The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Monday, April 03, 2006


Online at the Manchester Guardian, we find an interesting aside in an article on Prince Charles:

"What I've been trying to do for 20 years is just gently place the pedestrian at the centre of the design process rather than the car to automatically create more liveable communities," Charles said.

Anyone who has been to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, will know what he meant. It's a planning disaster and probably one of the least energy-efficient cities in the world. Cars are sacred and everything else comes second. There's no public transport to speak of and the city seems designed to make walking as difficult as possible. An obvious consequence of this is the number of Saudis who are overweight, and the health problems that result. High levels of diabetes are one particular concern.

[Emphasis mine.] This being the Guardian, it makes no mention of the widely known fact that women are not permitted to drive: thus the impossibility of getting around without driving is a powerful mechanism to enforce their second-class dependent status.

Here is one view of Riyadh's pedestrian network. Here is a residential district.