5.7 City development: again, use the abundance, not the scarcity.


    China and Singapore are working on Tianjin eco-city. On their official website it states that:
    “The Tianjin Eco-city’s vision is to be ‘A thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient – a model for sustainable development’. This vision is underpinned by the concepts of ‘Three Harmonies’ and ‘Three Abilities.’”

    “Three Harmonies” refers to:
    People living in harmony with other people, i.e. social harmony
    People living in harmony with economic activities, i.e. economic vibrancy
    People living in harmony with the environment, i.e. environmental sustainability

    “Three Abilities” refers to the eco-city being:
    Practicable – the technologies adopted in the eco-city must be affordable and commercially viable
    Replicable – the principles and models of the eco-city could be applied to other cities in China and even in other countries
    Scalable – the principles and models could be adapted for another project or development of a different scale

    The city should be ready in 2020.

    The capacity of historic European sites can be an increasing problem. Don’t forget that most of Europe infrastructure was built thousands of years ago, and that historic connections are still in place, whether they are covered by a 10 lane highway or not.
    Still most European cities approach their development in a traditional way. They may want, for instance, more hotels to stimulate the local economy without wondering if there will be enough for visitors to sustain it in the future. Of course, globally, tourism is on the rise, and in particular, tourists from BRIC countries – mainly China and India – will create an unprecedented surge in the amount of visitors in the short term. And, Europe has a rich past connected with the history of civilization, so we will welcome the majority of these visitors.

    Although it seems like a paradox to ask yourself, on one hand, if there is demand for a hotel service, while, on the other hand, the sheer number of tourists will increase. Not only the rise in sharing formulas I introduced earlier in this book, such as Couchsurfing and AirBnb, will solve the need for more beds, but it is the tourist attractions, themselves, that have capacity issues. Because either these “attractions” were never built to be attractions,or they were never designed for such a mass of tourists.

    For a visit to the Notre Dame in Paris, you often have to wait in line. It is normal to wait at least two hours before entering the Eiffel Tower. Do you want to see the Mona Lisa? Sure you can! Just peer over the heads of thousands of other visitors from a distance of 115 feet. Like the Statue of Liberty in New York or a visit to the Alhambra in Granada? They’re impossible to visit without booking beforehand. Allowing too many visitors in the Tower of Pisa is downright dangerous. For the average exhibition in The Netherlands, you have to wait in line for hours as well. Do you suddenly feel like playing a round of golf in Spain? You will be confronted with long waiting times on the premium courses. And if you want to drive to the South of France, it is almost normal to wait an hour at each tollbooth or gas station.

    The amount of visitors in and around cities is determined by the capacity of the attractions to reach them and the possible presence of obstacles, and not the presence of hotels, airports, and other facilities. It is something our policymakers really need to take into consideration.

    People have more choice than ever. The absolute mediocrity of the Spanish Costas is symbolic of the decline of the European vacation-in-the-sun phenomenon. Moreover, tourists from China and India will definitely not visit Europe to lie on the beach, where they are risk of contracting skin cancer. We need to realize that tourists and travelers have limitless choices due to the digital supply of information. Competition has become global. Meta-search engines seek through all the travel websites and give us of the best available prices. The global travel supply is more accessible than ever before. Do you want to go to Europe, to Japan, to Antarctica, or North America? Click here.

    There isn’t a single solution to the continuously increasing mobility problem. The European public transport system has reached its limit. The railway systems are just as congested as the roads. Car usage has doubled since 1985, train travel has also doubled. The situation will only worsen after 2020. Public transport will no longer function in cities by then, because we will not have enough funds for equipment, and because of the sharp rise in the aging population. There will not be enough bus or train drivers. The old dogmas no longer work here, either.
    We really have to pull out all stops to keep our Society 3.0 going. Carpooling, working from home, teleconferencing, Skyping, hub working, coworking, longer opening hours for government services, and healthcare. It’s all about using our available time and space a lot smarter.

    We need to create legal space for car and bike sharing programs or private car renting programs. We must allow the Google smart cars, vehicles moving around without a driver that can serve as tailor-made public transportation. Also, I see an enormous growth of ride/ car sharing websites. “Share the abundance” is the credo here!

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