2832: Urban Planning Opinion Progression

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Urban Planning Opinion Progression
If they're going to make people ride bikes and scooters in traffic, then it should at LEAST be legal to do the Snow Crash thing where you use a hook-shot-style harpoon to catch free rides from cars.
Title text: If they're going to make people ride bikes and scooters in traffic, then it should at LEAST be legal to do the Snow Crash thing where you use a hook-shot-style harpoon to catch free rides from cars.


This comic follows Cueball, Megan, Knit Cap and Ponytail as their beliefs evolve widely from a conventional car-first view of urban planning, then questioning the wisdom of car-centered policies, then favoring pedestrian-centered design, and finally wanting to discourage driving with tactics as extreme as road spikes.

As a clever form of satire, the comic has twin aims:

  1. Present a progressive argument leading to a logical conclusion that's humorously radical, likely mirroring Randall's own evolution
  2. Satirize the irony of US policy discussions that elevate theory and feeling over actual best practices used in other countries.

The first two panels present the conventional view, known as a strawman argument.

  • First, Cueball and Megan complain about the common problem many car-centric cities face about not having enough space for all the cars, and they give a conventional suggestion of making more space for cars.
  • Next, Knit Cap mentions how she is going to visit Amsterdam, a city known for its walkability and bike friendliness, which gives Ponytail a chance to share the conventional concern that road cycling is bothersome to drivers.
  • This is the only moment that anyone pays any attention to Knit Cap; later when she has lived experience of the topic, they ignore her.

In the third and fourth panels, Cueball and Megan begin to evolve their thinking, wishing for better transit and more bike paths – another shortage common in car-centric cities – with Megan noticing that optimizing for drivers discourages pedestrians, which in turn spurs more driving – later calling it "a vicious cycle."

  • Megan's comments could relate to Induced demand, an economic theory in which increasing the supply of a scarce good or service causes the demand to rise faster than the increased supply, worsening the shortage. Traffic is a common example: when US cities try to widen roads and highways, they also incentivize even more vehicles and more driving, worsening the traffic problem. Conversely, other cities have tried removing traffic lanes or converting them to dedicated public transit lanes, and have reported a reduction in traffic congestion, due to people choosing other transportation options. Among urban planners, this is known as the Downs–Thomson paradox.

In the fifth panel – taking place a week or two later – Knit Cap is back from her work trip to report that Amsterdam is really neat.

In the sixth panel Cueball's questioning turns into anger at car culture, beginning his full 180 from his previous, conventional car-centric view as he adopts a strong pedestrian-centric perspective.

  • Cities face a dilemma of how to allocate limited street space. Car-centric cities allocate much more public land to vehicle storage and movement, leaving less space for bikes, pedestrians, dedicated transit corridors, greenspace, and density.

In the seventh panel, Megan takes issue with a particular type of vehicle – "those giant trucks" – and their threat to kids. All cars have blind spots in the front, and large trucks have blind spots sizable enough for the truck driver to be unable to see a standing child right in front.

  • "Those giant trucks" likely refers to large pickup trucks, though she might be singling out lifted pickup trucks (raised after purchase), large tractor trailer cabs, or garbage/construction-style trucks.

In the eighth panel, Knit Cap's relevant personal observations gets ignored and interrupted by the armchair theorists – a subtle nod to how US policy debates often ignore successful examples from other developed countries.

  • As Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.”

In panels nine, ten, and eleven, everyone's emotions peak with views that reach their zenith. Car culture is systemic! Driver-centric road planning is a vicious cycle! NETHERLANDS!

By the final two panels, Cueball's and Megan's evolution is complete. Desperate for any fix, Cueball concludes that city livability calls for making the driving experience worse, and then he suggests tire spikes as a solution. The final joke is that Megan actually supports the tire spikes idea, and that this extreme idea emerges from logical reasoning.

Additionally, Cueball and Megan are coming up with crazy solutions while ironically ignoring Knit Cap's reasonable and practical lessons from how Amsterdam actually solves the problem. This continues the satire of US policy discussions that ignore real-world best practices because they come from across the Atlantic.

  • A reader who has been nodding along the whole time may reflect if they agree with Megan's final idea — and if not, why not? The whole comic is a type of logical argument in which many small steps of reasoning can lead to eventually extreme and satirical conclusions, similar to the famous A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. It seems that Randall is sharing the evolution of his own views, while self-awarely noting that (1) if you take those views as far as they'll go, you can support some radical implications, and that (2) it's common for Americans to ignore success stories like Amsterdam's.

