Dundee is failing.
Well it is if you listen to urbanist, designer, author and inspirational speaker Mikael Colville-Andersen who visited the city last week to deliver the keynote speech at the Raising the Standards organised by Sustrans.
As a sustainable transport evangelist from cycle-loving Denmark, Mr Colville-Andersen was never going to give a clean bill of health to a city where the car remains such a dominant mode of transport.
Especially so when he focused on the newly rebuilt and revitalised central waterfront area, which is entirely encircled by major roadways.
A morning tweet gives a good insight into Mr Colville-Andersen’s thoughts.
— Colville-Andersen (@copenhagenize) January 23, 2019
He later followed up with a plea for Dundee to stop worshipping at the altar of the automobile and put sustainable transport at the heart of the urban planning agenda.
“There always will be cars, of course, but the days of an automobile dictatorship are over in most cities,” he cautioned. “Dundee wouldn’t want to get left behind.”
Hands up, I am part of the problem here. I use my car to commute to work in the city centre five days a week.
I own a bike, but its wheels have barely turned since the day I trundled it into the shed about five years ago.
I walk – a lot – but I am aware that I could be better to myself and to the city in which I live if I put foot to pedal rather than pedal to metal in future.
Interestingly, one recent development has made that prospect more appealing.
One of my great concerns about jumping on the bike has always been how vulnerable I feel while out riding on the public road.
After all, in a fight between a car and a bike there is only ever going to be one winner.
But the opening last week of a shiny new cycling and walking path through Dundee
docks has all but taken away that excuse.
Although I cannot see myself ditching the car altogether, the new route has certainly made me more inclined to join the drive to make Dundee a greener city of the future.
And, hopefully, with more such innovation, Mr Colville-Andersen will be a little more impressed on his next visit to the banks of the Tay.