Cities with the Best Transportation Systems

One of the most important factors for city to be successful is a good transportation system. Actually, a convenient public transportation system is often a motivator for many people to move into particular neighborhoods and cities, because it provides an opportunity to easily get to any place needed in short period of time. There is no need to drive a car and spend a lot of money on gasoline. Public transportation is what ensures convenient movement, so here is a list of the cities with best transportation systems in the world and methods how they have achieved that.

There is no wonder that Germany is a leader in transportation and Berlin has one of the most successful transportation systems in the world. There is enormous underground transportation system called the U-Bahn that covers more than 132 kilometers of the city. This system runs trains every two minutes, so public transportation in this city is very available. It is linked with other transportation systems of the city, so different types of transportation can be easily connected. Also public transportation in Berlin is recognized as one of the safest in the world.

Probably also London, England is no surprise. It has the oldest underground network in the world, which is 400 kilometers long. Also it is the more used transportation system in the world. Despite the age of this transportation system, it is very innovative. It has all the safety measures so it is relatively safe for a subway system of its size. It is possible to get from one side of the London to another, using one transportation network only.

Of course, we almost must mention New York in USA. Its subway system is phenomenal. It is more than 100 years old and covers more than 375 kilometers of the city. It is now also very safe as there was special safety changes introduced after acts of terrorism in 2011. In 2006, it maintained a consistent train schedule from the previous year. As almost five million people use this transportation system every day, it is definitely very successful safe.

One of the best transportation systems definitely has Copenhagen in Denmark. First of all, it has innovative metro system. It was completed only in 2002, but it works without any hesitations and it is linked by another train system, the S-trains. This train system connects people from the suburbs and other more remote regions of Denmark. Danish train network is ran through a computer, which increases efficiency and safety. So it is possible to easily get around the whole city using metro and train system, but what is really commendable, they also have urban bike program that allows people to take a bike in one station and leave it in another zone across town free of charge.

In the first place is Seoul in South Korea. Its metro system is repeatedly declared as the best public transportation system in the whole world. More than 8 million people uses this transportation system every day. It covers 287 kilometers of the city and is connected with cities bus system. What is the best about this system, it has everything people need – LED screens that tell when the next train is coming in Korean and English, Wi-Fi access and robots that help passengers to find information.


What is Urbanization?

Towns and cities are created for people. Unlike in rural areas, there is everything human need for easy, modern life. For example, there are work options, living space, transportation, etc. That is why more and more people are moving into cities and the world is rapidly urbanizing. It is a process most of the people face directly or indirectly, so lets take a closer look to this phenomenon and find out what urbanization actually means?

By definition, urbanization is process of people moving from rural areas to cities and also the increasing footprint of urban areas. Urbanization impacts many fields and sciences such as geography, economics, sociology and public health. Urbanization is slowly changing the world and it is predicted that by the time of 2050 about 86% of the developed world will be urbanized.

Since the very beginning urbanization correlates positively with industrialization. As there were first manufactures and job opportunities in specific areas created, people saw it as an option to get a job and have easier, more sable life. Cities provided not only job opportunities, but better, easier life in general and as more and more people moved to the cities, also the living standards continue to grow. That, however, led to even more pronounced urbanization. Also cities itself were getting bigger, because they merged with smaller villages and areas around them. Nowadays half of the worlds population is urbanized, but still the numbers continue to grow.

These processes have both positive and negative impacts on many fields. The good impacts mostly reflects to economics, sociology and overall living standards. For example, urbanization can ensure easier life for urban population. There are education, job, social and other opportunities concentrated in one area, so people can have everything they need for a good life. Also growth of manufacturing and service industries ensures the economic growth. Everything seems great about urbanization so far, but actually there are many negative issues related to this process as well.

First of all, it causes gentrification. As city population grow, it increase the demand for goods and services. That causes the increasing prices of these goods and services and land. As the prices rise, the working class may be priced out of the real estate market and are being pushed into worse neighborhoods. Also urbanization can cause the lack of resources, because the production of raw materials is depending on rural areas. If there are no rural areas, also there is no agriculture. And the last most common negative impact is connected with environmental changes. Urbanization causes wide range of environmental problems starting from overall pollution and ending with loss of vegetation. Creation of cities means destroying rural arenas and the environment.

This process is evaluated ambiguously. On one hand it means making people lives better and caring about the needs of population, but on the other hand it destroys the nature and crates inequality. Regardless of the views of urbanization, it is unstoppable process, because it is a part of overall development of the world.

How to make cities more convenient for pedestrians?

