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Smart infrastructure for Smart Cities

Smart infrastructure for Smart Cities

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

[EXTRACT FROM "Smart Cities, Smart mobility"]*

Source: Smart Cities, Smart mobility, by Luckas Nekermann with Tim Smedley  - p.45 – 46 2017

How do we get from ‘dumb’ building to smart infrastructure? How do we turn highways into walkways and parking lots back into parks? It begins by understanding that building our way out of congestion is simply not an option. (…)

I’ll take it a step further. Vehicle infrastructure is wasted space. Each car parking spot requires  approximately 12 square metres – enough for ten bicycles or pedestrians. The most viable solution to managing increasing city density and congestion is actually to reduce road traffic infrastructure – to remove the infrastructural varicose veins of a city, induce demand for alternatives, and enable higher densities. What sounds ludicrous has actually been tested in numerous cities, and will be replicated in many more in the coming decade. In 2016, Paris closed a key thoroughfare – the right bank of the Seine – to traffic. The result? “Half of the cars that used to use the now-closed road have disappeared,” according to Fast Company. People have been nudged towards other forms of transport. Countless more cities are now planning so-called ‘road diets’ or even eliminating traffic altogether.

The smartest of cities are the ones that are willing to fight against a century of car-centricity, and for a refocusing on quality of life. Robert Davis notes that San Francisco “has gone from minimum parking ratios of one parking space for every dwelling unit to a maximum ratio of less than one space per dwelling unit… they are trying to discourage people parking and owning cars for obvious reasons, because the street grids where most of the development is taking place is already overloaded. They want [to] avoid putting more cars on the street.” As early as 2006, San Francisco’s Downtown Commercial district eliminated residential minimum requirements and established the first residential maximum below 1:1.

Barcelona is even more ambitious in its focus on liveability, traffic reduction and air quality improvement. Aiming to reduce vehicle traffic by one-fifth, it is investing €10 million into 300 kilometres of bicycle paths and is creating 500 superilles by the end of 2018. Resembling a nine-square Rubik’s Cube, these superblocks restrict most traffic – including cars, trucks and buses – to driving around its perimeter. Residents and patrons of local businesses are permitted but are limited to under 10 km/h.

*The author, Lukas Neckermann is a thought-leader with whom the Corporate Vehicle Observatory shares the same interest in the evolution of cities and mobility by focusing on the specific interconnection between smart mobility and smart cities, and how this leads to a different, new, smart way of living, commuting, and working.

Find the full version of the ebook here