Sustainability through Massive abundance.

Episode 12: Commuting Like a Rockstar

How to design a transportation system 20× more functional, sustainable and affordable than anything the world has ever known—and get all the solar energy and building blocks a city needs as a free bonus.

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Shelter in place
Intro [music]
Sheltered bike paths with solar roofs
Loop Transit
The Boring Company
Construction materials
Close [music]

Shelter in place

I'm recording this in early April 2020 and the United States now sadly leads the world in coronavirus cases. Nearly everyone is sheltering in place and socially distancing. I hope you've held on to your health and sanity as best you can. I shop once a week, and I'm surprised that there's still a lot of car traffic. You can kind of tell why. As a nation, we depend on car errands and truck deliveries for practically all of our food. That's not very secure, at least not compared to Edenicity.

In Episode 11, I described how most of the food you eat in Edenicity would be grown on the roof of your building and in the grounds around your city block, and something like 97% of it would be grown within a few kilometers. Even if Edenicity's transportation system totally shut down, nobody would go hungry.

Such resilience may be unexpected, but it's typical of ecologically sound design. Like everything in Edenicity, it's not even remotely austere. If anything, it's exuberantly abundant. That's why the last episode was titled "Feeding the World in Style."

Remember, we set out on this quest with the daunting design challenge of living in a way the ends global mass extinction. When I got into the details, it seemed likely that we would have to reduce our land, energy and resource uses by 95% or more: an impossibly austere number if our only tools are traditional economics and politics.

But Edenicity brings a new tool to the table: strong design patterned after natural ecology. In the last episode, we used this tool to shrink our land, energy and resource use by more than 97% while ending hunger and creating paradise on Earth for everyone. Now let's take those same principles, plus some innovative trends in technology, and design a transportation system more than 20 times better than anything else the world has ever seen. And as a free bonus, we'll get all the clean energy we'll ever need.

Intro [music]

Cities designed like modern Edens, for ecological and economic abundance. I'm Kev Polk, your guide to Edenicity. Welcome to Episode 12 where we'll discuss the Edenicity of transportation.


Let's start with the most basic mode of transportation: walking. Now, Edenicity is a high density environment, and higher density means you can do more of your errands on foot, especially if your neighborhood is designed for mixed use. And what that means is that you can easily walk to the store, to school, a clinic, a barber or hair salon, a daycare, a cafe or even to work. And to me, walkable also implies that the walk is pleasant, meaning no scary street or highway crossings. And on your errands you should see more greenery than concrete.

As I mentioned in Episode 4, street life is a major socializing force. Those of us lucky enough to have grown up in a walkable neighborhood learned the value of courtesy, how to handle money, how to negotiate, how to lend a helping hand, how to assert ourselves or de escalate conflicts.

But far too many didn't grow up like that. Many Americans grew up with their parents driving them to play dates and soccer and shopping and other activities, and missed out on thousands of daily opportunities to discover and learn about life, people and the world on their own.

Walking is pretty energy efficient. Here's an example. An apple provides 95 dietary calories. Think of that as your fuel for walking.

On 95 calories, a typical adult could walk two km in 25 to 30 minutes on foot. Now those 95 dietary calories are the same amount of energy as 110 watt hours. How far do you think that much energy would take you in an electric car? Such as, say the Tesla Model 3? Remember, this is the most efficient car in mass production. How about (drum roll) half a kilometer. Now, it's true that a car can carry more than one passenger, but according to the U. S. Transportation Energy Data Book, 2018 edition, cars in the United States only actually carry 1.54 passengers on average. Multiply by half a kilometer and you get about 900 meters. So you on foot are more than twice as energy efficient as a Tesla. What about compared to gas powered cars? I averaged the fuel economy of the top 20 cars sold in the United States, and it came to about 24.8 miles per gallon. So crunching and converting the numbers, I found that you on foot are 10 times more efficient than the average gas powered car.

Now, granted, cars are 10 to 20 times faster than walking. But when we designed without streets and parking, that factors out 45 to 60% of the land area and lets us bring things closer together. So, really, cars are only 5 to 10 times faster than walking. And that doesn't count the time you spend hunting for parking, feeding a meter and walking from the parking garage to your destination and back. In town, that's probably half your travel time, so cars may be only 2 to 5 times faster than walking when you consider the entire infrastructures that cars require. And when you build common wall housing such as apartments and townhouses with mixed uses, that cuts the distances down by another factor of 2. Car-free towns are only slightly slower than car-based ones.


