Stargate SG-1 season 2

In season 2 Stargate SG-1 really starts to come into its own, with solid episodes.
(Note: see previous post for season 1.)

2×01 The Serpent’s Lair – a key episode that concludes the 1×22 cliffhanger – watch

2×02 In the Line of Duty – Jolinar – a key episode – watch

2×03 Prisoners – Linea – a good episode – watch

2×04 The Gamekeeper – this is ok, although the eccentric performance by Dwight Schultz detracts from the overall tone – skip

2×05 Need – this is ok – introduces new concept about the sarcophagus – watch

2×06 Thor’s Chariot – a key episode – watch

2×07 Message in a Bottle – this is ok – watch

2×08 Family – a key episode, if not a particularly strong one – watch

2×09 Secrets – Kasuf and Jacob Carter – a good episode – watch

2×10 Bane – this is an ok episode, but a standalone – watch

2×11/2×12 The Tok’ra – key episodes – watch

2×13 Spirits – this is a reasonable attempt to do a respectful episode – watch

2×14 Touchstone – an NID episode – people in warehouses on Earth, plus a bunch of veiled conspiracy dialogue – like all of the NID plotline, a boring X-files attempt (they never should have done the entire NID arc) – skip

2×15 The Fifth Race – a key episode – watch

2×16 A Matter of Time – an ok episode – watch

2×17 Holiday – reasonably entertaining – watch

This episode also happens to be the single most popular one (in Neilsen ratings) of the entire series.

Holiday gained a 4.2 rating on the Nielsen ratings, making it Stargate SG-1’s strongest episode in its ten-season run.

Above from Stargate SG-1 season 2 on Wikipedia.

2×18 Serpent’s Song – a good episode, and a key one – watch

2×19 One False Step – an excellent episode – watch

Depicting actual aliens is very hard, because by definition they are alien – you can’t understand what they are doing.  This episode does a very good job of depicting the confusion of an actual alien encounter.

2×20 Show and Tell – the Re’tu – an ok episode – watch

2×21 1969 – this is a good episode – watch

2×22 Out of Mind – a clip show – skip

Stargate SG-1 season 1

What should you watch?

Note that iTunes combines 1×01 and 1×02 into a single episode, so if you’re using iTunes, subtract one from the episode number (e.g. 1×03 is iTunes episode 2).

It takes them a while to settle in to the show, episodes 4-6 are not great. I feel bad for them as actors though, they must have been wondering what they had gotten themselves into filming outdoors in BC, as they must have been freezing for the first episodes (their breath is clearly visible in the early episodes, and even in some later ones).

1×01/1×02 Children of the Gods – Key introduction – watch

In Canadian iTunes at least, Children of the Gods shows rather more of Sha’re than one might expect (this was part of the original aired version).

1×03 The Enemy Within – Kawalsky – watch

1×04 Emancipation – terrible – skip

This is generally considered by critics as one of the worst episodes of the series. The Sci-Fi Channel (and possibly the production team) seems to hold it in similar disdain, because it is rarely if ever re-run in syndication. Almost always, when the series is rerunning from the very beginning it simply skips straight from “The Enemy Within” to “The Broca Divide“.

Above info from Stargate Wikia.

1×05 The Broca Divide – all you need to know from this one is they discover the Land of Light – skip

1×06 The First Commandment – all you need to know from this one is SG teams can sometimes go awry – it’s watchable, but not necessary – skip

1×07 Cold Lazarus – this is a good episode with a weak and somewhat disturbing ending – if you watch, stop at 38:54 (or immediately after Jack says “no, he’s in here”)

The main group of key episodes begins with 1×08, when the show finally starts to hit its stride in terms of characters and stories.

1×08 The Nox – a key episode – watch

1×09 Brief Candle – this is fluff, but ok – watch

1×10 Thor’s Hammer – a key episode – watch

1×11 The Torment of Tantalus – Catherine Langford – a key episode – watch

1×12 Bloodlines – Master Bra’tac!  err and Rya’c and Drey’auc – a key episode – watch

1×13 Fire and Water – a very good episode – watch

1×14 Hathor – a bit hokey and with some plot issues, but a key episode – watch

1×15 Singularity – Cassandra – watch

1×16 Cor-ai – a good episode which raises some key issues about Teal’c which haven’t been previously addressed, marred by a weak ending – watch

1×17 Enigma – a key episode, albeit one with some plot flaws and issues – introduces the Tollan – watch

This episode does a good job of linking together some elements from previous ones (even though there are only a few preceding episodes).  It demonstrates that Stargate SG-1 is telling one connected story, not just a bunch of isolated episodes.  On the downside, this is the first appearance of Maybourne and the tedious NID plotline.

