Eyes on The Street: An Introduction

Photo by vfxindia from Flickr.

Since I travel internationally in connection with my work, and try to do so in a low-budget, low-impact way, I have experienced the different ways that many cities around the world handle transportation issues, and thought it would be fun to throw some of my impressions into the discussion here at The City Fix, doing so in a new column called “Eyes on the Street.”

Earlier this year, I experienced the stark contrasts between the situations in two big car-centered cities in the Middle East – Cairo and Amman – and three almost-post-car cities in Europe: London, Lille (in northern France), and Amsterdam. Those experiences drove home for me that having a good urban transit system is a quality-of-life issue, as well as an environmental issue. It’s hard to quantify exactly, but there is something very civilized (and civility-enhancing) about doing everything you need to do in a city without having to worry about the stress or expense of an automobile, and about doing so in a built environment that is scaled to the human person and that encourages sociability and a sense of human equality.

In future posts for “Eyes on the Street,” I plan to write about my experiences in Cairo and London, Lille’s driverless subway lines, car-free lifestyles in urban Japan, the great bus system in Granada, Spain, the importance of nodes and links in urban transit systems, Amsterdam, and transportation policies in Africa. Oh, and maybe I’ll write about different cities in the United States, too…I look forward to sharing these posts and hearing your imput!

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