Monday, May 18, 2009

Cities: Making a place for people

As a Montrealer I am used to negotiating around and through city traffic dodging drivers (especially taxis!) like a game of Pac Man. So I found this posting from Richard Florida (Creative Class) to be very interesting.

I'm currently reading his latest book, Who's Your City? and find his take on urban planning to be refreshing in its focus on creativity, culture and successful cities.

This is an interesting piece from the New York Times that describes a German experiment in making an urban suburb nearly car-free. One thing that I had noticed while reading the article and looking at the photos was that this didn’t look like the kind of suburb I’m familiar with, either here or in Ontario, (as in Burlington or Mississauga). That’s probably why it works. The reason is density, in having services conveniently located to be within easy walking or cycling distance.

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.
As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Read the New York Times article here: Nearly Car Free

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