Contested Spaces

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The development of a sustainable society is one of the most pressing issues the human race will face in the 21st century. A city without sustainable transport cannot be considered sustainable; it must prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over vehicle transport, providing uninterrupted routes. This essay analyses the types of obstruction that have an impact on pedestrian and cycle transport by considering examples in London and Ankara. It investigates different scales of movement, types of connection, definitions of boundaries, and the clash and overlap between different movement modes as well as conflicts between public and private spaces. It provides an overview of where and how contested spaces manifest themselves in the city, what planning processes have detrimental effects on sustainable transport behaviour and how progressive policies and planning can enhance the sustainability of a city.

Text of Contested Spaces

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    Cover page image source: New York Tribune, 5 April 1925, The pedestrians predicament cited in Pushkarev, B. S., Zupan, J. M., (1975), Urban Space for Pedestrians, p.16

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    Contested Spaces

    1 Introduction: The development of a sustainable society is one of the most pressing issues the human race will face in the 21st century. A city without sustainable transport cannot be considered sustainable; it must prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over vehicle transport, providing uninterrupted routes.

    This essay analyses the types of obstruction that have an impact on pedestrian and cycle transport by considering examples in London and Ankara. It investigates different scales of movement, types of connection, definitions of boundaries, and the clash and overlap between different movement modes as well as conflicts between public and private spaces.

    It provides an overview of where and how contested spaces manifest themselves in the city, what planning processes have detrimental effects on sustainable transport behaviour and how progressive policies and planning can enhance the sustainability of a city.

    2 Motivation:

    2.1 Why sustainable?

    Since the industrial revolution energy use per capita across the world has been growing at an ever-increasing rate. It is well recognised that the burning of fossil fuels is causing serious damage to the environment. It is also recognised that the world's readily accessible fossil fuel deposits will be depleted in the foreseeable future, necessitating a change in lifestyle whether we like it or not. Even before they can run out, many countries are recognising the security benefits of, as David MacKay (2008) puts it, not being dependent on imports from untrustworthy foreigners.

    2.2 Why cities?

    At the same time that per capita energy consumption has been increasing, people have been flocking to the city at an ever increasing rate. The growth of cities and the global increase in energy consumption are inextricably linked.

    Year Percent of global population in cities

    Global carbon emissions (million tonnes)

    1900 15% 546 1950 29% 1,630 2000 47% 6,278 2005 49% 7,985

    Table 1. Relationship between the population and carbon emissions

    Source: Rode (2009); Girardet (2008 p. 3); Baumert, et al. (2005 p. 4)

    Cities now consume 75% of the world's resources, despite covering just 2% of its surface area (Girardet, 2008 p. 4). With such a great percentage of the world's population in cities, and the much higher per-capita energy consumption of city-dwellers compared to rural inhabitants, any attempt to reduce the impact of climate change or reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels must focus on the role of the city. As Herbert Girardet (2008 p. 17) succinctly puts it, In a world of cities, sustainable development must be sustainable urban development. There will be no sustainable world without sustainable cities.

    2.3 Why transport?

    The contribution of transport to global CO2 emissions has increased in both absolute and relative terms from roughly 3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year (19%) in 1971 to nearly 7 billion tonnes of CO2 per year (29%) in 2001 (Banister, 2005 p. 1).

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    With such a large percentage of the world's population living in cities, and with transport contributing such a large amount to global carbon emissions, it is worth investigating the reasons why city-dwellers do and do not use sustainable transport, recognising that the motivations of transport users are not always simple. Such investigations will allow planners to understand what factors may be inhibiting the greater uptake of already available modes of sustainable transport, and to make the urgent changes to city designs needed to reduce society's dependence on fossil fuels.

    Any endorsement will also have to recognise the critical role of urban building typologies and that of accessibility based on proximity, mobility and connectivity rather than simply expanding transport infrastructure (Rode, 2009).

    This essay analyses the frequently overlooked details that may have detrimental effects on sustainable transport modes such as walking and cycling in London and Ankara. Large scale top-down planning policies frequently manifest themselves as small and pedestrian scale interventions which are often overlooked. However, analysing the impact of smaller issues on the day-to-day life and habits of a city's inhabitants can be instructive, providing insight into the macro-scale effects of planning policies.

    2.4 Why walk?

    Walking is clean, secure, cheap, instantly available and requires no special equipment (to buy, or be stolen). In fact, for distances of up to a kilometre walking is the ideal mode of transport. It is by far the most popular recreational activity can be enjoyed by people of all ages and physical conditions, and requires no special skill (Cavill, 2003). Moreover, 'in the midst of an epidemic of obesity in Western societies [it is] one of our most cost-effective health measures. (NHANES, 1999 cited in Napier, 2000)

    2.5 Why cycle?

    For distances from half a km up to about six km cycling is the fastest means of transport in the city and offers an opportunity for health and physical fitness by regular exercise. Car usage can be shifted to bicycle usage especially for short distances without reducing mobility or speed.

    Figure 1. Comparative table of journey speeds in the urban environment

    Source: ECMT, (2004 p. 23)

    Cycling is cost-effective, produces no pollutants or intrusive noise, and bicycles require little space to store. Moreover, there is the question of 'liveability'. Although silent and pollution-free vehicles would greatly improve the environmental sustainability of a city and the quality of life of its citizens, as long as the private car is used to the same degree it is at present it will still necessitate a vast infrastructural network and will dominate the city, making it a hostile environment for people. Walking and cycling together create a livelier, richer, and more human-scale city setting, and improve the quality of the city space. Replacing wide congested roads with pedestrians and cyclists can rescue a city, transforming it into a people-friendly environment with liveable streets.

    2.6 What are these contested spaces?

    In a city most of the time, one can read the boundaries between different transport modes or between public and private property. These boundaries offer a clue to the existence of contested spaces. They can manifest themselves as the line between a cycle path and a road, or a footbridge over a road, or a possible pavement that is blocked by a private use.

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    This essay defines the contested spaces as the occasional clash and overlaps between different transport modes and activities. It particularly focuses on where the continuity of some sustainable transport modes (walking and cycling) is interrupted in the city by vehicle traffic or by some planning decisions.

    Table 2 below categorises the contested space types which are analysed in this essay.

    Category Example Discontinuity Footpaths that disappear and leave pedestrians to walk on the road Barrier Physical efforts to prevent people from following the citys natural desire lines Domination Cyclists forced to share a road with heavy fast moving vehicles will lead to some

    potential cyclists choosing an alternative. Deprioritisation Providing cyclists/pedestrians with very short green signals and long waits. Clutter Badly designed footbridges, street furniture or advertising panels blocking the footpath.

    Table 2. Categorisation of contested spaces

    2.7 Why London and Ankara?

    This essay considers the situation in Ankara and London not to compare the state of their sustainable transport directly but because they offer an interesting variety of obstructions to walking and cycling. Despite the two city's great differences in terms of public transport, culture and many other aspects, they both have contested spaces which have harmful effects on sustainable public movement.

    London is an established Western European city and has a density network of public transport; trains, light rail, buses, and boats that combine to provide more than 3 billion individual passenger journeys per year (TfL, 2010). In contrast, Ankara is a young, fast growing capital city which has not yet developed an effective public transport system.

    Where London offers secure pedestrian routes and is beginning to offer cycling routes, Ankara city centre fails to provide safe pavements or cycle-paths, and is especially unable to answer the needs of those who are less able to walk.

    Figure 2. Visually impaired pedestrian in London

    Figure 3. Disabled pedestrian in Ankara

    On the other hand, Ankara offers hope for change with its heavily out-doors life style citizens who are less resistant to change and open to new developments.

    Although London does offer secure pedestrian and cycling routes, it also appears to be unable to resist gated developments (see section 4.2.1) and other planned, rather than thoughtless, pedestrian and cyclist obstructions.

    All these points raise the question of why these differences arise, and whether one city can learn from the other, or perhaps solutions in one city are not suitable for the other. Focusing on these two cities allowed many different aspects of the issue of contested space to be considered as well as where it is likely to occur and how it can best be managed.

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    3 Ankara: Ankara experienced possibly its most significant change and phenomenal growth after it became the capital city of the newly founded Turkish Republic in 1923, at which point it was