Auckland, New Zealand
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
London, United Kingdom
Brooklyn, New York
Good transport and infrastructure can make or break an urban centre. Los Angeles’ gridlock traffic is not only a major health issue because of pollution, its toxic impact on city life is reinforced by the lack of a viable public transportation network. Instead of investing in mass transit, the city spent more about $1 billion to widen its main highway—an effort that added more time to the 81 hours that drivers spend idly in traffic. Drivers in Beijing no doubt feel their pain.
Global centres like New York and London have to contend with an aging infrastructure, but their well-developed underground rail networks are the foundation for each city’s appeal. Many locals don’t own a car. Those who do rarely drive to get around the city. While water taxis and ride-sharing services woo some off the subway, a bigger incentive may be a fast-growing network of bike paths that’s prompted three-quarters of a million New Yorkers to become regular cyclists.
Such investments pay dividends in terms of air quality and residents’ overall health. The diminished status of owning a personal automobile has contributed to a growing disregard for cars and the infrastructure they require. Livable cities have little time for gas-guzzling machines. Mixed-use neighbourhoods rely on foot traffic, preferring drivers do their shopping at a suburban mall.
The initiative to the southwest of the city center is designed to transform an under-utilized industrial area into vibrant mixed-used neighborhoods. A key catalyst in attracting residents will involve integrating the neighborhood with the city’s well-developed bus, train, and tram networks. Transportation is focused on bike paths and improved access to public transit, as well as an intermodal transport system that enables users to efficiently transition between rail and attentive forms of transport such as cycling and walking. A highly porous pedestrian route network makes it easy for people to connect with public transport. Mid-rise housing occupies the center, with taller buildings on the southern side of the district, reducing the overshadowing of public space. The goal: to achieve a social fabric not unlike lower Midtown and the Village in Manhattan with human-scale housing, pedestrian-friendly laneways, culture hubs, and streets teeming with local commerce.