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.