October focus: The ascent of cities


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Over 2.5 million people cross the famous white stripes of the world’s most crowded intersection – Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing - every day. Meanwhile in Bangladesh, traffic stands still for more than seven hours a day in the capital Dhaka. More than half a million cars use the stretch of road from Windsor to Quebec, King's Highway 401, daily, while 200 million city dwellers, headed home to China’s provinces for New Year were left stranded at train stations and roads after heavy snowfall in January this year.

We’re in the grip of a population explosion, and nowhere is it more evident than in cities.

Cities cover only 2% of the world’s surface, and yet they are home to approximately 54% of the earth’s population. In 1960 that figure was 34%, according to the WHO. By 2050, it’s set to be 70%.

Planning for growth to avoid unrest, stagnation

Most of the world’s fastest growing cities can be found in the developing world. 560 million people currently live in urban areas in China (and only 1% breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union), while about 70% of Indians live in rural areas - though about 10 million people move to cities each year. There are now over 50 Indian cities home to at least one million people, according to Allianz. Africa’s fastest growing city, Bamako, is located in one of the world’s poorest country’s, Mali, which comes 182nd in the UN’s human development ranking of 188 countries.

Growing urbanisation is already causing major disruption

How are city authorities going to cope with such rapid growth? How must public transport be adapted, adopted or integrated to city planning to make sure growing numbers don’t make cities grind to a halt, leading to social unrest and economic stagnation?

This month across our online media we’ll be concentrating on cities that are currently undergoing rapid population growth. We’ll be tackling the stories from an urban mobility-focussed perspective, and we’ll be including a running series of articles by young people from fast-growing cities all around the world.

  • Fore more information please contact editor(at)uitp.org

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