One step forward and two steps back

September 19, 2018

Successful infrastructure often goes by unnoticed. So if you find that you are lost, there is chewing gum stuck to your sole, and a longing for a car in your soul, something isn’t right.

Getting people from A to B safely, efficiently and comfortably is of utmost importance in the infrastructure of cities. Without successful movement, a city would not function. With the invention of the car, infrastructure in modern cities was planned and built to accommodate vehicles. Road networks took priority, asphalt was laid and traffic took over.

In recent times, the investment put into infrastructure for cars has backfired. The environmental impact of the car is huge, and driving fails to encourage a healthy lifestyle. It was discovered that killing the planet and contributing to obesity is not a good way to develop a successful society. The focus is now on developing cities for Non Motorised Users (NMU), in a desperate attempt to repair the damage done. But it is not possible to rip out roads and go back to the drawing board, and so one must look for alternatives that are maybe more feasible, or rather less heavy on the taxpayer’s pocket.

Something as simple as the ground plays a huge part in the behaviour of NMU. Paving can be informative, tactile and even beautiful. However roads are designed to serve the car, and cars are designed to serve the driver/passenger. This allows them a degree of freedom, to pick a car that suits their requirements. For pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, pram users and more, this is not as relevant. There is a much more direct relationship between the person and the pavement. Different users would have different preferences, maybe even contradicting each other, so how can paving serve everyone to its optimum potential?

 

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