Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reduce the carbon footprint of our cities by favouring walking and cyling

Good ideas and examples :-
By the 1970s, Groningen was dealing with unprecedented traffic jams. Efforts to widen streets merely shifted congestion from one part of the city to another. It was like suffering from clogged arteries and only resorting to bypass surgery rather than trying to make lifestyle changes.

Groningen in the Netherlands boasts the highest rate of bicycle use in the nation, amounting to nearly 60% of all trips.

They set up a network of bike paths and bike lanes, lowering speed limits, and other infrastructure including four-direction green intersections. These are intersections where motor traffic completely stops and bicyclists are given their own turn to travel in any direction —either straight ahead or onto another street. What’s more, those who ride a bike to work are given special tax credits, and employers will often cover the cost of a bicycle as a business expense. You could call it getting a “company bike.? Tax credits actually save the government money, since the cost of a tax credit is still much lower than it would be to maintain roads overcrowded with single-occupancy automobiles.
They limited automobile movement. The city streets are more or less laid out as a series of concentric rings that get smaller as you get closer to the center of town. Traffic engineers cut the city into quadrants like a pie, then installed bollards so cars cannot drive from one end of town to the other without first driving outside of the “pie? — driving around downtown and entering through another quadrant. This city action discourages driving a car downtown. Buses and bicycles, however, are not restricted. The result is a downtown that is friendlier for walking and well as shopping.

When the city first tested the plan, local businesses feared that they would lose business. What happened was the exact opposite. The downtown became more attractive, and business owners soon called for the plan to be expedited, theyfound that those who arrive by bicycle tend to be better customers. While they may buy fewer items per trip, the trips are more frequent. Often, the biking customers spend more due to increased impulse-buying.

We need to impress upon our local governments and neighbors that purely car-centric cities do not make good economic sense. The maintenance costs are just too high — and that results in higher taxes.

In the picture Woonerf, indicated by the sign on the right. This is translated as "living street" meaning cars must travel at speed of pedestrians. Sidewalks are merged with the road creating the feeling that motorist is entering the yard of the residents and to watch out for children playing, etc.

See more pictures on uniqbike
unique useful innovative transportation

Traffic Calming BY JEFF KENWORTHYInstitute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University