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> Europe is full of such cities and they're loved for it.

Sure, Florence is beautiful and lovable, but I personally like the possibility to also drive to a commercial center, buy what I need for a few days, drive back home and park my car in a closed garage conveniently connected to my apartment via a lift, or my house via a door.

> Sure, Florence is beautiful and lovable, but I personally like the possibility to also drive to a commercial center, buy what I need for a few days, drive back home and park my car in a closed garage conveniently connected to my apartment via a lift, or my house via a door.

Why? That sounds like hell. If I had to drive everywhere for everything I'd go mad.

How do you get from "also have the option to" to "had to drive everywhere"?

I don't own a car, but I can completely understand why having the option to take one for occasional larger shopping trips is nice. Friends and family with cars do that, but they still make 97% of their trips without the car.

Because there's no such thing as just giving you the option to use your car. Once that option exists people will use cars, more car use requires bigger roads, more spaced out shops due to parking, and eventually gigantic junctions and highways.

Soon enough what used to be a 500 meter walk turns into walking 2 kilometers because of all the car-related infrastructure in the way, which then becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop as more people own cars, so they're willing to travel longer distances, reducing the business & zoning incentive to make things walkable.

More cars don't require bigger roads. That's exactly the point where pushback has to happen, and does in cities where a compromise works. If increase in traffic does not mean a scramble to accommodate it using your car becomes less attractive, which stabilizes the traffic level. That of course requires a culture which values public transport/bikes/walkability over cars.

E.g. in my hometown every building in the city core is accessible by car, but you have to take narrow, often single-lane side alleys to get there, the major paths all are pedestrian only. All that means taking a car there stays the exception for when it really is useful to do so. Tons of inner-city routes that are faster to walk than to drive. The further out you get, the more car-friendly things get, but public transport bridges most of it. Density is key to maintain that, it makes public transport and local businesses viable and puts pressure on cars.

Making large areas completely pedestrian-only isn't really politically viable, even here in Germany, but the compromises IMHO can work out fine, and people move to areas that have the characteristics they like.

I don't think this works in places with cold weather. A 5 km drive in the winter is so much more pleasant than a 200m walk.

I live where it's cold and I disagree. Winter is the time I really wish I could ditch my car for good. You car is just starting to get warm at the end of 5km unless you've warmed it up ahead of time. And you have to clean it off and shovel it out which sucks.

As long as you are dressed appropriately then a 200m walk in the cold is nothing.

Just buy adequate winter clothes, it's certainly much cheaper than a car. If scientists can stroll around Antarctica in winter gear for hours on end so can you in whatever city you live in.

Agreed with adequate winter clothes having a quality coat, gloves, and possibly boots are all you need.

If it's snowing I almost never drive (if I don't have to) but I have absolutely no problem walking to the store, or to pick up food, or even just to get out of the house in the snow.

If I had to pay the insane real estate prices to live close to everything (or take buses) everywhere I'd go mad too.

One of the factors driving insane real estate prices is low density, partly to accommodate cars. Another factor is bad zoning laws, tolerated on the assumption that cars will be used. And if the bus service in your neighborhood is bad, that's likely because the rich and powerful drive cars, so they have no incentive to improve the buses.

Remember, the proposed new state of the world is not just like the current one except that you personally don't have a car. It's one where nobody owns a car, and everyone shares the benefits of that.

>the rich and powerful drive cars, so they have no incentive to improve the buses.

The urban rich and powerful can afford to live within short walks of their offices, or right next to stations on the best parts of (small) existing transit corridors. They are most assuredly not sitting in rush-hour traffic.

>low density, partly to accommodate cars

Figure 1000 people work downtown, half of them park in 200sqft spaces, the other half live in 400sqft apartments.

Convert all the parking to apartments. Now downtown can support only 750 workers. Great for me if I'm one of the 250 who no longer has to drive, but what if I'm one of the 250 who can now neither drive nor live there?

Statistically, it was worth ~$9,000/year to me not to ride a bicycle or use public transit. Unless that was purely ignorant, starting to do so will be a bad time.

>bad zoning laws,

I'm with you there. We need to massively increase the height of buildings in the small walkable cores and along transit corridors so that more people can live in them. Over time, employers could also spread out, so that there is not a single downtown that everyone's trying to get to. And of course it is ridiculous that any one lives far from a grocery store by fiat, rather than by economics.

>It's one where nobody owns a car, and everyone shares the benefits of that.

