It’s Time to Argue for Better Modes of Transit

The video above The Guardian explores the costs of subsidizing cars in cities and looks at alternatives to car-focussed design. In the UK Nottingham raised the price of parking to reflect the actual land costs. They then took that increased revenue to spend it on public transportation, which is a more effect way to move people in urban spaces. Which brings us to an important aspect of the video: argue for more efficient transit instead of arguing against the car. Car drivers get really defensive when you tell them they are traffic. It also turns out that in Nottingham the cost of parking didn’t negatively impact business at all.

Bike Share Parking More Efficient Than Car Parking

Bike share programs have taken the world by storm, more cities than ever before are using bike sharing systems as part of their transit solutions. Bike sharing allows for a mixture of bicycle rides mixed with mass transit. The popularity of bike sharing amongst commuters is also on the rise, to capture how popular the system is one enterprising individual set up a camera right beside a bike sharing station in New York. Notice how many people are utilizing the bike share parking versus the cars that stay stationary.

Luke Ohlson recently recorded the mad rush in time lapse at 5 p.m. on a weekday to make a point about transit in New York. “Parking takes up 150,000 acres of New York City street space, yet a majority of New Yorkers do not drive or use cars,” says Ohlson, a senior organizer at Transportation Alternatives, an activist group that promotes biking, walking, and public transit. “If we use some of the public space that is currently allocated to parking differently, the whole neighborhood can benefit.”

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Oslo Improves its City Centre by Banning Car Parking


The Norwegian capital of Oslo dealt with an interesting proposition of banning all cars in the city centre by compromising. At first business and some residents (only 30% of urban dwellers own cars in Norway) didn’t like the proposal at all claiming it would ruin neighbourhoods and business. To address their concerns the city rolled out a ban on parking within the city centre, the freed space would be used to productive use as public space and bike lanes. The ultimate result is that the business are doing better than before and the city is a better place to live.

The council’s clever solution? Rather than banning cars, it would ban parking – all 650 on-street parking spots. In their place, “we’ll put up installations and create public spaces,” says Berg, referring to six pilot areas. “Some will be playgrounds or cultural events, or [contain] benches or bike parking – or other things you can fill the space with when you don’t have 1,200 kilograms of glass and steel.”

Oslo’s transformation will be rolled out in three phases. In stage one, all on-street parking within Ring 1 will be removed, as well as some parking in surrounding areas deemed to be “in conflict with bike development”. Car parks in and around the central zone will stay, but many other on-street parking spaces will be freed up for alternative uses.

Stage two, in 2018, will see the pedestrian network extended, and close several streets to private traffic; shared space will be introduced, and 40 miles of bike lanes built.

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Thanks to Kathryn and Janet!

Stopping Free Parking from Strangling Society

small car

Urban planners spend the last hundred years modifying cities and policies to cater to the car – and that’s been harming us ever since. We’ve looked at how changing parking culture can save America’s economy, cities, increase transportation efficiency, and removing spaces can even make parking easier. Slowly, we are seeing change happening around the world. San Francisco, London, and Buffalo have removed their minimum parking spaces rules. Mexico City is switching their parking laws for new buildings from minimum required parking spaces to a maximum.

Municipal governments are learning that cities are for people and not for cars standing still. It’s time to end free parking and the assumption that the first mode of transportation cities should plan for is cars.

Water companies are not obliged to supply all the water that people would use if it were free, nor are power companies expected to provide all the free electricity that customers might want. But many cities try to provide enough spaces to meet the demand for free parking, even at peak times. Some base their parking minimums on the “Parking Generation Handbook”, a tome produced by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. This reports how many cars are found in the free car parks of synagogues, waterslide parks and so on when they are busiest.

The harm caused begins with the obvious fact that parking takes up a lot of room. A typical space is 12-15 square metres; add the necessary access lanes and the space per car roughly doubles. For comparison, this summer The Economist will move into a building in central London where it is assumed each employee will have ten square metres of space. In cities, such as Kansas City (see map), where land is cheap, and surface parking the norm, central areas resemble asphalt oceans dotted with buildings.

Once you become accustomed to the idea that city streets are only for driving and walking, and not for parking, it is difficult to imagine how it could possibly be otherwise. Mr Kondoh is so perplexed by an account of a British suburb, with its kerbside commons, that he asks for a diagram. Your correspondent tries to draw his own street, with large rectangles for houses, a line representing the kerb and small rectangles showing all the parked cars. The small rectangles take up a surprising amount of room.

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Portland Continues Support For Sustainable Transportation

Portland, Oregon is already known for its amazing support of bicycle riders and pedestrians. Now they have taken their commitment to making their city even better by building the largest bicycle parking in North America. Similar parking for bikes is available in other places like in Amsterdam and Tokyo so seeing this come to North America is a good sign for cyclists.

As reported on the Bike Portland blog, a 657-apartment project planned for Portland's Inner East neighborhood will have a whopping 1,200 bike parking spaces, an acknowledgment of the city's cyclo-centric culture.

One of the architects of the project, which is being developed in a part of town where "mid-century planning principles called for surface parking lots in lieu of dense, walkable communities," explained:

"The demographic that we expect to show up here is going to be young urban professionals and it's going to be, we think, young families as well," said Kyle Andersen of Portland-based GBD Architects. "They all have bikes. When I think about my own neighborhood, the families I see riding there, if you move those people into a building they're still going to have a bike. I think you have to be ready for that demographic to be there, otherwise you're restricting yourself."

Read more here.

Thanks to Mike!

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