Sunday, September 09, 2007

Osaka, Japan

I:ve spent the last several days in Kansai, the Osaka, Kyoto, Nara area of Japan. Osaka is a city of about 1.5 million. It is spread out all over the place. Two downtown areas, but lots of work areas throughout the city. It kind of reminds me of LA, though more dense. Public transportation goes everywhere. Extensive bus and rail systems. The city was leveled during WWII so it is all post-war. It is still being built, new stations in many places. It does not appear to be nearly as downtown-centric as NYC or Chicago or San Francisco. So why can:t LA have as good a public transportation system as Osaka? Is it really a technical/urban planning issue? Or is it primarily political will?

Oh, and another thing. Bicycles. Thousands of bicycles. Men in suits, old people, young people, all types of people riding bicycles. I was very surprised. I thought that was more of a third world thing. But Osaka is flat and well suited to bicycles, just like LA. Bike lanes everywhere, broad sidewalks on many of the boulevards.

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