Comment 36309

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted December 15, 2009 at 10:24:52

I was in Copenhagan last year, and was very impressed with its whole transportation infrastructure. In fact, I used all the modes (except cycling): walking, regional train, and driving. As a regular cyclist, I could see how well cycling was integrated into the whole network.

An important point (which has been made repeatedly) is that encouraging the appropriate mode for each trip makes the whole network more efficient: walking for short trips of less than 2km, cycling for up to about 5km, trains for inter-regional and cars between rural destinations (or from the city to the countryside). Copenhagan appeared quite wealthy, with lots of high end shops on the pedestrianized streets. The efficient transportation network allows a much higher density of people in the core, which is the essential ingredient for a successful city.

Responding to the point that "if people don't want now it, we shouldn't do it" is the case of Nyhavn.

This is the old port of Cophenhagan which is now one of the most popular tourist and restaurant destinations. However, until the 1970s (or so) the narrow streets lining the harbour were used for parking. Photos show that there were few people on the sidewalks, and business was not great.

The City then began a revitilization programme that involved removing the parking and improving the streetscape for pedestrians. The merchants howled that this would destroy their business, but the City went ahead. The result has been a much more economically productive area, and a tourist destination.

The moral? People tend to imagine that change is only incremental, and everything else will stay the same. Of course, if the parking had been removed and nothing else changed it would have been a disaster. But everything else did change, and that was the point of the revitalization. (The other lesson is that merchants will always oppose any reduction in parking...)

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