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.
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.Read more...