But if we do that and, the contention for housing along the transit corridors will be so intense that only the wealthiest can remain, even with free-for-all zoning and a huge construction boom. I've no doubt that the proposed new state of the world will be awesome for the few people who can afford it, I merely doubt that I will be one of them, and I'm not looking forward to 3+ hour/day commutes, no matter how safe the streets.

Sprawl, the automobile, and the highway are fundamentally housing affordability devices. Land value isn't so important if you can traverse 10 miles in 10 minutes. When 10 minutes its half a mile, it suddenly matters a great deal.

I am not convinced by your example about converting parking to living spaces because it assumes it's not possible to achieve a one to one replacement. Building vertically like you suggest seems like the clear answer to this problem.

In the cities I'I familiar with, the vast majority of urban parking is in tall structures (and often underground). Although there is a decent argument that multilevel parking structures are less financially sustainable than multilevel apartments.

I'm much more interested in blanketing the suburbs in fast, cheap transportation with low wait times and minimal to zero parking requirements on the urban side. Probably a combination of e-bikes, electric motorcycles and scooters, and UberPool. Then personal car ownership (and demand for urban parking) can fade because it is actually less compelling than the alternative, instead of by fiat.

Over here in Holland we use bikes for all of that. It gets you some free exercise and it's less polluting.

One helpful factor for bicycling in Holland is the flatness. It's relatively easy to get to work or shopping without having to climb a big hill. Other parts of the world aren't so blessed, and people who do ride to work feel like they have to shower before the work day, which reduces some people's desire to do so.

The weather also surely helps. I live in a moderately warm city (Buenos Aires), and temperatures go up to 30º or even almost 40º in the summer, and biking is a trip to hell and back.

I can't even imagine people closer to tropical climates trying to ride bikes anytime except winter.

What do people do who can't bike?

First, we have a law called Wet Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning[0] (and a 2015 update to it), which means "law for societal support", specifically aimed at helping everyone partake in society. Part of that is monetary support to buy, for example, a mobility scooter[1] if you have a disability that limits you in your freedom of movement otherwise. Many elderly use this.

Also gaining in popularity recently is the so-called "Duofiets", which is a two-person side-by-side tricycle[2], which lets people without a disability help out. Here's a video of a project that combines student housing with elderly care[3] (also an interesting project in itself) that shows off the bike halfway. My grandma was taken on daytrips with such a bike in the last years of her life, and it really brightened her day.

[0] https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/zorg-en-ondersteuni...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobility_scooter

[2] http://www.koekange.info/2015/03/fietsen-op-duofiets/

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjRtaulQsZU

Cyclists never retire, they just buy a tricycle.

Hase Bikes in Germany build a wonderful range of adapted bicycles and tricycles that can accommodate almost any disability. If you're capable of moving your arms or legs, there's a cycle that will work for you.


That's the answer I was kind of expecting, thanks.

I presume that they learn how to bike.

If you meant to ask "What about people that physically can't ever bike (but can drive)?"

What percentage of the population, honestly, do you think that is? Out of shape people can lose weight and eventually learn to bike. Very few people can-drive-but-not-bike, and surely exceptions can be made for them.

Funny coincidence: just yesterday I helped out a (to all appearances) rather old man who had dropped his keys and had trouble leaning down to pick them up. His hands were shaking as I handed him the keys, and he gave off a very frail impression. He was cycling when he dropped his keys.

I remember being impressed by the fact that while this guy had so much trouble bending down, he was riding a (regular) bike.

I've also seen 'seriously' pregnant women bike around, men/women with a kid strapped to the front and back of the bike, with sometimes a third kid in a kart behind the bike. I also regularly see groups of elderly people on sports bikes (often with some electrical help though), as well as really young children.

There are plenty of people who really can't ride bikes, but probably far fewer than people from non-biking places assume.

No doubt. I wouldn't take away anyone's bike (unless I was their child or spouse, maybe), but I'd worry about old "frail" people on bikes. Their strength and flexibility declines (in general with individual exceptions), and a fall can debilitate or kill old people. Glad to see that three-wheelers are an option.

To add to mercer's comment, an article and video about the city of Groningen:



Mind you, whether or not Groningen is the most bike-friendly city in the Netherlands is largely irrelevant, all of our cities are so even if it was it's not exceptional. It's kind of comparable to how we dominate in speed-skating[0] - from the outsider's point of view it's irrelevant who is the best.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands_at_the_2014_Winter...

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