Buttons that pedestrians or cyclists are forced to push in order for a computer program – programmed by a car-centric engineer – to grant them authorisation to cross a street in their city have to be among the most archaeic remnants of a century of city planning that caters only to the automobile.
– Mikael, Copenhagenize
I sometimes bristle when Mikael lectures and wags his fingers at us silly Americans. His condescending attitude can be a little tiring at times. We didn’t create this mess overnight and we’re certainly not going fix it overnight. At times it seems that he conveniently forgets the long slog that his and other cities in Europe had in transforming their transportation networks. But today he managed to capture my attention with this simple little graphic.
Very few people can deny that the private automobile is extremely convenient. A convenience that almost borders on necessity. Especially considering how much our cities are designed around them. This despite the horrible impacts and externalized costs of the convenience.
Now imagine a cityscape where that convenience begins to disappear. Imagine a motorist having to come to a full and complete stop, opening the door and placing their foot on the ground to qualify as a legal stop. Imagine if a motorist had to stop, shut off the motor and then push their vehicle across some barrier. What if a motorist didn’t have loops of wiring imbedded in the pavement to signal a computer that they needed to cross an intersection? What if they had to get out of their car, walk to the side of the road and push a button to get a signal? What if the buttons didn’t exist and they had to sit there waiting for a time sequence determined by statistical guess?
Not so convenient after all. How many people would choose a transportation mode with so many barriers? How much outcry and protest would we hear?