1×18 Solitudes – this is a very good episode, and also a key episode – watch

The General, Dr. Jackson and Teal’c do seem to arrive at their eventual destination rather more quickly than should be possible though.

1×19 Tin Man – this is a good episode, and Jay Brazeau (Harlan) does a good job of making his character amusing – watch

1×20 There but for the Grace of God – this is a mirror episode and is overall good, although the command decisions that are made seem highly improbable – it provides some key information that sets up the finale – watch

1×21 Politics – clip show, although it takes a long time to get to the clips (15 minutes in) – all you really need to see (at most) is the first 3 minutes, which is a direct sequel to 1×20 (direct as in, a few minutes or at most a few hours later) – introduces Senator Kinsey, who is part of many tedious future storylines – skip

Features some remarkably high levels of confrontation and a final scene extreme in its rancor and improbable appeals to a particular flavour of stereotypical American beliefs.  Drama through shouting.

1×22 Within the Serpent’s Grasp – season finale – a key episode and well done – watch

Directly followed by conclusion in 2×01 The Serpent’s Lair.

Season 2 episodes examined (although in general you can watch all of them) in followup post: Stargate SG-1 season 2.

a 2km MUP from Blair Station to La Cité collégiale

In thought exercise: cycling north from Blair Station I imagined what a MUP from Blair Station connecting up to the new CSEC MUP would look like.

If you extend the MUP up to La Cité collégiale it comes out at just over 2.25km.

This would make Blair Station a short bike ride to and from La Cité collégiale, the NRC campus, and CSEC.  It also gives you tons of catchment from the houses on the west side of Bathgate.

UPDATE: Feedback from planner added at bottom.  ENDUPDATE

It would look something like this yellow line

Screen Shot - Google Earth - Bathgate MUP - flat

(You can ignore the dots, it’s just because I’m making straight-line segments for Google Earth to measure the path. Some of the dots indicate intersections but most are just to get the line around curves.)

UPDATE 2014-07-01: It would be bidiectional and run where the sidewalk is now along the north side of City Park Drive, turning to the east side of City Park Drive and continuing up the east side of Bathgate Drive. The current sidewalk along the west side of Bathgate and west side of City Park turning into south side would be unchanged. ENDUPDATE

Why not ride on the street? Well the speed “limit” on Bathgate is 40 near Ogilvie and then turns into 50 once it’s in the straightaway. A long unobstructed view means people are going to be going much faster than 50. And cars going much faster than 50 plus cyclists means a dead cyclist if there’s a collision. Which is why you always separate cyclists above 30km/h.

One concern might be that the sidewalk that this MUP would replace may be too busy.

One way is to use Google Street View to count the pedestrians along the route.  From start to finish I count 3, although none of the new CSEC-adjacent Bathgate east sidewalk existed when they did the streetview (there were east sidewalk segments before and after that portion on Bathgate).

Another way is to walk the route.  So I took 51 photos, on three different days, at different times of day.  Here are 5 example photos.  You decide whether this sidewalk is too busy to make into a MUP.

IMG_9062-20140514

IMG_9085-20140514

IMG_9204-20140520

IMG_9221-20140520

IMG_1403-1131403-20140521

See the complete collection: Bathgate MUP collection
or the individual photo sets:
south to Blair Station – May 14, 2014;
north from Blair Station – May 20, 2014;
north from Blair Station – May 21, 2014.

This really should have been covered in the Blair Station TOD study.  But the survey is 600m directly centred on the station, even though the access from the south means crossing the Queensway, which makes it extremely difficult and unlikely to get many sources or destinations there.  I think they should have considered the employment and school to the north of Ogilvie as destinations, since there are thousands of government employees and students going there every weekday.  Additionally they should have considered the housing north of Ogilvie as sources of transit users.  And a good cycling network would make for a much larger catchment area.

The Blair Station TOD is impossible to find on the city’s website, but I found this: TOD Plans Nov 27, 2013 Part 1 draft (PDF), TOD Plans Nov 27, 2013 Part 2 draft (PDF), TOD Plans Nov 27, 2013 Part 3 draft (PDF) at ottwatch.ca

You can also see the outdated posterboards at http://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/documents.ottawa.ca/files/documents/tod_boards_24.pdf  Beware: in the June 2013 posterboards orange dots are “future on-street bicycle lane”, whereas in the Oct 2013 slide from the Nov 2013 draft, orange dots are “future dedicated cycling facility”.  Does “dedicated cycling facility” mean a separated lane?  I would hope so, but I don’t know.  The cycling on the June 2013 poster is also a different mix than the Oct 2013 draft slide below.

