Too often, technology is now only seen as something involving digital elements, reliant on software, microchips, and sensors to be successful. Many decision makers today see this narrow version of "technology" as an essential part to solving problems like congestion and poor economic activity, leading many to present and support solutions that can be unnecessarily reliant on digital technologies - many of which have higher ongoing operational costs.
But the steam engine was also a technology solution, albeit for a different set of challenges. So too are many things that are often now seen as dumb and mundane, such as asphalt, pre-cast concrete, urban drainage, curbside planting, and even the humble bollard. The sorts of technologies used to create the kinds of safe bicycle infrastructure proven to encourage more people out of their cars and make better use of limited road space (for example, for deliveries and public realm improvements).
Stepping back with clients and stakeholders at the start of the project to consider a broader and more traditional view of technology can allow us to lower infrastructure costs while delivering the same or increased benefits. By understanding a well-designed, protected cycle lane as a technological solution, we can deliver smarter cities with significantly lower operating costs.