Cars in cities just cause traffic and block other modes of transportation so one Spanish city decided to do something about and banned car traffic in its downtown. The results are a thriving downtown with local businesses performing better than before the ban. Locals prefer the lack of smog and the ability to just be able to get out and walk without risking their lives. Let’s hope more cities plan for a carless future!
The benefits are numerous. On the same streets where 30 people died in traffic accidents from 1996 to 2006, only three died in the subsequent 10 years, and none since 2009. CO2 emissions are down 70%, nearly three-quarters of what were car journeys are now made on foot or by bicycle, and, while other towns in the region are shrinking, central Pontevedra has gained 12,000 new inhabitants. Also, withholding planning permission for big shopping centres has meant that small businesses – which elsewhere have been unable to withstand Spain’s prolonged economic crisis – have managed to stay afloat.
Raquel García says: “I’ve lived in Madrid and many other places and for me this is paradise. Even if it’s raining, I walk everywhere. And the same shopkeepers who complain are the ones who have survived in spite of the crisis. It’s also a great place to have kids.”
In North America riding a bicycle in the cities built for cars can be stressful. Because these cities are designed for cars it’s hard to get anywhere quickly and New York witnessed this first hand. Instead of adding more vehicle lanes and continuing the problem they decided to remove parking and add bike lanes. As a result they saw fewer crashes on their streets while increasing economic activity. Plus, in New York the bike lanes allowed car traffic to floe better because the streets also permitted safer turning.
Here’s the description of the video above:
When Janette Sadik-Khan was hired as chief transportation official for New York City in 2007, she took a page out of Denmark’s playbook and created America’s first parking-protected bike lane, right in the middle of downtown Manhattan.
A parking protected bike lane created a buffer between the traffic of cars, trucks and buses and cyclists. But it also eliminated parking spots.
The protected lanes didn’t just make the streets safer for those on bikes; they also improved traffic flow for vehicles and spurred increased retail sales for businesses nearby.
Cities where people cycle regularly are happier than cities in which cycling is rare. The evidence continues to mount that building good cycling infrastructure will improve the life of everybody in a city – regardless if they ride or not. Urban planners already know that designing cities for pedestrians and cyclists make for better environments and now the on the ground happiness can be traced to it too. Get out there and ride a bike or ask your local politicians to make riding safer.
In Bogotá in 2017, for the first time, there were more survey respondents using bicycles than cars – 9 percent vs. 8 percent – with a satisfaction rate of 85 percent for bicycles against 75 percent for private vehicles. Only 19 percent users of the city’s bus rapid transit system, TransMilenio, reported being satisfied with its service.
The data from Colombia is consistent with international evidence.
A survey of 13,000 people in the United States by researchers from Clemson University in 2014 showed that cyclists were the happiest commuters.
Similarly, a survey of 1,000 people in London showed that 91 percent of the respondents bicycling to work found it satisfactory, while only 74 percent of bus commuters and 73 percent of Underground users were satisfied with their daily travel experience.
In the Global Happiness Report 2017, countries with high bicycle use tend to among the happiest overall, like the Netherlands (ranked sixth; daily bike use: 43 percent), Denmark (ranked third; daily bike user: 30 percent) and Finland (ranked first; daily bike use: 28 percent).
Thanks to Delaney!
The 1970s oil crisis left an impact on the city of Denver in the forms of good public transit. The writing was on the wall that individualized transit infrastructure that favoured the automobile wouldn’t be a good long-term solution for the city so they did something. Thanks to the initiative taken decades ago Denver witnessed how good transit infrastructure built for people can positively shape a city. Since then light rail has been added to the city thus saving itself from turning into a generic, sprawling, and parking filled North American sub-urban community.
“We are talking about a culture-transforming moment,” says Denver mayor Michael Hancock. “Light rail has really moved Denver into the 21st century.”
How the $7.6 billion FasTracks project saved Denver from a dreaded fate locals call “Houstonization” is the story of regional cooperation that required the buy-in of businesspeople, elected officials, civil servants and environmentalists across a region the size of Delaware. Their ability to work collectively—and the public’s willingness to approve major taxpayer investments—has created a transit system that is already altering Denver’s perception of itself, turning an auto-centric city into a higher-density, tightly-integrated urban center that aims to outcompete the bigger, older coastal cities on the global stage.
“It’s colder here than anywhere else” is a popular myth that Canadians tell themselves which then leads to Canadians thinking that solutions used in the rest of the world won’t work in the country. This is not a good thing. The good thing is that Canadians are tepidly looking to other northern countries to see how common problems are solved. Copenhagen has similar weather to many cities in Canada and has alleviated traffic through good bicycle infrastructure. What’s most important is that Copenhagen supports their bicycles year-round unlike most Canadian cities.
And it pays off: According to one economic analysis, every kilometre driven in a car costs society 89 cents; by contrast, every kilometre driven on a bike saves 26 cents.
Most streets in the capital have four distinct lanes – a sidewalk, a cycling track, parking and a driving lane. The city notes that every time it adds a bike lane, cycling traffic increases by 20 per cent to 50 per cent along that route.
In fact, commuting time has fallen because the city built a network of “cycle super highways” from the suburbs and adopted a “green wave” policy, whereby traffic lights for bikes are synchronized for bikes travelling at 20 kilometres an hour and, if you maintain that speed, you rarely stop.
Canadians often dismiss cycling as impractical because of the weather. Copenhagen is certainly more temperate than Toronto (or Edmonton) but, when it does snow, bike lanes are cleared first. Copenhagen also gets a lot of rain – 177 days a year – but people dress for it.