What features should the ideal city have?

After years of lurking about, I finally signed up. I’ll be subscribing before my trial period runs out.

One thing that I’ve always wanted to ask you brilliant folk is, what features should the ideal city have? I’ve often thought, if I were to run for my local city council (I reside in a city of about a million), what ideas would I want to bring to the table for improving my city and the quality of life of its residents?

Can you please tell me features of your own town or city (or of those you’re familiar with) that you think an ideal city should have. One big park with a lake in the middle (man-made if necessary) where people can rent paddle-boats and where there’s a…a…name of the thing escapes me…but one of those shell-shaped deals where they play music? Maybe a theme park to keep the city’s kids entertained in the summer? A toboggan hill with ropes to pull you back up (assuming one lives in a climate where there’s actually winter)? Maybe a several-block-long outdoor pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown?

What are you proud of about your city, and which of these things would go into an “ideal city”?

Welcome to the boards. Sign your name, and we’ll call you when our new, hybrid goatsquid (or is it a squidgoat?) is ready. You may want to do some stretching and maybe a couple laps around the building. Just stay where we can see you.

There, now that that’s out, onto the OP.

One of the most important things to me would be a good mass transit system. Preferably a train, either under or over the ground. I don’t have much experience in these matters living where I do, but in my trips to NYC, I loved that I could hop a train to the other side of the city at 5 a.m. if I was so inclined.

Foster the small business owners. The street corners shouldn’t be dominated by chain restaurants, and the constituents shouldn’t have to do all of their hardware shopping at Home Depot…and so on.

Gotta have some major sports facilities. There should be a large NFL/MLB/NBA venue right smack in the heart of the city. It should be accessible by train, and it should have abundant nightlife spots in the surrounding streets.

Oh, and you gotta keep the bars open late. None of this 2 a.m. nonsense. I want a reason to have to use that mass transit system at 5 in the morning.

Those are just a few of the things I’d like to have in my city.

All of my favorite cities have decent public transportation, allowing you to get around without a car. It’s not only beneficial for poor folks who don’t have cars, but it encourages a certain sort of public culture that i find appealing.

Sure, transit isn’t always the most comfortable or luxurious ride, but if it’s a good system it will get you where you’re going quickly, and (potentially) makes the city a more pleasant place by reducing the number of cars on the street.

This is maybe a whole thread on its own…but…I’ve often heard from visitors to my city that we have a crappy mass transit system. I don’t use it much, in that I live and work and play close to downtown…and drive everywhere else. What do you think makes a mass transit system “good”?

One that

(1) Takes people where they want to go (e.g., the airport, the stadium, the mall)

(2) In a reasonable amount of time (i.e., enough trains to minimize wait times, direct routes)

(3) With minimal fuss (i.e., close to home, minimal transfers, enough space for bags and bikes, etc.)

It should have a Montreal.

Plenty of walkable streets, friendly to pedestrians and impossibly expensive for cars. Restaurants of all kinds and price ranges, free entertainment, summer festivals.

parks. a historic district. no highways through the middle of town.

Read Howard Kuntzler’s City in Mind, which will tell you the good and the bad for any city based on current examples. (Boston has a park system, great mass transit and a hi-tech corridor, while Atlants has air conditioning, 3 major highways through town and no sense of commonwealth)

(4) Well disciplined commuters…

Many transit systems are held back from their full potential by unrealistic expectations of the travelling public. Folks, if you want to get from A to B as cheaply and as quickly as possible, then you might have to forget your God-given right to a seat (you might be strap hanging), you may have to change trains or modes of transport more than once. Or, if you want to sit down and be taken to a specific part of town without transfers, then you might have to accept a half hour wait for the next train. I can bore y’all with the reasons why if you like, but you probably get the idea.

Yes, we all have different thresholds of how much time is “reasonable” and how much fuss is “minimal.” Sadly, I think the average person’s tolerances for even the slightest bother (IMHO) is incredibly small. Just look at the threads on switching from dollar bills to dollar coins, for example. There are those who would rather see the government waste our/their taxes manufacturing inefficient forms of currency just to avoid having slightly heavier pockets due to an extra coin or two. Now you want to ask them to wait a few minutes for a train? With a transfer?!?

maybe it’s a whoosh, but do you mean monorail? They’re very cool, but the support structures take up space otherwise used for walking, bike riding, etc., making the streets very pedestrian unfriendly

In my ideal city, every public venue, from the card store to the fancy restaurant, to the sports arena, would be ADA compliant

You can’t go far wrong if you follow the model of Amsterdam:

Awesome public transit: comprehensive streetcar system, subway, trains.
Discouragement of cars: it’s far easier to take the transit than screw around with a car.
Decent bicycle lanes: mostly they keep the motorized transport away from the squashy-when-whacked stuff.
Small city center: walking is not a big deal.
Lots of water: canals, harbor, canal trips.
Beautiful architecture: old, semi-uniform buildings abound.
Superb cleaning regime: the streets are cleaned night and day.
Lateral thinking: at the weekends, pissoires pop up out of the street, because men will drink and piss everywhere, so why not cater for this?
Legal dope and prostitution: don’t do it myself, but why not?
Giant street parties: every year turn the entire city into a pumping festival.

