Cycling Image source Shutterstock
When people in Bangalore meet each other, what they talk about is anybody’s guess, yes, it is the traffic problems. But what people not living here may not know is that what we share with people around us most is the information on which road went One-way today and how much de-tour you have to take to reach a destination, which you can see across the road. This situation is obviously because of over-population, and the difference between the rate of growth of industry and infrastructure here.
I was just trying to think what would be the optimal size for a city is so that while you get the advantages and feel of living in a city but there are minimal disadvantages that come with the big size and huge population.
Here are some of my thoughts on it:
Size of the City: I should be able to reach from one end of the city to another in about 30-35 mins on an average. This should roughly mean about an area of about 100-125 Sq Kms.
Population: May be between 15-16 lakhs, so that you have enough faces to see, and you would see some known faces in every crowd that you visit in the city. You may not get total anonymity like what a Mumbai may offer, but then do you need that all the time.
Proximity: Ideally city should not be adjacent to another city or town, which virtually makes the two cities act as one for all practical purposes (think NCR). This would also ensure that you drive for about an hour and you would be out of city limits and can probably be with nature.
I think this combo of size and population would ensure that the city would have all kind of facilities like education and medical facilities. There can be basic infrastructure for traveling in and out of the city. This combo may not give you a facility to have linking flights / trains like our mahanagars, but then if you do not live in the vicinity of airport / railway station, reaching your part of the town is as much time taking as traveling from a nearby town.
Can we not have network of such optimally sized cities across the country, rather than having few jumbo sized cities trying to take the burden of inflowing population and trying to balance the growth of the city with the growth of the population and their demand. Can our city planners debate on the ‘ Optimal Size for a city’.
Do you know any such cities in India?
Update: Roughly 10 years after asking ‘ What is the optimal size for a city?’ , I find myself living in Panaji – which meets almost all the criteria that I thought would make an Ideal city to live. Universe does work in some strange ways for you – if you let share your desires with it.