Self-drive vehicles, widening bicycle lane space and diminishing parking lots at the side of the road push forward community’s change towards an environmentally friendly transport system.
Austria’s Vienna, Germany’s Munich and Denmark’s Copenhagen have already decided on the big reform of certain areas to prevent people from driving their privately owned cars. Spain’s Barcelona and France’s Paris are cutting down on car lanes and widening space for bicycles.
If you drive into the city centers of England’s London or Switzerland’s Stockholm during peak hours, you will have to pay an observable Congestion Charge. Within the past two years, ten German cities joined the national ‘Environmental Conservation Zone’ which only allows vehicles with a carbon dioxide emission below a certain level to enter.
A few cities have strictly limited the number of parking lots of newly constructed mega malls and condominium buildings. Roadside parking lots are also increasingly disappearing from the city zone. Although Munich is a place of strategic importance for automobile manufacturing, in recent years it is becoming a ‘pedestrian haven’.
Denmark Copenhagen’s ‘European Environment Conservation building’ is designed to accomodate about 150 cycling lots and only one parking lot for vehicles, plus it is defined as for use by the disabled.
In Switzerland’s first big city Zurich, the city government has placed traffic lights on the lanes leading into the city, done in purpose to cause a traffic jam for people who travel into the city to work, making it unpleasant for them, hoping they will find another form of transport instead.
The pedestrians of Zurich can now walk through cross junctions. They no longer need to use the underground pass. Lightrail operators now have the authority to change traffic signals, so that the lightrail does not need to stop, making cars give way instead. 91% of the members of the Switzerland country club take the light rail to and from work.
Zurich’s transportation supervisor pointed out that cars can’t drive smoothly on the roads. They have to stop intermittently. The authorities are not giving drivers any convenience, their objective being to win back public space for pedestrians. Drivers take approximately 115 cubic metres of city space whereas pedestrians only use 3 cubic metres and so it is unfair to pedestrians for drivers to use up much more space than them.
Many European cities were built before the invention of automobiles, roads were peaceful and quite narrow. In that sense they were already originally unsuitable for large traffic volumes. European oil prices are comparatively high, moreover the public transportation system is good and complete, giving it more reason for the public to think twice about driving.
Source: 26th June 2011, The China Times, Taiwan.
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