back to article Israelis offer radical new rat-based urban renewal scheme

Israeli professors have advocated a radical new method of city planning. They say that proposed layouts for new urban construction should be tested by checking what rats think of them, suggesting that recent trials in which furry rodents favoured New York's street plan over that of New Orleans indicate the murines' superior …


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  1. Peter Thompson

    Trial run

    The Israelis are currently testing the new idea on Gaza. By the time they've finished there will only be rats left.

  2. Guy Herbert

    Cunning experiment by rats

    ... appears to have unearthed the conceptual structures and preferences of Israeli scientists. The scientists presumed grid is good, and interpreted the rats' movements accordingly.

    People who have compared their own behaviour in messy humane cities with "efficient" gridded ones, and noticed the "destination" areas of the latter are the places where the grid breaks down might think something different. How about the hypothesis that the cobbled-together structure of the Big Easy encouraged a more laid-back lifestyle in rats that in long straight tunnels rushed around desperately looking for some quiet, comfortable, rat-sized spaces to hang out?

  3. Mycroft

    israeli rats

    So that's what they're trying to do in Palestine - remodel the city to make it more attractive for rats. Sadly I think they're succeeding.

  4. Roger Heathcote
    Thumb Down


    I don't get it, how does designing a city on a grid and testing it with rats ensure 'soul' ?!?

    This is a shocking waste of everyone's time, rats and readers included.

  5. chris


    Indeed. Rat race, anyone?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder, was link between rats and humans preferences established by monitoring groups of rodent like sub surface dwelling humans in different city sewers?

  7. Paul Murphy

    And it will be called Milton Keynes.

    Efficiency is not related to 'soul', except perhaps in an inverse way.

    Though this sort of thing might be useful for general planning, maybe between cities or large areas, I don't think it's suitable for neighbourhoods.


  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    Rats to humans?

    Rats find grids easier to navigate quickly, therefore so do people? That's a bit of a leap. An obvious difference that renders the whole thing a complete and utter load of festering bollocks is that rats don't read maps, use satellite navigation systems, take taxis or ask for directions.

  9. h4rm0ny

    Rats != humans

    Who is to say that widening the range of travel is pleasant for humans. It could reduce the feeling of community and neighborhood.

  10. Martin Lyne


    You say that straight lines with many joinings are EASIER to remember and traverse than curved, irregularly joined ones?





    News just in: Israeli professors drink cocktails while scooping from the pork barrel.

  11. Luther Blissett

    Kudos to Lewis

    > "Our research takes the art used by humans to create their towns and cities and turns it back to the animal world for testing," says Prof David Eilam of Tel Aviv Uni.

    I expect the Israelis to be turning their mind again to further settlements on occupied territory. May we expect the good Prof's findings to find favour with Israeli planners? I think not, as long as the Babylonian Talmud and Sanhedrin are taken as authorities of the Jewish faith.

    Kudos to Lewis for exposing a pernicious world-view that belongs to pre-history.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What a lame Mickey Mouse idea.

    What's next, bees on cocaine?

  13. Thomas Dent

    Unfortunate choice of metaphor

    'Pork barrel'? Come on, be realistic.

  14. fishman

    Rats vs humans

    Who says that humans are as smart as rats?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good use for this research

    Make the cities rat-unfriendly and keep their numbers down.

    Who cares about the two-legs anyway. Our "leaders" dont.

  16. Anton Ivanov

    Prior art

    Romans used to lay roads in mountain regions by following a donkey. The practice was followed by Bysantium and the Turkish empire after them.

    Apparently these animals always follow the path which requires the least amount of effort.

  17. Mart

    design cities based on rodents favourability

    forgive me here, but i don't get it?

    while the grid format is practical for getting from A to B imagine a massive city in grid layout, where every building is the same height, sounds depressing sight right?

  18. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Rat Friendly = Good? I missed that meeting...

    Since when was designing a new city to be rat friendly a good thing? I thought we were trying our best to bring down the numbers of these rodents... So we should obviously build more cities like New Orleans (ie below sea level ready to be swallowed by a passing hurricane? :P)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    what's the point?

    They say that proposed layouts for new urban construction should be tested by checking what rats think of them, suggesting that recent trials in which furry rodents favoured New York's street plan over that of New Orleans indicate the murines' superior judgement.

    Well, New York IS infested with rats.

    @fLaMePr0oF - sub surface dwelling humans CHUD, anyone?

    @Anton Ivanov - following a donkey.

    Sad to say, we're still following asses.

  20. Christoph

    Brilliant deduction

    So if all the streets are identical, and there's no way to tell where you are, you're more likely to panic and rush around trying desperately to locate yourself.

    And this is supposed to be a good thing?

    Here, have some concrete rats to go with the cows.

  21. charles paul
    Thumb Down

    Anybody who has lived in New Orleans knows...

    That the rats don't use city streets, they get from place to place by the telephone and power lines.

    Also, New Orleans is laid out strangely because a river bends it's way through it's center - also, there is a "grid"... it is just skewed to better match the contours of the river.

  22. halfcut

    So the rats

    In New Orleans didn't travel as far? Shirly that means that they were happy where they were. The ones in Manhattan were probably looking for the exit.

  23. Daniel B.

    Re: Rats to humans?

    One of the reasons I can easily navigate in the central Mexico City area is because there are a bunch of arterial roads called "ejes viales" which cross the inner city like a cartesian map. Kind of. And most streets are laid on a grid, so I don't end up running in circles.

    Some areas, however, are a total NIGHTMARE as the streets run in weird circles and you end up in the same place, even if you didn't take any turns. Eeeek!

    Mine's the one with the "You are Lost" City Map.

  24. Dave Silver badge


    Surely it is the regular block after square block that is soul-less and inflexible, not streets that wynd round obstacles.

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