Cities should be created for people, but actually, nowadays they are more convenient for cars. There are wide roads for cars, huge parking lots and everything else needed to comfortably get around with a car, but no one really thinks about the needs of pedestrians. They have only small, uncomfortable sidewalks that in many cases can not even lead to the desired location. Here are main city planning principles to make the place convenient for pedestrians.

First of all, areas should be arranged in a grid. That means small spaces should be laid out in a network of pathways, creating living blocks. There should be three levels of pathways and roads to ensure easy access to each place with different types of transportation, including walking by foot. This arrangement will maximize interconnection and ensure convenient movement for pedestrians.

There should be small living blocks created. Both individual and collective spaces should minimized to such level everyone can easily access them. That means the distance between entries and pathways should be limited to ensure maximum circulation. Small living blocks will make movement of pedestrians much easier, so there won’t be so urgent need for transportation.

Blank walls should be avoided. Most of the establishments has only one main entry an other sides of the buildings creates blank walls. That is not only aesthetically and architecturally wrong, but also not very functional, because they are limiting the use area and makes walking near them very uncomfortable.

The buildings should be designed for people not cars. For now, most of the establishments which are meant for people are actually designed for the cars, because there is a parking lot in front of the entry. That means it is lot more easier to access it with transportation not by walking. As modern urban community needs to first think about pedestrians, parking lots should be arranged behind the establishment.

The sidewalks should be pleasant enough for walking. For now we see sidewalks more as a corridors that we must get trough to end up in a place where we need to be, but instead we should think of sidewalks as places to inhabit. Sidewalks should be wide enough to pass comfortably, but still not too wide to not feel empty. Also they should have amenities, such as benches, bike racks, lighting, and plantings.

And lastly there should be a mix of uses. That means there shouldn’t be zoning such as office blocks, living blocks, shopping blocks etc. Everything should be mixed up, so it would be easier to access needed places. If people can live, work, shop and play within a few nearby neighborhoods, they won’t have to be dependent of transportation. They will be able to get everything they need by walking.

Putting pedestrians in the first place might seem like a step back in the past, because now almost everyone have personal transportation and it people better choose to drive a car not walk by foot, but it is smart and sustainable city planning, which focuses on the needs of people. If everything will be easy accessible by walking, there won’t be a need to drive a car anymore.

What makes city attractive?

There are many different cities all around the world. They all are great and interesting places in some way, but still some of the cities are more desirable than others. What are the core processes and benchmarks that can change cities from simple living areas to into superior places? Urban planners have come up with some ideas, so here are some things that makes cities attractive to people.

Most important factor that determinate the status and image of the city, of course, is economic. It is no wonder that people are willing to move to the cities which have the faster economic growth, because that means great job opportunities and high living standards. People has always been looking for a better, easier life and fastest way how to get that is by choosing a place where everything of that is accessible without hard work.

But fast growing economic is not the only factor that allures people to specific cities. For many people also peace is important. That might seem as a paradox, because if people are looking for peace, they should live in countryside not in a big city, but as there are better life opportunities in the cities, people choose to leave the countryside, but they are not ready for the chaotic environment. In the biggest cities there are cars and people everywhere. There is noise, hectic lifestyle and other stressful factors. That is what most of the people doesn’t want in their lives, so they are looking for big, but yet quiet and calm cities.

Similar situation is with pollution and luck of green areas. People want cities to be sustainable, clean and green, because it ensure better health and living conditions. People are not willing to live in very polluted cities, although all the biggest, richest cities are very polluted, because of the great number of people living and working there. In most of the cases growth of economic also means growth of industries, which however leads to growth of pollution. Also here are only few green areas where to enjoy some nature, because most of the place urbanized.

People also like successfully planned cities. That means there are correct arrangement and mix of buildings and establishments, appropriate infrastructure, all kind of transportation opportunities, socialization opportunities etc. In short, people likes those cities where they can have everything they need at one place. That is why many people choose to live in smaller cities despite the economic indicators.

And lats thing that attracts people is history and culture. Not only tourists are interested in the heritage of the city. Also people who are choosing a city for living, usually think of these kind of things. It is lot more pleasant to live in the city which is world famous because of its cultural heritage. Unlike all the other factors, this is something that city either has or don’t. It can’t be created or gained within time.

So basically people want the easy life opportunities that, in most of the cases, only big cities can ensure, but they what to remain the characteristics of a countryside or small towns. People want cities to be rich, sustainable, convenient, compact and interesting. The most desirable places for living are those which can ensure all of that.

