Accepting Imperfection

The Big City has some great photos of London's new Bicycle Superhighway. Go ahead and click through to check them all out.

(from Flickr user Matthew Black)

As you can see, the superhighway isn't without its issues. I'm not really surprised, although I imagine a few optimists will feel disappointed. London's superhighway is still a great concept that other cities should seriously look at. At the same time, it shouldn't be blindly copied and its shortcomings shouldn't be ignored.

To me, this is a lot like Cleveland's Healthline BRT, something I've about quit a bit over the past few years. It's not that the Healthline doesn't have good qualities and do some things well.. it's that it's far from perfect.

When we look at other cities as models for urban design, there's a huge temptation to ignore the drawbacks that other city is facing, and just say: Hey, let's do this. It's totally awesome and working out great for this other city. That's a dangerous thing to do, because when we don't accept the imperfections, we can't fix the problems. And we ultimately risk failing to deliver on the promises that were given in order to win support for the project in the first place.


    On November 02, 2010 David, London said...

    I really like your blog! The London 'Superhighways', however, is a joke and very typical of the British approach in general and the conservative government in particular. "Let's make a huge sing and dance about something that really isn't anything more than cycle lanes painted blue." To top it all off they manage to paint half of London in the exact same shade of blue as Barclays, the corporate sponsor of the scheme. London has big problems with cycling and safety as enormous amounts of people cycle, yet minimal investments have been made to ensure this is done safely. Meanwhile, places like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands have had fantastic cycle "superhighways" for decades making cycling not only safer but a lot more pleasant.