Many clever people have spent considerable time and effort thinking of ways to get people out of their cars, lifts and off their bums for the sake of health and wellbeing for the community as a whole (and a very noble cause it is). Have you seen the Piano Staircase? Very very cool.
I recently read this article about the book Making Transit Fun! How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars by Darrin Nordahl, and whilst I agree that it’s always a good thing to make day-to-day activities as fun as possible and I’m a strong advocate of being very silly, I think that people would use public transit more if it was simply more convenient than driving the car. I take the bus to work because the traffic and parking in the city make it quicker on public transport. It’s not pleasant for the most part but I would prefer the operator spent funds on more buses, training their drivers to use their brakes more gently and customer service rather than making my stop look like a strawberry. Your never going to make sitting on the bus with smelly strangers more appealing than the airconditioned, quiet (or jazzy) comfort of your own car.
However, there are some places where a bit of fun and good design would really make a difference. Fun end of trip facilities and bike storage at major transit stops/transfers which made it really nice to ride even part of your journey would be great. One of my colleagues stopped riding her bike to the train station because the bike lockers provided are just a pain in the ass to use, her bike was stuck in there for a while when the card scanner was playing up, they are ugly, frustrating, dark etc.
I work at 140william in the Perth CBD , it’s a truly lovely building which has won many design awards, is pretty great in terms of its environment impact, with a pretty speccy lift system running through the centre of the building to move us all about. I get pretty horrible motion sickness and so tend to use the stairs when I can to avoid head spins. I often only need to go up or down 1 or 2 floors so it’s even more efficient. The stairs are just the emergency exit route of the building, they are not intended to be used for access and as such are cold, ugly, dark and pretty yuck to use. This is a brand new building, built to make life in it really comfortable and healthy, but stair access was not considered other than as Plan B for avoiding horrible elevator v. fire situations. This isn’t unusual right? What a shame! What if the stairs where well lit and comfortable to use, would you consider taking the stairs at your work place?
Here’s what the stair case at 140william looks like. In fact just after I took these photos the lights went off on me and I had to go down the last floor in the dark… terrifying.
Maybe we should get a few hundred litres of paint (a selection of only a few colours so we don’t look insane – each floor already has a bit of a colour theme going which we could use) and get all the inhabitants to come and paint the walls. We’ll need some really really long paint roller poles and some professionals to make sure we get to the tricky to reach bits and that it doesn’t end up looking like a broken kalidoscope. Or we could hire an artist to paint a gigantic geometric mural spanning 14 floors.
Some sound dulling material/carpet on the landings to soften it up a little bit, and it would make the experience of using the stairs so much more appealing!