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"Across Europe, discouraging Drivers Has Become Urban Policy"

"Across Europe, discouraging Drivers Has Become Urban Policy"

Aug 1st, 2011, 10:03 AM
  #1  
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"Across Europe, discouraging Drivers Has Become Urban Policy"

the title of a lengthy New York Times article telling how cities across Europe are taking steps to either outright ban private vehicles from their city centres or by putting up as many hinderances as possible to discourage driving into city centres - like making parking either problematic or really expensive - or in the case of London and a few others an outright stiff charge just to get a permit to drive into the city centres.

some excerpts - some cities are reducing roads cars can use, producing horrendous traffic snarls for those who dare drive in - one city traffic planner chortled:

"That's what we like! Our goal is to reocnquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers." the planner was echoing many city planners who are converting large swathes of former vehicle-accessed roads into pedestrian only (and needed deliveries, etc) space.

"Onenovel strategy in Europe is intentionally making it harder and more costly to park. 'Parking is everywhere in the United States, but it is disappearing from the urban space in Europe, said Mr. Kodransky, whose recent report "Europe's Parking U-Turn,", surveys the stuff."

So anyone IMO thinking of doing a motoring tour that goes mainly to big cities is daft and should think about taking public transit like trains or airplanes between cities since once there the car can be practically useless and a costly liability if you can find parking places.

Cars are great for exploring rural areas but IMO should be parked at a suburban train station when you want to hop into a big city.

Think thrice IMO before planning to motor in the likes of Paris, London, Zurich, Amsterdam and the like!
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 10:05 AM
  #2  
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Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy | ClimatePlan
http://www.climateplan.org/.../acros...is-urban-polic... Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy ... Department here in Zurich has been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers. ... While many building codes in Europe cap the number of parking spaces in new buildings to discourage car ...

►Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/sc...7traffic.html?
Jun 26, 2011 – Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy ... “In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to .... cap the number of parking spaces in new buildings to discourage car ownership, ...
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Yes, all of that is accurate. One of my favorite cities is Strasbourg, where any attempt to drive to the center will turn you around and send you back where you came from.
kerouac is online now  
Aug 1st, 2011, 11:45 AM
  #4  
 
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In all fairness, the article is not incorrect. But far from being "news".

Priority signals for trams are an old hat.

Not sure where in Munich, where I live, the authors have found those "vast swaths of streets" that had been closed to street traffic. The historic city center is pedestrian zone, but since the 1980s or earlier.
I don't know where the professor from Stanford found the disappearing parking spaces in Munich. But even if some on street parking got axed, that only accomodated a fraction of parked cars. The majority had and has to use parking garages anyway.

Munich, the former "car capital".. now that is a joke. The outer ring road, the A99 freeway, has been notorious for traffic jams since decades, and got upgraded few years ago, and feeder freeways got widened to 8 lanes.
The bits and pieces of the inner ring road had been a standstill since decades. It is not until NOW that section after section gets upgrade to grade-free crossings and tunnels to make it a true freeway. Not the other way around, as the professor claims.

The "environmental zones" of German city centers are a bit of a nuisance to foreign car tourists, but anyone with a simple catalyt converter will obtain a permit. It's mostly old diesel cars that have to stay outside in some cities.

There are many bike lanes in Barcelona, but many at the side of 4-6 lane one-way city streets. Those hardly have any impact on car traffic.

Zurich may succeed in driving car traffic out of the historic ciy center - which is also cursed by topography as hills go up on each side. But they did not do so until they also invested heavily in a freeway system and freeway tunnels to guide transit traffic around the city.

Im summary, that article is
- outdated/ no news,
- plain BS and misinformation,
- and a bit of relevant information.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Cowboys is right about Munich! Anyway, it'll still take years before construction at Luise Kiesselbach square will be finished. But basically, the city is car friendly. In the evening, some of the traffic lights are set to "red wave mode", annoying!, other than that, no problem and it you know WHERE to look for a spot to park your car you'll always find one. Munichs pedestrian area was the first in Germany, has been constructed in the 60s, when life in town was still sweet. (Seems like I'm getting old). If just there weren't that many people here. But then, where you were born is where you long for?
logos999 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 12:10 PM
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Yes some cities do discourage drivers, and on purpose, and with good reasons, and I really hope this will be enforced more and more and other cities will learn from the good examples.
quokka is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 01:09 PM
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Funny, I was just reading an article about Raleigh, NC on the plane. The article portrayed an attempt to pedestrianize Raleigh as a failure, and responsible for retarding growth of the urban core.

