“If a problem cannot be solved,” Donald Rumsfeld as soon as wrote, “enlarge it.” I’m not about to reward him for his accomplishments, however he had a reasonably good eye for diagnoses. Which takes us to the issue of city transit. I complained not too long ago that I didn’t care about scooter startups, as a result of I couldn’t think about cities ever altering in a manner which made scooters actually work. However lo, the scales have fallen from my eyes.
What might appear to be the issue: scooters are helpful and enjoyable for a lot of, however discarded scooters are an unpleasant mess. What’s truly the issue: cities are dominated by the iron fist of King Automobile. Even with most scooter distribution and 0 regulation, the true property occupied by scooters (and bicycles) will solely ever be a vanishingly tiny fraction of a vanishingly tiny fraction of that occupied by roads and parking areas.
The answer, clearly, is to allocate a number of the latter to the previous. No, not bike lanes. I imply, they’ve their place, however they’re cramped, they’re troublesome to go in, and their house continues to be solely ever an adjunct to that allotted to the all-devouring calls for of King Automobile. If you need a fourth type of transport (after automobiles, public transit, and good previous strolling) to actually succeed, don’t put in additional bike lanes. Do one thing a lot less complicated. Ban automobiles from roads.
Grasp on now. Don’t get apoplectic on me. I don’t imply all roads, by any means. I’m something however anti-car. I personal a automobile, drive incessantly, and Lyft greater than I ought to. However in the identical manner downtown plazas and streets are being transformed into pedestrian-only zones — contemplate Occasions Sq. and Herald Sq. in NYC, (quickly) Ste.-Catherine Road in Montreal, and so on. — high-density cities ought to start to transform some total multi-lane roads to thoroughfares for two-wheeled electrical/guide automobiles solely.
If optimized accurately, the variety of automobiles you’d get off the highway due to lowered demand for Uber and Lyft ought to vastly outweigh the visitors displacement and lowered variety of parking areas. Automobiles will nonetheless be capable of cross, after all, at lights synchronized for the lowered tempo of two-wheelers. Bike lanes, as a substitute of being haphazardly strewn about in a random and sometimes disconnected sequence of routes, will change into feeders for these scooter/bicycle superhighways. And naturally streets not shared with automobiles can be vastly safer.
Add a congestion cost, such that persons are incentivized to park their scooters/bikes both alongside these arteries or in designated storage zones scattered alongside bike lanes, and the pull of financial gravity will pull them away from cluttered sidewalks and in direction of well-understood, well-contained areas. Companies may complain — till they notice they’ve vastly extra visitors than earlier than.
Suppose massive. Suppose Park and Amsterdam Avenues in Manhattan; Turk and Sutter/Kearny in San Francisco; Church / Davenport / DuPont in Toronto. However notice on the similar time that you simply’re pondering small; simply a few roads apiece, in cities which have been dominated by automobiles and vehicles for therefore lengthy that alternate options appear unattainable, unthinkable, laughable. However pondering that manner is a type of discovered helplessness. Change for the higher is totally attainable on bodily, monetary, technical, and/engineering ranges. All that cities lack is creativeness and public will.