If you invite people, they will come!
March 3, 2009
Danish Architect and Internationally renowned urban planner, Jan Gehl delivered an inspiring public lecture on the 24th February 2008, ‘Cities for People’.
He spoke of how history has seen architects viewed as very big, and people very small. According to Gehl, an automobile invasion occurred around the 1950s in Australia, and since then cars have been seen as ‘good’, while pedestrians are ‘shit’. Everything has been done to make car journeys easier, and culturally we have learnt only to think in this way.
He questioned that despite perfect statistics on driving and parking, why is there no department for pedestrians and public life?
He said public space is defined by a city being a meeting place, a market place and a connection space. We now face almost abandoned cities where provision for cars is enormous. He used the example of bitumen praries, which like the American Indians, we make dashes across from our cars to the safety of shopping sactuary.
Gehl made the following points:
- There has been 9 reconquered cities: Barcelona, Lyon, Strausburg, Frieburg, Copenhagen, Portland, Curitibia, Bogota and Melbourne.
- Instead of paying for exercise we can have it built into our daily lives through safe walking and cycling avenues.
- The most wanted aspects for a good city were: Lively, attractive, safe, sustainable and healthy. All of which are addressed through increased cycling and walking.
- ‘People watching’ is one of the greatest interests in our lives.
- An efficient public transport system is integral for a sustainable city.
- Planning that provides for cycling and walking over cars will see the health expenditure dramatically affected.
- The more people, the safer the city.
- More roads equals more traffic. Beijing receives 1000 new cars every morning.
- What you get in the city is what you invite.
- There is an example in Seol, Korea, of a freeway was removed to allow a river to run with parks on either side. (a place for people over cars).
- Every city has a level of traffic dictated by the provision for traffic.
- We consider parking a god-given human right!
- Earthquakes are good re-organisers of inappropriate road developments.
- Belfast was shut down to cars for a while because of terrorism fear. It was safer.
- In Bogota, the mayor decided that as non car users made up 80% of the traffic, so has been removing 2% of parking each year.
- People will cross roads where they want to so why not provide for them.
- If you remove a lane, there will be massive congestion for 2 months, then there will be no congestion as people will change their ways.
- In Copenhagen, 36% of trips in the city are by bicycle, in Brisbane 2% are.
- 70% of the Copenhagen cycling population ride in winter.
- In Copenhagen, bicycling has doubled in the last 10 years.
- Copenhagen has a city goal of 50% of people commuting by bike by 2015.
- Closing streets is not done to harm motorists, it is done to harm people.
- Copenhagen has outdoor cafes operating 10 months a year.
- Portland, Oregon, is the No. 1 city in the world for liveability.
- Bike lanes should not be a buffer zone for parked cars.
- Sydney is great for parties, Olympics and summits, but half ones walking time is lost to traffic lights.
Here at Healthy Transport Hobart we were so stoked to have seen Jan Gehl talk that we are finding a way to buy his books and find out more answers to some of the issues we face.
Check out the online discussion forum at: www.utasalumni.org.au.
And a recording of the lecture at: not available yet
And for all the official goodness visit his website: http://www.gehlarchitects.com/?#/159372/