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Monday, December 19, 2011

In the future, urban bikers go faster than cars [via Salon.com]


Cities around the world are considering radical new speed limits on cars -- slowing down in the name of progress

Dream City: the move toward slowing down
TOPICS:
In Hollywood movies, the cities of the future have speeding monorails and flying cars, everyone careening toward their destination at a zillion miles per hour. (The future always looks surprisingly like “The Jetsons,” which turns 50 next year.)
It makes for great CGI. But does it make for a great city? For generations, velocity has defined the urban experience: screeching subways, maniacal taxis, hustling crowds. Life in the fast lane. A New York minute is no minute at all. Even as our roads become clogged with traffic, we think of cities as most city-like when they move at a blur.
But look around (if you have a second) and you might notice that a lot of the new ideas seeping into cities are aimed not at making them faster, but slowing them down. The buzziest mode of transport now is a bicycle. Streetcars, a pokey throwback, are returning. Walkable neighborhoods, traffic-calming measures and “slow zones” are catching on, and freeways are being torn down and replaced with lower-speed boulevards. Even things like sit-down pedestrian plazas and pop-up cafes seem to indicate a desire to slacken the pace.

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