I live in a beautiful urban sprawl, in a dissected city with no streets, avenues, boulevards, closes or ramblas. In my city, which is 80 miles long and 15 miles wide, I enjoy points where I can be alone in an urban wilderness. I drive a car/van that is specially designed to suit these dimensions.
For longer journeys in the metropolis I tend to drive to the park-and-ride facilities at the motorway service area, where I can jump on a frequent bus service, which never gets delayed in jams. Ever since they banned cars from the highways, the buses have become very successful and more comfortable. Buses are allowed to leave the highways but trucks for freight are not. They must unload and decant into smaller vehicles at specific cargo points en route.
When the public lost faith in trains, everyone thought it would be a disaster, but it has actually been our salvation. Of course, the trains still run, but only long-distance, and they are fast, comfortable and reliable. The evolution of the car, and its restricted use to the grillage of small roads and lanes within the conurbation, has liberated the inhabitants of my city. There are many cars, but also many routes, within the decentralised mega-city.
I live in a new village, which is actually a single building where 5,000 people live, work and play. Everyone wakes up to a view of moorland, and yet my village did not destroy it, as it rides high over the surface of the earth.
The older centres are accessible and offer a variety of treats, as well as employment. To the east lie the pleasure fields, and in the west is genuine 24-hour nightlife.
The park-and-ride facilities at the motorway service areas usually contain beautiful gardens and first-class restaurants. I find myself indulging here over lunch, particularly in the summer, when the garden fills with visual scents and colourful smells.
One of the qualities I really enjoy is that the shops in my city sell things you cannot buy anywhere else. These are designed and made within the city, where, because of our 20 million population, the market is large enough to sustain itself.
Naturally, we do lose some of our produce to visitors who love to come and plunder our landscape, culture and shops, but I do not begrudge them the opportunity to be in a chainstore-free zone. The manufacturing premises are usually located in the centre of settlements, as they prove to be tourist attractions, but more importantly they all contribute to our schools, which are using knowledge within the community to help educate our younger (and not so young) people. Our health facilities are all combined with cultural facilities. It is sometimes strange to see people in the cinema in wheelchairs (with attendant drips), but we found not only that beautiful views help to make recovery faster (a reversal in itself of the tendency to build deepplan American-style hospitals), but that an integration with normal day-to-day life further counteracts the hospital - no, prison - syndrome, which for so long was perpetuated by over-managed hospital trusts.
My friends are often far-flung, which results in many overnight visits. I feel that I have many bedrooms of my own scattered throughout the city. Each one has a different view to start the day, after which I indulge in breakfast and wend my way slowly to work.
Life is wonderful, knowing that I am local and regional. At last this duality of choice is eradicated, and the life and environment outside the straight edges of this city is wild and natural.
WA, from the 23rd floor, Village Coastal, Pink Rose City