Can city be sustainable?

As we all know, cities have become a hot spot for climate action. The pollution level in the cities is many times higher than in rural areas, beside expansion of the cities eats up forested lands, which absorbs this pollution. It is predicted that by the time of 2050 about 86% of developed world population will live in the cities, so cities will need to become more sustainable, otherwise the huge level of greenhouse gas emissions and other kind of pollution will slowly destroy the world. Is it possible to make cities sustainable and make the urbanization less threatening to the environment?

Actually it is possible to reduce the pollution created by the cities and it is already being done in most of the cities, beside growing urbanization can be even good to the environment, because people who live in big cities drive less, use less energy, and enquirer less resources. If only city consistent with the environmentally friendly living principles, it can be truly sustainable.

The first factor which determinate if the city is sustainable or not is the road network. Urban commuters spend a lot of time stuck in traffic congestion, burning gasoline and emitting carbon dioxide. If cities could exclude that, the pollution and the carbon footprint would reduce significantly. Cities should have tree level roads, good mass transit systems and most important, convenient sidewalks and cycle paths. Focusing more on pedestrians and cyclists would get more cars off the road and that would result with less pollution caused by chaotic traffic.

Next factor that is important for sustainability is energy efficient buildings. Almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, cooling, and powering buildings. To avoid this, there should be good insulation of the buildings and modern, energy efficient heating and ventilation equipment. That could help cities to reduce energy consumption by 30%.

Also transportation must be environmentally friendly. Cities should choose energy efficient public transportation. For example, each of the biggest cities should have metro and streetcar lines, because electric powered transportation emits less greenhouse gas. Also buses now can be electricity powered. Cities must be innovative and think of ways how to make public transportation as environmentally friendly and available as possible.

And also sustainable city must be green. Of course, it is impossible to save forest lands if we want to build cities, but we can leave some green areas. Parks and gardens are not meant only for aesthetics. They absorb the pollution created by urban infrastructure. Sustainable city must have green areas and trees that could fight against the pollution. These areas have been exterminated, because they doesn’t bring economic contribution, but they are very important for sustainability.

Every city can be sustainable, but it requires come improvements and reorganization. If urban residents, municipalities and also countries will focus more on sustainability not only economical growth, urbanization won’t cause destruction of the planet. However, if the cities won’t become sustainable soon, there will really be some serious environmental problems that whole humanity will face with.

Why Green Areas are Important for Cities?

Cities are all about human needs and wants. Everything in them is designed and planned to make lives of the city population as easy as possible. Each spot of land can be used to create something that can make people living more convenient or generate economic growth. That is why many urban planners choose to reduce green areas and make them artificial. Although green areas really doesn’t generate exact economic growth, they are very important for cities and their populations.

First of all, green areas are needed to reduce the urban heat island effect. The flat and dark surfaces made of asphalt and concrete heats up and creates urban heat island effect. That results as urban neighborhoods becoming warmer than other areas. Also it is a factor in smog creation. As the air pollution and heat can be absorbed by trees, green areas can reduce this effect. Strategic planting of trees can even reduce summer temperatures by 1º – 5º C, so there should be small green areas integrated in the whole city network.

Of course, plants and trees can also reduce the overall air pollution in urban areas. Air pollution means emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses and also heavy metals. This kind of pollution can increase risk of certain cancers and have adverse effects on people with respiratory problems, so reduction of air pollution is very important for cities population’s health. Also negative environmental impacts from the city pollution can be reduce simply by planting some trees. Even very small green areas or few trees can make a big difference when it comes to air pollution, so there definitely should be some green spots in each city.

Green areas also have a huge role in protection of ecosystems. As forest lands and natural ecosystems reduce just because of the urbanization and creation of the cities, it is necessary to make sure biodiversity is not reducing or at least not becoming extinct. Each park has its own ecosystem and they provide natural habitats for many different animal species. It is a chance to give home to those animals which get displaced by urban sprawl.

But green areas has not only environmental and ecological meaning, but social as well. Parks are the places where city population can have some physical activities, spend their free time and relax. If all the city is totally urbanized and there are no free places, it can’t be considered as convenient place for the people. Peoples needs also include different types of relaxation and if there are no places to get that, city in not functioning right.

In short, green areas make cities and neighborhoods more attractive places for people to live and work. Although people like cities, because they are more convenient places for living, they need some rural influence as well, beside lack of plants and trees can even make living impossible. Without any vegetation there will be nothing that can absorb the pollution and produce the fresh air.