The title text references a 1992 cyberpunk novel called "Snow Crash", by Neal Stephenson. In the future of the novel, the roads are still dominated by motor vehicles, but a subculture of skateboarders exists which uses electromagnetic "harpoons" to attach themselves temporarily to cars. This allows the skateboarders to travel more quickly, by stealing a small amount of momentum from the vehicles. The suggestion here seems to be that such a system (despite being dangerous and chaotic) advantages other forms of transport, at the expense of cars, and is therefore at least somewhat beneficial.

What are the pros and cons of bike lanes?[edit]

Protected bike lanes are safer compared to painted bike lanes, according to a recent study. It concluded that "protected bike lanes and buffered bike lanes had estimated protective effects on segments between intersections but estimated harmful effects at intersections. Conventional bike lanes had estimated harmful effects along segments and at intersections."

From a wider perspective, however much you attempt to segregate different forms of transport (at junctions and other bottlenecks where space cannot be reserved), you'll always need to bring bicycles and traffic back into contact, briefly, and in circumstances where motorized traffic has become unused to sharing the roadspace with the lighter vehicles. This is unlike a more integrated place like Amsterdam where a driver is rarely going to be surprised by the presence of bicycles, overlook them and therefore cause an accident.

What makes a city walkable?[edit]

To achieve a walkable area, urban planning (or zoning) must be seamlessly integrated with public transport planning. The central truth is that everybody is a pedestrian for some time, which also includes car drivers. Crucially, the average pedestrian is willing to walk about 2000 ft from their home to the next public transport stop, and an additional 2000 ft between the last public transport stop and their workplace. Opportunities for shopping and eating should exist at every connecting station, with the connections scheduled in a way that it both allows changing to the connecting train/tramway/bus immediately – as well as buying groceries.

For an area to be walkable, at a minimum, all roads should have a sidewalk,[actual citation needed] which, of course, costs area, but make the pedestrians' lives much easier and safer. But then, not only roads impact walkability. In the United States, many places open to the public are, by municipal ordinances, forced to provide enough parking space for all customers at any given time, which leads to serious knock-on effects: Pedestrians must often cross a large and weather-exposed parking lot in order to shop. A building can often be only re-purposed if a neighboring building is bulldozed to create the necessary parking area. And tenants who live in an apartment, but do not own a car, are forced to pay for the parking space they do not need. This creates difficulties, particularly in urban areas.

Another topic is subsidizing public traffic. Municipalities in Switzerland, for example, order bus connections – e.g. a hourly bus from 6 AM until 10 PM, and in exchange, they cover the deficit of any such connection. That way, families, who usually are better taxpayers, move to villages, and beginning with grade 5, 6 or 7, pupils can still easily commute to a district school.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
Typical urban planning opinion progression
[Each panel is connected to a point on a timeline. Timeline is recognizable as the tread of a bicycle tire]
Cueball: I wish there wasn't so much traffic to get into the city. They should put in more lanes.
Megan: And more parking.
Megan: Parking is so bad here.
Knit Cap: I have to go to Amsterdam for work next week. I hear they all ride bikes there.
Ponytail: Bikes are fine but people shouldn't ride them in the street! I worry I'm going to hit someone!
Cueball: It would be nice if we had better transit options!
Cueball: I tried a scooter. It was fun but I wish there were more bike paths.
Megan: It's funny how widening roads to speed up traffic makes them more dangerous to walk near, making driving more necessary and creating more traffic.
Megan: Really makes you think.
Knit Cap: Visiting the Netherlands was cool!
Knit Cap: Amsterdam is really neat.
Cueball: We've ceded so much of our land to storing and moving cars, with the rest of us tiptoeing around the edges and making drivers mad for trespassing on "their" space.
Cueball: Even though we're the ones in danger from them!
Megan: Those giant trucks with front blind spots that keep hitting kids should be illegal.
Knit Cap: We should be more like the Netherlands.
Knit Cap: They design their streets to prioritize...
[Cueball is frustrated.]
Cueball: The problem is car culture. It's systemic.
Cueball: I don't know if we can fix it.
[Megan’s arms are thrown out, and her hair is bedraggled.]
Megan: People approach road planning decisions from the point of view of drivers because that's how we're used to interacting with the city, so we make choices that make it more car-friendly.
Megan: It's a vicious cycle.
[Knit Cap is walking around with two Dutch flags raised in her hands.]
Knit Cap: Netherlands! Netherlands! Netherlands! Netherlands!
Cueball: Anything that makes a city a worse place to drive in makes it a better place to live, short of scattering random tire spikes on the road.
Megan: Honestly, I think the city council should consider the tire spikes thing.

