Random thoughts

The sidewalk is dying: long live the sidewalk!

Sidewalks underpin the right to the city Sidewalks are basic urban infrastructure. They have a variety of prosaic yet critical functions. If well maintained and designed, they provide space for pedestrians to walk that is protected from traffic (because slightly elevated with a curb), that is dry (the curb canalises run-off water), and can encourageContinue reading “The sidewalk is dying: long live the sidewalk!”

The debate about Montreal’s REM-Est: using technology to obfuscate wider questions

The problem: infrastructure by diktat There is heated debated in Québec about Montreal’s planned light-rail line towards the East of the city (REM-Est). When I say ‘planned’, I am exaggerating. The Québec government has granted autarkic powers to CDPQ Infra, the infrastructure investment wing of the province’s massive pension fund. Under the pretense that theContinue reading “The debate about Montreal’s REM-Est: using technology to obfuscate wider questions”

Montreal’s road-work charter: a small step for citizens, a giant leap for Montreal

On 11th May the City of Montreal announced its (very welcome) road-work charter. For a moment I had a dream. The dream of coordination I dreamt that road works would now be coordinated, along the lines outlined for New York. I dreamt that all City departments (transport, infrastructure, parks, water, waste management…) would enter theirContinue reading “Montreal’s road-work charter: a small step for citizens, a giant leap for Montreal”

How to further segregate cities: work-from-home and 15-minutes

Allow me a brief thought-experiment. Let us imagine, for a moment, that the dream of many office workers is realised: henceforth they permanently work-from-home, saving on commute time and costs. No more pesky interruptions, no more tiresome colleagues, no more central business district, no more office buildings! Let us further imagine that their lives areContinue reading “How to further segregate cities: work-from-home and 15-minutes”

Is urban planning reverting to modernism?

Those of you with the leisure and patience to read some of my blogs may have noted a recurring structure to their argument. I briefly describe a popular idea or position (e.g. 15-minute cities, cycling, electric-cars, heritage protection…); I then acknowledge the benefits of the idea but discuss some complicating factors. My point of contentionContinue reading “Is urban planning reverting to modernism?”

Montreal isn’t Copenhagen: an illustrated bike story

Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, remarks that she isn’t in Kansas. As I cycle around Montreal, thinking urban(e?) thoughts on this beautiful spring day, I realise I’m not in Copenhagen. Neither am I in Rimouski, Oslo, Norwich, Toluca or St-Rémy-de-Provence… so why am I specifically not in Copenhagen? This city is often put forwardContinue reading “Montreal isn’t Copenhagen: an illustrated bike story”


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