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Posts from the "Germany" Category

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Smart Parking Policy Makes a Difference, Even in Livable Streets Utopias

The evidence keeps mounting that smart parking policy is an essential tool in the fight to curb traffic. A new study of two German neighborhoods indicates that managing the supply of parking can make streets more livable, even in places that already have great infrastructure for transit, walking, and biking. Eliminating mandatory parking minimums, the data shows, plays an essential role in reducing driving. 

Vauban.jpgIn Vauban, a German neighborhood built for walking and biking, the lack of parking requirements has helped reduce driving. Image: adeupa de Brest via Flickr.

The new research comes from Freiburg, the city at the center of Germany's environmental movement and the national leader in energy efficiency, water conservation, and green industry. Freiburg has built 160 km of separated bike routes, banned cars from the city center, and attained an automobile mode-share about half the national average. So when the city started booming in the 1990s, planners made sure to channel its growth as sustainably as possible. The result was two "eco-suburbs" -- the neighborhoods of Rieselfeld and Vauban, which are the subject of a study published this month by Andrea Broaddus, a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley's urban planning department.

Both Rieselfeld and Vauban consist entirely of walkable, mixed-use development. Each benefit from rail and bus transit, significant investments in bike paths and bike parking, 30 kph speed limits, and a road network that limits space for cars. Although Rieselfeld and Vauban are small, with about 10,000 and 5,000 residents, respectively, they have absorbed a generation's worth of growth in Freiburg, according to Broaddus.

There's just one big difference between the two neighborhoods: parking.

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Park, Ride and Wash in Fahrradfreundliche Muenster

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Here are tipster-submitted pics from the bike-and-ride Radstation in Muenster, Germany -- where a train depot sits adjacent to a massive bike parking garage, featuring, among other amenities, a bike washing machine. Price per wash: 3.25 Euros (about $4.13 currently, thanks to the leveling exchange rate).

We've reported before on Germany's flourishing bike culture, and Muenster is obviously no exception. Here's a passage from a write-up by SUNY Stony Brook professor Gilbert N. Hanson, who documented his cycling experience while on sabbatical there in 2000:

Muenster did not become a bicycle friendly (fahrradfreundliche) city by accident. During World War II the city center was almost completely destroyed. In the reconstruction of the city after the war it was decided that bicycles and buses should be an important part of city traffic. For the past 50 years the city has continually worked on increasing bicycle use.

According to the city press office, cycling accounts for 35 percent of trips in Muenster, while car ownership has seen no proportional increase in over 25 years. More bike station pics after the jump.

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Wiki Wednesday: Quartier Vauban, Freiburg, Germany

697449465_1d6c6b4405.jpgThis week's StreetsWiki feature takes us to the Quartier Vauban in Freiburg, Germany. With an area of 84 acres, the Quartier Vauban is a neighborhood of 5,000 people, designed and built as a sustainable community between 1993 and 2006. Contributor Kyle Gradinger writes that the Vauban "represents the state of the art in environmental protection in terms of transportation, alternative energy production, and sustainable construction techniques."

One of the key concepts developed through the Forum Vauban was the creation of a car-free neighborhood. While cars are allowed in the Vauban, their use and ownership is restricted. Streets are shared spaces primarily designed for people, not cars. To date, 40 percent of households have chosen to live car-free.

Transportation within the Vauban centers on its tramway. Another key component in making the Vauban car-free was the adoption of compatible parking policies, including a change in a state zoning law that at the time required builders to include a parking spot for each residential unit. After years of talks between Quartier Vauban planners and lawmakers, "the law was amended to permit Vauban residents to live car-free without the expense of building an unnecessary parking space." Parking is not permitted on private property in the Vauban, while on-street parking is limited to the main street; residents who own cars store them in garages on the outskirts of the neighborhood.

Might a certain American metropolis with a vast public transportation network and mostly car-free citizenry take a cue from this tiny European village on bridging the gap between transportation and planning?

If you have sustainable urban policy info to share on StreetsWiki, jump in by joining the Livable Streets Network.

Photo: aurelie83/Flickr

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New German Community Models Car-Free Living

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The Vauban Department of Transportation gets to work. Schritt Tempo: Walking Speed.

Freiburg, Germany is a place you need to know about if you are interested in models for reducing automobile dependence. Here is a great story by Isabelle de Pommereau from Wednesday's Christian Science Monitor:

FREIBURG, GERMANY: It's pickup time at the Vauban kindergarten here at the edge of the Black Forest, but there's not a single minivan waiting for the kids. Instead, a convoy of helmet-donning moms - bicycle trailers in tow - pedal up to the entrance.

vauban-kinder_1.jpgWelcome to Germany's best-known environmentally friendly neighborhood and a successful experiment in green urban living. The Vauban development - 2,000 new homes on a former military base 10 minutes by bike from the heart of Freiburg - has put into practice many ideas that were once dismissed as eco-fantasy but which are now moving to the center of public policy.

With gas prices well above $6 per gallon across much of the continent, Vauban is striking a chord in Western Europe as communities encourage people to be less car-dependent. Just this week, Paris unveiled a new electric tram in a bid to reduce urban pollution and traffic congestion.

"Vauban is clearly an offer for families with kids to live without cars," says Jan Scheurer, an Australian researcher who has studied the Vauban model extensively. "It was meant to counter urban sprawl - an offer for families not to move out to the suburbs and give them the same, if better quality of life. And it is very successful."

Read the rest of the story...

Photos: Vauban web site

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Eyes on the Street: German Bike Parking

Copenhagen is getting all the attention lately, but it's not the only livable European city with great cycling facilities.

Last week, I visited Munich for work, and found that the cycling culture there is strong, particularly as measured by the excellent bike parking facilities.  They seem to be in all the right places:

Outside the subway:

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Instead of car parking spaces:

In front of shops:

Even outside of suburban supermarkets:

Overall, the bicycling atmosphere is so comfortable, a ride to school doubles as a great time for a nap:

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Bus Stop. Hamburg, Germany

What it looks like when a city decides that bus riders can and should have a first-class transportation system.  

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Real-time bus schedule information:

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Detailed, up-to-date, thougtfully-designed timetables and route maps:

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