Sunday, 27 March 2011
There Is An Alternative: Re-Imagining Our Cities (And Other Things)
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that things can be different. And then something happens that shows another way. Mrs Thatcher was nicknamed TINA for stating that “There Is No Alternative.” The truth is more like TIAA - There Is An Alternative. But often, something needs to happen to illuminate the other possibilities. Like traffic, which became the dominant force in our cities due to a combination of planning, policy decisions, happenstance and the individual choices of people wanting to get around. It didn’t happen due to an iron law. So stopping the dominion of motor traffic in our cities, and reclaiming the streets for people who aren’t on four wheels is likely to be a lengthy and complicated process. Incremental changes, like pedestrianisation, rebalancing streets between different users, or car-free days, can show the way. Or maybe it’s when 250,000-400,000 (depending on your favoured media outlet) take to the streets of London for a mass protest about macro-economic management (The Cuts). It was so good natured that you could have seen it as a mass urban ramble through the normally traffic-clogged streets – a tangible demonstration of an alternative world. A snapshot of this – a friend’s remark that he had enjoyed looking up at the top floors of the buildings along the route. This is a perspective that you only get when you can walk in the road – you don’t get these views from the vantage point of a narrow pavement. There Is Always An Alternative.