I know, I know. I haven’t updated in a while. But I have a good excuse (this time). I was traveling abroad, in a society vastly different from our own. Okay, it was just Great Britain.
But I heard a guy affectionately refer to his buddies as “geezers,” so really, it’s a totally alien culture.
Though they drive on the wrong side of the road and talk funny, the Brits could actually teach us a thing or two about running a city efficiently. They’ve been doing it for like a thousand years (before they Brexited themselves, gross).
Being in a bunch of other cities got me thinking about what New Haven could learn from our British counterparts like London, Edinburgh, Leeds, and Peterborough (yes, it’s a real place).
So what can we do to learn from those adorable Brits?
Bus Service for the Masses
For some reason, Americans have this weird stigma about riding the bus. It’s for poor people. Probably with different color skin than you. Which is obviously terrifying.
Yet across the world, people use buses like, all the time. It’s pretty convenient. You get on a bus. You pay them. They bring you pretty close to where you want to be.
You don’t have to worry about parking or any of that other nonsense. Of course, British bus service is superior in a few ways:
- Display Boards: Virtually every bus stop has a display board showing when the buses are coming and where they’re going. This makes it so much easier to casually ride the bus. You can immediately glance at the board and get a sense of where you’re going.
- Easier to Understand: The routes make sense and there’s bus maps everywhere. Which helps. A lot.
- Later Schedule: I rode the bus last night to East Rock but good luck finding a bus home after 10pm! Just not going to happen. Then again, there were only 3 people on the bus on the way up so… I get that it’s not super profitable.
- Double-Decker Buses: I mean, this is is just cool. It feels like you’re floating on a bus! What’s not to like? (The part where the tree branches scare the shit out of you, that’s what.)
Staying on traffic patterns: Four way intersections are stupid. And we have a million of them.
You know what works? Roundabouts.
You don’t stop and wait at empty intersections cause the light’s red. You just pull in if it’s empty, and otherwise you wait until there’s a slot and bam, you’re on your way.
Roundabouts are safer than intersection for both drivers and intersections, as well as improving traffic flow and helping the environment (idling is a huge carbon killer).
You know what doesn’t happen in roundabouts? Some jerk pulling into an intersection and blocking traffic for everybody. That alone is worth it.
So why don’t we use them?
Because we’re a bunch of cowards.
They have trains which go pretty much everywhere and it’s great. Though they’re pretty expensive for one-way trips. But they’re fast as hell.
Does Wyoming needs better train service? Probably not. (Also, fuck you, Wyoming.)
But in the Northeast, with its high population density? Absolutely.
Connecticut could definitely do better in this regard, but then we’d have to spend money, which costs taxes, and you know how we feel about that.
You know what ruins a nice, long walk about New Haven? Realizing that third coffee was a bad idea.
Now you’ve got to pee, and where are you going to go? In a porta-potty on the Green?!
In the UK, they have these things called public toilets. Anybody can use them. You know, the public. Some of them cost money. I think that’s fine. Cause I know we have some folks who would gladly sleep in there after a few drinks.
But does that mean none of us should ever have access to a public loo? (Their words are great, aren’t they?) This should really be a solvable problem.
But we do some things well, too…
Sure, the UK is great and all, but they don’t do everything right. Here’s a few things which I noticed and didn’t love about Great Britain:
- Pubs close early: What’s your problem, UK? You think I’m done drinking at 11 just cause it’s a Wednesday? Now I have to go to the club?! Yeesh.
- “Real” ales are lukewarm, uncarbonated: Yeah yeah, that’ show they used to do it in the olden days. You know what else they did? Die of dysentery. It’s okay to embrace the future of cold, delicious, carbonated beer.
- Lack of craft beer: Notice a trend here? Sorry. I drink beer. And our beer is great. Theirs is… pretty okay. Though I admit, Leeds Brewery is fucking awesome.
- Expensive petrol: Oh, sure, we have to work with Saudi Arabia who is almost certainly spreading the kind of militant Islam which leads to terrorism, but hey, at least we have cheap petrol!
All that being said?
It’s good to be home.