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Somebody has been watching Not Just Bikes on YouTube... (talk) 06:47, 23 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Orange Pilled!!🙂 Torzsmokus (talk) 19:43, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

I would be very interested in having a discussion based on the "livability" comment. If a city is a place to LIVE, then these are fair comments, assuming that travel outside the local area is minimal. But if a city is a place to WORK, like a lot of downtown areas in the Eastern US, then this doesn't hold up as well. People don't live in these areas, they just travel to them on a regular basis. (talk) 11:52, 23 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Talk about missing the forest for the trees (talk) 15:32, 23 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Agree, downtown areas SHOULD be places to work, live, shop, and play. Eastern US downtowns USED to be that way, until White Flight screwed everything up and created "car culture". It's long past due for cities to change back. - Frankie (talk) 15:59, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
You can't really blame white flight considering the same thing happened in both 'racially homogenous' cities in the U.S. and in Canada. 17:22, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
One thing that always bugs me about these discussions is that they tend to be so city-centric in thinking. Bikes simply aren't a practical mode of transportation in a lot of areas, dating back to pre-car days. I live in a rural area of the southern midwest, and "town" is a concentration of places that people in the area go to, and always has been. Only really wealthy people had houses in town, and even then they were often "Sunday Houses" where you would stay during your weekend trip to town for groceries and church BECAUSE it was such a hassle before cars. There's a "historic" (read: tourist-friendly) walkable town square in the center of many towns in my area, but these are as a rule businesses, some of which have loft apartments because the owner lived there too as some of the town's few constant residents. Even the parking lots are basically paved versions of the spaces where people would park their wagons and tie their horses back in the day, placed near things like general stores because hauling groceries for several blocks is a pain in any era. Scorpion451 (talk) 18:59, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
I've never really lived in small towns on this side of the world, but this video does a pretty good job on approaching urbanism from a rural perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKRr8ymaqBM Yaygya (talk) 23:38, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
More generally, it's not really a useful, meaningful, or fair comparison between a densely populated country like the Netherlands (>1000/mi*mi) and a sparsely populated country like the USA (<100/mi*mi). All the USA's wide-open spaces are the actual physical reason we have a "car culture". It's not just people being deliberately being stupid or something. 01:24, 24 September 2023 (UTC)
People aren't evenly spread over the US though, and nobody commutes from LA to NYC. 80% of people in the US live in cities. 16:24, 24 September 2023 (UTC)
Places meant for work and work alone are called 'industrial parks'. People's well-being in offices can significantly benefit from green spaces and other amenities like bars and shops.
Especially if they feel safe walking to and from those shops. --Melle (talk) 16:54, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
Honestly, what impresses me the most about the Netherlands is not their neighbourhoods or city centres, it's their industrial parks. Dutch industrial parks are so much nicer it's not even funny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDXB0CY2tSQ Yaygya (talk) 23:38, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

The explainxkcd explanations have gotten kinda funny, but I wanted to add that some european cities have sidewalks wider than roads, and it’s a much different experience. People like openness. 17:46, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Honestly, I do not know how to format it, however this is the citation about painted vs protected bike lanes: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214140523001056?dgcid=author Vdm (talk) 21:44, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Yes, cities are much better place to live in without so many cars. But on the other hand, vacation without car is much more complicated, unless your idea of vacation is to get to exactly same place as everyone else. Soo ... where will all those cars go? I know, you could rent a car, but that only works if there wouldn't be times where EVERYONE suddenly needs car ... like, say, Christmas.

Also, no, bikes are not alternative to cars unless you can get shower when you arrive at work. Public transport could work, but bikes are just nice theory.

