eco-city design

walkable centres

shared space or separation


efficient buildings

public transport

why the trolleybus

road layout

car-lite districts



sustainable farming


quality of life


Quality Of Life

We like to think our towns and cities offer us a high quality of life.  But do they really?

Designing Cities for Children

Rather than looking at towns and cities from our own perspectives as adults and (almost always) drivers, we would do far better to look at them through the eyes of a child.

All the cars rushing past their houses put children's health and even lives at risk.

Car exhaust can intensify respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis, can be harmful to the blood and coronary system, and can even cause cancer.

And whilst one car driving into another car is quite bad enough, if the other party happens to be a child who left home without their 2 tonnes of armour then the results are horrific.

Our modern obsession with the car brings social problems too.

Children should be out playing in the street, interacting with the other kids, exploring the world around them.  This is how they grow into healthy, well rounded adults.

Street games

Instead we confine them to the house, ferry them to school and back in our cars, and then wonder why childhood obesity, mental and social problems are all on the up.

A city that is built for adults who drive will work for adults who drive.  A city that is built for children will work for everyone.


For a long time, planners have been building our communities on the assumption that everyone will drive everywhere. The result? Everyone now has to drive everywhere, whether they want to or not. We have no choice.


Walking is the greenest mode of transport there is.  It's also healthy, and leads to more vibrant communities.  And, having spent the last 50+ years designing our towns and cities so completely around the car, today's planners are at last beginning to see its importance.

But they're not going far enough.

Compare the 2 streets pictured below:

Compromises between cars and pedestrians always favour cars   Pedestrianised city centre, York

The first street is a traffic-calmed street with wider than usual footpaths; a balance between cars and people.  But air pollution, noise and danger, while reduced compared to an ordinary 30mph road, are far from eliminated.  And the street is still dominated by cars, both visually and by right of way.

The second, fully pedestrianised street is altogether more pleasant.  Footsteps and voices are the only sounds.  The air is clean.  And if you want to visit a shop on the other side of the street you just cross, with no fear of being run down.  It's a place for people, not machines.

Less obviously, cars also spread cities out with all their roads and car parks until walking is no longer an option anyway.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.

 - Bill Vaughan

We need to build communities compact enough to have a full range of services – grocery stores, schools, post offices, etc. – within a 5 to 10 minute walk of every home.

Better Public Transport

Public transport (assuming it has more than a handful of passengers onboard) uses less energy and produces less pollution than if the same number of people had travelled by car, and it requires less land.  With full buses and trams these savings are substantial.

But just providing us with an alternative to our cars is not enough.  Public transport needs to be fast, convenient and pleasant to ride.  And the great investment this requires can only be justified if ridership is high.

Picture a city where most people travel by car.  With little investment the bus service is adequate at best, with buses running infrequently and getting bogged down by everyone else's cars.  So anyone with a choice switches back to their car, and less riders means even less investment and the service gets worse still.

Low quality public transport

Now imagine if everyone in that same city used public transport.  With so many riders we could have buses running every few minutes – we would need them to to move so many people – and all night long.  There would be no traffic for them to get caught up in.  And with that much investment we could replace the diesel buses with electric trolleybuses or trams.  Everyone would benefit.

High quality public transport

A Diverse High Street

We also need a greater choice when it comes to where we shop.  Supermarkets, big name stores and chain pubs are all fine in moderation.  But small, independent shops are what make our communities unique.