Drivers know all too well that parking lots are hot, uncomfortable, and are never the right size. In France larger parking lots will now require shading in the form of solar panels, making the large swaths of asphalt a little more comfortable. The solar panels are projected to provide the equivalent of 10 nuclear power plants.
Imagine if a law like this was passed in North America – we wouldn’t need any other source of energy!
Starting July 1, 2023, smaller carparks that have between 80 and 400 spaces will have five years to be in compliance with the new measures. Carparks with more than 400 spaces have a shorter timeline: They will need to comply with the new measures within three years of this date, and at least half of the surface area of the parking lot will need to be covered in solar panels.
It’s clear to anyone who has to buy a car because they live in low-density suburban communities that cars are expensive and kill the environment (and people). This awareness of the dangers of the automobile is growing and people are turning to e-bikes. Anecdotally we see places which have encouraged bicycling have cleaner air, healthier people, and that riders of the bikes use their cars way less.
Researchers decided to take a look to see if this is true. And it sure it! A meta analysis reveals that pedal assisted e-bikes (PAEB) are wonderful and your life will be better if you get one (and ditch a stupid car!).
Overall, it appears that the uptake of PAEB leads to a modal shift such that overall car use is decreased. PAEB use is associated with lower emissions compared to cars, but requires physical effort that classifies use of a PAEB as moderate intensity physical activity. Cost appears to be prohibitive, thus sharing or rental programs, and subsidies may be beneficial. Several additional barriers related to lack of infrastructure were also noted. Importantly, violations, injuries, and crashes appear to be similar between PAEB users and traditional bicycle users. PAEB offer an opportunity to improve health and mobility in an eco-friendly manner compared to cars. Infrastructure and policies are needed to support this modal shift. There is an immediate need to clearly define PAEBs, and to ensure regulations are similar between PAEB and traditional bicycles. Future research is needed to better understand long-term behaviour change with regards to commuting, and to identify the effect of implementing better infrastructure and policies on PAEB uptake.
Car drivers take up way more road space than they need since the size of their vehicles are disproportionate to their usefulness. Smart countries aim to limit the number of single occupant vehicles on the road for this reason and to ensure that all people can easily get from one place to the next. Traffic is so bad in some places that countries, like France, are now paying people to give up on their car.
France is working hard to push urban drivers out of cars and towards smaller and more environmentally responsible forms of transportation. In large cities like Paris, reduction in traffic from a switch to bicycles and scooters is perhaps just as important to many residents as the environmental effects.
We recently covered the case of anelectric bicycle company that is switching from vans to cargo e-bikesto increase the number of electric bikes it could deliver each day. The company’s delivery vans were simply too slow in Paris traffic, and switching to cargo e-bikes will help ramp up deliveries by using smaller, quicker, and more efficient vehicles.
There’s a fiction that cars are needed in cities and we should provide parts of our limited land in urban centres so one person can leave their car. This fiction perpetuated by car brains hurts our cities and is really not good, to solve this problem the city of Rotterdam create a parking pad that fits more than one vehicle using the same plot of land. Yes, it’s a bike rack. A special rack. The bicycle rack is placed on a mobile platform that is the size of a single car. The city can then easily trial out new bike rack locations, gauge demand, and get local communities to support a permanent parking solution.
The idea came originally from planners in the city of Rotterdam, who were brainstorming ideas in 2015 to help increase biking in a neighborhood that had extra car parking. “We figured, why couldn’t we develop a bicycle platform in order to just test if there’s demand for bicycle parking in this neighborhood—launch it as a test and experiment to help change the mindset of people in this neighborhood,” says urban planner José Besselink. “We also thought it would help us in accelerating this transition because we know that eliminating car parking is a tough thing anywhere in the world.”
In The Hague, neighbors can request a platform for their own block. On one of the streets where bike parking was installed this spring, the project helped residents realize they wanted to do more, says Schutte. “The residents of the street want to go even further and are investigating whether there could be more greenery in the street and whether the street could be made car-free,” she says. “It has also made residents more aware of their living environment and that you can do something about it, together with other residents and the municipality.”
Paris once had a reputation for horrible traffic, long queues of cars and taxing journeys via cars. When you have a problem stemming from one element sometimes it’s best to just get rid of it. That’s exactly what Paris is doing. By getting rid of the car traffic jams are going away and travel times for everyone are decreasing. By adding more mobility options people are able to navigate the city faster, easier, and are reliant on only one mode of transport. They have the freedom to choose how to get around.
OK, quickly: At the start of the 20th century, in the ’20s, ’30s, the car asserts itself as a travel mode in urban centers, which are transformed. Paris is clearly an old city with many centuries of history with an urban fabric. Even though it was transformed by Haussmann in the 19th century, it has an extremely dense urban fabric with a lot of small streets and a configuration a priori not adapted to the auto. When the car arrives, we transform what we can call public space, and this public space becomes automobile space, with the logical system of the car imposing itself in Paris. And public space is completely devoured, eaten away, and in a certain way privatized to one single, unique use.
Very quickly we see the limits of “total car” in Paris, even in the ’60s and ’70s. We try to say, “How can we preserve this city?” Well, by putting cars underground. So we construct parking, even whole highways, under Paris. But there’s opposition to the highway on the Seine. There were protests. When we did the parking under Notre-Dame, there was a lot of opposition, because they were going to graze the crypt underneath.