Which brings us to a second mode of transportation. Bicycles triple your speed and range without requiring that much more infrastructure. They're also more efficient than walking. That 95 calorie apple? On a bike on level ground with no wind, this will take you six km in 15 minutes. Dividing by the Tesla's puny average of 900 meters per passenger for the same energy, I find that the bike is seven times more efficient than a Tesla, and about 28 times more energy efficient than a gas powered car. It's also three times faster than walking. So a city built for bicycles and pedestrians would be just as quick to get around as a city built for cars today.

Now let's really dig into the differences between bike and car infrastructure. First of all, we should compare roads versus bikeways. According to the Urban Land Institute's Active Transportation Study, published in March of 2016: "the city of Portland estimated the cost of its 300 mile (that is to say, 483 kilometer) network of bike trails, bike lanes and bike boulevards at approximately $60 million in 2008, which is about the same cost as one mile (1.6 km) of four lane urban freeway." In other words, it was about 300 times cheaper per mile.

Now I did the calculations to convert bike trails to the same level of service as a highway. I mean, you'd think, well, a highway's big. It's got a lot of lanes. It could certainly move more people per hour than a bike lane. But it's not actually as much better as you would think. When you go back to the very basic physics—it turns out that the empirical studies actually bear this out really well—so you can go and calculate it just on a sheet of paper. And it turns out the numbers you get are exactly what governments throughout the world, from China to the United States, have actually studied and determined are the real capacities of bike lanes. So, you know, I took the speed, which I assume to be about 16 km/hour on average. That works out to four meters a second. I figured that the human reaction time is 1.5 seconds I figured in a certain braking deceleration, 5.5 meters per second squared. That gives you a stopping distance of 8 meters, from which you can immediately derive that a single lane can move nearly 2,000 bicyclists per hour. So the bottom line is that a 5 meter wide bikeway can move 10,000 people per hour in the same direction in safety and comfort.

In contrast, the highest lane capacity I ever saw for cars was 2,300 vehicles per hour. This is on a California highway, as listed in California Department of Transportation's Life Cycle Cost Analysis Procedures Manual in 2013. So to deliver 10,000 vehicles an hour would require a 22 meter wide stretch of highway when you include the shoulders, that's 440% more land than a bikeway. It gets worse for neighborhood streets, which might have just one or two hundred vehicles per day. In this case, foot and bike access provide a solution that can take 20 to 40 times less space, especially now that we're designing for apartments and town houses rather than detached houses (see Episode nine for details on that).

Since 5m is a little wider and no doubt higher quality than today's bike trails, it would probably cost about twice as much. But that still means that bikeways are 150 times cheaper than the highways they could replace.

What about parking? Well, bike lockers are far more compact than car lockers. For example, you could fit 54 Brompton folding bikes, or 24 full size bikes in lockers in the same footprint as a car parking space, and the bikes themselves weigh 50 times less than cars. So bike parking more than meets our target from Episode two of reducing land use by at least a factor of 20. Now, as we saw in Episode four, numerous studies, especially one out of the United Kingdom, suggests that riding a bike cuts your mortality from practically all causes by 40% so it makes you happier and healthier. It cuts risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and so it's just a good thing to do. And we also talked about how helmets are unnecessary for all but the newest or more extreme riders, as helmets statistically, don't correlate with fewer deaths or injuries.

But there is a downside, to bicycling, isn't there? There's the weather. When it rains, it's just a hassle to don rain gear. And where do you change and store it? In the restroom? Yuck! When it's hot, you get sweaty. You arrive at work, sweating and stinky. Nobody wants to catch you rinsing, dabbing and drying off in a public restroom sink. When there's snow and ice, it's just plain treacherous and slippery.

We could build showers and changing rooms, as some workplaces have done. But that's so much less convenient than just driving into a covered parking garage and boarding an elevator to go to your meeting.

Sheltered bike paths with solar roofs

But there is a potential solution: sheltered bike paths. I picture a tinted, transparent cover over the top. A little research shows that this would add about 75% to the cost of building the bike paths That's still super cheap. A one time cost of $267 per resident, including the path and shelter. Now does all that roof area give you any ideas? One of the design principles that we have from ecology and from permaculture is to stack functions—is to use the same area to do more than one thing at a time. What if we use this roof to gather, well, water, of course (through gutters; and store it in the landscape in various ways that we'll talk about in a later episode), but also solar power!

