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Thread: A city without cars (NYT)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    A city without cars (NYT)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/sc...er=rss&emc=rss

    VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

    Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    godless commies! bet there are no churches mosques or synagogues to boot!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Suburbs Without Cars & NYT Article

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/sc...burb.html?_r=1

    Besides the environmental and social aspects of a suburb without cars, what I like about this development is that it is a redevelopment of a miltary base.

    The article also mentions a possible development in the Bay Area known as Quarry Village.

    Do you think such a development would work in the US?

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  4. #4
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I hate to burst bubbles, but this sounds very 'gimmicky' to me, sort of like a 'commercial area without cars' (AKA - a mall) - it simply has all of its car parking at the periphery. The 100% 'carless' places that I know of are mostly tourist places like Mackinac Island, MI - and they have parking, too, such as at the landside ferry terminals.

    As for living in the real world, high market-rate density places like Manhattan (NYC) and central Chicago are the real working examples of practical 'carless' living.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I agree with mgk920. In the US, we've already got several places that are practical places for car-free living, and of course there are thousands more sprinkled across the rest of the world. The article kind of makes me think of some of the New Urbanism towns in that they're just a little too idyllic.

    The Quarry Village development mentioned has a website:

    http://www.quarryvillage.org/index.html

    It's located in the Hayward Hills (south of Oakland, overlooking the SF Bay), which makes it completely disconnected from existing transit networks (and not in a place that would be an easy hook up to one), meaning that everyone there will almost certainly own a car and park it on the periphery. Where will these people work? Probably some place only accessible by car. There's a plan for a shuttle connecting to BART, but I have my doubts on how well that will work.

    If you're looking to live car-free in the Bay Area, there are plenty of existing places and new places built each year in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, as well as a few other places around BART or Caltrain (commuter rail running from San Jose to San Francisco) in older downtowns that have a mix of housing, jobs, and retail. I'm all for building car-free places, but they need to work within our existing framework of infrastructure, IMO.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  6. #6
    There is certainly a need and a demand for more car free places. But they have to be built around public transit if they are going to be successful and probably have to be adjacent to other car free places (who wants to spend all their time in one little one square mile area 24/7?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I was more interested in the various experts' opinions. Witold Ryb. had the best answer: areas that are not car free but that do reduce the need for a car. Walkable neighborhoods oriented around a town center that has mass transit links to the city core or other areas. This is essentially what most pre-WWII suburbs were like, and many of them are still healthy, expensive and desirable places to live.

    I had to roll my eye at the Yale professor. Of course she had to drag in gender, racial and social issues.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I can understand planners and citizen's exasperation in the US, where too many people seem to think that everything must be withing ten yards of a parking space and every parking space reached by a 4-lane highway.

    However, I think telling folks they don't need cars or shouldn't have them is 1) bound to fail and 2) wrong even if you could swing it.

    I think the idea is that if an architect, engineer or planner have spent 4-8 years studying this stuff in school and X years as practitioners, they need to help the rest of us figure out the best way to have as much transportation independence as possible without orienting everything to the car and building intolerable, energy-hungry places to live.

    I've seen in Europe (and occasionally the US) plenty of places that have plenty of cars, some parking and also good public transport and are very practical and pleasant to walk in. I don't get the "extremism" of NO cars (though, I guess, better than ONLY cars).
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Germany is less car-oriented than the US to begin with. Families are more likely to have one car, do more walking, use more public transit, etc. than American families. This probably isn't as big a change for Germans as it would be for Americans.

