I've used the phrase 'fully pedestrianised' a few times now, so you
be forgiven for thinking I'm a hardcore,
car-hating environmentalist. But I'm really not.
In June 2010 I attended the Towards Carfree Cities conference in
York, and I was very much looking forward to it.
What happened? I left early. And went for a drive.
If I'm going to drive less, it will be because there are
better alternatives available, not because someone spends 2
hours telling me that
cars are bad.
When I see a pedestrian barrier I just climb straight
over it, even if I wasn't going that way, just to show that I
will not be stopped.
- Matthew Parris, Grumpy Old Men
I want all the benefits of a carfree city – streets dedicated to
people, real communities, excellent public transportation –
but I don't
think people should have to give up driving to get them.
What we need is a system that keeps the streets pedestrian friendly,
discourages travelling within the city by car, but has little impact
on out of town trips.
The discouragement of car trips within the city is necessary for
decent public transport, but it also benefits drivers. If everyone
uses the trolleybuses to travel around the city, it means a lot less
traffic when you do need to use your car.
This is accomplished in two ways. Firstly, roads have very few
connections and go around the city rather than through it.
Secondly, roads within the city's districts emphasise a pleasant
pedestrian environment rather than short journey times for drivers.
Speed limits are no higher than 20mph here.
And where roads cross pedestrian streets, raised intersections slow cars further and pedestrians
have right of way.
Likewise, where roads cross over the trolleybus lines, trolleybuses
always have priority.
But a couple of minutes later, once you've made it out of the
district, you're onto the regular road network and you're away.
Indeed, the city would likely be easier to drive around than our
current cities. There are no complicated one-way systems.
Traffic lights, junctions and roundabouts are kept to a bare minimum.
Traffic would be a good deal lighter. But it's only the
trolleybuses that get to take the direct route.
Standard emergency vehicles are used in the city, with the possible
addition of a second, quieter siren.
They can use the trolleybus lanes for fast movement between
districts, and when using their lights and sirens they are the only
vehicles that may travel above 30mph on the trolleybus lanes, and above
walking speed on pedestrian streets.