What Would Cities Look Like Without Roads? Let’s Find Out.

After the tragic events of the Boston Marathon on Monday, I saw someone on Twitter suggest, in a perfect city, things like this probably could have been avoided.

He went on to talk about how trashcans would be connected to one big disposal system and how they would automatically remove the waste through some sort of vacuum.

A ‘perfect city’ probably won’t prevent tragedy. But, rethinking our cities is a great idea. Expensive, but great.

Imagine if the same interlinked disposal system was used for recycling points as well? This made me think about what this “new city” would look like, and just how it would work.

If a city was built tomorrow — from scratch — it would look nothing like the ones we have today. The biggest difference would be the roads and how we get around.

Since this is a hypothetical, and we have a blank canvas for reinvention — let’s use our imagination.

I think there are two ways that I would like roads to work in a next-gen city. Here are a couple of options to consider.

The first is total automation. Cars that drive themselves, a little like the Google project currently making news. The only stumbling block with what Google is doing is the surroundings.

They need to build roads for these cars. It’s a little like building software to go with your hardware. I imagine these cars to be quick and incapable of crashing. All motors would be on the same system — or else it’s pointless. Imagine trains, or a very high level of the retro video game ‘Snake.’

You could even lose the word ‘car.’ Pod sounds a little better. You would enter the Pod and be presented with an iPad-like device to assist you with your journeys.

There would be some sort of map application built in — you simply touch where you want to go and your Pod starts driving. Once you confirm your destination, the Pod inter-links with all the other Pods in the city. These would be truly smart machines that would change the way we got from A to B. Who says they even have to have wheels?

The second thought about how transport could change is putting roads underground. Again, it’s radical and expensive but just think of the benefits. For one, your route would be direct — no messing about with pesky buildings or pedestrians.

The new roadless city with buried highways would be glorious. People would be free to roam wherever they pleased. Seriously, close your eyes and imagine what replaces roads in a world where they are underground. Landscapes? Cycling paths? Shops?

I understand that traveling everywhere underground might be a little distressing for some, but if this was done correctly it would be no different to driving outside. There would just be less to look at.

In the end, it’s the things we have in place that are holding us back. So, ask yourself:

If the city was destroyed and we started again — what would things look like, how would things work? It would not be the same.
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