I picture this as a thin, transparent film layered into the roof material. There are many products like this currently in development, and I expect that it would not be hard at all to roll them out at scale. Power lines would run along the roof peak or edges for easy maintenance, and run into utility access tunnels to supply power for each block.

This is the big ticket item, about $2,282 per person. But together with the $267 for the path plus shelter, it still costs 20 times less than the four lane highway it replaces, and it provides electric power. Actually, I'm also including in this cost power from another source. The panels provide 37 kilowatt hours per person per month in Ohio. That would be 60 kilowatt hours in Arizona, where it's sunnier. That's great, but it's not quite enough.

Edenicity's four industrial zones have solar roofs. They would use half that energy internally and send the rest to the city, tripling the amount available from bike paths. Bottom line: we would get 111 kilowatt hours per month per person in Ohio. That's less than my family uses in a 120 square meter townhouse that was built in the 1970s in Ohio. In Arizona, you would have 180 kilowatt hours per month per person. Modern construction would be much more energy efficient and for Edenicity, I already included the cost of the extra power infrastructure from the industrial zones in the cost of the solar bike paths. So it's still 20 times cheaper than a highway, and it replaces a polluting electric power plant.

Energy storage, necessary for inclement weather, costs about 1/6 of what a solar roof costs today. But solar and battery technology is getting cheaper by the day, so I'll ignore that extra 15%. This is a very robust distributed generation and storage grid, and you get the best bicycle transportation ever devised as a free extra.

I've created a Reference Design for Edenicity, which you can download. Just visit and hit the news link. In the reference design, I've kept the walkways and bikeways separate and placed lockers for bike shares and private bike owners along the bike paths. As mentioned before, bikes store energy efficiently, so they would pass under walkways, speeding up on the way down and slowing back to their original speed on the other side. This way, there would be practically no pedestrian bicycle/accidents.

Now the reference design has 5.4 million people on a square 34 kilometers on a side, and it's a 10 by 10 grid of towns. So the average citizen would live 3 to 4 towns away from city center. The towns are 3.4 kilometres across, so to commute into the city would take around half an hour, which is tolerable, especially with the sheltered bike path. People in the outermost corners of the city, though, would have to cycle through 6 to 7 towns: over an hour each way. Good for the health, but very inconvenient. Downright intolerable if the city grows any bigger than 5.4 million. So we do need something faster.

Loop Transit

I keep mentioning Tesla and other Elon musk companies in this series. Well, here's another one: Loop Transit.

Imagine an elevator that you could take to any place in the city, point to point, on demand. That's kind of what Loop Transit is. Here's how it would work: a loop pod is a vehicle that looks like an airport tram that can carry 16 passengers. It's actually built up on a Tesla battery pack, motor and wheels. The pod accelerates to 240 kilometers per hour between stops. That's nearly three times faster than a subway car. It can take you to the next town in one minute, six seconds. The longest commute from one corner of the city to the center is four minutes four seconds. The loop pods travel in 4.5 meter wide tunnels, so their only surface footprint is the entrance to the Loop tunnel.

The whole system is fully automated in an environment with no chance of crashing into cars, people or wildlife. So it's probably gonna be much safer than even airplane travel. The pods are automatically routed like Internet data packets. This is a point to point, on demand system with usually no intermediate stops.

Now this architecture is efficient enough in its own right. The Tesla website estimates 4,000 vehicles per hour, which is 64,000 people in an underground lane per hour at full capacity. But it's ultra efficient in a grid layout, with many origins and destinations. The Reference Design has one station per village less than five minutes walk to every door, For a total of 900 stations in the city: about twice as many as there are New York City subway stations. The village stations would look like simple tram stops, but the 36 downtown stations would be much bigger, higher capacity transit centers, kind of like the ones you see in many big cities.

A single loop pod could carry up to 1,000 passengers a day, just like a subway car, but in much smaller batches, with many more trips per day. Because it can carry as many people per day as a subway car, but weighs about eight times less, the loop pod inventory uses far less material. And compared to owning personal cars, Loop would use 220 times less material. At 50% capacity, a Loop pod is 8× more energy efficient than a Tesla—or slightly more energy efficient than bicycling. But you do lose the health benefits.

I figure about half the trips outside a village would be by bicycle, half by Loop.