To conclude, I don't think trying to turn all cities into Amsterdam will work. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:07, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Bikes are an incredibly helpful and useful tool for getting around. You don't even have to turn a city into Amsterdam. I live in Edmonton, which is by no means an urbanist utopia, and even getting around here, combining a bicycle with public transit makes it so much easier and faster to get around. The issue I face is lugging my bike with me, in which case a bike share service like Montréal's BIXI would help out for getting around.
Regarding your point on vacation, first of all, most people end up going to the same places for vacation anyway. And vacation without bringing a car can very much be done, and even at high-demand times, the places where "everyone needs a car" are places where everyone will be going anyway, at which point a train just makes more sense. About a decade ago, my family took a trip from New Delhi to Goa a decade back (around 1800 km away) and we took trains to get there. We rented a car to get around in Goa and it worked pretty well. Not saying that cars aren't useful at all, but they aren't a 100% necessity. They're most useful when you're heading somewhere that's out of the way, and I've done those sorts of trips too. Yaygya (talk) 23:38, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
Your argument doesn't seem to be "turning all cities into Amsterdam" is not feasible, but that Dutch-style cities are simply not possible. I wonder what properties you ascribe to them that made it possible to turn away from car domination in the 1970s and become the chant-worthy places they are today, then? (I lived in US cities for my first 3 decades and have spent my 4th in Amsterdam, and don't think "Amsterdam was special" holds much water, especially now that e-bikes are commonplace.) Gerwitz (talk) 11:02, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

"...by allowing cyclists to cycle in the streets with the cars". Allowing? Sorry, but that's a very neo-biker (or "person on a bike", rather than an actual cyclist) attitude that unfortunately seems to pervade the mindset of drivers. At least in the UK, bicycles have been 'allowed' (indeed, obliged) to ride upon the roads, as of laws as far back as 1885 and are legitimate road vehicles and also not supposed to be ridden on actual pavements(/sidewalks) where not explicitly allowed. Of course, the US has policies driven (c.f. jaywalking). But a bicycle is a road vehicle. Add extra permissive routes (in the same manner as allowing traffic of less than three tonnes over a bridge, without forcing everything within that limit to do so) but you'd be wrong to suggest, over here, that you'd have to allow cyclists to cycle in(/on) the streets. Though the modern 'MAMILs' are often as wrong about all this (and as damaging to the reputation of real cyclists) as far too many motorists are. Of course, this may not reflect the US situation (or state/township legislations), but then they were influenced by the car-lobby to create the jaywalking 'crime' as well, so I really wouldn't be surprised. 22:16, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

I went to the Netherlands on vacation last month and I strongly identify with the guy waving flags and yelling "Netherlands! Netherlands! Netherlands!" in this comic. I was in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam, but I also spent a day in Enschede (near the border with Germany), and the sight was the same: bicycles everywhere, to a degree that would seem absurd anywhere else. I don't think it can be properly expressed in words; one look at the bicycle parking in Rotterdam Central Station and I was in awe that _so many bicycles_ could exist in one place. I used a bicycle to explore from The Haag to Neetle Jans and everywhere I went it was the same story; it isn't just Amsterdam, the entire country is built with bicycles as a solid and safe transportation option. --Faultline 11:32, 24 September 2023 (UTC)

