17 votes

The ugly, dangerous, and inefficient stroads found all over the US & Canada

5 comments

  1. [5]
    sron
    Link
    Not Just Bikes is a YouTube channel about Dutch city design, and how it differs from other countries. This video explains how having different classifications of road makes it faster and safer for...

    Not Just Bikes is a YouTube channel about Dutch city design, and how it differs from other countries. This video explains how having different classifications of road makes it faster and safer for everyone using it.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      EgoEimi
      Link Parent
      I love Not Just Bikes, and I love that the channel is spreading Dutch urbanism gospel to people abroad. I've lived in the Netherlands, the US, and some East Asian cities. I can confidently say...

      I love Not Just Bikes, and I love that the channel is spreading Dutch urbanism gospel to people abroad. I've lived in the Netherlands, the US, and some East Asian cities. I can confidently say that Dutch cities are the closest to reaching urban utopia than any other.

      When I go into American cities, all I see are—and this is going to sound very snooty—oversized people driving oversized cars in oversized urban environments that are overpaved with parking lots and strip malls. No one seems happy or relaxed: everyone is driving 5 MPH over the posted speed limit and is impatient at the few drivers who dare to drive at/below the limit. There are few quiet streets — everywhere is connected by these "stroads". It's an inhumane landscape devoid of actual human bodies but dominated by roving death machines, with a vibe like that of the Terminator opening scene where the pedestrian human fighter flees from the vehicularized robot. :P

      In Dutch cities, I see lots of healthy-weight people calmly riding their bikes often physically separated from light and calm traffic, moving through an urban landscape of human-scale buildings and signage. There are lots of pedestrians, people drinking coffee or beer on streetside terraces, and children about. You can easily see people's bodies and faces and make eye contact and acknowledge them as persons, not death machines. People very often pass by their friends and acquaintances on the road, and they'll either wave and shout hello or pull over to the side to have a quick chit chat. It's very easy and safe to do so on a proper street.

      I dramatize and idealize a bit, but the realities are not so far off. I think that if more Americans were exposed to the Dutch alternative urban reality, we'd see more demands for better roads and streets.

      10 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        Even in one of the better regions of the US, the SF bay area, we have a lot to improve on. Fundamentally the US's transportation is based around cars. Where I am in the suburbs it's relatively...

        Even in one of the better regions of the US, the SF bay area, we have a lot to improve on. Fundamentally the US's transportation is based around cars. Where I am in the suburbs it's relatively bike-able and there are towns here where you can get more bike traffic than car traffic. But it's still the US. Any time you're riding a bike on the road you're risking death.

        6 votes
      2. jzimbel
        Link Parent
        To continue the snootiness (😛), I did a summer abroad studying Dutch “sustainable transportation” infrastructure in undergrad and it actually changed my whole career trajectory. It was exceedingly...

        To continue the snootiness (😛), I did a summer abroad studying Dutch “sustainable transportation” infrastructure in undergrad and it actually changed my whole career trajectory. It was exceedingly clear that they are doing so many things right, that I became a transit nerd more or less overnight. I now work at my US metro region’s transportation authority and am a big supporter of bicycle infrastructure, traffic-calming treatments, transit-oriented development; the whole 9 yards. When done right, it has such a huge positive impact on everyone’s lives.

        I really can’t overstate how refreshing it was to live in that country for even just a few months, and how shockingly pragmatic and “correct” their approach to city/transportation planning is relative to the US.

        3 votes
      3. sron
        Link Parent
        That car centric culture is present in the UK too. There's a housing development near me with one car parking space for each house, over twice that number of bike racks, that's near a bus route...

        That car centric culture is present in the UK too. There's a housing development near me with one car parking space for each house, over twice that number of bike racks, that's near a bus route and train station as well as the town centre, and yet still there's not enough car parking and people are objecting to it. It's mad.

        2 votes