Last November the Guardian reported on a vast graveyard of dockless bikes in the Chinese city of Xiamen. I’ve just come back from three weeks in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and from what I saw in the Wenjiang district of that city, dockless bikes are alive and well. Here are some (plus a few personal bikes, each secured with a lock on one wheel and held up by a kickstand) outside a metro station. There are, I think, four companies active in that market. When I was in the same area four years ago, neither the metro station nor the dockless bikes existed – nor did many of the bike lanes now apparent. Nor, for that matter, the trees. Continue reading
Some of my fellow advocates of cycling infrastructure are so confident in their product that they are unafraid to display it under the slogan “build it, and they will come”, a phrase which cannot help but conjure the image of Kevin Costner hallucinating in an Iowa cornfield. Continue reading
I’ve just had the pleasure of reading the London Borough of Haringey’s Transport Strategy 2018: Draft for Public Consultation, and also the final report for the borough’s Green Lanes Area Transport Study. Friday 22nd December – tomorrow – is the last day to comment on the draft Transport Strategy. What’s to be said?
The Strategy is full of worthy goals – improved public transport, better walking and cycling environment, reduced traffic, cleaner air. Gotta love it for that. These are all stated in extremely general terms, but a load of implementation plans are promised: a Walking and Cycling Action Plan, a Parking Action Plan, a Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan, and a Local Implementation Plan. Given all the virtuous aspirations expressed in the Strategy, one is tempted to sit back and wait for equally virtuous, but more specific, Plans.
This reverie of a green and pleasant Haringey lifts quickly on reading the Green Lanes report where, to pollute that image, the rubber hits the road. Continue reading
Sifting the detritus of the late plastocine, archeologists have found that when coffee packaging came to exceed coffee, people recycled a bit to feel better. And not just those Nespresso pods: feeble prayers to angry Gaia included coffee cup “recycling”.
Coffee drinkers were not alone in the production of rubbish that was ceremonially, if not practically, recyclable: excavations along roads of the era find accumulations of McDonald’s coke cups, beer cans, energy drink cans, juice packs, and water bottles. The large quantity of containers for water, sweetened water and water substitutes has been a puzzle for archeologists. Now, the study of these reservoirs of rubbish has led to an improved understanding of the collapse of human civilization, and to an adjustment of the dates at which that the collapse is believed to have started.
The thickness of the strata of containers suggests that while late humans were well (and perhaps over-) hydrated, they had lost the art of plumbing: lead pipes may have done in the Romans, but drink container waste from the early 21st century is consistent with the absence of a reliable domestic supply of potable water – how else can the use and awkward transport of these costly containers be explained? Thus, the growing numbers of discarded bottles, cans and cups as the twentieth century gave way to the twenty-first is now seen as indicative of the loss of much of the basic infrastructure that had been built up over the previous centuries, and suggests that the collapse of human civilization may have begun a century earlier than scholars had previously believed.
Some reflections on shopping, the school run, filters, and the possibility of actual and significant traffic evaporation.
Last night I attended the first of the information sessions for the consultation on the Green Lanes Area Transport Study, and I am afraid I was not always patient. While some people become less temperate when sitting alone at a computer keyboard, but I become more so – I am better able to edit myself. So if any of the project staff who were present at the event reads this, please accept the apologies of the tallish middle-aged American bloke who was exasperated that a large study of traffic has almost nothing to say (except on the one case of Wightman Road) about traffic reduction, and limits its analysis with the assumption that the overall number of car trips is fixed.
I am an economist, and, while economists disagree with one another about many things, our fundamental starting point is that people make choices between alternatives. Continue reading