in the form of “Maglev Skytrains”. (“Le plus ça change, le plus c’est la même chose”, translating roughly to “will they never learn?”

After a late  winter weekend of marvel, we can get back to the serious work at hand in Helsinki on Monday morning.

Eric Britton, Editor

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* For more Stupid Weekend reading, click here.

One response to “Honk! The future for transport in Helsinki? (Have a stupid weekend)

  1. while Corbett’s 1950 vision in 1925 has an air of museums collection, we gladly realize that in 2012 we are not yet there, moving mostly underground, the visions nowadays are not less monstrous – the green “mechanized” Mega city, mistaking technology for green (technology is usually gray, except in the Renault’s Twizzy launch, recently, at the Geneva Motor show, where disco music and colors trick people into new individual driving devices..); so let’s hope that in 20, 40 years we look at these films and saying uff, fortunately it did not go this way”, though none of the romantic “smell” of Corbett doodling will let us “sourire” looking at these horrible techno animation videos…
    have a nice walk in the beautiful Finnish capital.. and good luck with your interactive observatory exercise up there (do not forget to go to the railway station in the hope that the national hymn singers will thrust forwards in an ahh so spontaneous act…)

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