Looking ahead: forward-thinking cities.

The most futuristic metropolis about to hit the map at the moment is the UAE’s Masdar City, which will be located around 15 miles from Dubai. Designed by ‘starchitechts’ Foster and Partners, the six square kilometer city will be wholly sustainable with zero waste and zero carbon emissions, will recycle most of its water and rely on solar energy and other renewable resources. Fuel-consuming cars will be banned, replaced by pod-like, battery-operated transit systems that travel underground, reports Travel and Leisure. Not without some controversy and setbacks, this visionary city is planned to be fully operational in approximately 2020, and is an exciting new concept.

Meanwhile a number of cities are making the most of what they have, to redefine how cities function. As a way of reducing the growing number of traffic jams and emissions, many towns are implementing bike-share programmes. In eastern China's Hangzhou, commuters, tourists and residents cruise around town on 50,000 bikes, promoting the idea that bicycles are a viable form of transportation, not just for recreation or sport.

And in Brazil's city of Curitiba, the bus is getting a facelift. The town’s Bus Rapid Transit system really is lightning-fast. Busses arrive as often as every 90 seconds, and with passengers paying before boarding, it takes as little as 15 seconds to load travellers. When they depart, they zoom down their very own lanes. Curitiba is the envy of many cities in South America, has a low rate of car ownership, cleaner air and a more pleasant quality of life. It’s a bus system that rivals an underground for speed and efficiency and is attracting city planners from around the world.

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