What about hazards and threats? Perhaps you're worried about earthquakes. What happens if you're taking the Loop and there's an earthquake? Well, earthquakes are surface phenomena, just like ocean waves. You're much safer underground. And where there are major earthquakes and aftershocks, people often shelter in underground tunnels rather than among buildings. Well, maybe I should just read to you from the Boring Company's Web page. It says, "tunnels, when designed properly, are some of the safest places to be during an earthquake. From a structural safety standpoint, the tunnel moves uniformly with the ground in contrast to surface structures. Additionally, a large amount of earthquake damage is caused by falling debris, which does not apply inside tunnels. Some examples: The 1994 Northridge Earthquake. No damage to L. A subway tunnels. 1989 Loma Prieta, Northern California Earthquake. No damage to tunnels, which were then used to transport rescue personnel. 1985 Mexico City Earthquake. No damage to tunnels which were then used to transport rescue personnel."

And of course, now that we're in the throes of the coronavirus epidemic, let's talk about sanitation. So you may be aware that in places like New York City, they're sanitizing the subway cars every day or two. Just using bleach. I would actually use ultraviolet light, and I would build it into each car and run it every time the car's empty, which could be a dozen times a day or more. In addition, of course, we would want to have really high quality air filtration. This would be HEPA filters: High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing filters, just like you find in airplanes. And these would basically pull the droplets from coughing that would otherwise be suspended in the air for minutes potentially and just basically, pull them out.

What would it all cost? Let's see... for a city of five million, we'll need just under 10,000 loop cars. That's one car per 500 people. They'll probably be priced at something like $800,000. For comparison, the New York City subway cars are about $2 million. So when you do the multiplication, that's $8 billion for the cars. Now Edenicity will require 1,300 kilometers of tubes to connect all the villages in a grid (fun fact: that's almost the exact same length as all of the New York City rail lines combined). Now, what's the total cost of drilling those tunnels? For reasons I'll get into soon, the cost will be a lot less than the going rate for digging tunnels, so I'm gonna assume $6 million per kilometer. And that's another $8 billion for the tunnels. So the total is $16 billion.

That kind of sounds like a lot, right? Well, it works out to $2,900 per person, and this is already built into the cost of owning an apartment in the city that I mentioned in Episode 8. This is for a system that could last a century with extremely modest routine maintenance costs. Bear in mind that the tunnels are not exposed to the elements, so there will be no orange cone season like we have with highways in the summer. The cars average something like 60 trips a day, get charged twice a day and need new batteries about every five years. Now the battery packs are expensive. $20,000 times 10,000 cars is $200 million. But divide that by 5 years and 5 million people, and the cost per resident is $8 per year. Tires are the other big ticket item. You need to replace those probably every two months using current technology, and even at $1,000 a set, tire replacement would cost about $12 per resident per year. As always, I'm rounding conservatively. The point is, using Loop Transit is super cheap compared to owning a car and paying taxes to maintain roads.

The Loop Transit system is designed to move 4.7 million people every day, though it could handle twice that if it needed to. The energy consumption per person works out to about 22 kilowatt hours per month, well within that 110 to 180 kilowatt hours per month budget that we talked about earlier. Which raises the question: Why bother with bikeways when you have Loop?

Let's think about that. Well, bikeways not only provide electric power and health benefits, they also increase the city's resilience. Emergency vehicles can use the bike paths when needed (remember, design can cut the demand for such services by up to 90%). Bikeways also provide a second mode of transportation: what my former rocket science colleagues call block redundancy. This is a backup system that achieves an end (in this case mobility) without relying on any of the infrastructure of the system it replaces—good for disasters and outages.

The Boring Company

Let's talk about that tunnel building technology. Several years ago, Elon Musk launched yet another new company, and I think it was actually kind of a joke at first. The name of it was the Boring Company. And of course, this was a company dedicated to drilling tunnels. But like everything else, the goal was to do it much faster and much cheaper than anything that had been done before.

So the way this works is you're basically gonna be drilling tunnels that are about half the diameter of most tunnels that are bored today. That reduces the material that you need to handle by a factor of four. They also don't stop cutting to remove material and brace the walls. Instead, they do that while moving. They use electric rather than diesel power—they don't need to ventilate the exhausts as stringently as traditional boring machines—and they can run it closer to the limits of how much power can be applied. And that makes it run faster, which basically cuts all of your staffing costs and and a lot of your operational costs.

So the goal of The Boring Company machinery is to outrun a snail. Yes, they actually have a snail in their offices, and the idea is to do something that no tunnel boring machine has done to date, which is to go faster than that snail. Now the Boring Company has already bored a one mile test tunnel in Los Angeles. This has confirmed that it's feasible, and that it costs about what I said a moment or two ago. They're approved to build the Las Vegas Convention Center loop. They're proposing one for Chicago O'Hare to Downtown, as well as projects in Los Angeles and one linking Washington D. C. To Baltimore.