Greenest cities in the world

Although, in opinion of most of the people, green lifestyle and big cities doesn’t go along, because cities are the biggest cause of pollution and habitat destruction, there are some cities that are developing more environmentally friendly economies and doing everything to reduce the negative side effects of urbanization. Here is a list of the greenest and most sustainable cities in the world.

In the fifth place there is London in United Kingdom. Although London and the whole England still is associated with Industrial Revolution and great amount of pollution, this city really has become green and can be a good example for many other cities. First of all, London is planning to switch 25% of its power generation to efficient local sources and England is a home place for 10 very efficient operational offshore wind farms. Also city one one of the firsts, which introduced higher taxes to the emission spouting cars and canceled taxes for electric vehicles. By these actions London is planing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% in the next few decades.

The fourth greenest city is Vancouver. Also this might come as surprise for many people, because Vancouver is very densely populated and modern city, but it is also the cleanest city in the world. 90% of cities energies supply is produced by hydroelectric stations and the rest of the energy mostly is produced by renewable resources. It is recognized as cleanest city mostly because it has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per capita.

In the third place is Stockholm. Actually Stockholm is quite popular with its green and sustainable ideology. It has been awarded as cleanest city in the world many times. Stockholm even has special environment program that focuses on environmentally efficient transport, buildings free of dangerous substances, sustainable energy use, sustainable use of land and water and sustainable waste treatment. Also Stockholm is focusing on reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and coming up with urban innovations to remain the modern lifestyle with less negative environmental impacts.

In the second place is Amsterdam. The first thing that comes in mind when talking about Amsterdam usually is the cycling infrastructure and that is what makes this city so green. People really are mostly using bicycles not cars. They get around the city this way and that, of course, means reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. However, the transportation is not the only way how Amsterdam think of environment. This city also is one of the leaders in renewable energy generation.

And the greenest city in the world is Copenhagen. This city really is a good example of how urban area should be planned, designed and ran. Its infrastructure is designed to be convenient to bicycling and walking rather than cars, so people really are walking and cycling instead of driving cars. Also Copenhagen has a huge offshore wind farm to produce energy from renewable resources. What is interesting, there are lot of green roofs and parks in Copenhagen to absorb the pollution which already is relatively minimal. All the other cities should take an example from Copenhagen to become more sustainable.

Positive Effects of Urbanization

Most of the people see only negative sides of urbanization such as highly increasing pollution, lack of resources, destruction of habitats, social inequality etc. Society sees urbanization rather as a problem, not an opportunity, although there are also lot of positive effects of urbanization. Here are some of the benefits from this process listed.

First of all urbanization provides efficiency. That might seem as a paradox, because cities are well known for huge energy consumption and great amounts of pollution, but actually cities often are more efficient than rural areas. There is lot lees effort needed to supply basic amenities such as heat and fresh water. Also transportation is not so necessary, because everything is available on the spot. In most cities also apartments are prevalent and people in cities need smaller living area. There are many examples how life in the city can turn out to be lot more efficient than life in rural area or even suburb.

Urban lifestyle is also lot more convenient to population. Everything is easily accessible. For example, education, health, cultural activities, social services and all other kinds of services are lot more available in the cities and urban areas. Also cities have more advanced communication and transportation networks. In short, urbanization means better easier life for people and higher life quality.

There is also better social integration in the cities. People of many social layers, religions and races live and work together in cities. There is a place for everyone in urban society, so it is lot easier for people to integrate and live in the urban areas. This living together creates much better understanding, tolerance and acceptance. There are lot less social and cultural barriers in cities.

Life in the urban area also means higher living standards which results as the desire to strive for something better. Basically urbanization is a base of overall development and growth of the world. City population is always trying to set higher goals and reach them. Urbanization process is like an engine that keeps people going and fighting for what they want.

And of course, urbanization means increasing economics. All the economical development is actually based on urbanization. As urbanization is closely related to industrialism, it is also related to growth of economy. People move to the cities mostly because of the job opportunities. As more enterprises and organizations are being established, more people can have jobs and also the added value increases. Just think what would happen with economics, if there was no cities.

As you can see, urbanization is really necessary for the growth and development. It is true that this process has a lot of negative side effects that can even cause destruction of a modern world, but people must focus more on the ways how to reduce these negative side effects not how to stop urbanization. Urbanization goes hand in hand with development, so people should start to see it as positive process, which only needs some improvements.

