The spirit of UK New Towns


In selling the New Towns vision to the British population, post WW2, that country’s Central Office of Information (COI), understood well, how nansy pansy do-gooder types would stand in the way of progress, if they neglected to include statements like this one: “Most important of all is the child, so we’ll need pedestrian routes for the pram pusher.” (6.18 in the above clip). And by and by it came to pass that Milton Keynes was designed with an extensive network of shared bike/pram trails, or “redways”, as they became known (for they are made with red coloured asphalt). Okay, so these redways are circuitous, poorly maintained, and lonely at night. However, they at least allow those who want to cycle, an opportunity to do so in relative safety—they sure beat having no infrastructure at all, which is what cyclists are provided in unplanned, post-industrial cities, and even contemporary subdivisions.

What we are fortunate to have in post-industrial cities, are underutilized networks of land (brownfields, waterways, rail corridors), that could now be given to Mrs. Pram Pusher, or perhaps Mrs Bakfiet Pusher, as an alternative to the road network. Of course these days, women drive cars (something not anticipated prior to second wave feminism), and likewise men use what once would have been looked upon as more feminine modes of transportation, modes without petrol motors, modes such as cycling. Where once roads were masculine, and redways were feminine, that dichotomy stands to be reversed. Roads are for feminine ladies and feminine gentlemen, afraid of working a sweat up, while bike paths are for bad-arse, masculine mummas and masculine pappas. That means they can be straight (figuratively and literally). Bike paths do not have to meander, to amuse the depressed pram pusher.

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