The Life-Sized City Blog: Desire Lines for Traffic 1965: Glasgow

From a graphic design perspective, the above - sent to us by the Bristol Traffic team - is quite beautiful. The word ‘Desire’, and the chosen font, send positive signals and the map has strong graphic elements.

And then you learn what it is. A map from 1965 taken out of a master plan by Scot & Wilson, Kirkpatric & Partners proposing the future of motorized traffic. At the bottom right it reads: "Desire lines of Traffic - 1990".

It's a positive, glowing vision of the future of transport. This is apparently where 'Traffic' desired to go. The thick, coloured lines are motorways. Somewhere underneath is Glasgow.

Bristol Traffic sent a link to this website - Report on a Highway Plan for Glasgow, 1965 - featuring the above map and other drawings, where excerpts of the plan can be read:

"The very nature of this motorway will define the City into understand­able units each with its own identity and from this it will be possible for the citizen to experience what the City means, how it functions and what it symbolises."

Having concrete flyovers replacing the sky wasn't considered to be a problem:

"Light penetrates through the central reservation into the open space created by linking the school playing fields on either side of the motorway."

Bristol Traffic reports on a similar vision for Bristol in this blogpost of theirs.

Even Copenhagen had a period of madness in the 1950's and 1960's. In this blogpost about The Lakes in Copenhagen I've included a cautionary tale of the massive City Plan West involving The Lake Ring (Søringen) Motorway plan which, fortunately, was killed off in the early 1970's - but not before it managed to live for 15 years.

Looking back at the crazy visions of traffic planners is amusing. Until you realise that very little has been learned. Mistakes have not been corrected.

For a look at what became of Glasgow - after the visionary 'Desire' master plan at the top of this page, here's a vision of the now. From the War on the Motorist blog and a post entitled, "Crap Cycling and Walking in Car-Sick Glasgow". Here you can see the results. It ain't pretty, sunshine.

I wondered if that same firm - Scot & Wilson Kirkpatric & Partners was still around. This might be them.

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