Urban Innovations

The world is rapidly urbanizing. Already half of the world’s population live in urban areas and it is predicted that by the time of 2050 about 86% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. As urbanization comes with many serious environmental, economical and social problems, there is an urgent need to find new ways to address challenges faced by cities and urbanites. That why scientists and urban planners cooperate to to come up with successful urban innovations, which could prevent all the potential threats. Here are some of the newest urban innovations that could really give some positive effect.

The first innovation is re-programmable space. That means one building or other urban object can be transformed and used for many different reasons. As urban populations increase dramatically, the world will need to increase its urban capacity as well. By the time of 2050 the urban space should be increased almost by half. There is no time to build new infrastructure so cities must focus on the more convenient use of existing infrastructure. For example, there can be a park made on the shopping mall’s rooftop to save the place.

Smart water management models are now already being used in many cities. These water management models use sensors in network pipes. That allows to monitor the flow of water and manage the hole water cycle in the urban area. That provides sustainable water consumption. Ecological changes negatively affects the management of freshwater resource. There is huge water loss due to leakage. We loose almost 30% of fresh water just, because of wrong management, and smart water management models could change that.

Another great urban innovation is co-generation. That means re-using wasted energy, heat and even turning pollution into resource. For example, CO2 can be used in industrial processes or even in electricity generating processes. If the all emitted CO2 could be gathered, the pollution would be reduced and there would be a lot of free, useful resources. This is very important innovation, because within the growth of urban population, biggest cities emits way too much carbon dioxide to make it possible to stop the global warming and other ecological threats. Also the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions won’t give the necessary effect anymore, so only chance is to collect the emissions and recycle them.

Smart transportation systems could reduce the usage of personal transportation and optimize the capacity of free spots in transportation. Smart transportation systems includes many different aspects, but the basic idea is to make it possible to call a transportation via smartphone to optimize public transportation roots and also to use other people personal transportation to get around. Vehicle traffics cause a waste of fuel and air pollution. If there would be a chance to get around the city cheaper, many people would probably use it and there would be less cars on the rods, which also means less traffic.

Basically, all urban innovations can reduce or totally provide serious problems caused by urbanization. As this process is only increasing, the usage and integration of these and other urban innovations are the only way how we can avoid the global problems which urbanization have brought.

What is New Urbanism?

When we talk about urbanism and cities we mostly think of huge buildings, lot of cars, parking lots, roads for transportation, shopping malls etc. That is what every typical urban area includes. On one hand these urban areas include everything that modern people need, but on the other hand this kind of urban planning is not sustainable, it creates unpleasant, cold, industrial looks and also damages the economy in a long term. To fight against this urban sprawl, New Urbanism has been created.

New Urbanism is an area planning approach which is based on the principles of how cities had been built in the previous centuries. Basically it means creating small neighberhoods that are convenient for the peoples’ needs. Practically it gets as creation of easy walkable neighborhood blocks, tree lined streets, shopping spots in close proximity, job opportunities, parks and green areas, accessible public spaces etc. The main idea is that that there must be a place for everything in the human habitat, but by respecting sustainable principles and healthy living conditions.

New Urbanism started as a movement in the 1980s. This ideology developed as an alternative to traditional post Second World War urban development. Although urban development of this time stimulated the economy, created jobs and created convenient infrastructure, there was a lot of flaws of that such as single use and low density patterns. That caused negative health and environmental impacts on communities, beside this kind of development can’t exist in a long term, because there are no sustainable principles respected.

The New Urbanists are trying to bring back some of the human-scale neighborhoods. They are willing to return originally made neighborhoods and cities. For example, they want to create good pedestrian connections, green areas and independent businesses. They want to focus on the needs of a human not cars and manufactures. New urbanism means that there are diverse communities and everything human need can be reached by walking. Basically it means bringing back the city planning of prewar period, but in modern manner.

Although the main idea is to create convenient planning of the area, New Urbanism also includes architectural changes. It basically consists of traditional neighborhood design of a prewar period. Unlike of traditional urbanism, where newest urban trends are used to create modern, industrial looks. New Urbanism focuses more on traditional houses, small shops, cottage style etc. New Urbanism architecture reminds the architecture of the end of 19th century.

So far New Urbanism ideas are used in new cities of United States and have also been partly integrated in other modern, developed countries, but totally bringing back the previous city planning is almost impossible. Some of the New Urbanism ideas are very popular such as creation of green areas and public places, because they reflect the sustainable ideas, but changes of the whole street planning, transportation system, building arrangement and modern architecture is impossible, so New Urbanism probably won’t gain bigger popularity. Traditional urbanism ideas are still more popular and lot widely used.