Every traveller to London loves the tube. There is no better way to get around this great city than with a multi-day Underground pass.
But as a tourist, I have always tended to ride the underground during the day, or late at night after a show. For the first time, for a couple of days in a row, I have had to brave the tube and Victoria Station at around 6PM.
As a result of this experience, I have a message for "smart growth" urban density-seeking urban planners: please don't do this to me. Never have I been so uncomfortable, so claustraphobic, and so ready to go Postal than I was in those tremendous moving crowds. It is a system designed to move a maximum amount of people efficiently, but it does so by forcing human beings to conform to the requirements of the system, rather than the other way around.
Unfortunately, it is exactly this dehumanizing vision that so enraptures modern planners. It is their mindset that people must adjust to their plans, not the other way around. It is ironic that most of these people, who would claim to be children of the sixties devoted to individualism, are in fact the architects of the ultimate Tayloristic forced conformity. I understand that such transit solutions may be necessary in a city as high of a population density as London, but please don't force that kind of density on the rest of us. If you enjoy it, power to you, you are welcome to live in such an environment. But leave the rest of us alone who want a car and 2.2 acres.
In particular, the whole notion of "congestion" really struck me. City planners always talk about fighting congestion, but they always mean traffic on roads (though ironically much of what they do actually increases congestion on roads). But what about pure human to human congestion? I would far rather be stuck on a freeway in my air conditioned car listening to the radio than packed in a moving mass of humanity in Victoria Station, packed into a platform waiting for a train, and then packed for half an hour standing in a train straining not to topple over on the person next to me.