    Sort of off-topic but I think related: I gave up my car over a year ago. I had been driving less, shopping closer to home and so on prior to making the decision. As far as I can tell, the area where I live is poorly served by public transit. I live about 2.3 miles from my job and there is a bus stop near there, but you can't get there from here by bus. I leave on foot in the morning but usually get picked up somewhere along the way by someone who works in the same building. There are no sidewalks in this neighborhood. Still, it has proven to be more do-able than I initially expected. There are at least 3 shopping centers nearby where we do most of our shopping and we order a few things online that I used to drive across town to purchase. There are numerous places to eat nearby. My kids get out of the house more than they did when we had a car. My oldest son periodically make the 10 mile round trip walk to EB Games and he and I have walked to Best Buy several times to drop off or pick up our laptop when it needed repairs. In spite of not going far from home all that often, I don't feel giving up my car has put much of a crimp in my lifestyle.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Germany actually has higher rates of car ownership than the US according to this article

    http://www.economist.com/daily/chart...14391&fsrc=rss

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    . . . I gave up my car over a year ago . . . There are no sidewalks in this neighborhood. Still, it has proven to be more do-able than I initially expected. There are at least 3 shopping centers nearby where we do most of our shopping and we order a few things online that I used to drive across town to purchase. There are numerous places to eat nearby . . .
    I like the idea of car-free zones, but how would retailers make money?

    I haven't owned a car for years. I ride a bike everywhere. When my kids were younger, we used to ride everywhere together. The problem is, I had to ride quite far to do basic shopping. This is where better community planning here would have helped.

    I love riding my bike. There are more people doing it now than before, so I think drivers are getting used to us, but I wish things were not so spread out.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Yup. Europeans LOVE their cars and as we're an older population, we've got plenty of them (children don't drive).

    The main difference is that we don't build absolutely everything around them. Partly, it's a conservation thing (old townsd weren't built for cars).
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I have done some reading about cities and problems with city now .Alot of city planners in the late 1800's where talking about garden city and make homes surrounded by trees and parks and well the stores ,office and factories in a park like center with trees , more green feel and country feel than city feel !!


    The garden city movement was to make a less city buzz and more country feel.The problems is much is backfiring now has the built environment is not city feel or a country feel but a hybrid .The problems with fire ,EMS, hospital, library ,schools so on is the major major major and I say again major number one conplain is they cannot keep up with growth do to the sprawl. The tax has to be higher for pip lines for water and sewage and service like fire ,EMS, hospital, library ,schools so on.

    I live in city over 1,000,000 people we have 35 fire stations and 20 Libraries , 4 hospitals , 9 EMS stations and average driving time for fire 3 minutes and 6 minutes for EMS but the new area built in the last 20 years a average driving time for fire 5 minutes and EMS 8 minutes or longer .

    In the past 20 years they have not really inprove service has much is trying to catch up on growth.The traffic is bad and it is too car cetric for people to want to walk do to the built environment. Many cities are having this problem and I was reading in some cities they had to do rolling blackouts of fire stations to save money .Many fire and EMS conplain they cannot keep up with growth .

    People in Canada and US are starting to conplain the subdivisions and superblocks give a disconnect feel a more islation feel. People in Canada and US are starting to conplain about the sprawl going into the farm land and taking down trees for homes.


    People in Canada and US are starting to conplain about traffic problems and too car cenric ( very hard to get around on foot do to the built environment )


    Some people are looking a smart growth a more dense, compact and walkable streets and mix use buildings and city feel that is trying to support both car and foot traffic

    Light rail , bus ,compact ,dense ,mix use ,
    http://www.sfbayite.org/events/Mtg_2...2006-image.jpg
    http://www.yourplacegrandtraverse.or...art_growth.jpg
    http://sites.google.com/site/nrdcsma...imo9,%20cc.jpg
    http://sites.google.com/site/nrdcsma...asant%203a.jpg


    And smart growth to do away of the pods or cluster and more bix use.

    pod or cluster of stores in a power center away frome housing.
    http://www.ledger-dispatch.com/conte...3-21Growth.jpg


    A disconnect feel and more islation feel of homes in a big super-block with no stores or nothing thing in side but parks and schools..Hard to get around in the uper-block do to the built environment.
    http://pricetags.files.wordpress.com...nto-suburb.jpg

    Controversy over smart growth principles persists
    http://www.ledger-dispatch.com/print...e.asp?c=209502



    There is much talk about smart growth and I think some cities are experimenting with it in the US.

  14. #14
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    I advice You really great book:

    Urban design and traffic - a selection from Bach's toolbox
    (dutch publishers - Publicatie 221)

    Dutch people made already sooo many researches, they probably know everything already

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