Now, excavated dirt usually costs a lot to remove from a tunneling site. The Boring company has found a way to repurpose it as compressed earth building material. These are like a cross between bricks and Legos, rated for major seismic events. Crunching the numbers, I found that the tunneling needed for Loop Transit can supply 40% of the structural wall material needed to build all of the residential, commercial and public buildings in Edenicity. And that story actually gets better as we'll see in a moment.

Now, because, Edenicity is new construction, we might not even have to use boring machines. Traditionally, it has been much cheaper to simply dig, put in your tunnel and then fill from above, if you can get away with it. The only reason to have a boring machine is if you're going underwater or if you're going through a mountain or you're going under existing construction as they are in L. A. and all of the other locations that I mentioned. So it remains to be seen whether the Boring Company can compete with cut and fill construction, which would be the typical construction for a new development such as Edenicity.

So that takes care of transit within the city. We have foot, bicycle and Loop transit that offer us a really great experience.

What about inter city transportation?


Well, In 2013 Elon Musk published a paper called Hyperloop Alpha. So the mechanism is that you have airtight pods that glide on a cushion of air at nearly the speed of sound in an enclosed near vacuum tube. They're accelerated by a linear motor where electromagnets in the track essentially pull a metal skate mounted to the pod forward. Now, these are moving really fast, nearly the speed of sound and in order to do that without too much friction, the idea is to pump the tube down to a low pressure, and a lot of people were worried about that. But Musk has pointed out that look, if you're going to install a tunnel at any kind of depth, you're already having to contend with pressures that are several atmospheres. Also, chances are you're below the water table, so it has to be water tight, therefore airtight as well.

So pumping it down to very low pressure: we're talking about the pressure you would have at about, at about (uh, I'm doing some conversions here) at about 200 kilometers of altitude (let's see, is that right? No.) At about 50 kilometers altitude. Which is kind of like being in the atmosphere of Mars, actually a little bit less than that. So there's a lot less friction in that environment. But even so, there's this thing called the Kantrowitz limit, and this is the maximum speed of an object of a certain diameter in a tube of a certain diameter. And the problem is when an object goes through a tube where there's a kind of fluid in it, that fluid has to crowd around the pod that's going through it, and as it does so, it speeds up relative to the pod, and this is called the Bernoulli principle. And so when you go nearly the speed of sound, what happens is that the air just can't get around the pod, and it kind of stacks up in front of it and forms a barrier very similar to the sound barrier that airplanes encounter and really costs a lot of energy to keep plowing against.

So to go nearly the speed of sound, Musk proposed that each pod would need a compressor that would pull air through. So this is like a great big turbine in front that would pull air through so it doesn't stack up in front and stall the pod. Some of this compressed air can be sent to hover pads that suspend the vehicle, and the rest can go out the back, providing a little bit of propulsion.

For really efficient tunnels, you're looking at a narrow configuration where you're sitting in two seats side by side with no center aisle. Well, that means the entire side of the pod has to open up like the gull wing door of the Tesla Model X. This is great for rapid boarding—unlike on a plane where you have to wait for all those people ahead of you to stow their stuff and be seated. Instead, everyone could be seated at once. That cuts boarding time by a factor of 30.

Unfortunately, creating an airtight seal for a door that big in a vacuum tube would be a serious challenge. However, I think the challenge is a very worthwhile one to take on as it makes the difference between the level of convenience of going to an airport and all the rigmarole you have to do there... and just hopping on a taxi!

So these things are fast. They move at 1,100 kilometers per hour. That's fast enough to go from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and 30 minutes. According to Google maps, that would take you four hours by car or an hour and 10 minutes by air. But of course, with flying, there's all the rigmarole—the parking security lines, ticketing, boarding, taxing, finding your gate and waiting for your baggage—that add up to at least two additional hours of delay. So you're looking at maybe three hours or more if you took the same trip by air.

So as you can imagine, a new mode of transportation that combines the safety of airplanes or better with the convenience of other means of surface transportation (like taxis) is very exciting. And there are presently at least 10 companies working worldwide on various Hyperloop proposals. There's Hyperloop routes in study or planning phases from Los Angeles to San Francisco, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that we mentioned, from Chicago to Cleveland or Columbus or Pittsburgh. From Washington D. C. To New York City, from Miami to Orlando, from Toronto to Montreal, from Mumbai to Pune in India, from Helsinki to Stockholm, from Amsterdam to Frankfurt and from Mexico City to Guadalajara.

