On The Importance Of Congestion

<p>Congestion is one of the most common complaints about a city, whether it's L.A., New York, Beijing, or Sydney. This article takes a look at how congestion is important to making a city what it is.</p>
November 15, 2007, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"Sydney's downtown was never going to be sun-drenched or verdant in any way that might let it compete, as a sunny day people-magnet, with beach or harbour. But, despite all that, Sydney's is no dead-heart downtown. It is itself, a flawed but intricate and interdependent ecology that deserves our understanding before we meddle."

"Take congestion, probably the commonest city complaint. Traffic congestion, pedestrian congestion; buses and taxis congestion. It sounds bad, very bad. The very word implies a medical model, like hearts or lungs or liver, where any sclerotic impediment is a bad thing. But cities are not organs and city-type congestion is just an extreme case of a condition that is the very essence of urban life: crowding."

"Cities, unlike hearts, are not improved by zero congestion. Pretty much the whole of Australia has zero congestion (unless you count the flies). Cities are designed to concentrate - or congest - human energy. They are less about moving through than being there; they thrive on bustle, busy-ness and friction, creative and otherwise."

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Published on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 in The Sydney Morning Herald
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