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Posts tagged "Zurich"

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Some NEW Parking Streetfilms You May Have Missed

We've recently posted a few parking "best practices" direct to Vimeos for use by Streetsblog that you likely haven't seen if you don't check both sites frequently. (Which Streetfilms wholeheartedly endorses.)

First up: We're big fans of the work of Gabe Klein, the former DOT Commissioner for both District of Columbia & Chicago. While I was filming for a project looking at parking policy, we stopped briefly to chat about some of the innovations D.C. instituted while he was there which made paying for parking more efficient. Since the bulk of these comments were likely not to make it in to our final Streetfilm, we wanted to get it out there as a tool for use in those cities who need to reform their systems.

The second (above) is a short interview we conducted with City Councilwoman Margret Chin for a story by Stephen Miller that appeared on Streetsblog. It's a great story if you love happy endings when the topic is talking about the struggle to eliminate parking minimums in dense cities in the U.S.  Hopefully more developers will follow this logical lead.

And while we are at it, don't miss the above excerpt from our awesome Zurich Streetfilm. We did a number of shorter excerpts so that they are more easily used by advocates and community members. This segment talks about Zurich's "Historic Compromise" which essentially kept the number of parking spaces steady at 1996 levels. Yup, that's not a misprint. Watch how they did it!

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Zurich: Where People Are Welcome and Cars Are Not

When it comes to smart transportation options and city planning, Zurich can credibly claim to be the global champ. This Swiss city has enacted a number of policies and practices that have produced streets where people come first. Getting around and simply experiencing the city is a pleasure.

How did they do it? In a 1996 city decree referred to as "a historic compromise," Zurich decided to cap the number of parking spaces. From then on, when new parking spaces were built anywhere in Zurich, an equivalent number of spaces had to be eliminated elsewhere within the city limits. Many of the new spaces that have been built since then come in the form of underground garages, which allow for more car-free areas, plazas, and shared-space streets.

Zurich also has an intricate system of more than 4,500 sensors that monitor the number of cars entering the city. When that number exceeds the level Zurich's streets can comfortably accommodate, all cars are halted on highways and main roads into the city until congestion is relieved. Thus, there is never significant traffic back-up in the city itself.

It's tough to top the city's transit options. Zurich has a network of comfortable commuter trains and buses, plus the magnificent gem of the city: its 15-line tram system. Trams run everywhere frequently and are easy to hop on and off. The coordination of the lines is a wonder to behold. And it's the preferred way to travel in the city center -- business men in suits traveling to the richest banks in the world ride next to moms and skateboarders.

That's only the beginning of some of the great things going on in Zurich. Bike mode share is now 6 percent and climbing. People flock to the amazing parks and rivers that have been cleaned up. Car-free and car-lite streets are filled with restaurants and people at all times of day. If you can never get to Zurich yourself, I hope you'll be able to experience a bit of what it's like via this Streetfilm.

Note: All stats in the video are from the Mobility and Transport Microcencus of 2010 by the Federal Government of Switzerland. The survey on travel behavior has been conducted every five years since 1974.

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Manhattan Needs a Great Network of Car-free Streets

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Yeah, this is a bit of a rant. Thanks to my job I've been fortunate to travel to many amazing cities. And unlike New York City, the greatest ones all have massive grids of car-free streets.

I'm not talking about temporary, weekly ciclovia closures. Or a few car-free blocks here or there. Or great parks or plazas where people gather or eat. I'm talking about streets where you can walk for miles and never encounter a car. And if you do, they're moving along no faster than 10 mph on shared, traffic-calmed streets where motorists drive with a high-degree of vigilance.

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

If you travel too, I'm sure you may have favorites. Personally I love Copenhagen, Zurich, Amsterdam, Melbourne, and now Stockholm. In all these cities there are core areas where you can walk and walk and feel happiness, solace, and quiet.

When you have large grids where no one can drive, it inspires residents to dream bigger and strive for an even healthier, more car-free city. It gives businesses and restaurants proof that you don't need to accommodate driving (or at least on-street parking) to turn nice profits. It makes other communities rise up and say, "Hey, we want that!"

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Zurich, Switzerland

I love New York City. I've lived here since 1991 and it's the best place to live in the world. I love the transportation progress I've been fortunate to document over the last ten years. But it irks me that there are at least a dozen other cities I've visited where I can get a feeling NYC cannot provide on its street grid: a sense of complete freedom as a pedestrian from the perils of the auto while walking for enjoyment, shopping, or recreation.

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Cyclists Vs. Rails in Zurich

As I 've continued to scour through the 10+ hours of footage I shot last month in Groningen, Amsterdam and Zurich, I've been trying to find ways to get Streetfilms fans some video and posts about what I experienced.

One thing that super impressed me was during my three days in Zurich I saw no cyclists crash while navigating the omnipresent surface rails for the 15 tram lines that run all over Zurich. I was told by some there are certainly problems and crashes happen, but I saw some real pro rail riding behavior.  I ended up capturing just a little bit for your consumption in this shortie.

Alas, great news comes today from one of my Zurich interview subjects, Nelson Carrasco.  The city is experimenting with rail treatments that will make bicycling on streets with rails much safer.  Essentially, it seems they will be testing a material that is strong enough to support a bicycle but will yield to the weight when a tram runs over it.

The English-translation of the above post is essentially: "We are testing a new bike-friendly rail system, which is intended to prevent bicycle tires getting jammed in the tram rail." For all those who really want to read the entire article (and in English) I ran it through a translator and will post the text at the bottom after the jump.

Of course anytime I've travel to other rail-heavy cities, I'm mesmerized by how cyclists navigate rails, in particular because if the thought of crashing is terrifying for me as a very experienced cyclist, I can't imagine what it is like for a new-bee or someone transporting a child.  Many years ago in Seattle I shot this impromptu footage of sharrows used to direct cyclists how to approach rails.

San Francisco, Portland, Salt Lake City and plenty of other U.S. cities might want to take notice!

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A 30km Slow Zone in Zurich (featuring Chicanes!)

I just wanted to collate a post on bicycling in Zurich because the Streetfilm I'm producing from there will likely not be ready until end of Summer. In that film you'll see much about why Zurich is such a wonderful place that has policies that keeps car use to a minimum in the center of the city and boasts one of the highest rates of transit ridership in the world.

Zurich boasts a 6% bike mode share which would be super-impressive anywhere in the U.S.  But to them it's not nearly good enough as they are looking to double that. The big problem is like many cities they have many narrow streets in the city center. Except for along their wonderful lake, Zurich doesn't have many bike lanes - protected or otherwise.  Most of the routes are signed and/or have painted ground stencils.

But once you leave the busiest parts of the city some really unique treatments start to unfold.  I took a tram ride to some residential neighborhoods and jumped off when I started seeing scores of 30 km (20 mph) speed zones. Like this spot which featured a contraflow bike lane and a 30km speed restriction.

It also had a button to activate the stoplight to facilitate speedier crossing for cyclists.

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