Blair TOD cycling 2013-11-27 draft

The proposal is… just not quite right.  The green dotted future MUP is on the wrong side, the south side of City Park Drive, which has many more car entrances and exits and more foot traffic.  The little strip of orange dotted dedicated cycling facility on City Park Drive north is nice, but it doesn’t connect to anything.  You go from a MUP on the south side of the street, then ??? to a dedicated lane on the east side of the street for a few metres, and then you’re at Ogilvie, which is an incredibly dangerous multi-lane speedway.

The path they want you to take, I guess, is to take a future MUP east from Blair Station to a future dedicated cycling facility on Blair, get across to the east side of Blair, ride for a few metres and then get dumped onto dangeous unprotected cycling up Blair north of Ogilvie.  This delivers no one to the school, doesn’t connect to the CSEC MUP, and has you unprotected in fast suburban traffic with lots of intersections up Blair.

CSEC is new.  The time to do an intervention for people’s travel habits is when they first start working at a new location.  That’s not me talking, that’s Dr David Halpern, Director of the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK, speaking at the Canada School of Public Service (or similar talks he’s given).  The time to put in a MUP to get people cycling from the bus and future train to CSEC is now.  Once they start driving, you will never shift their commute.

In an ideal world this should have been addressed when they spent a fortune making a bright new empty sidewalk along Bathgate Drive that connects to a CSEC MUP.

(As a side note, this MUP would greatly benefit from a large, secure bike storage area at Blair Station; additionally it would be nice if we could take bikes on the future train during commuting hours.)

The lead on the Blair Station TOD was

Peter Giles
613-580-2424, ext. 21667
Fax: 613-580-2459
E-mail: Peter.Giles@ottawa.ca

- contact info from LRT Station Area Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Studies – Overview


UPDATE: I contacted Mr. Giles and shared this blog post with him.  He provided me with more information and with thoughtful feedback.  He wasn’t able to provide the full Blair TOD as it seems the city’s systems simply can’t provide it online (this seems to be a recurring and serious issue in terms of citizen engagement with planning).

He indicated that the primary focus of the TOD plans is zoning, and to “protect pedestrian and cycling connections in the immediate station area (within 800m walk of the station platform)”.  Anything else in terms of connections is supposed to go in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and Infrastructure Master Plan.

He provided me with a link to the Transportation Master Plan Primary Urban Cycling Map (PDF).  It has Blair as a “spine route” and no infrastructure on Bathgate.  Extract of the relevant section below – thick green is Cross-town Bikeway (the main Ottawa cycling route), blue is Spine Route and red and I’m guessing lowest quality/priority is Major Pathway.  Aviation Parkway gets a Major Pathway.  My personal opinion is that having Spine Routes on multi-lane suburban speedways like Blair (the n-s blue line on the right), Ogilvie, Montreal Road and St. Laurent just puts cyclists at enormous risk without bringing any infrastructure or modal shift benefits.

TMP Primary Urban Cycling - Blair Station extract

Blair Station and north to just below Metz Crescent (roughly half-way up Bathgate) is Ward 11 – Councillor Tim Tierney.  (Ward 11 map PDF.)

La Cité collégiale is between Den Haag in the north and Des Pionniers in the south, which is Ward 13 – Councillor Peter Clark.  (Ward 13 map PDF.)

ENDUPDATE

thought exercise: cycling north from Blair Station

blair_station_cycling-crop

Red: pedestrian and cyclist contention, or crossing intersection (car and cyclist contention)
Yellow: some pedestrian and cyclist contention
Green: no pedestrian and cyclist contention
Cyan: multi-use pathway (MUP)

Section 1: some pedestrians
Section 2: Basically zero pedestrians.  While this may look like it fronts on houses, they are suburban mall houses, with a giant wall all along the sidewalk (see image below).
Section 3: Very dangerous crossing of Ogilvie.
Section 4: This fronts on a drive-in Starbucks and an old-age home, so in theory there could be some pedestrians.

