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Posts tagged "Sweden"

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Congestion Pricing Was Unpopular in Stockholm — Until People Saw It in Action

It’s natural for politicians to feel squeamish about enacting a big policy change like congestion pricing. People who’ve grown used to free driving privileges defend them loudly, while the potential benefits feel diffuse and uncertain. That may explain why Mayor de Blasio hasn’t warmed to congestion pricing despite its promise to deliver a fairer, safer, greener, and more efficient transportation system.

Stockholm transportation director Jonas Eliasson has some advice for New York officials worried about diving in: Just do it.

Eliasson steered the implementation of congestion pricing in Stockholm in 2006. From that vantage point, he watched a skeptical public quickly embrace the policy as soon as they saw it in action. Eliasson shared lessons from the city’s experience in a talk at TransitCenter last night.

When Stockholm began charging drivers to access the city center, car trips across the cordon dropped 20 percent. Travel times improved immediately, and emissions fell. Contrary to doomsday predictions from Stockholm media and political opponents of congestion pricing, the policy was an overnight success.

Before implementation, public support for congestion pricing had fallen below 40 percent. After a six-month trial period in 2006, more than 52 percent of Stockholm residents voted to make it permanent. By 2011, public support for road pricing stood at nearly 70 percent, and above 50 percent even among people who pay the fees most often.

“The closer you get to implementation, the more the drawbacks stand out,” Eliasson said. “If you survive this valley of political death, and people actually see the benefits, and also realize that, in addition to the benefits, it’s actually not as bad as you thought — it’s not so hard adapting to this — then support starts going up again.”

Pricing worked because the transportation planners who put it together prioritized systemic improvements for traffic and transit over the whims of elected officials and political parties. Getting the details of the pricing system right was too important to leave in the hands of politicians.

“Designing an efficient and effective congestion pricing scheme that actually delivers benefits is not easy,” Eliasson said. Deciding the specifics of where tolls should be placed, the price at which they should be set, and when they should be in effect is “really the job for experts.”

In Sweden, the effectiveness of road pricing helped raise public awareness of the drawbacks of other car subsidies. “It did something to the rationality of transport policy debate,” Eliasson said. “We don’t have debates anymore [about] ‘parking pricing is just philosophically wrong’ — no one says that anymore.”

StreetFilms
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Malmö is Building a 7-Story Bicycle House/Hotel that Accomodates Cargo Bikes!

While I was on my recent Copenhagen swing (see those four Streetfilms here ) I had enough time to take a jaunt to Malmö, Sweden to meet up with bike advocate Jennie Fasth who said she was going to take me on a "calm bicycle tour" to see the city. I had no knowledge of what was on her agenda, but she certainly didn't disappoint me. We saw a lot of neat bike stuff, the city and talked to a few residents.

But the main attraction was getting to see the first ever (they believe) rental apartment building being built specifically for accommodating cargo bikes everywhere! Wherever you have wanted to bring your cargo bike - into your apartment, in the elevator, thru the grand entrance to the complex and - yes - you can even wheel it right into your kitchen and unload groceries! It's called The Bicycle House or Cykelhuset and it's being structured, "for people who want to live and have a fantastic life without owning their own car." Oh, and by the way, there are zero car parking spaces in this building. Zero!!

And it gets even better: it's also part bike hotel! Yup come stay in one of the 31 loft apartments on the ground floor. The builders, hauschild+siegel real estate, are hoping to have occupancy begin by the end of 2016. So much more information here. Something tells me within a few years, cyclists in every major city is going to want one of these buildings.

But Jennie also showed me lots of other cool stuff. Including a massive bike parking station at Malmö Central, a brand new Cykelservicestation, where you can wash your own bike, fill up your tires and do small repairs along a major bike route, I got to hear about the Bicycle Library where you can "try out" cargo bikes for two weeks to see if they fit your lifestyle and of course biking around Malmö, where 30% of residents ride a bike daily!

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Exploring the Streets of Stockholm

In 2014, I got the chance to visit Stockholm near the end of an incredibly hot summer. It's a charming and walkable place with a downtown buzzing with people. There's an easygoing rhythm to the city. After dark the pedestrian streets fill with both residents and tourists out for a walk, even after most stores and restaurants close.

