Monday, June 10, 2013

The Future of American Cities -- Look to Sweden

The Financial  Times, weekend edition, had a marvelous article on the rebirth of the US city and the future,  which I read last evening in Gothenburg, Sweden. The article focused on Detroit and how changes in transportation -- an addition of a street car line, first since the 1950s, the oldest farmers market in the US, which is still there, and how some citizens and entrepreneurs are bringing this city back. Detroit also is attracting talent and youth, who realize that the serendipity of a vibrant city creates opportunities, chance meetings, novel forms of entertainment, and, with safety and mobility, can provide a much richer and stimulating life than that in the suburbs.

The article also noted the city of San Bernadino in California where the journalist was advised that it was not safe to walk alone either in the daytime or at night and where even the poor are completely car-dependent.

As a lady quoted from Tampa, Florida  stated, when you scream for help in a city someone will hear you -- but in the suburbs it is a different story.

Well-functioning, convenient, reliable, comfortable and pleasant transportation systems are essential to the future of our cities.

This being my fifth time stay in Gothenburg, for multiple weeks, since the beginning of 2012, I have come to enjoy the different modes of transportation and every day marvel at the bicyclists of all ages that pump up the hills of the Chalmers University of Technology area, where I now have an apartment.

The trams (streetcars) have different fare tickets that one can purchase and tickets can be used for different modes of transport including the trains and ferries plus busses.

And, of course, the city's bike share program is a success whereas the NYC one, which is only a few weeks old, has quite a few kinks in it with equity issues raised as well.

Gothenburg (sometimes spelled Goteborg), also has pedestrian walkways and bikeways, many of which are side by side.

Below I feature some of the transport options, which add so much to the mobility of the people here, the city's vibrancy and energy.

Plus the trams and trains and busses and ferries are such a pleasure to ride! As for our physical fitness, every day I also walk for miles as part of just living in this great city.

US cities can learn a lot from Sweden.
The above photo is of a vehicle transporting the share bikes to points where they can then be used by bicyclists.