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Thread: Back to the future: the creation of carfree cities

  1. #1
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    Back to the future: the creation of carfree cities

    I ran across this website while doing some research. It offers a time-tested method of building cities... one that uses a medieval-style series of districts with narrow streets and courtyards, connected by a speedy transit system. I know similar schemes have been concocted over the years, but this website at least warrants a glance.

    http://www.carfree.com/topology.html
    http://www.carfree.com/block.html
    http://www.carfree.com/district.html

    Main website: http://www.carfree.com/

    In your opinion, does this system of creating cities offer a sustainable and livable
    environment? I think so... hidden courtyards coupled with wide open undeveloped areas offer a close proximity to wilderness, farms, and recreation. The narrow streets make strolling or riding a bike through a district safe, quiet, and easy. The transit system is designed for a minimum impact on the urban and physical environment, shuttling commuters and shoppers safely and cleanly from one corner of this city to another. The lack of suburbs means that farms are in close proximity to the city center... which makes the distrbution of fresh food easy and cheap. This will be great when the sky-high gas prices of the future prevent food from being shuttled from farms in Chile and China.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I looked thru that site about a week ago and it all struck me as pretty good information until I hit the section dealing with stitching together a bunch of separate pedestrian settlements into the larger metro network. That section was a bit contrived and probably not too useful in reality. Strange diagrams with circular pods scattered about.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I looked thru that site about a week ago and it all struck me as pretty good information until I hit the section dealing with stitching together a bunch of separate pedestrian settlements into the larger metro network. That section was a bit contrived and probably not too useful in reality. Strange diagrams with circular pods scattered about.

    That bit seemed focused on building an entirely new city, rather than working with what we have. And i always resist that. Also, it seemed to be more concerrned with"cars are evil" than "lets see how we can make our cities better". That aside, i think the carfree thing has alot going for it. I'd like to see a large scale trial... like all of Lower Manhattan? Or even a signifgant chunk of South Brisbane.

  4. #4
          quink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chukky
    That bit seemed focused on building an entirely new city, rather than working with what we have. And i always resist that. Also, it seemed to be more concerrned with"cars are evil" than "lets see how we can make our cities better". That aside, i think the carfree thing has alot going for it. I'd like to see a large scale trial... like all of Lower Manhattan? Or even a signifgant chunk of South Brisbane.
    South Brisbane? As in Logan? As in Redlands? As. If.

    But, seriously, I could just about imagine a light-rail network aided by bikes and buses around here, with some shortcuts where cars can't go, like a light-rail corridor right along the bay, which would bring in Tourism and move it all a bit to the sea. Or a direct route from the coast to Springwood/Underwood.

    Forget it, these Australians need their cars unless they can go to a place like Byron Bay or up to Maroochy without spending 10 hours and 3 transfers doing it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I think a strictly anti-car perspective is unhelpful and wrong. Unhelpful because people (darn them pesky independent-midned citizens) value their cars and car usage and the stridency and impracticality of an anti-car stance will put many people off and result in TUF being identified with car-hating nutters. Many people are preapred, these days, to shift froma system that subsumes all priorities to the facilitation of auto traffic to one that balances with other needs. They are NOT willing (*nor shoudl teh be) to go back to trams and foot. Wrong becaase cars are, in fact, a wonderful invention. I see the challenge to the very smart designer as how to reconcile car ownership and use with livable, walkable neighborhoods.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  6. #6
    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by quink
    South Brisbane? As in Logan? As in Redlands? As. If.

    LOL NO!!!!!!! Logan? Ah hilarious
    South Brisbane as in the suburb of South Brisbane. South Brisbane as in West End, Montague Road and Grey Street. South Brisbane as in more or less an extension of pedestrian malls at Little Stanley Street and South Bank.

    Mind you, though that would be a grand little idea, I'm now thinking it wouldn't work even though it would. ie, i can see loads of people driving to the pedestrian area, sort of defeating the purpose.

    Quote Originally posted by quink
    But, seriously, I could just about imagine a light-rail network aided by bikes and buses around here, with some shortcuts where cars can't go, like a light-rail corridor right along the bay, which would bring in Tourism and move it all a bit to the sea.
    Though its probably one of the more highly serviced areas by public transport, I always thought it absurd that there is no rail-line out to U of Queensland. (it's also the route that affects me the most ) as it's the second highest concentration of commuters (or something like that - second most congested area? Second most traffic causing precinct? all of the above?) after the CBD. I thus dream fondly of a lovely little light rail running from the uni, to connect with the train at toowong.

