Are we losing sight of the reality that a city has no reason to exist if it is not a centre of business and commerce? Is it possible that the vitality of our cities is being strangled by a shallow, naive and essentially suburban vision of the city - as a place reserved only for the three safe 'C's - cafes, cycling and communities?
Our cities are becoming battlegrounds. City planning is under siege by bands of zealous and elitist idealists who are convinced that they know what is best for us all. Like the forces that are producing cancel-culture activism, they are propelled by certainty and moralising.
According to this view, business, development, trade and industry are all bad things at worst - or necessary evils at best. And vehicles, suburbia and cars are for losers, while those specialist areas for manufacturing, commerce, logistics and sustaining services are derided as mere 'edge city'.
We need to plan the city as a whole - not just the city centre. Alarmist or idealist statements that might appear to make sense between the canals turn to dust when applied in those parts of Laois, Meath or Kildare that are Dublin's city region. The city is now a complex mixture of places and activities.
We need to accommodate these realities about planning for business in our cities. The biopharma manufacturing facilities - the backbone of our economy - are strung along the M50. As are most of the enterprises that pay the majority of the nation's taxes. This easily derided 'edge city' supports the health, educational and cultural institutions that are concentrated closer to the core - along with public administration.
We also need to get real about transport. Over 80pc of all journeys are by car -Ireland's travel and commute are completely average for the EU - slightly better for bus and cycling use than most, and one of the best for road safety.
Cycling enthusiasts will repeatedly point to three cities in Europe - Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Berlin - as having cycling rates as high as 40pc. The reality is that when each country is taken as a whole, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany all have similar car use per capita to Ireland. Cycling and walking are good, but they will never provide the majority of society's needs anywhere.
Despite this reality, city and transport planning appear to be using Covid disruption to implement long-held goals of giving greater priority to cyclists and pedestrians. While both of these objectives implement ideas that are beneficial, they must be done in ways that are effective and proportionally beneficial.
Enthusiasm for a very narrow vision of the Living City displays spectacular disregard to different needs based on gender, age, or occupation. Less than 7pc of the population cycle regularly, with up to 10 times more men than women cycling. Furthermore, among cyclists, there is a very significant preponderance of professionals and manager groups - almost double the proportion of semi-skilled and manual workers.
To make matters worse, the vast majority of those who use cars do so because they must, on account of distances travelled and reasons for travelling. Work journeys account for less than a third of journeys. The majority are used for household and social reasons - and most of these are by women, who make significantly more journeys than men.
So, are we planning to reorganise our cities around a tiny cohort of middle-class, male users while ignoring the needs of the poorer, car-driving, household-minding mostly-female population?
Changes that make matters worse are the last thing needed by businesses that are already wounded by the loss of retail, entertainment and business life. Of course, the city is changing - indeed many of these are underlying trends that have only been accelerated by Covid, but who decides what is an acceptable and proportionate level of loss or disruption?
Successful cities are inclusive - the wider their diversity, the greater their attraction and resilience. The more choices, the greater the likelihood of success.
Many assume that this formula refers only to the breadth of cultural, racial and gender identities.
Few extend this to more fundamental diversity such as choice between different transport modes or having choices about diverse types and locations of accommodation. Accommodating choices in cities is expensive, slow, and often difficult to reverse so it is important to plan carefully for the long term.
City planning is doomed to failure when it tries to ignore or suppress the needs of the majority in favour of the fads of the few. During times of crisis, city planning is especially vulnerable to disproportionate misdirection by a passionate few who promise salvation, as long as their ideals are implemented.
Covid has crystallised and accelerated several changes that challenge many of our basic assumptions about cities. We need to carefully find a new way forward.
Meanwhile, we need to understand, accept and protect the most fundamental role of cities as places of prosperity, opportunity and enterprise. Only these supply the wealth and energy that support the quality of life that attracts and sustains communities.
The sequence is critical. Prosperity comes before populism.