Jan Gehl:

Water gives you the opportunity to take a pause in urban life

This month our guest is one of the most famous architects of our time, bestselling author of "Cities for People". It was he who turned the Danish capital of Copenhagen into cycling world. In general, the idea of ecology is not alien to Mr. Gehl. In St. Petersburg, he came for a few days and managed to watch the device of our transportation system. Well, we had to ask him to speculate about the water surface of the northern capital and how to use them: the benefit of business or simply admire.

Many of the cities, standing in the water, including St. Petersburg, try to use the rivers and canals as waterways for transport - to put him on trial like a small steamer route to Venice. I do not think it's a good idea. Of course, one could say that you could use vaporone like in Venice or water buses, but they could not operate in the middle of the winter. It makes big investments in such infrastructure rather pointless. We also found that it's not a really fast mode of transportation: water buses take time to dock and exchange passengers, so it takes some time to go about.

I don't know how to explain to people that all resources including water are scarce and should be conserved, that's not my area of knowledge. But I believe that information and education work good on that. You have to inform people about the alternatives to excessive consumption. People are not stupid. If they know that there are other options available, you can see the dramatic change in attitude.

Unfortunately, in St. Petersburg and in Moscow most embankments are used as speedways for traffic.

Much more useful to develop other forms of transport, and at the same time just enjoy water! In St. Petersburg and Moscow almost all embankments are used as parking or as highways. And ordinary people - citizens and guests of the city - does not even get close the water. But great views of the river, the Griboyedov Canal, Fontanka, Moika River and other bodies of water - this is one of the main attractions of the northern capital, the business card of the city!

We have shown to Moscow authorities what has been done in Paris, London, New York and other cities. In all these cities they celebrate the waterfront much better than they do in Moscow. So we use these examples to show that these cities have long since started to address these issues, why don't you use this experience to make your city much more attractive.

The automobile industry does everything to make you believe that you need to own a car, but it's completely illogical. We are running out of fuel and out of room for seven billion urban dwellers, each owning four rubber wheels. The smart way is to combine cycling, walking and public transportation. Since we have reorganized the movement in Copenhagen, there were more cyclists and pedestrians. However the population is growing, so the car is also not diminished. If we do not have started all these changes, Denmark has long been suffocated in the exhaust.

My favorite water body is Lake Valley in Copenhagen. I live close to it, and I enjoy walking around and bicycling. It's accessible. Water is a very fine resource because it gives you the opportunity to take a pause in your fast urban rhythm of life. I could also mention Canale Grande in Venice and the Bay in San Francisco.

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