Swirling in the cesspool that is Twitter urbanism discourse (I shudder to even string those words together) is a popular genre of content that resembles the above tweet. I wrote about this at length a while back, but keep encountering the “trad urbanism” sentiment, which implies that, as city-and-suburb-dwellers, we only have two choices: long for an impossible return to the past, or don’t think about the built environment at all. I would just ignore these posts, but they seem to resonate quite broadly, revealing that many people are vaguely dissatisfied with the physical landscape they inhabit but can’t quite articulate why. In my original post, I considered that “the ideal cityscape is not necessarily the one that is most photogenic—and even if it was, the optimal urban environment in 2021 should probably look different than it did in 1721.” I am mostly playing devil’s advocate here. I do not think the righthand example in the tweet above is ideal in any sense, but I also don’t think the image comparison on its own conveys much beyond the two settings’ relative aesthetic appeal—and conflating aesthetics with other measures of value is one of the great fallacies of our time.
I wonder are there any recent cities where everyone rides bikes or motorcycles?