Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Urban development of my local community

My local municipality is struggling with getting the population to accept that the future needs to be planned. Population growth in general, and our closeness to Oslo in particular bears promise that we will be a popular place to live - if we succeed at combining the demands of urban living with good services like public transport and schools.

Years ago I came across a map from 1914 over the area, called "Fet - rektangel 15C" in mappese. The image on the right shows the place where I live, with surroundings. Already a hundred years ago the area was industrialized, but now the major employer is a shopping center. An up-to-date birds view is available in Google Maps, while the Norwegian Mapping Authority has a 1883 version of "Fet - rektangel 15C" here.
The black lines in the map are railroad tracks, and the local industry even produced railroad cars and locomotives. So rail is deeply rooted in the local culture, but should that keep us from getting better solutions?

So what will this area look like in the future - will the development be linear or exponential? One question I find interesting is whether the railway will continue to be the backbone of local transport or whether Bus Rapid Transit will take over. In my opinion rail is OK for people living along the line, but once you live some distance away the hassle of getting to and from the train benefits the use of cars. And that may not be future proof. As I understand, the local transport authority is replacing a system of direct bus lines with using buses to feed passengers to the trains. And it doesn't work too good. Maybe it would be better to use the area set aside for tracks for a BRT system. If this works for growing economies in the New World, then it could work for us as well.

Whether buses or trains make the needs for transport scale into the future remains to be seen. But the future also requires homes for the growing population. That is a more sensitive topic for the community. A significant number of people live in their own houses, with a garage and a garden. This needs a lot of space and makes it difficult for everybody to be close to transportation services. So the politicians want to build high rise buildings for more efficient housing. But the people don't like the prospect of having their view polluted by human constructs. So suddenly the politicians turned around, maybe because we are having a local election later this year!