    In your version, what would the light-rail network be centred on?
    Last edited by chukky; 19 Jul 2005 at 7:35 AM.

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    I don't believe that cars are evil at all... I just think that it was an interesting theory of urban planning. Cars should be accomodated, but cities shouldn't be designed to cater exclusively to automobiles. You have to remember that cities are built for people, not cars. I just think pedestrian needs should be more important than the needs of automobiles.

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I think a strictly anti-car perspective is unhelpful and wrong. Unhelpful because people (darn them pesky independent-midned citizens) value their cars and car usage and the stridency and impracticality of an anti-car stance will put many people off and result in TUF being identified with car-hating nutters. Many people are preapred, these days, to shift froma system that subsumes all priorities to the facilitation of auto traffic to one that balances with other needs. They are NOT willing (*nor shoudl teh be) to go back to trams and foot. Wrong becaase cars are, in fact, a wonderful invention. I see the challenge to the very smart designer as how to reconcile car ownership and use with livable, walkable neighborhoods.
    Actually, I agree with you. I love to drive. I love cars.

    On the other hand, I really doubt seriously that you can make a livable, walkable neighborhood with the overwhelming car use that modern western society celebrates. Even Europe, until the growth of pedestrian zones, saw beautiful town squares and medieval lanes clogged with traffic. I have no answer other than "discourage" unfettered car use. That and the fact that we simply cannot afford to build enough infrastructure for ever-growing car use.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Car free cities are quite utopic, since the invention and massifcation of cars, people have become used to having one (or more) cars in the family. People have become used to the commodity of having a car and being able to drive to the places they want to go, and now they've become too lazy to walk, and too afraid of others outside their hermetic protected car that allows them to escape from everybody else.

    Throughout all the crisis that cars have had in the past, there has been a solution, at first cars were too expensive to make since it involved too much time and labour, then came the Ford system of serial production and assembly, reducing the costs, and massifying the car. Then came the oil crisis of the 70's in which the efficiency of the fuel was increased to make up for the scarcity of the fuel, more recently the cars are becoming less pollutant and saving more fuel. In the end we adapt our cars to the future needs, and hence we adapt our cities and way of living to it, introducing a radical change to the current way of living (in cars) will face enormous resistance that will diminish the effect of the change or prevent it...

    The friction of distance has been diminished so much recently that we've become used to the ease of travel, and will work towards making it easier, so foregin trade will not be affected in the long run by any crisis of our current power systems (oil mainly) since we will invent new ways to power our transport needs.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian circusoflife's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Car free cities are quite utopic, since the invention and mainly)
    Copenhagen - 500,000 people

    Very wealthy country

    70% of familes don't own a car. Not, 7, SEVENTY!

    of the 30% that do...most own only 1 car.

    Outside of CPH...majority of families only own 1 car. Less than 15% own 2 cars.

    Maybe the vision of an auto dominant society that WORKS is the utopia that people are being suckered into.


    The word carfree is misleading in some sense, because people want to go extreme and think there are no cars whatsoever. The carfree part is the core.
    - Beware more of the man in the fancy cloak, than the one in tattered clothing -

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    Quote Originally posted by circusoflife
    Copenhagen - 500,000 people

    Very wealthy country

    70% of familes don't own a car. Not, 7, SEVENTY!

    of the 30% that do...most own only 1 car.

    Outside of CPH...majority of families only own 1 car. Less than 15% own 2 cars.

    Maybe the vision of an auto dominant society that WORKS is the utopia that people are being suckered into.


    The word carfree is misleading in some sense, because people want to go extreme and think there are no cars whatsoever. The carfree part is the core.
    70% of families in the municipality of Copenhagen don't have a car. True. Quite understandable, since the central city was created before the age of automobile, with very limited space for parking and high fees for parking licenses. Besides, the price of a typical saloon in Denmark is three times that in Germany and two times that in Sweden. Not to mention extremely expensive fees, insurances and so on. So the motives not having a car in central CPH are primarily geographical and not least economic.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian circusoflife's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Samminn
    70% of families in the municipality of Copenhagen don't have a car. True. Quite understandable, since the central city was created before the age of automobile, with very limited space for parking and high fees for parking licenses. Besides, the price of a typical saloon in Denmark is three times that in Germany and two times that in Sweden. Not to mention extremely expensive fees, insurances and so on. So the motives not having a car in central CPH are primarily geographical and not least economic.
    There was a time when the automobile was taking over Copenhagen too...I've seen a photo of it. Then the planners realized the idiocy of continuing on that path. They made the tough decisions a long time ago and are now reaping the benefits.