CSE MUP: public multi-use pathway (currently closed while CSE in under construction; see image below)

I’m not proposing this as an ideal route.  It’s just a thought exercise about how a cyclist could actually get safely (i.e. not on the road) from Blair Station to the NRC campus (or with a longer route to Cite Collegiale).  I’m not a vehicular cyclist and I will never be.  I’m certainly not a suburban mall and highway vehicular cyclist.  The sidewalks selected are basically unused (they don’t front on anything but fence, blank building walls and trees), I can’t imagine they get more than a dozen pedestrians a day.  You’d want to count pedestrians and if the numbers made sense, change the sidewalks to be multi-use pathways.  You’d also want to do some work around the bus stops and particularly at the Ogilvie crossing to make it safe for everyone.

If you want to add Cite Collegiale you basically make the entire east-side sidewalk on Bathgate a MUP.  The entire east sidewalk north past the old-age home fronts on uninterrupted government-owned trees, no one walks there.  You’d just need to figure out some treatment around the few bus stops.

Ideally there would also be secure bike parking at Blair Station, for people who don’t want to take their bike back and forth on the (forthcoming) train.

This also assumes that the central road through the NRC campus continues to be blocked as it is now, so that pedestrians and cyclists have to use either Bathgate or Blair to go north.

Transit-Oriented Development?

I thought enabling this kind of cycling connectivity was part of the planning they would do in the Blair Station Transit-Oriented Development plan, but it isn’t.  The TOD plans have two built-in assumptions:

  1. Because the LRT is commuter rail, you are arriving from elsewhere.  As far as the TOD plans are concerned, no one lives or works near the LRT stations (where near is a 20 minute walk or ~5 minute bike ride).
  2. When you arrive, you work or live directly within the 800m station zone, in some mixed-use fantasy development that spontaneously springs up in what are currently parking lots around single-level malls.  You are enclosed in the station zone, which exists in total isolation.  It’s basically just the suburban office park next to a mall, with more residential and towers.

That kind of development does happen to some extent outside Vancouver, but Vancouver housing costs a bajillion dollars, and this kind of development basically gives you enclosed nodes, not stations as the new village centres for existing housing and employment.

“Burnaby doesn’t have a traditional downtown centre, like in Langley or Maple Ridge or Chilliwack,” Mr. Geller said. “Burnaby has a collection of shopping districts and business parks.”

from Globe and Mail –  Transit fuelling Burnaby’s growth – March 6, 2013

This is not modern development.  This is just Place du Portage with housing and a bunch of theoretical walking and cycling and public space amenities that no one will ever use.  Inward-facing, isolated from the surrounding context.

You can see from the September 2013 TOD information session that the Blair scope includes mostly the mall and its parking lots, and a tiny skim of housing surrounding it.  The vast housing to the north and the major employment and school nodes to the north get not even a sketch of connectivity.

Blair TOD – Pedestrian and Cycling Network (PDF) – all on-street cycling.  In the suburbs.  Where no one expects to see a bike.  Particularly laughable is the existing cycling on Ogilvie, which by putting cyclists in high-speed traffic is roughly like aiming bullets at the cyclists and seeing if they can dodge.  Other than vague-at-best “bike on the road and get there somehow” there’s no indication of how commuters would get by bike from Blair to CSE, CSIS, NRC (all with thousands of workers minutes from the station) or to Cite Collegiale.

Blair TOD – Street Network (PDF) on the other hand has bold black lines of car traffic arrowing everywhere.  Who would ever walk or cycle to or from a station?  Park-and-ride or “kiss-and-ride” are clearly the main modes imagined.

Blair TOD – Conceptual Images A (PDF) shows a fantasy of the mall turning into parkland and mid-rise.

The actual streetscape

The suburban housing shield wall ensuring almost no one will set foot on the City Park north and east sidewalk curve.

City Park Drive - wall

The new CSE MUP has very nice signage.  Unfortunately the MUP is blocked off until the end of construction I guess.

CSE MUP 1

CSE MUP 2

why they’re called accidents – and how to change

Why

Car crashes are called accidents in part because that’s the official international classification.  The system is called International Classification of Diseases (ICD).  It assigns a category for every possible cause of death.

In ICD10 the categorization is:

External causes of morbidity and mortality
– subsection Accidents
— subsubsection Transport Accidents (V01-V99)

one can also include Y85 Sequelae of transport accidents, which basically means the car crash was the initial cause, but the death came later.

