This German neighborhood, part of a 15-year sustainable planning experiment, is a car-free success. A Roman gang fills the cities potholes and conducts other needed repairs. This Barcelona planner wants to make it the first post-car city.
The German neighborhood with no parking: In Vauban, a middle-class neighborhood of 5,000 residents in Freiburg, kids play unattended and people bike and walk in the middle of the road. Cars are allowed, but only at a whopping 3 mph and there are no parking spaces. It's completely walkable with a mix of schools, restaurants, grocery stores, offices, and other amenities in reach. Downtown is a 15- to 20-minute ride by bus or light rail. The 15-year experiment in sustainable planning has been a success, with clean air and a high quality of life that retains its residents. Only 183 out of 1,000 people own a car, compared to 800 in the US. (Adele Peters | Fast Company)
A gang fixes Rome's potholes illegally: Members of the secret Gap organization wear scarves and hoodies to obscure their identities while they fix broken pavement without permission, which is technically illegal. Rome's budget cuts have led to periodic "waste crises" and exploding buses, and the city has an estimated 10,000 potholes. The group of about 20 activists quietly does the work that city authorities have failed to do including public works repairs, like painting a pedestrian crossing and repairing a 1940s fountain. It leaves a signature to let people know who made the repairs. (Giorgio Ghiglione | The Guardian)
Barcelona amplifies its superblocks effort: Salvador Rueda, a Barcelona-based urban planner, has the audacious goal to replicate the city's five existing superblocks 495 more times to create the first "post-car" city. The plan incorporates green space and bike and bus networks not to eliminate cars entirely, but to radically reduce their prevalence and the space they occupy. In a superblock, only residents' vehicles and delivery vehicles can enter, and they must travel at the same level and speed as people walking. From meticulously picking out pavement for crosswalks or spacing between trees, Rueda has a vision of an equitable, sustainable Barcelona. (David Roberts | Vox)
The streets were never free: The US has heavily subsidized driving, creating a car culture around free roads and free parking. However, the costs have been hidden, handed down to tenants and customers who may not drive at all. Congestion pricing changes that narrative, insisting that public roads are a valuable and scarce resource. If there were a shortage of airline tickets or certain groceries, prices would be raised. Traffic congestion is a shortage of road space, and it should also be priced accordingly. (Emily Badger | New York Times)
Slow streets in NYC's financial district?: Now that congestion pricing is slated to come to Manhattan, efforts are emerging to provide more incentives to leave the island to people walking, bicycling, and taking transit. The Financial District Neighborhood Association commissioned a study titled "Make Way for Lower Manhattan" to propose a plan for a new "Slow Street District." Post-9/11 conversions of office towers have brought in 75,000 residents, in addition to the 300,000 daily workers and 14 million annual tourists. The plan aims to accommodate this rise in pedestrian traffic safely and efficiently. (Mark Alan Hewitt | Architect's Newspaper)
Quote of the Week
"We’ve read in the past… that as low-income people leave the central city, they’re arriving in suburbs and increasing the poverty in the suburbs." That said, however, “while there is a sense that poverty is expanding out to the suburbs, it’s not leaving the city."
University of Minnesota researcher William Stancil in CityLab on what he found in his research looking at gentrification and poverty.
This week on the podcast, Vanan Murugesan talks about starting up a grocery store and community center in a food desert north of Minneapolis