    Short term vs long term. Unfortunately, EXCESSIVE greed (Greed is good me thinks - its just desire after all) and stubborness prevent many from thinking longer term.
    - Beware more of the man in the fancy cloak, than the one in tattered clothing -

  13. #13
    Cars can often be a burden instead of a blessing. The millions of people who run up their blood pressure in the LA and Atlanta metroplexex rush hours would probably really enjoy a carfree cities, if it could be made to work. The problem with cars is that they are extremely expensive to support and if people were faced with the true cost of using their car (in land, infrastructure and congestion) they would likely reconsider walking and mass transit. The government has been actively promoting car use for years with tax money, it should be no surprise that people favor cars over neglected pedestrian systems.


    http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,...-658922,0.html

    France announced this week it is going to fully privatize its highway network. There's a place that has its priorities in the right place. The socialists in the USA won't ever think of doing something like this to the interstate, it's more critical to life than water.

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    France announced this week it is going to fully privatize its highway network. There's a place that has its priorities in the right place. The socialists in the USA won't ever think of doing something like this to the interstate, it's more critical to life than water.

    I'm not sure I'd characterize the French as a population or government who has their priorities in the right place, particularly for a short-sighted and environmentally abusive electorate like my own. However, the subsidization of the automobile in the U.S. is something I rarely think about even when day-dreaming of efficient land use, rehabilitation of American cities and sustainable and progressive public transportation (trains, not dirty buses that no one will ride in 'regular' traffic).

    Do I think there's a place for cars in the world? Absolutely. Do I have a license? No. Would I drive to work (or get a ride) if I had the opportunity? Sometimes. Certainly, there are advantages to using a car every once in a while. Let's talk about the real issue: it's not cars vs. not cars -- that's anti-productive and turns our backs to technological progress. It's mind set. Will Americans get out of their autos for ANY day-to-day tasks outside of the Northeastern U.S.? If you think so, let me know. My daydreams could use your encouragement.
    Last edited by WhelanBeer; 21 Jul 2005 at 1:04 AM.

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    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    A local news item on the proposed light rail line from Minneapolis to St. Paul indicated that the route may be re-zoned. The problem that I see with that is the same problem that many cities have. If sustainable development is to be located near light rail, why are parking lots the problem, and not part of the solution?

    The current line from Minneapolis to the Airport has very little parking, compared to other light rail lines across the country. It has been considered a negative since the line was planned.

    Here we go again.

  16. #16
         
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    Quote Originally posted by circusoflife
    Copenhagen - 500,000 people

    Very wealthy country

    70% of familes don't own a car. Not, 7, SEVENTY!

    of the 30% that do...most own only 1 car.

    Outside of CPH...majority of families only own 1 car. Less than 15% own 2 cars.

    Maybe the vision of an auto dominant society that WORKS is the utopia that people are being suckered into.


    The word carfree is misleading in some sense, because people want to go extreme and think there are no cars whatsoever. The carfree part is the core.
    The price of a car in Copenhagen is quite high, because of the taxes on the car.

    Its interesting, because the Danes realised with the 70s oil crisis that the financing and taxes (or at the time, subsidies) priced people into cars. There was a conscientious decision to get people into sustainable modes and reduce foreign energy dependence through the price points.

    Tax laws here support people buying and driving cars, particularly the fringe benefits tax (FBT) rewards people for driving more! (See the House of Representatives "Sustainable Cities" findings). Until these benefits are phased out, people will continue to drive more, not less.

    Quote Originally posted by safege
    A local news item on the proposed light rail line from Minneapolis to St. Paul indicated that the route may be re-zoned. The problem that I see with that is the same problem that many cities have. If sustainable development is to be located near light rail, why are parking lots the problem, and not part of the solution?

    The current line from Minneapolis to the Airport has very little parking, compared to other light rail lines across the country. It has been considered a negative since the line was planned.

    Here we go again.
    Think of those parking lots as landbanks for future infill development, as commuters and developers realise the benefits of chucking the car and living on the line itself.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 22 Sep 2005 at 9:54 AM. Reason: double reply

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