Monday, November 19, 2012

How Can Cities Focus More on Quality of Life and Less on Cars?

Are cars are over the hill? (Making Cities for People, Gehl Blog, Nov. 7, 2012)

Today we review a short article from an urban planning firm in Denmark that examines how cities in the OECD could and can shift from a car-centric plan for urban development and economics to one that both accommodates growth and improves the urban quality of life. This involves changing technology, tax policies, improved infrastructure and different objectives in urban planning- things that merit consideration in other countries who are seeing lowering rates of use of the car as the vehicle of choice in urban transportation and


Key Quotes:

‘If policy-makers are confident that car-use is waning they can focus on improving lives and infrastructure areas already blighted by traffic rather than catering for future growth.’  

The average number of miles driven in a car in Europe and Japan has gone into decline suggesting that car-use has peaked in many developed societies. This trend is shown in a number of metrics pre-dating the economic crisis, decline in km travelled, a shift in the age of license holders towards older generations and a decrease in car sales.”

Examples of policy innovation:  

  • “Re-population of central urban areas - …invite people back to the central city with good affordable housing policies.  
  • Car manufacturers moment of innovation for the future - ….find models that re-explore how private transit can be shared and how public transit can be personalized.  
  • Government tax structures - …if people buy less gas there is less revenue available for improving infrastructure. 
  •  Urban Planning - …Mainstream urban planning has for half a century focused on the car, will this be the sea-change shift to focusing on people?”
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