Speaking from the perspective of the UK, Cyclists (and I speak as one, with six decades of experience) are a complex issue. Being road vehicles (and requiring continuous at-grade surfaces, or at least smoothly transitioning slopes, whilst mounted) they need special consideration when laying out where they can go, outwith the baseline highway planning situation. And they also pose difficulties if improperly ridden in pedestrian areas, even if this is somehow due to being 'forced'(/’invited') off the roads by motorists and/or town planners that are in turn posing difficulties to them (legislatively, physically or just psychologically). In an ideal world, there would be no need for cycle lanes (on road), let alone cycle paths (split or shared pavement/sidewalk). And as it is not possible to have cycle-segregation everywhere (ignoring the question of whether forced segregation is a good policy!), I feel that attempting to take bicycles (or indeed other types of cycle!) off the road where it is easy and/or virtue-signalling makes the roads worse for cyclists everywhere else. (And also the pavements worse for pedestrians, everywhere else!)
There are (according to a quick check) 262,300 miles of paved road in the UK. Apart from the motorways (2,300 miles) and a smattering of other "no cycling" roads (often "motorway standard link roads" or major bridges), all of these are viable cycling routes. Maybe you'd not feel safe on some other routes (mostly a problem stemming from motorists, not the highways), so call it a cool quarter of a million miles. Compare with (again, a quick and unconfirmed check) the apparently 5,220 miles of traffic-free cycle paths (some 'cross country', bridleways/ex-railway/etc, others directly parallel to 'bike unfriendly/hostile/illegal' roadways) and 7,519 miles of on-road cycle lanes (paint and/or bollard-segregated, and I assume this includes bike+bus+taxi lanes and variations on that theme). Clearly, most places that you might want to cycle are not anywhere near covered by a convenient cycle-only(/dominant) path/road/lane/whatever. Even accounting for population density bias (a path-equipped city-centre can perhaps have a good few hundred thousand cyclists commuting along its copious off-street routes, whereas some remote area of equivalent road-length doesn't have more than a dozen people cycling around/through its country lanes on any given day), there's a distinct gap.
And the problem is that car drivers (myself also being one, though only four decades behind the wheel, so what would I know?) seem to start to not anticipate bicycles on the road (or horses, or tractors, or anyone also driving but not actually going at-or-above the posted speed limit, etc) and at best they are startled/annoyed when they encounter their fellow road-users in different contexts. At worst, they 'come into contention' in a rather nasty way for at least one of the parties involved.
'People on bikes' don't help when they (whether drivers themselves or not) do not obey the rules of the road, and/or footway. They give actual cyclists a bad name, make motorists less tolerant of those who actually are folling both the rights and responsibilities of cycle traffic and cause 'contention' with pedestrians on their supposedly safer routes (and road crossings), amongst other issues. The number of times I've seen someone progress rapidly down a pavement on two wheels, having to swerve round people, swerve to cross side-roads (to use the disabled-friendly drop-curbs), hop onto the road and back on again because of obstructions (curb-mounted parked cars/construction works) and all disrupting (or even causing danger to everyone else off/on the road)... Quite often, they would have been quicker and safer to have just ridden on the road with the traffic (without earphones in, they'd also be much more aware so could overtake the slower traffic legally and in full consideration).
Even worse, when there's a 'pavement biker' riding alongside a road with a clearly marked cycle lane on it. Road space reserved, but they're endangering pedestrians (and potentially themselves) needlessly. But, adding in the reckless pedestrians who do their dangerous things (walking up the central reservation of a dual-carriageway, e.g.), it just goes to show that there are unthinking individuals using every form of locomotion and travel (I could moan about thoughtless bus/train passengers, too, and don't get me started on illegal eScooters, motorbikes that may skirt the rules to some extent and possibly soms illegal variations of eBike as well). But, insofar as cycling, I'm not convinced that (partially) changing the road system to mitigate for bad drivers is really the best solution. It barely scratches that surface, it gets abused/ignored by those it may be intended for, it makes those it isn't intended for more resentful/inconsiderate as a push-back and the only obvious and tangible metric is in the press release that "Trumpton Town Council has been able to add five more miles of cyclepath..." (which probably consists of several short stretches of red tarmac is frequently intruded upon by pre-existing highway signage/lamp-posts and frequent "Cyclists Dismount" advisories, running alongside a perfectly ridable road just so long as they filled the wheel-/suspension-damaging potholes and swept the gutters once in a while).
Can you tell that I've often thought about all these issues? I could go on, or into more detail, but I reckon I've already written far too much, uninvited. 11:48, 24 September 2023 (UTC)

The insistent distinction between "people on bikes" and "cyclists" reminds me of this Scandinavia and the World comic pointing out just what a bizarre attitude that is in an environment that *actually* caters to cyclists rather than saying "well you're a road vehicle the same as cars so what's the problem" and ignoring the rather drastic difference in lethality between the two and hateful attitudes expressed by motorists towards the bicycles they're obliged to share the road with. 17:00, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
The latest Highway Code (in Britain) has been rephrased to more explicitly make all road(/etc) users aware that they are responsible for not causing problems for those more vulnerable than themselves. Cyclists can cause pedestrians serious problems, as well as being caused problems by cars(/buses/lorries/etc).
Though familiarity with (and willingness to follow) the Highway Code is where I'd separate a "person on a bike" (oblivious to all rights and responsibilities, just treat it like a two-wheeled 'parkour-device') and "cyclist" (someone who actually acts responsibly). Obviously, there's shades between. And most people don't have the history of having learnt their (cycle-)roadsmarts from an early age, even before they became drivers (if they ever did); too many people may take up the sport/leisure/commute/whatever activities of the bike in much later life (well after "messing about on a bike" phase as a kid) and learn/adopt a lot of wrong/troublesome ways to do things. Either too cautious and timid (on the road, at least) as a result of their own expectations from the perspective of the car-seat, or else too "born again cyclist"/activistic in an anti-motorist 'reclaim the streets' manner. And neither type really help to create a smooth experience for everyone else on the road. 20:13, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

