Urban planning and the war on cars

I settled in Lyon, France 2 years ago. I came from Lisbon, Portugal where I spent 3 years in total and both my kids are born. People are usually surprised when they ask us why did we leave such a nice place [Lisbon is outstandingly beautiful] and I tell them: urban planning might be the worst I've seen since I walked around Jakarta, Indonesia.

Cars in cities are a nightmare. For everyone. I've never met a car driver happily sharing post city trip 'yo that was so cool, I look forward to my next trip across town'. As a pedestrian: they interrupt my trip constantly, proper flaneuring or just letting my mind completely go is impossible since I'm confined to one sidewalk to another. As a cyclist: they literally scare me, they're dangerous. As a parent: they limit my kids ability to learn, grow, play because it's too dangerous while they make me a professional-constant shouter 'hey watch out, be careful, STOOOOOOP before the end of the sidewalk'. As a regular human: they slowly, constantly, kill me everyday; make me sick; create noise pollution and overall, dramatically increase any type of daily stress.

Now, more and more people around the world start to realise a very simple truth: "anything that makes a city a worse place to drive makes it a better place to live." [from XKCD - see comic below].

Re: Lyon I'm optimistic. At least, a few things made me happy lately. I discovered many plans and projects from the city to ban cars from more and more area in the center. I sat down to discuss for an hour with a shop owner in my neighborhood [which is extremely central] who's also heavily involved in the local retailer society, and he shared with me all the city plans to get rid of cars completely. He also shared the current and upcoming challenges for all the shops; and how he completely rethought his delivery logistics [he has a beer-making workshop and sell beers so when he has to deliver packages, they also tend to be heavy]. But he's happy, he succeed to rely on cargo e-bikes only.

  • UPS started as a bike delivery service in Seattle
  • cargo bikes drop off more packages per hour than the delivery vans; and obviously with a fraction of carbon footprint
  • pedestrians and cyclists deaths rose respectively 54 and 55% between 2010 and 2021!

While I'm optimistic long-term and can see the trend going in the right direction, I still face absurd situations daily [I literally walk, bike and skateboard across town on a daily basis; with and without the kids - so I spend a significant amount of time in the streets].

And it's a true pleasure to notice more american and US-based people join the movement. Kottke shares frequently all the great stuff.

The level of confidence and joy both my kids get daily - they're 4 and 2 years old - while biking and running in the streets is unparalleled. So if not for others, let's collectively ban cars from cities for the kids. They'll thank all of us later trust me.


Objet du jour

Obviously my long-tail family bike. Simply the best purchase we've made in the last decade. Period. We bought it a year ago and I think I get asked once a week on average what I think about it by random people in the streets. I love seeing more and more of them. Everytime they jump on it, it's adventure time for the kids. And even when we don't have them, Mat and I use it proudly [since we got rid of one baby seat - one of us can drive and the other sit behind on the booth seat - this is awesome]. Relationship recorded with Objet.