Dependable Erection

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I'm too busy at the day job to post much this week.

But this is worth the read:
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.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Automobiles are the linchpin of suburbs, where middle-class families from Chicago to Shanghai tend to make their homes. And that, experts say, is a huge impediment to current efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, and thus to reduce global warming. Passenger cars are responsible for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe — a proportion that is growing, according to the European Environment Agency — and up to 50 percent in some car-intensive areas in the United States.

Durham remains on the wrong end of the trend, requiring huge parking garages for every new or redeveloped building downtown, and giving virtually no thought to integrating pedestrian friendly features into road construction anywhere but the very heart of downtown.

Oh well.

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  • Eh. I've been to Vauban, and what the NYT article doesn't mention is that the scooters are thick as flies. Still, it's a cool concept, and as Freiburg is a booming college town it's definitely worth a stop on the backpacker tour.

    My favourite part is the Spielstrasse, which requires an unusual permit in Germany but was the norm in our neighborhood in Switzerland. Think high, wide curbs and most people choosing to walk in the street (cuz the sidewalks are brick).

    By Blogger KeepDurhamDifferent!, at 1:28 PM  

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