The issues are

1) The mid-category “Accidents” is reported, not the actual category “Transport Accidents”
2) It shouldn’t be called accidents in the case of transport
3) Transport deaths are in the same subcategory as falling down, when they are clearly qualitatively different

In ICD11 beta this is improved, but still problematic:

External causes of morbidity and mortality
– Unintentional causes
Transport injury events

This is better but still obscures the magnitude of transport injury. The fix is very simple.  You move Transport injury events up one level

External causes of morbidity and mortality
– Transport injury events

This may seem like nit-picking, but car crashes are a larger cause of death than malaria or tuberculosis.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 15-24 in Canada.  This shouldn’t be buried three levels down.

How to change

The ICD11 beta was opened to the public in May 2012 but you can still participate in the revision.  Information here http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/revision/en/

Be aware that it will be very very difficult to get the classification changed.

making commuting delightful

On November 26, Ottawa City Council unanimously passed the Official Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Ottawa Cycling Plan and Ottawa Pedestrian Plan.

Some of the highlights of the plans include:

• Investing $3 billion in public transit to build on the Confederation Line by extending rail further East, West and South of the City
• Bringing 270,000 more residents within five kilometres of LRT and ensuring that close to 700,000 residents (67 per cent of the population) will have ease of access to rapid transit

From ottawa.ca/liveableottawa

So that’s ~$2 billion for the Confederation Line from Tunney’s to Blair, plus $3 billion for LRT from Bayshore to Place d’Orleans, plus existing double-tracking of the O-train and new O-trains, plus extending the O-train.  Plus BRT to Kanata.  $5 billion.  To 2025.

stage2_brochure_final-Proposed_LRT

This is not a tram.  It is grade-separated commuter rail.  “Grade-separated” is a fancy way of saying the train never intersects with road traffic – it always goes beside, above, or under an road.  It never has to wait for cars and cars never have to wait for it.  (I think all of the LRT is grade-separated, I’m not sure if all of the O-train is.)  During the commuting peak, this train will run very frequently and very reliably.

This, in other words, is five billion dollars of being delightful to commuters.  This is a choice.

Ottawa and the NCC have had world-leading urban and transportation planners come and speak, including Jan Gehl, Ken Greenberg and Jeffrey Tumlin.

They all, without exception, said that we should be delightful… to pedestrians.  To pedestrians first, and then if we can, to cyclists.  (This is Tumlin’s terminology.  Gehl would say something like “invite pedestrians to walk and linger in the city and disinvite the car; you get what you invite” but it amounts to the same thing.)

It is incredibly cheap to be nice to pedestrians.  Flat sidewalks.  Shoveled clear sidewalks and intersections in the winter (not just plowed; the plow leaves a layer of snow on the sidewalk and a giant pile of slush in the intersection).  Pedestrian priority for crosswalks.  Traffic enforcement (particularly left and right turns on red, which should be banned at busy intersections).  Speed  enforcement, through road design (to 30km/h anywhere in the city, and 10km/h anywhere residential).  Interesting things to see, shops at ground level.  This costs, seriously, nothing compared to roads and rail.  A few tens of millions of dollars for delight.

This is not crazy.  This is Copenhagen, Paris, London, New York, … this is every city that wants to attract a creative workforce, with high wages and high property values.

Instead, after listening to expert after expert, Ottawa is bowing to the suburban ring outside the city core, and making the commute delightful.

This does almost nothing for the city life itself, because the commute is a weird twice daily peak event.  From roughly 8 to 9, hundreds of thousands of people try to jam themselves as quickly as possible from their homes in the suburbs to their offices.

Note I didn’t say to the city.  This 1950s model of commuting is basically a teleporter fantasy we try to implement using cars and trains.  Ideally you step into your car inside your home garage, and minutes later, preferably without paying much attention, you “appear” inside your work garage.    In the evening, reverse.  This is not anything to do with city life.  This could be taking people from anywhere to anywhere.  This is basically a giant piston, shoving people in in the morning and out at night.

For commuters, the train must be frequent, fast and reliable.  Say every 5-10 minutes.  With minimal and very fast changes.  So we have to scale the system to handle the peak of the peak.  Hundreds of thousands.  You don’t need to spend time on the waiting area, because no one will be waiting long.

But outside the peak, this is a ridiculous system.  You have a commuter rail system designed to push hundreds of thousands in an hour, that then has almost nothing to do for the rest of the day.  A trickle of some thousands throughout the rest of the day.  Hardly worth running it very often.

So basically it’s $5 billion dollars for 10 hours a week (8-9, 5-6, M-F).  This is not counting billions more for highway widening and extension, for the commuters you don’t shift to rail.