The summation of the situation:
UNSPECIFIED line + SHORT distance = bicycle, walking, etc.
SPECIFIED line + SHORT distance = tram, everything in unspecified.
SPECIFIED line + LONG distance = train.
UNSPECIFIED line + LONG distance = automobile.
The most important combinations for urban planning are unspecified short and specified long which autos aren't good at. The one autos are good at is the least important. -- Andrewtheexplainer (talk) 15:43, 24 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

In answer the the editor who asked the question in the Edit Summary, about what "SPECIFIED and UNSPECIFIED" mean: Purely from context, I believe "line" above means "route". Some routes are (or can be) established as consistently demanded (for commuting, shopping, between major hubs half a continent away, etc) and can be "specified" as schedulable service for mass transit/infrastructure (anything from viable greyhound route with suitable identifiable service stops to an airline route (requiring airports at each end) or something asking for a railway/hyperloop/road to be either maintained (because it already exists) or created (because it does not at the moment) and is worth the while for such a special consideration. There's a degree of predictability to it, because of a mix of the same people regularly needing to make the trip (e.g. commute) and/or a continual/periodic demand by new people to make that journey (e.g. touristic purposes).
An 'unspecified' route, here, would then be anything ad-hoc, at a frequency or quantity of use well below any particular reason to uphold a service or infrastructure (or coordinated compound of such facilities, like a shuttle bus to and from the station/airport to collect those flying in from afar), and would be served by such private efforts across and through whatever generic routable methodologies exist to be be exploited.
And each of those two distinctions is multiplied by (at least!) two separate distinctions, that of length. (I'd be tempted to further split into other distances. Maybe localised, district, intra-state (from a US perspective), national and international, but that'd depend on what groupings I was analusing, and obviously a train could take one from one end of a (large enough) neighbourhood to the other or across the country (with the right conenctivity, even into another one!), depending upon which train and where it stops. But the above seems sufficient, as opposed to my overthinking of it.) 22:22, 24 September 2023 (UTC)

Why does anyone want their city to be walkable? We have buses, Uber, and subways, so why walk anywhere other than to/from the station? SDSpivey (talk) 18:34, 24 September 2023 (UTC)

Walking is free. It is flexible. Why would you want to take a Uber across 2 blocks of parkign to get to the next store, instead of having it right next to the one you just came from? Also it is nice for socializing, it is (quite light) exercise, and good for businesses, as you can actually "window-shop" and see what they have as you walk past and spontaniously walk into any store/restaurant/business. --Lupo (talk) 06:24, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
If you are just going across the parking lot, then it is already walkable. No further expense needed. Also, I sincerely do not know the last time I saw a store window that had any merchandise display. Perhaps that is not done in Florida. SDSpivey (talk) 06:40, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
It's a hen and egg thing. If everyone is driving, you don't need to put anything in the video, because there is noone to see it. But if the storefronts are not attractive thats one less reason to walk. And crossing a huge parking lot may in theory be walkable, but it is not really an enviroment attractive to walk through. --Lupo (talk) 09:00, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
No further expense? Apparently gas and car repair is free in Florida. Jokes aside, you really don't seem able to imagine a car-free shopping area. Look up image results for "Marktstraße" (German for market street). Edit: parking and zoning laws prohibit such development in the US (there is barely any parking per shop and the upper floors are usually apartments) so you literally may have never seen these awesome places that are all over European city centers. ChaoticNeutralCzech (talk) 11:04, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
We *have* shopping areas in the US where you can just walk from one store to another. They're called "malls". Just move them outside and replace the surrounding giant parking lot with housing. There, you've reinvented the European city center! 21:48, 27 September 2023 (UTC)

I would be weary of that "Netherlands" guy. https://what-if.xkcd.com/53/ https://what-if.xkcd.com/54/ and others 23:44, 24 September 2023 (UTC)

I can't be completely sure because of the black-and-white, but I'm afraid the guy with the scull cap is holding his flags upside down. It should be a red, then a white, then a blue stripe top to bottom. It's a very understandable mistake if he visited in the last two years or so, as it has become a trend to fly the flag upside down as a protest to certain controversial government descisions. (talk) 08:07, 25 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not my best contribution ever, but: Hup HOLLAND Hup!! (talk) 08:16, 25 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Note bicycle-centric planning is infectious.If you go to https://www.opencyclemap.org/?zoom=7 and zoom in one level, you will see that it has expanded well beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands. 09:41, 25 September 2023 (UTC) -- Kleptog (talk) 09:41, 25 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

*Reads the line about 'all of Europe agrees' from the UK. Laughs mirthlessly* 09:47, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

