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Demonstrate public collective transportation in fun ways

My home town have had big traffic congestion problems. But they do not spend money to construct widening the roads/bridges with extra lanes. They do special events to show how different means of transportation is better, faster, more vibrant.

Photo of Johan Löfström

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The city of Gävle, Sweden have got plenty of small and cheap events/methods that promote certain way of life, that will help their inhabitants make a bit smarter choices : on economy, health, ecology...

One of these events is a yearly traffic week, or bicyclist week. (I guess it could be a part of a larger event that's sponsored by European Community, so it could exist in several cities around EU)

In the early mornings volunteers stand at bicycle lanes and play music, hand out free fruit, coffee, bread (promoting also the healthy life style). If you wear bike-helmet and safety prism reflectors you get some additional gifts... (umbrella, rain coats, flashlights/torches/low energy light bulbs...)
And if you this week choose to ride with any city bus and show your car keys, you get to ride for free. (there are also discounts, frequent rider price reductions if you purchase bus pass for the next year or next months on these weeks)
There is also sometimes competitions, lotteries that have great prices : free bus passes for a month or a year.
(Many cities have got specially designed bikes to rent or borrow for free, with several pick-up-points in central locations, very good for if you rode the bus in the morning because of bad weather, but the weather is good in evening...)

One year the daily newspaper constructed the photo demonstration on one of the bridges over the river that cuts through the middle of the downtown. I hope that this image is clear to everyone what it means and how significant change it could make for a city in hundreds of ways of traffic congestion, exhaust emissions, commuter convenience, social vibrancy/inclusion, traffic safety, less dependency on oil/petrol fuel...

I hope that with rising fuel costs (and cmobined with rising fuel taxes and carbon emission taxes) it can be the cities bus companies that are fastest coming up with the better options, experiments on building buses that run on biofuels, electric hybrids, liquid hydrogen fuel and so on. U:S:A have claimed that they need to get rid of their dependency on foreign oil/fuel. But seems that they do not spend much money on investing in more buses, more bus routes, more bike lanes (separated from the heavy traffic, so it improves safety and air quality)

Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and even Colombia, Venezuela have understood how important these cheap infrastructural projects are to promote everyday exercise for its inhabitans, and generally better health for all living in cities. (it also helps if cities have good combination of several ways of collective mass-transit public transports : trams, trains, subway-trains, tunnels for pedestrians under heavy trafficated roads, or walk-bridges over rivers...)
(Copenhagen have also just started to build designated "Bike-high-speed-high-ways" with a specially painted asphalt, for those that ride fast and longer distances, than the normal slow-pedallers)

And I think that any or all of these suggestions could be evolving, developing and retrofitted to any city. Make discussion sessions with cyclists in Detroit to find out where is best routes, and the most hazardous elements. And make sure to make all the frequent cyclists into official spokespersons, they are probably the best of spreading good will and the rumours about how fun and vibrant it is to ride bike for free to work. Could result in many sprouting small-businesses like bicycle-repair-shops, selling ad spaces on rental bikes... and many other entreprenurial enterprises related to changing paradigms and behaviour in the local traffic.
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I appreciate that you read this, and I will appreciate your comments, feedback, small or large ideas, details and discussions, that can develop this inspiration further into many clever and environmentally friendly concepts.
(work-in-progress, written monday 21st of november)(bookmark and check for regular updates)

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Photo of Szilvia Varga

This is really cool. Certainly something that many Chinese cities could learn from because they still widen roads and bridges to make way for automotive traffic which is already suffocating Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and many other cities. The interesting thing is that at different transportation conferences presenters usually stress that adding new lanes to a busy road will not help traffic but just allow for more traffic and be crippled again.

Another solution is what was done in Stockholm with the introduction of a road pricing solution a couple of years ago. The fact that people now have to pay whenever they come into downtown Stockholm made rush hour traffic and pollution levels decrease.

Photo of Johan Löfström

thank you, perhaps if a city increased public collective mass-transport will create a free lane to reclaim, take back and reuse for something much more vibrant!
I have heard that at least two municipalities in Sweden have totally free bus-routes ; Kiruna and Ockelbo (since 1995)

Photo of Johan Löfström

and I do not really believe in just introducing road toll fees for city centres (as the only solution), because it will create obstacle for those living inside the toll booths so that they will keep their car parked in their streets during the week, even though they work outside the toll line. So it works against one of the purposes, and does not free up the parking spaces as intended.

Photo of Szilvia Varga

I'm not sure how it is done in Stockholm or Singapore but maybe we could give some discounts to people who live in the toll zones?

Or perhaps you should decide what is your priority:
A) free up parking spaces
B) reduce the amount of traffic

We should somehow look these data:
- how many people drive to the city and park their cars on the streets during daytime
- how many people who live in the city drive outside of the toll zone only to enter into it again after work
- how many people who live in the city would stop drive to work which is outside the toll zone if we introduce the toll zone

Then we could decide which way do we free up the most number of parking spots.

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