Well, as you can imagine, safety is a real concern when we're talking about a new mode of transportation. Let's look at the upsides. First of all, there's no road crossings, so it's impossible to crash into cars or people or wildlife. When it comes to things like thermal expansion and earthquakes, buried is much better than elevated. So although many of the routes that I just mentioned are based on tubes that are suspended above the ground, I'm gonna suggest that in Edenicity, all of these Hyperloops would be underground, and I've priced them accordingly. These are automated so there would be no pilot error. The operation can be simulated millions of times for every day that it's actually in service and optimized with artificial intelligence. This is akin to self driving cars. And, of course, along with safety, there's the concern for sanitation. And again, just like the Loops, I would build in ultraviolet sanitation and HEPA air exchange.

Wait a minute. That's a problem, isn't it? See, this is a sealed capsule. How are you going to have, uh, airflow that is constantly pulling air out of the inside? Well, keep in mind that it's not a perfect vacuum, and there is that compressor in the front, so there's always a source of incoming air. You can easily exchange that for the air that's removed through the HEPA filter.

Now. One other thing that I have got to thinking about its sanity. I mean, there's no view. Heck, there's no bathroom! But look, each leg is short: about 15 to 35 minutes. That's comparable to an express bus and with smart phones, in my mind, the lack of a view is really not an issue at all. Most of us would just be glued to our smartphones. There have been some plans to turn the walls into OLED virtual windows. Now OLED is a type of computer screen technology that we first saw, I think it was in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Anyway, the idea is to turn the entire inner walls of the Hyperloop cars into virtual windows that stitch together outdoor live cam footage that show the landscape flying by at nearly the speed of sound.

Now that does sound like a fun novelty, but it does open the door to things like blinker vertigo and photosensitive migraines and seizures. I don't think it will be very common.

Let's talk about the energy consumption. Assuming 40 trips per person per year, it works out to about 16 kilowatt hours per month per person to run the whole system. Again, that's really tiny. Your whole transportation budget would be 38 out of those 110 to 180 kilowatt hours you'd have per month. Not a problem.

What about environmental benefits? Well, first of all, because the Hyperloop operates in a buried tunnel, there's no interaction with surface habitats, and so it allows those habitats to heal.

What about energy efficiency? Well, it's seven times better than a Tesla; 30 times better than a gas powered car. And in terms of dollar cost, even digging those really long underground tunnels, it still works out to $13 per trip, which is way cheaper than any other means of travel.

And on the business side, it covers both maintenance and a very healthy profit margin.

Construction materials

When I've crunched the numbers, I found that using the material removed from tunneling, the hyper loop system provides you with enough of these building blocks to build 65% of the walls in each city. If you add to that the 40% you get from Loop transit, that's enough material to build all of the walls in all of the buildings in Edenicity, plus 5% more. That 5% margin would come in handy for maintenance and ongoing projects.

Well that covers Edenicity's transportation system. Port cities may benefit from sea and air connections too. These would be found in the 4 industrial zones pictured in the Reference Design. Early cities will probably need highway and rail infrastructure, too, and those, too, would be in the industrial zones.

Mobility is a wonderful thing. By the time I was six years old, I had no trouble walking to the store and buying a candy bar with my own birthday dime. And I was an accomplished bicyclist. By age 8, I could ride a city bus by myself. By high school, I was reading a book a week on the bus.

Close [music]

Imagine how free and independent and confident you could become in a society where you can meet most of your needs within walking distance. And the landscape is so nurturing that it can even feed you along the way. Where transportation is so safe that your child could get a bicycle driver's license at age six. Where you could bike any day of the year without getting rained or snowed on. Where you could visit anyone in a five million person city in 25 minutes or less, or commute to work in less than 10 minutes, door to door at rush hour for free. Where you can, on the spur of the moment, decide to visit another city hundreds of kilometers away and actually be there within the hour, including packing time. You're getting around like a rock star. And the best part is, you're stopping mass extinctions and reversing climate change along the way. That's the power of sound ecological design. That's the power of living in Edenicity.

If you enjoyed episode 12, please be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a show. If you haven't already done so, please visit the news link at to download a copy of the Reference Design. Until next time—I'm Kev Polk, and this has been Edenicity.


Edenicity 12: Commuting Like a Rockstar

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