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A cautionary tale of disconnected thinking in urban centres from the US

???????????????????????????????Increasingly over the last few decades, we’ve found ourselves – here in the UK – adopting the habits and practices of our neighbours across the pond in the US: anything from the language we use to business models and workplace behaviours, and everything else in between. But not everything over the pond would enrich and improve our lives, especially when it comes to their views on public transport. There’s at least one innovation over there – and I’m not referring to you-know-what all over the news – that I consider to be regressive, counterproductive and unwelcome in this country.

Apparently the New Urbanists, as they call themselves, have closed off town centres (downtowns) to buses in several US cities. Publicly, they say it’s about reducing the threat to terrorism. Privately they say they object to buses and the sort of people who ride them because they don’t aesthetically complement their design and economic aspirations. Well, what can you say to that?

It seems that an aesthetic notion has toppled human need. Bus passengers are being pushed out – literally to back roads and more deserted streets – reducing the attractiveness of public transport and increasing safety concerns. This is a regressive step. In the UK – and especially – here in our hometown of Brighton & Hove, we understand the value of having buses literally at the heart of our communities: connecting lives, driving the local and regional economy and making opportunities for everyone. This is the productive face of a philosophy for public spaces that works for everyone – residents and businesses. We need constructive new ways to get people out of their cars and onto public transport and not ideas that wind the clock back.

I’d like to offer our way of doing things here in Brighton & Hove to the New Urbanists as a model for building thriving, successful cities. I’ve enjoyed their hamburgers, so they can have this one for free.

You can read the article that got me so hot under the collar here: