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London Rapid Transit (In-Design)

Ward8

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His criticism is spot on. Too bad you can't get past your butthurt to see it. I'm so glad there's somebody calling out all the usual Canadian excuses for building crap infrastructure. And it's telling that you have to fall back to the usual excuses.
His criticism is generally correct, but I did have to stop watching the videos because he is so sanctimonious and patronizing. It's pretty easy to call North Americans stupid from Amsterdam, but most planners and urbanists have known the solutions long before the guy started his youtube channel (probably before he was born). He's not the first, or the only person criticizing Canadian infrastructure. The people who have their life dedicated to fighting for improvement deserve credit for doing what, up util the last decade, has been a thankless job.

One of the steps in improving infrastructure is having a solvent city. Considering the state of London at various points in history, there have been a lot of savvy decisions that are leading to, not just new infrastructure, but new private sector investment and new urban real estate investment. (obviously there have been bad decisions as well) Basically-- London is a troubled but improving town when it could have, just as easily, become a dying city akin to some US counterparts. If you are going to use Oulu, or Utrecht as a case study then you also have to include Flint, or Gary Indiana as a comparison as well.
 

kEiThZ

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One of the steps in improving infrastructure is having a solvent city. Considering the state of London at various points in history, there have been a lot of savvy decisions that are leading to, not just new infrastructure, but new private sector investment and new urban real estate investment. (obviously there have been bad decisions as well) Basically-- London is a troubled but improving town when it could have, just as easily, become a dying city akin to some US counterparts. If you are going to use Oulu, or Utrecht as a case study then you also have to include Flint, or Gary Indiana as a comparison as well.

"At least we're not Flint or Gary...."

A great endorsement of London. Keep up those high standards.

You know what the difference is between a C and B student? The B student looks up to those who gets As. The C student use the D student to excuse their laziness and mediocrity.

Let's be clear. Passing up infrastructure funding where higher levels of government are paying 70¢ on the dollar is a boneaded, shortsighted decision, not at all driven by long term financial considerations. Financial solvency my ass. How solvent do you think they'll be if they decide to build a few more road widening projects and have to maintain all that in to the future with a low density, low (tax) yield base?
 

nfitz

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Look up East Hastings. It is the worst one in Canada.
I mentioned that above, noting that I didn't think it was a ghetto as such, more of a homeless problem. It's valuable real-estate there, and only steps from Gastown in one direction and Chinatown in the other - with the area that's of concern very small.
 

Mr Finish Line

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The guy that does the "not just bikes" series is a true jackass.

He is from London and uses it as his favorite whipping boy. He somehow thinks it's fair to compare a 1000 year old European capitol city of 3 million to a NA one of only 200 years that is one-fifth the size. He shows London as a decaying monster and he always includes a pic of his favorite corner of suburban Wonderland & Oxford and then shows his utopian downtown Amsterdam neighbourhood as a comparison.

Of course he never shows the vibrant areas of downtown London, the Market, Richmond Row, Wortley Village, or the city's beautiful inner city streets and neighbourhoods of gorgeous old historic Victorians and Edwardians on leafy streets beside all the parks the city enjoys including probably Canada's most beautiful and vibrant downtown park, Victoria, No shots of the Thames River and all the parkland that stretches into all areas of the city or the beautiful institutional buildings downtown or at Western which is one of Canada's most scenic campuses. Conversely, he never shows us the other side of Amsterdam with it's thousands of drug addicted homeless and it's concrete bunker suburban ethnic ghettos.

London needs to progress and it is making solid steps to do so and has many challenges but that does not change the fact that it is one of Canada's most pleasant, likeable, attractive, safe, green, and livable cities.
He has the made the point time and time again that the difference in good urban design between most European cities and North American cities isn't their age. Cities like London ON were built *before* cars became the dominant mode of transportation. Cities like London are the way they are now because policies encouraged low density sprawl. The Netherlands also has postwar built suburbs, but they are nothing like ours. Jason's (Mr. NJB) point is that London *is* a beautiful city, and it's heartbreaking how car dominated infrastructure has damaged it.
 

innsertnamehere

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He has the made the point time and time again that the difference in good urban design between most European cities and North American cities isn't their age. Cities like London ON were built *before* cars became the dominant mode of transportation. Cities like London are the way they are now because policies encouraged low density sprawl. The Netherlands also has postwar built suburbs, but they are nothing like ours. Jason's (Mr. NJB) point is that London *is* a beautiful city, and it's heartbreaking how car dominated infrastructure has damaged it.
his videos are based on a valid point but his attitude is indeed generally quite pompous generally and for that reason I find his videos very annoying to watch.

Suburban Amsterdam is indeed much nicer than suburban London, ON but SSIGUY has a point that comparing downtown Amsterdam or inner city Amsterdam with Oxford and Wonderland is a bit disingenious.

He also always acts like the Netherlands is basically car-free and everyone just flutters around on bikes absolutely everywhere, ignoring that the Netherlands has built far more car infrastructure in the last decade than Canada has and how it's modal shares actually aren't that different than the GTA and that vehicle-miles per capita are only marginally lower despite being a substantially denser, smaller country.

There is no doubt that the Netherlands does infrastructure "better" but he delivers that lesson in an extremely "better than thou" attitude and misrepresents what both America (and especially Canada) and the Netherlands are.

I seriously feel like most people in Canada have a very skewed view of what life is like for most in Europe. Outside of the cores of the big cities, it's generally pretty similar to suburban Toronto in that there is a lot of car use but also a decent amount of transit use. The built forms are just substantially different (though not always better).

I mean this is suburban Utrecht:


Does it really look all that different than suburban Markham?

 
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Mr Finish Line

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His criticism is generally correct, but I did have to stop watching the videos because he is so sanctimonious and patronizing. It's pretty easy to call North Americans stupid from Amsterdam, but most planners and urbanists have known the solutions long before the guy started his youtube channel (probably before he was born). He's not the first, or the only person criticizing Canadian infrastructure. The people who have their life dedicated to fighting for improvement deserve credit for doing what, up util the last decade, has been a thankless job.

One of the steps in improving infrastructure is having a solvent city. Considering the state of London at various points in history, there have been a lot of savvy decisions that are leading to, not just new infrastructure, but new private sector investment and new urban real estate investment. (obviously there have been bad decisions as well) Basically-- London is a troubled but improving town when it could have, just as easily, become a dying city akin to some US counterparts. If you are going to use Oulu, or Utrecht as a case study then you also have to include Flint, or Gary Indiana as a comparison as well.
That's the whole point of his channel, to show North Americans why the Netherlands is the best at city design, which is why he moved there.

If our planners here knew how to design cities well since before he was born, then they sure did a poor job executing it. Yes there have been urbanists who have known all along that we were building wrong, but most of them didn't build an audience of hundreds of thousands of people with millions of views spreading the urbanist gospel. Jason's blunt and critical style might rub some the wrong way but I'm sure it is a driving reason for the channel's popularity.

The solvent city is a great point, which NJB goes into detail on with the Strong Towns series. City finances are very much related to urban design, which relates to transit vs car infrastructure - trying to keep it relevant to this thread.

(Gary is really a Hamilton analog, not London. It was massively dominated by the steel industry and when that dried up so did the town)
 

innsertnamehere

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it's good entertainment but hardly a truly relevant video with a lot of actual insight. More of a "look at this bad intersection in Texas and this good one in Amsterdam" - cool, no sh*t. There is rarely any insight on how those spaces in Texas could actually be improved.
 

Mr Finish Line

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his videos are based on a valid point but his attitude is indeed generally quite pompous generally and for that reason I find his videos very annoying to watch.

Suburban Amsterdam is indeed much nicer than suburban London, ON but SSIGUY has a point that comparing downtown Amsterdam or inner city Amsterdam with Oxford and Wonderland is a bit disingenious.

He also always acts like the Netherlands is basically car-free and everyone just flutters around on bikes absolutely everywhere, ignoring that the Netherlands has built far more car infrastructure in the last decade than Canada has and how it's modal shares actually aren't that different than the GTA and that vehicle-miles per capita are only marginally lower despite being a substantially denser, smaller country.

There is no doubt that the Netherlands does infrastructure "better" but he delivers that lesson in an extremely "better than thou" attitude and misrepresents what both America (and especially Canada) and the Netherlands are.

I seriously feel like most people in Canada have a very skewed view of what life is like for most in Europe. Outside of the cores of the big cities, it's generally pretty similar to suburban Toronto in that there is a lot of car use but also a decent amount of transit use. The built forms are just substantially different (though not always better).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share Amsterdam (municipal population 875,000) has a modal share of 40% cycling, 29% transit, 27% driving. London isn't on that list, but for Canadian cities < 1,000,000 the lowest driving modal share is 70% in Victoria.

Keeping the NL and London comparison theme going, let's look at Utrecht, population 360,000, slightly smaller than London's 383,000. Density: Utrecht 3,800 people/km^2, London 900 people/km^2. That's a big difference, and it can make all the difference towards supporting a city's budget and transportation infrastructure.
 

Ward8

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If our planners here knew how to design cities well since before he was born, then they sure did a poor job executing it. Yes there have been urbanists who have known all along that we were building wrong, but most of them didn't build an audience of hundreds of thousands of people with millions of views spreading the urbanist gospel. Jason's blunt and critical style might rub some the right way but I'm sure it is a driving reason for the channel's popularity.

The solvent city is a great point, which NJB goes into detail on with the Strong Towns series. City finances are very much related to urban design, which relates to transit vs car infrastructure - trying to keep it relevant to this thread.
I mean, to point out the obvious, Jane Jacobs is probably the most important urbanist of the last 150 years. She gave us genuine insight. Beyond that, there is a big difference between what planners believe and what council approves. This is a problem across Canada and London is no exception. I don't know for sure, but I would guess there is a difference between the personal beliefs of London city planners and what they are able to achieve democratically at this moment in time (let alone 10 years ago).

With regards to city finances. This is exactly what I mean. They are a 1950s built form. It's hard to keep your head above water with that infrastructure to tax base ratio. They're scrambling to spend federal money for the BRT, which is unconscionable, but from a Macro perspective, they are trending towards improvement. The Netherlands has more people than all of Ontario with relatively tiny geographic footprint. Roughly London to Bellville to Owen sound. Their infatuation with car focused planning was a blip on the radar compared to a city like London. They aren't analogous in any way, although we can learn a lot from them. We also need home grown solutions for our specific post war problems. Good, reliable, and frequent suburban bus service is one of these things.
 

Mr Finish Line

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I mean this is suburban Utrecht:


Does it really look all that different than suburban Markham?


Yes it does.
1) Bike access - you can see the connecting bike paths that parallel the arterial road in Utrecht. In Markham good luck surviving on 16th Ave on a bike.
2) Density - look around on street view. I can't find any single detached houses in that area in Utrecht. I also don't see any garages, much narrow streets, and just generally more compact housing, mostly townhouses with some semis. In Markham I see every single house with a garage, lots of 2 car garage laneways, and only townhouses along 16th Ave.

That Utrecht suburb probably has triple the density of the Markham one.
 

innsertnamehere

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share Amsterdam (municipal population 875,000) has a modal share of 40% cycling, 29% transit, 27% driving. London isn't on that list, but for Canadian cities < 1,000,000 the lowest driving modal share is 70% in Victoria.

Keeping the NL and London comparison theme going, let's look at Utrecht, population 360,000, slightly smaller than London's 383,000. Density: Utrecht 3,800 people/km^2, London 900 people/km^2. That's a big difference, and it can make all the difference towards supporting a city's budget and transportation infrastructure.
Amsterdam is the largest centre of a wider metro of 2.5 million and is a part of the wider Randstand Region which largely functions as a single region with a population of about 8.5 million.

Vancouver is about 2.7 million people and it's central municipality had a modal share of about 45% automotive, and dropping. So not that far off.

Netherlands does have lower auto modal shares and vmts and auto ownership rates than Canada, but the vast majority of trips made nation-wide remain by car.
 

denfromoakvillemilton

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"At least we're not Flint or Gary...."

A great endorsement of London. Keep up those high standards.

You know what the difference is between a C and B student? The B student looks up to those who gets As. The C student use the D student to excuse their laziness and mediocrity.

Let's be clear. Passing up infrastructure funding where higher levels of government are paying 70¢ on the dollar is a boneaded, shortsighted decision, not at all driven by long term financial considerations. Financial solvency my ass. How solvent do you think they'll be if they decide to build a few more road widening projects and have to maintain all that in to the future with a low density, low (tax) yield base?
Want to like this again. You need to keep talking because they don't get it. 25 years ago no one knew or cared about Markham/Vaughan and now that strip along Highway 7 is much more prominent than London.
 

innsertnamehere

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Yes it does.
1) Bike access - you can see the connecting bike paths that parallel the arterial road in Utrecht. In Markham good luck surviving on 16th Ave on a bike.
2) Density - look around on street view. I can't find any single detached houses in that area in Utrecht. I also don't see any garages, much narrow streets, and just generally more compact housing, mostly townhouses with some semis. In Markham I see every single house with a garage, lots of 2 car garage laneways, and only townhouses along 16th Ave.

That Utrecht suburb probably has triple the density of the Markham one.
1. 16th avenue has a dedicated cycle path along it as well, and on both sides of the road to boot. Did you even look?

2. It is mostly townhouses in Utrecht which is what I said about built form but there is also substantially more open space. The 2-lane collector road in the Utrecht image is 65m building-face to building-face, while 16th Avenue is only 45m. Every townhouse in Utrecht also has 2 parking spaces, same as the markham houses, they are just in the open air directly in front of the house entrance instead of a garage at the back of the property.

The houses in Markham are also technically detached but only have like a metre between properties. It's not exactly low density. The Utrecht example is probably indeed slightly denser.. but the built form isn't a world away, even if it isn't a spitting image.

The problem is Not Just Bikes compares the best of the Netherlands to the worst of Canada and treats it as a fair comparison while in reality both countries have a wide spread of built forms, mobility options and choices, and densities.

I mean you can always play games with these types of pointless comparisons.

Look at this terrible sprawl in the Netherlands!:


And this amazing, cycle-freindly density in Canada!


And wow - America knows how to build beautiful cities:



 
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