Urban design

Last week as I wrapped up the Kids in the City series, I talked about how city life is beneficial for families. Cities can provide children with a more active lifestyle, access to great amenities, reduced energy and goods consumption, exposure to diversity and better family connections. But, how do we create a city that meets the needs of children and families?

Morning Ebb And Flow from jim slade on Vimeo.

As gas prices rise and the hype ramps up again about electric cars as the "solution" to green mobility in cities, I find myself busy once again pointing out that the biggest challenge in cities when it comes to how we get around, isn't about what comes out of the tailpipe of your car.

afbeelding

As traffic congestion continues growing in urban areas, more and more cities have realized that investment priority should be given to public transport modes, such as metro trains, bus rapid transit systems (BRT) or buses, instead of personal vehicles. Simply put, public transport modes are more efficient than personal vehicles in terms of carrying and moving people around. However, international experiences also tell us that building more metro lines or putting more buses on the road alone may not be able to get more people to use public transport modes.

There are several non-transport factors, or urban design factors, that play a critical role in a traveler’s decision on their best travel mode. 
 
The first critical factor is density. As illustrated in a famous study done by Alain Bertaud, a former World Bank staff, density is the primary reason why 30 percent of daily trips are carried out by public transport in Barcelona, but only four percent in Atlanta. Barcelona is about 30 times denser than Atlanta, so it is therefore much easier to provide same level of public transport services in Barcelona than Atlanta.

One lesser-known factor is accessibility. Just having a high population density may not guarantee more people to use public transport.

Logo Ademloos - originele afbeelding vervangen

Hamburg is currently working on a plan that would eliminate the need for cars within the next 15-20 years, making the city a greener, healthier and more pleasant place to live. The city’s proposed Grünes Netz, or “Green Network” will create pedestrian and cycle paths to connect the city’s existing, substantial green spaces, and provide safe, car-free commuter routes for all residents.