Netherlands! Netherlands! Netherlands! 20:29, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

How could we convince Randall to do a what-if on the feasibility of the Snow Crash carpoon? 05:04, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

That's not what "strawman" means. It means to falsely interpret another person's claims. 20:13, 24 October 2023 (UTC) Bort

Use of the unsigned templates[edit]

(Just a meta-note, to a recent editor of this page, that using the established {{unsigned ip}} and {{unsigned}} templates (ideally with the two parameters of appropriate username/ip and then the timestamp, which you clearly identified and used) makes for a much more readable, consistent and brief markup. Like you'd not normally want to mess with the formatting personally to 'emulate' the {{Citation needed}} tag. And if you're trying to do something different from established measures, then I really couldn't see it.) 16:22, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

Dear User: and/or User:, the standard for MediaWiki is to subst: these templates. See Template:Unsigned_IP and Template:Unsigned. You don't have to do so, but unless you have a strong principled compelling and convincing reason, it is inappropriate to revert and change other editors' choices. Your desire for a "readable, consistent[,] and brief markup" is the exact opposite of the design intention. Once this is entered, it is not to be edited, changed, or fiddled with, and leaving it as a template encourages that kind of fiddling, which is inappropriate. It's supposed to be a record of who entered what when, and that's not something that is ever supposed to change, nor should it need to change. So leave it alone! What is your basis for claiming "established measures"? It can't be either this wiki nor the English Wikipedia nor Mediawiki in general, since none of those things support you. I put this into a topic so it's less distracting to others, hopefully. JohnHawkinson (talk) 18:46, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
Dear JohnHawkinson, you'll note that the overwhelming usage on explainxkcd is to use (and leave) the explicitly templated form. Whether or not it is otherwise on (say) Wikipedia, and for whatever reasons (I can, indeed, think of some reasons for that preference) it has become accepted practice here (or, if you insist, malpractice) for... at least a decade? A quick dabble in well-established Talk pages with sufficiently old interventions of this kind demonstrate this. Fiddling can, of course, always be done (even when Substed), but just as easily detected and reverted. Personally, I value the handy abbreviated (but fully informed) form. (You can't 'accidentally' hide a dubious connection, like a <User:this> actually linking to a <User:that>, etc, which the expanded form can be made to do.)
If there's anything I feel rather guilty about, it's hardly ever making it say "UTC" (because when I copypasta the details, from the Diffs page top/whatever, that never explicitly says it is UTC, and it's easy enough to forget or not care about adding it to the relevent Param string). I don't know about anyone else's preferences, here, but it looks like there's either a lot more efficiency or a lot more backsliding/apathy, depending upon what perspective takes on this issue. I can't remember the last time I saw someone expand it out to the literal format like this, but of course I may only see it after editing/re-editing and have missed a tussle between the two paradigms like some of the other (named or IP) users have done above.
No, it's not a good idea to edit-war about this, so I'm just poking my nose in to point out my observations. I'm sure it'll be easy to ignore me (an anon-IP), even if I know that I've been around for a long time in this form and think I know the established culture here (and have learnt to blend in with it). 20:13, 25 September 2023 (UTC), are you the same as or I don't note the "overwhelming usage" on this wiki, no. I'm not quite sure how I would, since of course you can't count the references to subst:ed templates. I think it's pretty rare anyone would talk about it, you just go with whatever the first person did, and honestly it seems pretty rare that anybody bothers to use these templates at all. My gripe is that I made a choice and it shouldn't be reverted without a good reason, and I haven't heard one. This is different from saying everyone should always do it "my way." JohnHawkinson (talk) 20:24, 25 September 2023 (UTC)
Practical check:
  1. Use the Random Page link to go to an article (repeat from this point as many times as you think you need to).
    In creating this example, I landed on 1163:_Debugger
  2. Search page for the "please sign" text.
    There's two here (both in the Discussion transcluded section of the Talk: page, obviously).
  3. Note the timestamps.
    Rather naughtily, only the IP is provided, but once you actually go looking at the History/Diffs, step-by-step, you'll note that these two were done in 2013 and 2016!!
  4. Go and look at the actual markup made by the editors who added them.
    In this example, it's actually a major Admin (still occasionally active) and another Admin/'Crat (not as active... intervened a couple of times in 2021, but otherwise stopped doing anything by 2015), who are a surprisingly good 'vintage' of editors. And it looks like they're definitely adherents to the non-subst (as well as non-timestamp) cause.
  5. Maybe you want to correct things while you're there..? As long as you're prepared to correct a lot more things.
    I'd be tempted to insert the datetime parameter in this instance, perhaps, if I also found some other legitimate reason to go in there. I'd not subst: it nor go in there just to do this, but YMMV.
...I kept on Random Paging a few more times, aiming to land on a comic that was pre-1000 (yes, I could actually choose such a number, but where's the fun in that?), but the first reasonably unrecent page that had actual vintage unsigned elements to investigate was slightly later, but again featured Davidy22 shuffling and adding a (timestampless) raw-template version in the name of correcting the error of top-posting siglessly.
Went on a bit more. Whether or not the God Of Random Numbers might be trying to fool me, however, it seems to continue in the same vein.
You are a fairly established username (a good few months of valuable edits, it looks like, and useful for it), with who knows how much actual prior experience under any other username (or none). But I know what I've seen over the last decade or so, and it's clearly not reflecting the MediaWiki standard. Perhaps this is a discussion to be had more in one or other of the Community Gateway pages, however?
I'm ambivalent about the cosmetic edits (not reverts, but modifications as much as your original modifications to add the info) that were made on your kind contributions to removing actual not-signed-at-all-edness. Seems like a lot more effort than necessary, but perhaps if someone is passing by and feels they can optimise things more in line with site convention. 21:36, 25 September 2023 (UTC), I can't tell if you're the same as the other IP editors or not. This makes it impossible to have a reasonable conversation. Please explain if you're the same person, or better yet, create an account. I've restored the section/topic markers, because, again, they were a choice made and that choice should be respected absent some reason given (do you see a theme here?). Gosh, I only get credit for "a few months"? Wow, that seems like a pretty backhanded compliment. I'll hold off on my reply as to the substance until I understand whether I am talking to the same person or different people. Also, I am annoyed, which does not counsel replying at this time. JohnHawkinson (talk) 21:44, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