I met up with a great mix of advocates, residents, and transportation experts to discuss what's going on in Stockholm. Sweden is well-known as the birthplace of Vision Zero, the country's goal to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2020. Several American cities have now made it their explicit goal to reduce traffic deaths to zero in the next 10 years..

There's much more worth taking away from Stockholm, which in the last decade has implemented congestion pricing, expanded its bike network, and adopted a plan called "The Walkable City" to create streets that work better for public life.

In tandem with the release of this film, I have great news to share: Since some Streetfilms, including this one, can get a bit long, we've decided to break them up into bite-size pieces, for those times when you want to show a great idea but may not be able to hold people's attention for 12 minutes. These shorter segments will be available on Vimeo. Below are the four slices of Stockholm video you can mix and match to reach the masses.

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Streetfilms Excerpts will help you change your community even more!

In an effort to continually help advocates, elected leaders and communities use our productions to fight for change in their neighborhoods, I am always looking for ways to manage our content better, despite only being a busy staff of one. (Yes, that's right for all those who write in weekly asking us to send Streetfilms crews places keep that in mind, it's just me!)

Over the last few years we have done some extremely popular Streetfilms, but some from other countries have been lengthy and harder for advocates to use the specific lessons contained in the middle. A few months ago I took our Zurich film and excerpted a few segments ("The Historic Compromise" & "The Zurich Traffic System") which I've gotten great feedback on. I also did one on Buenos Aires' 10km/h shared streets.

So today starts a new era at Streetfilms. If I produce a film of a long length and I think there might be value in shorter segments - you'll see them. My newest epic film from Stockholm (13 minutes) has great segments and I kept it in mind while editing that I'd break it down into shorter, more useable modules. And thus, viola! Here are four short segments with valuable lessons to use.  Including how walkable Zurich is in the downtown, how successful congestion charging has been, the current bicycling climate there and looking at how Stockholm is moving beyond their Vision Zero campaign to make streets even safer.

Read more...

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Videos from Stockholm, Malmö & Copenhagen: Featuring CPH Driver Patience, Vision Zero and NYC Bike Lane future?

Our newest video showing new-fangled bike stuff from Copenhagen was such an immediate hit (30K plays in 3 days!) I decided not to wait to post a "bonus" video showing the respectful cooperation between turning drivers & cyclists. Why? Well we all know the dreaded right hook collisions that happen often in the U.S. and other places.  In Copenhagen they're almost unheard of which is thanks to the education drivers must go thru and the traffic safety all residents get taught while in grade school. Plus: with a bike mode share of 42% that means that most drivers are likely cyclists sometime during the week.

The primary goal of this Streetfilms swing was to visit Stockholm, Sweden and talk to residents & experts about walking, biking, transportation and livability. Also: Vision Zero, a term which has been embraced NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as a program to cut the number of traffic deaths on the streets of New York. I was very lucky to have Mary Beth Kelly from Families for Safe Streets accompanying me and we met with Claes Tingvall, the Director of Traffic Safety at the Swedish Transport Administration. Above is that full interview, but you'll also be seeing him in at least one other Streetfilm in the near future.

DSC08951The above photo is from Stockholm and is what I envision as the future of NYC protected bike lanes. Recently, they've began a trial study in Södermalm on Götgatan Street, by upgrading an older, narrow bike lane (see it to left in photo) by removing a travel lane for cars and moving parking out, freeing up a wide space for bikes, which gets crowded at rush hour.

DSC08956It looks a lot like the typical NYC style Avenue except that every few feet there are small concrete barriers, something that is cheap, easily deployable and would be a nice deterrent we could use in NYC lanes.

DSC09059

The same street also offers something I found, well, bike-adorable (see above). Most bike travelers are familiar with the "Copenhagen left" style turns, which is rolling up to the light and waiting across the street for another green to make a left. This is typical in Stockholm. And on the same street Götgatan, they have recently installed turning wait areas on all four corners via a nicely crafted nook in the sidewalk!

Finally, I had intended to get to Malmö, Sweden for a full day since I have always heard so much great stuff, but thanks to a bad back, jet lag and a long train delay, I only got to stroll around for a few hours. But I still wanted to show what a peaceful place it is and put together this short montage of footage of my experience. I will have to go back.