My feeling is that these sorts of programs work on a limited scale, in a limited number of cities. Culd you successfully limit car traffic in Manhattan? Sure. But try to do that in Queens, and I think it would be a failure. Similarly, you can pedestrianize parts of Zurich or Copenhagen, but cars are ubiquitous in the parts of both where I lived. You can, as Boston has done for years, limit parking and still have a vibrant core, but it would be a failure in a less dense setting.

At the end of the day, these initiatives can work in densely populated cities, but those cities are dense because they pre-date the car. Most American cities were designed for the car, and no amount of parking limitations or pedestrianized streets will overcome the sheer size of the average American city. To compare two cities I've compared before, Hamburg (hardly the most car-unfriendly city I've visited) has nearly double the population density of Houson. These initiatives need a critical mass of people to be successful.

One last note... Are folks truly comfortable with the potential byproducts of these initiatives? I mean, I've not curtailed my vehicular traffic in London, at all. My cab ride may be a bit more expensive, but I benefit from the reduced congestion, so I think I come out ahead. Do these initiatives merely introduce one more barrier to entry to inner city neighborhoods? Do they have the potential to, de facto, turn city centers into gated communities, by making access prohibitively expensive for many? Do these cities run the risk of becoming 1980s Raleigh, a least at night, as they drive residents away that might bring life to the neighborhood.
travelgourmet is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 02:47 PM
  #8  
ira
 
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>"Across Europe, discouraging Drivers Has Become Urban Policy"<

Socialism-tainted-with-Marxism.

They are taking away the people's right to choose.

I'll never let the gummint take away my right to drive on roads, highways, bridges and tunnels paid for by other people.

ira is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 03:14 PM
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Thinking loud about imposing highway tolls for cars (they already exist for trucks) in Germany is as promising for a politician's career here as trying to impose gun control in Arizona!
Everybody needs a god-given right
We invented the car, and we are determined to keep that darn
thing. But at least we don't charge you for lining up in a fabulous 30kms traffic jam like those snarky Austrians.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 04:20 PM
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The NYT is behind the eight ball again. This has been going on for decades. The article did not even mention the Italian cities which are infamous for ticketing anyone who drives through the center of town, nabbed by hidden cameras. See signage at http://tinyurl.com/3bc2ax. Fodorites have reported on the astronomical fines they receive months after the infraction.

The article states Many American cities are likewise in “nonattainment” of their Clean Air Act requirements, but that fact “is just accepted here,” said Mr. Kodransky of the New York-based transportation institute. This appears to be a gratuitous false statement with no supporting data or even identification of any so-called *transportation institute*.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 04:31 PM
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"an attempt to pedestrianize Raleigh" - er, not exactly... A pedestrian mall in the very center of downtown, one (perhaps two - I forget) street for a handful of blocks. Cars as usual everywhere else.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 05:13 PM
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A great idea to minimize pollution. The only problem is that you hae to repalce cars with public transit - done in europe but ery rare inthe US - since it would cut down on the profits of the oil companies.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 05:22 PM
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If your intent is to visit major cities, it is silly to drive in them unless you have a true reason for doing so. That is true world wide.

If you want to get into a country, you will need a car and you will want to avoid using it in cities. In fact if you choose a "base" correctly, you can keep from wasting money on gas, and walk to dinner, etc.

I think pedestrian zones in big cities are fantastic, and needed to cut down on congestion and fumes, etc. Frankly, Raleigh is just poorly planned. And I wouldn't really consider it a big city, just congested.
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Aug 1st, 2011, 05:40 PM
  #14  
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"A great idea to minimize pollution. The only problem is that you hae to repalce cars with public transit - done in europe but ery rare inthe US - since it would cut down on the profits of the oil companies."

