Tsunami proof planning for cycling?

Until last week, I was thinking towns on flat planes should all be consolidated. A thick urban carpet, with circuitous streets to slow cars, and hardly any car parking, would naturally lead to high levels of cycling. Just look at Amsterdam.  
I had seen news of the floods up in Brisbane, and was there recently to see the destruction of cycleways on the edge of the river. I was in Launceston during the rains that had caused those same floods, and admit I was nervous to be staying in a hotel on the wrong side of the levy. But my basic cycle-centric thesis still held: consolidate flat lands, where we know rates of cycling will always be higher, and you will get cycling dominating car traffic. All that was before the events of last week. We’re told these are once per millennium events, for any particular city. But with more than a thousand such cities dotting coast lines, facing fault lines, we’re lucky thousands don’t die, somewhere, each year.


  1. scaredamoeba says:

    Tsunamis can be dangerous, but are a distraction from the real danger.

    Dangerous tsunamis hog the headlines, but are a force of nature. We can’t do anything about them, apart from remain vigilant and taking precautions.
    We don’t know the likely death-toll of the Japanese tsunami, but the 2004 Indonesian tsunami killed ~230,000 people. Even if the Japanese tsunami were to be similarly lethal, and even if we assume that such events were to occur every year (they don’t), they would pale into utter insignificance compared with the victims killed by motor-vehicles.

    The annual toll of road casualties in 2004 was 1.2 million. The global trend has been upwards between 1987-1995 (WHO data), as far as I can tell without far more research than a blog comment justifies, there is no reason to believe this upward trend has changed. This we can do something about. Remember, this is every year.

    And yet people think nothing of crossing the road.

    • Steven says:

      Re: Tsunamis can be dangerous, but are a distraction from the real danger.

      Thanks for that perspective. My resolve is restored. And I accept it would be counterproductive rebuilding these towns with expressways for cars to the hills, if those expressways only caused more people to die in car accidents than will die next time a tsunami strikes. Even so, medium rise buildings like that airport people ran to the roof of, do provide refuge. Such buildings, whether they are public or residential, should be built regularly—wherever lot sizes are large enough for them to be feasible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: Tsunamis can be dangerous, but are a distraction from the real danger.

      Tsunami refuges are highly desirable where tsunamis are likely, but recent experience would seem to suggest they would need at least ten days to a fortnight’s supplies for their occupants. A helipad on the roof would be useful.
      BTW, in at least one case in Japan, attempting to escape the tsunami by car was less successful than running.

      From one of the videos on the BBC website.
      In Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, an eyewitness said [translated]: people who tried to escape by car were ‘swallowed by the water the traffic was so bad’…’people who ran survived.’

    • Steven says:

      Re: Tsunamis can be dangerous, but are a distraction from the real danger.

      That doesn’t surprise me. I would drive until I hit traffic, then run.
      As for using Corbusian slab blocks as refuges: roof top water tanks are usually full, and helicopters could drop supplies. For a less than once per century event, we may have just cracked it!

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