Carless cities and sky cycles

January 24, 2014

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Hamburg’s Plan to Eliminate Cars in 20 Years

Vanessa Quirk, Arch Daily
About 40% of the area of Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany, is made up of green areas, cemeteries, sports facilities, gardens, parks and squares. For the first time ever, the city has decided to unite them together via pedestrian and cycle routes. It’s all part of the “Green Network Plan,” which aims to eliminate the need for vehicles in Hamburg over the next 20 years.

According to city spokeswoman Angelika Fritsch, the project will help to turn the city into a one-of-a-kind, integrated system: “Other cities, including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”
(7 January 2014)
Link to Hamburg’s Green Network Plan (in German)
Lots going on in Hamburg. The city also recently voted to buy back it’s power supply from Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. – Ed

The Ridiculous Sky Cycle by Norman Foster

Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
There’s been a bit of chatter of late about a (not very) new idea for bicycle "infrastructure" in London. None other than architect Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, has dusted off a student’s idea and launched it upon an unsuspecting world.

Now of course this isn’t a good idea. This is classic Magpie Architecture. Attempting to attract people to big shiny things that dazzle but that have little functional value in the development of a city. Then again, Foster is a master of building big shiny things.

Ideas like these are city killers. Removing great numbers of citizens who could be cycling down city streets past shops and cafés on their way to work or school and placing them on a shelf, far away from everything else. All this in a city that is so far behind in reestablishing cycling as transport that it’s embarrassing. With most of the population already whining about bicycles on streets, sticking them up in the air, out of the way, is hardly going to help returning bicycles to the urban fabric of the city…
(20 January 2014)

We Need to Design Parking Garages With a Car-less Future in Mind

Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic
The Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi" rues the day they paved paradise to put up a parking lot. But on East 13th Street in Manhattan, they’re doing the reverse. The New York Post reports that a developer has turned a former Hertz garage into an uber-luxury residential building, complete with rooftop foliage (and, yes, parking spaces for tenants). What’s most interesting is that the developers decided not to raze the garage but merely to renovate it:

"It has very good bones," says [Dan Hollander, managing partner of DHA Capital] of the garage. "There are over 10-foot ceilings, good columns and the property is 67 feet wide — that’s what really attracted us to it."

There’s a growing belief among architects and designers that all urban parking garages should be built with these "good bones," which will allow them to be re-purposed in the future. For a variety of reasons, from higher gas prices to greater densification to better transit options, city residents will continue to drive fewer cars. As a result, we’ll eventually require fewer parking lots. The ability to adapt a structure rather than tear it down will save developers time, money, and material waste.

"As the auto culture wanes we’re going to have a lot of demolition to do, which is unfortunate," says Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. "If we’re going to build these [garages] let’s design them in a way that they can have alternative uses in the future. With just a few tweaks that’s really possible."…
(14 November 2013)

It’s not the economy, stupid; young people really are turning their backs on cars

Lloyd Alter, Treehugger
In a totally scientific survey of whether or not young people want to own cars, Globe and Mail columnist Jeremy Cato notes that his son adores his truck and calls her Jenny. He concludes that the only reason kids aren’t driving is that they are broke. …

And indeed, as this General Motors data shown on the Atlantic demonstrates, there was a big dip in the recession, and there is a recovery since. But the younger the cohort, the flatter the recovery.

Longer term, the picture is consistent. People between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving a whole lot less. The cost of cars, parking, insurance and gas keep going up to the point that it becomes a serious burden, and that’s not changing anytime soon. This started long before the smart phone revolution. However now, the picture has changed…
(23 January 2014)

The Rise (and All-Around Awesomeness) of Open Streets

Cat Johnson, Shareable
Maneuvering cities on foot or by bike can feel like a game of Frogger. As most streets are designed with cars in mind, there’s a permeating sense that cars own them and it’s up to pedestrians and cyclists to work around vehicles. The truth is, streets belong to all of us.

The Open Streets movement, which temporarily closes streets to motorized vehicles and opens them up to cyclists, pedestrians, runners, pogo-stick jumpers, musicians, stilt walkers and whoever else wants to move car-free, is working to help cities reimagine their streets as more than just networks for cars…

The Rise of Open Streets from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Open Streets also plants a seed in people’s minds about what cities, streets and communities can be, and brings awareness to the importance of having public space. As Enrique Jacoby of the Pan American Health Organization points out, having public space is an essential part of creating and sustaining community.
(23 January 2014)

Flying sky cycle teaser image via

Tags: biking cities, car free, open streets, public transport, Transportation, urban planning