When Transport for London says it wants to maintain traffic flow, what it really means is it wants to maintain motor traffic flow.Today what I would like to discuss in this blog is something rather different, fluidity rather than flow.
Pedestrians move like air
If we imagine the pedestrian as a dancer, the movement is light and free. Their sensitivity to their surroundings engenders subtle interaction on the street. Colour, shape, texture, smell, sound and even taste are experienced like a breeze. Interaction with fellow pedestrians is highly nuanced; smiles, frowns, a small flirt or a look that is a window on a troubled soul. We speak sometimes and friendships can blossom from a single greeting. We are close enough to care about our fellow humans but sometimes we have somewhere to go. Or we are lost in our own thoughts.
We don’t want to touch unless invited. Crowding can be an overwhelming uninvited intimacy. In large numbers there can also be a stampede effect or the fear of it.
We inhabit our space in a most human way. Given space, time and beauty we are closest to our human potential.
Cyclists are as water
To mount a bike feels like an adventure. Maybe we had our first experience of real independence as a child riding a bicycle. We glide and weave as if a force of nature, endorphins coursing through our blood. We are aware of our skilful, graceful fluidity. Our senses are keener, heightened to react to the speed we are pursuing. We don’t want our stream of consciousness broken. We merge with our machine in acrobatic delight, a tributary of camaraderie in our joint pursuit.
But then something jars. Our balance is tested and we are painfully aware of how we can be thrown off course. We are human after all.
Motor Vehicles are rocks that block the system
When the car door slams shut, we are encased in a boulder of our own making. It has its own momentum, hurtling with force at its ultimate destination. We are the bulk that joins the heaving, convulsive mass. Jutting jaw thrusts against jutting jaw, grinding through the streets in an avalanche of metal. Are we human or machine? We don’t know, the rock has blunted our senses.