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).
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.