In the past I have argued that built environment spending to increase cycling should be splashy and bold. Projects should provide politicians opportunities to pork-barrel for votes. Architects, of course, can play a great role in this, by putting forward glamorous visions, like the following vision for Hobart produced by 3 of my students (thanks Amy, Shankar and Gareth):
At the level of local government though, I would love if there were a few cities that advertised themselves as cheap. I’m not a divorcee trapped in his city by dual custody laws. I’m able to move. But when I cast my eye around the globe looking for cities to move to, I see the same high city taxes. I wouldn’t mind if they were spent on things I would use. But most are spent subsidising asphalt in the suburbs, and asphalt in cities for suburbanites to roll over with cars.
I want a city with no single family houses within its jurisdiction at all, or if there are low density districts I want to hear that those parasites are all off the grid and maintaining their own roads from their own funds. I want a city where vehicle owners pay $50 a day to use a car on the street, ostensibly leaving it for bikes and for feet, modes that don’t cause congestion, pollution or road wear. A compact, non-vehicular city, with no obligations to low density districts around it, would be a cheap city for me.
Don’t advertise your city to me if it has a metro or light rail. With the cars off the street, I would imagine too many people would prefer to ride bikes for a metro to survive without subsidy. If I need public transport some day, I would be perfectly happy riding a mini-bus with the other octogenarians and people with crutches. In the meantime I don’t want to be paying city taxes for some over-priced metro.
I’m happy to pay for street cleaning, garbage collection, and stuff that makes the place pretty. And I don’t mind paying my federal or state level taxes for police, health care, etc.. What I’m looking for is a city with low city taxes. My hunch is it will be a genuinely bike-focused city. Will someone ask David Hembrow what he’s paying in Groningen?