Netherlands! Netherlands! Netherlands!       I understood's edit to properly belong in this section, as if to say, "Quit it, you idiots." So I do not think it should have been moved. But just to echo that sentiment, I will repeat it here on my own, so there is no doubt. JohnHawkinson (talk) 21:48, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

The Netherlands (or, as should be correctly identified, Amsterdam & other urban areas; the Dutch countryside necessarily has issues with accessibility to services & public transport for the reasons I'm discussing) is such a highly-walkable place because of high population density; the vast majority of two-bedroom apartments are often less than 30 square feet in area. This is a consequence of being such a small country, which is a mindset that multi-generational upper- and middle-class Americans cannot fully comprehend; to them, there's always been more room to spread out. Only New Yorkers can have an idea of what that level of density is like. As well, car storage has been hampered by the low-lying land & high water table precluding basement garages, forcing cars to remain outside. Add in the prohibitive costs of running cars in Europe (gas costs at least €6,50 (6,99$US) per gallon, plus road taxes & Low-Emissions Zone charges in major cities (let's see somebody try to implement that idea in the USA!)), that means that city-dwellers see cars as luxuries, not essential to daily life and used only for visiting rural areas & transporting large items (most Europeans will shop for groceries only every few days, so they usually only buy enough to fill one or two shopping bags which can be carried. No-one buys a week or fortnight's worth of food at once because a) that's expensive and b) the majority of the food we buy is fresh & spoils soon after purchase.) 11:41, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

I assume you mean 30 m^2 and not 30 ft^2? Thirty square feet equals only three square meters, which is smaller than a King-size mattress. Thirty square meters, on the other hand, is believable for “two small bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bath”.--Ijuinkun (talk) 05:38, 28 September 2023 (UTC)
Can't speak for the IP that said that (and their use of ampersands triggers me a little!), but some really cramped apartments might well be sub 30 ft² (ultra-high-density locations). Or maybe they meant (30 ft)²; but ~100 m² is actually quite large (more internal floor area than my own two-storey 3(/2.5)-bedroom house), so probably not that. Otherwise, given articles like this, 300 ft² might have been intended (I don't think any of those are 2-bedroom, but perhaps have (pull-out) bed for two people!)... 08:42, 28 September 2023 (UTC)
Given that it purports to allege the vast majority of 2-bedroom apartments are often less than 30 square feet, I don't think we should be concerned about "really cramped apartments." Thirty square meters is 323 square feet, which is not plausible for a two-bedroom apartment. JohnHawkinson (talk) 22:47, 29 September 2023 (UTC)