So the people during the day who are actually moving around the city get to stand in the uncovered stations by the tracks in the middle of winter and wait, because they’re not commuters, so the train won’t be running very often.  And mostly the rail takes you to malls and schools and employment nodes, not interesting neighbourhoods with local shops.  And if you want to move around downtown – well it’s the bus for you, and an unheated shelter, if you’re lucky.

You can use Transit-Oriented Design to make the commuter train look less ridiculous, to give people a reason to use the train to get around from station to station during the day.  But unless you do it well, you’re just going to get a vertical suburb at the station, not what TOD is supposed to be, which is a walkable village around the station.

What you actually do in a real city is have commuter rail AND local rail (trams and if necessary subways) AND bus AND cycling AND most importantly of all, delightful walking.  What people remember of Paris is walking around.  Most people never touch the commuter rail, the RER.  If they do, they find it empty and often a bit dismal (a lot of graffiti and neglect).  What Ottawa is choosing is to build a city with RER and basically nothing else, for decades.  No trams (a tram is rail that runs on the street, with stops at the edge of the sidewalk).  No delightful walking.  No (also incredibly cheap) separated bike lanes, just painted lines that protect no one from tonnes of speeding steel.

This is council’s choice to make.  As a commuter rail system, it will be pretty good.  It will do nothing to transform the life of the city though.  It is a suburb-sustaining project, not a city-building project.  It is much, much better than spending the money on roads.  But a tiny fraction of it, 10% of it, would build some of the best pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the entire world.  Council chooses again and again not to do this.  The winter pedestrian experience tells you, day after day, month after month: you are not important, you are not valued, only cars are important.  The cycling experience tells you: your safety is not important, you are not valued, only cars are important.

Here’s the thing: you can’t solve the commute.  Can’t.  No billions, no design, no transportation in the world can solve moving a giant peak load of people tens of kilometres in two one-hour windows.  If I were writing this in 1950 you could scoff.  But you can see the lanes widen year after year, and yet the commute doesn’t get solved.  Because you can’t solve it.  You can only eliminate the factors that cause it, of which the main one is people living a long way away from work.  The solution to the commute is to replace the commute with an actual liveable city where people walk and cycle short distances for work and shopping and friends, and ride the rails for very rare long distance excursions.

Instead commuter rail is a choice that will sustain a grey generic suburban city.  That’s our future.  That’s the will of council.

from the bike to the car, and getting back

We in North America are not far away in time from all being poor and rural.

In that world, people used to walk (or sometime run) everywhere.  Even having a bike was rare.

In such a world, a car is a revelation.  A car really is freedom.  Hours of walking turned into minutes of driving.  And even in the most extensively train-connected environment, for example even in France, a car is still hugely convenient for getting around rural areas.  We’re never going to run train tracks to everyone’s doorstep.  The car is a fantastic rural technology.  It wipes out distance constraints that are incredibly painful in time and effort.

Read any story or history of Europe or North America anywhere outside a city, from 1800 up to the end of WWII.  Circa 1850 people used to walk across the entire United States to get to California.  We’re only 160 years away from that.

People in Africa walking miles to school or days to a hospital is not some weird alien world.  It’s just us, before we could afford cars and mostly moved into cities.  Which is very very recent.  Say 60 years ago.

So you can see how hard it is to make the argument to go slower.  If you said to someone who has to walk two hours to their fields or to school, if you said “the car sucks, isn’t it great being a pedestrian?” they would think you were out of your mind.

What happened was that for the rural people, for whom the car was both an incredible status symbol but much more importantly a huge convenience, and for the people living downtown who could finally go and see the surrounding countryside upon a Sunday, for them the car was amazing.

We didn’t understand that it was a completely inappropriate technology for cities.

All of this to say, watch Gapminder’s Don’t Panic about population and wealth, and remember we’re looking down from the top of a very recent, very high income and very high urbanisation peak, down on people who live on a dollar a day in rural villages.  It’s for us with the information and wealth we have now to use appropriate technologies (like walking, cycling and transit in cities).  It’s not for us to tell everyone they should deny themselves a step up in life.  Watch the guy buy his first bike.  Think how much better his life would be with a car.  It’s not that the car was a mistake.  It’s the car in the city that’s the mistake.  See his excitement and understand how we got from North American rural poverty to a North American obsession with the car.  The car really was wealth and freedom.  For a time.

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/dont-panic-the-facts-about-population/

The good news: we’re already rich.  Now we just have to be rich and smart.