There has been a lot of discussion recently about Richmond’s downtown plan, a comprehensive document that contains many ideas on how to create a city derived from the dreams of our citizenry. And while this plan highlights the future use of our riverfront and includes details for mixed-use housing and retail establishments, I believe the outlook lacks a critical component that is essential to living in a true city of the future.
That component, of course, is flying cars.
How can our city look itself in the mirror and say it is “of the future” if we don’t have an infrastructure of mid-air highways and roads, set between 500 and 5,000 feet off the ground, to allow for the flow of flying vehicles in getting from here to there?
Transportation is essential to any economy, and that shouldn’t only include transporters that are limited to four wheels on the ground. No, we need a plan that is open to automobiles that have the ability to pivot their rubber tires around and turn them into powerful, screaming airjets.
This downtown plan is forward-thinking, but we’re not moving anywhere without machines that can be flown by regular folks without the need for a pilot’s license.
So how do we get there? How do we take this vision we have and translate it into the most prized downtown in all of Virginia? I suggest we start by watching and analyzing “Back to the Future Part II,” particularly that one scene involving the hoverboard chase. Think of how beautiful our riverfront could be with new places to shop, live and skim across the water on a wheel-less, skateboard-looking apparatus.
Come to think of it, the time-traveling DeLorean flew in the second movie, too.
You see? This is exactly the type of technology we need. Because you can’t get to the future without coming back from it, as we can plainly see from how Michael J. Fox did it.
Throughout the process of incorporating all the ideas we received from Richmond residents on the downtown plan, there have been moments of agreement and disagreement. Some ideas were too detailed, several were overly critical, and many were completely unrealistic and totally preposterous. Other ideas, such as a car that can takeoff and land vertically and move through the air like a helicopter, are the ones we could easily implement to make the “River City” spectacular.
Yet – bafflingly – no one ever mentioned flying cars in their vision for Richmond’s future.
Understandably, many of the items on our long-term “to-do list” are expensive, like the condos or the entertainment facilities. I don’t think I’m the only one who can point out that installing a few air-signs and floating traffic signals could be done for pennies on the dollar.
Finally, if we expect to keep young people here and attract new residents as we move forward, we must think about ways to develop affordable housing, incorporate urban design and provide a public air-transportation system that includes sky taxis, atmos-buses and strato-trains.
Infrastructure for flying cars is essential to the Capital City of the Future. If we build it, they will come. Which brings me to a story for another day, and that is the need for more local baseball fields wherever we grow corn.