Craft & Consumption

Monday, May 11, 2009

Germany Embarks on a Carless Suburbia

Awesome post from the New York Times published today about Vauban - a suburb near Freiburg (in southern Germany) that is apparently testing life without automobiles. It is a bike & walking friendly settlement in which serious restrictions have been placed on car ownership and parking. It's awesome to read that communities like this are actually popping up in response to climate change. I've been meaning to get my Trek in for a tune up and start commuting to work again...

"Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the Swiss border. 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."

Though cars are allowed in the community, car ownership & parking in Vauban is prohibitively expensive. Over 70% of families living in the community don't own cars at all, according to the NYT article. 

“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.

The Vauban community was completed only 3 years ago, and is part of a movement referred to as "smart planning". More info here on how the NY state department here in the US is trying to integrate smart planning into their communities, especially when it comes to transportation.

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