I hardly think that oil companies are responsible for the fact that most of urban America was developed after the invention of the automobile. Without a certain level of density, public transport just doesn't work.

We did a little bit of driving in Nice recently, having decided to return the car there so that we could drive the corniches. I wish we hadn't, and had simply taken the train from Avignon. But, then again, we're tourists struggling with navigation. For folks who know their way around, closing more streets would probably just be a pain in the ass. Still, pedestrianized streets do have a place in the urban landscape, at least when all the factors are there to make it work.
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Aug 1st, 2011, 06:09 PM
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As far as tourists driving in European cities -- don't. If you prefer driving between cities rather than taking the bus/train -- as we do -- then plan to park your car at a suburban train station or book a hotel on the outskirts in an easy to reach location with good bus/tram/metro into the center. We have visited most of the major cities in Europe using this method, saving the hassle of city driving as well as saving euros on hotel costs.
crckwc1 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 06:35 PM
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I think that Venice has solved the problem rather well.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 06:40 PM
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IMO

IMO

IMO

Is this a travel post or opinion piece? If the latter, send it to the lounge.
BigRuss is offline  
Aug 1st, 2011, 11:16 PM
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"Do these initiatives merely introduce one more barrier to entry to inner city neighborhoods? Do they have the potential to, de facto, turn city centers into gated communities"

Of course not. Real inner cities with a resident population (like Siena or Oxford) are so densely populated, cars simply can't make any real contribution to daily transport needs for most people. And actually, the 19th-century suburbs sociologists call inner cities (like Hackney or New York's Harlem)generally depend on public transport too - for the very good reason that public transport is just a great deal cheaper than private cars, at any rate in Europe.

There IS a problem with inner cities (by which I mean cities' historic cores) becoming unaffordable. But that's a question of property values: a growing number of modern affluent people simply prefer to live in city centres, and as a result have priced the relatively poor out of the market because house or flat prices have reached the stratosphere. That problem, (if it is one, because there is no law stopping poorly paid cleaners getting the Tube into central London to work, just like advertising executives) can only be solved by some kind of government action on housing subsidies, compulsory reservation for social housing,easier planning permission for new buildings or income subsidy.

Making life tougher for cars almost inevitably improves access to the central city core for the lower paid: buses get into the centre from the suburbs faster – and it's a great deal easier to increase the number of bus routes than to drill out 20 or 30 miles of new Tube tunnel
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2011, 12:04 AM
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Quote travelgourmet: "One last note... Are folks truly comfortable with the potential byproducts of these initiatives? [...] Do these initiatives merely introduce one more barrier to entry to inner city neighborhoods? Do they have the potential to, de facto, turn city centers into gated communities, by making access prohibitively expensive for many?"

Hmmmm - does not compute; if one lives in the central core one is exempt from the charging.

The issue is with land values as Flanner states, for two reasons - the fashionability and desirability of city centre living has increased exponentially over the last twenty years pushing up the cost of a limited supply, and similarly the move to convert previous resedential buildings into business/office accommodation (or tear it down and rebuild as commercial premises) has further both limited the supply and increased the competition for that which becomes available.

Congestion charging - or its equivalent - has no bearing on this one way or another.

Dr D.
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 12:39 AM
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In the U.K. city where I live, the trend has been the other way. Many centrally located office buildings have been converted into flats or hotels, resulting in many more people being around in the city centre at all hours and on all days.

These are not family homes, and most of the residents are students or young professionals. Few have cars, so parking and congestion are not a particular problem.

A little further out from the centre, where more residents have cars, and where commuters are always searching for free parking, there are many areas with residents-only parking spaces and a system of parking permits.

In our case, the principal disincentive to driving into the city centre is the cost of parking, but this has the perverse result of there usually being parking spaces available. If parking were cheaper, all the spaces would be taken up more of the time.

We also have areas which are totally pedestrianised, or where only public transport is allowed. This has been the case for so long that it is uncontroversial. There is no pressure for the reinstatement of traffic, with its noise and fumes, on busy shopping streets.
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