All you’d really need to fix about Amsterdam is the weather, which can suck, but other than that, it’s simply great.

Milton Keynes is a largely purpose-built city where the features have been carefully designed and guided, rather than just being permitted to happen.

As a result, it’s really aggressively nice, but it’s a weird place in ways that are difficult to put your finger on, but I think it’s just that I missed the accidental haphazard-ness of non-landscaped green spaces, suboptimal street layouts and so on. Agent Smith was right - we don’t fit properly in a perfect world.

My town is very little, can I toss some Barcelona into the mix?

Good public transportation is great. Owning a car should not be necessary.

Spaces owned by the city which citizen groups can rent, by the hour or the day. Both Barcelona and Tudela have these; I’ve seen them used for conventions, corporate training, or to practice music. There should be both indoor and outdoor spaces for this. The ones I know are usually old or previously-unused buildings which have been “recycled” by City Hall; the inner courtyard of apartment blocks, an old school. The music-practice rooms in my hometown have great sound insulation, too.

Navarra has a regulation that the restroom of a “public-facing business” is for public access. Other parts of Spain don’t. I beeping hate it when I need to go now and am told I can’t pee unless I buy something first. Dude, I’m on my own, can I get the bathroom key NOW and buy later, or do I have to go into the bathroom with a tray of food? A regulation that people have to be allowed to use the bathroom, to go, please!

Maps of town available in hotels. Extra brownie points for making them available in bars. Maps of town posted around, with the “you’re here” dot in the right place.

Things like “a cultural life” can’t be forced by City Hall, but they can be helped or hindered. The possibility to get assistance from City Hall (monetary or organizational) for organizing festivals, or to publicize citizen activities, helps.

A tourist information office, with maps of the area, maps of town, schedules for public transportation (both local and to nearby towns), listings of citizen activities and cultural activities.

A helpful City Hall information phone number; the possibility of doing routine tasks through the phone or internet.

I second it having a Montreal. Other than that, it must be ruled by kings. Philosopher kings, I tell you!

Moscow’s architecture, Venice’s canals, Berlin’s history, Paris’s climate, Amsterdam’s people and Western Buttfuck’s lack of tourists.

Oh, and public toilets everywhere.

No, I actually meant a Montreal, the city. Plop one of those in the middle of any city and you will do just fine. I just love the city.

Minus the infamous aroma, one would hope.

Density, of people and trains. I like it when, as Stephen Sondheim said:

In other words, I like New York.
Welcome, Don’t Tase Me, Bro!

Didn’t notice it when I was there. That may have been due to stuffing my face with gelato, though.

Welcome, Don’t Tase Me, Bro!! I see the welcoming committee has already taken you in hand. There’s nothing to worry about. :slight_smile:

Features of an Ideal City? Well…

I agree with the decebnt transit system, but I’dd add a few more wrinkles to that.

The transport system (not just transit, but cars and trucks and whatever, too) should be as fuel-independednt as possible, and ideally electrified. Since electricity can be generated in half-a-dozen different ways, this means that the transport system isn’t critically-reliant on one fuel. Imagine havng only diesel-powered buses when only gasoline is available. I am aware that most places do not live up to this standard, but we have to start somewhere.

No location should be designed around just one form of transport. Suburbs, I’m lookin’ at you!

Resources should be supplied, and wastes removed, as locally as possible. Food should be grown as locally as possible. Waste should be treated as locally as possible.

For example, in a city composting system, neighbourhood composting facilities are better than one vast citywide system with trucks. Even better is composting on your own property, and not having to carry it away at all.

Likewise, food should ideally be grown in the city, instead of being trucked in from 3000 km away. The closer the supply, the better. Same with electrical power and services, like schools, community centres, libraries, and medical clinincs.

Walk-in neighbourhood clinics for first aid and simple ailments should be within a ten-minute journey, ideally a ten-minute walk. Larger regoinal hospitals should be there for back-up and more serious cases.

This reduces reliance on transport links, reduces congestion, and reduces expense.

Buildings should be as energy-efficient as possible. It is quite possible to build a solar-heated building that requires no furnace, even in a Canadian climate. Many existing buildings can be retrofitted to almost the same heating efficiency, even if they can’t make use of the sun as well and require a furnace.

And that’s just a start.