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European Cities Limiting the Car, Improving Quality of Life

  • Published on February 3rd, 2011 by

Europe, as we know, has a much different urban fabric — because most of its cities were developed long before cars arrived. They have narrower streets, are more walkable, more bike-friendly, and more pleasant. Nonetheless, Europe went the same route as the U.S. in recent years with the boom of the automobile and started trying to accommodate it more. In the end, I would argue, some cities started to ruin their high quality of life and efficiency.

Now, however, a number of European cities are taking a U-turn and discouraging use of cars by cutting and pricing parking.

As I always say, a city, by definition, is a lot of people living in a relatively small area. If you try to move each individual in those areas in a large vehicle of their own, you are going to run into big problems and inefficiencies. Also, if you’ve ever stood next to or sat in a 12-lane highway, you know that they are downright ugly, depressing, and frustrating.

Here’s the intro to a good piece, Europe Takes a U-turn on Parking, on the New Urban Network about a new in-depth report, Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation, on the parking revolution occurring in some European cities:

Every American has seen photographs showing ancient European squares crammed with parked cars. The lesson those pictures impart is that even in Europe, the car must be accommodated.

But a fascinating new report from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) explodes that notion. Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation, authored by Michael Kodransky and Gabrielle Hermann, argues persuasively that a number of European cities are leading the world in a different direction — toward limiting the availability of parking and toward making spaces for automobiles more expensive. Public space is being reclaimed for pedestrians.

“Parking management is a critical and often overlooked tool for achieving a variety of social goals,” declares the report, which follows a report last spring on successful parking practices in US cities.

Related Stories:
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2. Save $9,656 a Year, Ride Public Transit
3. #6 Groningen, Netherlands: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour

Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan (me)


About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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