The Case for Carfree
There are many forms of carfree development across Europe. Different forms may be appropriate in different places. For Carfree UK, the three essential criteria are:
i) Advantages for Residents
A traffic free immediate environment is the key element which offers advantages to the residents of carfree areas. A quiet, accessible urban area free from traffic offers the "best of all worlds" for many potential home buyers. These are advantages which are not offered by car light high density developments which, even with relatively low parking ratios, tend to be surrounded by vehicles, moving and parked.
European carfree areas have been particularly popular amongst families with children. In the absence of traffic, the streets and public spaces of carfree areas are often filled with younger children.
ii) Advantages for Local Planning/Transport Authorities
Studies of European carfree areas indicate modal shares which vary between 10% and 24% of trips by car . Even in a sustainable city such as Freiburg, Vauban, the carfree district generates less than half the traffic per head of population than the city average. Carfree developments can therefore make a significant contribution to traffic reduction targets. They can also help avoid exacerbating traffic problems, where new developments are under consideration. Carfree areas at the heart of new towns offer opportunities for environmental improvement and modal shift, not only for the carfree residents, but for the town as a whole.
Carfree developments can permit higher density development without the usual problems associated with an increasing concentration of vehicles. They can also help to improve the financial viability of public transport and car clubs.
Although this has yet to be quantified, the higher rates of walking and cycling are likely to contribute towards public health objectives, particularly relating to obesity.
iii) Advantages for Developers
The principal advantage for developers is a reduced requirement for parking land, allowing the construction of more dwellings for any given area of land. Larger carfree developments will also result in significantly lower traffic generation, reducing the need for, and scale of new roads and junction improvements. For the pioneer developers of the first major carfree areas in Britain there will also be P.R. and marketing advantages, with which Carfree UK aims to assist.
Carfree UK produced a powerpoint presentation for local authorities and developers. Although partly focused on Bristol, the content is relevant to all UK cities.
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