the times they are a-changin

Stockholm will probably not become a much less car-centric city overnight but talks and decisions begin to point in that direction and keep hope alive.

During summer 2012 Stockholm’s first indoor bicycle parking facility (capacity of 350 parking spaces) opened next to the train station in Älvsjö. Another one (capacity of 200 parking spaces) should be ready when the Odenplan station (along the Stockholm City Line1) opens in 2017 and now a third garage (capacity of 700 parking spaces) is planned next to Södra station (Stockholm South)2.

That’s good news for a lot of commuters and I just find it unfortunate that Dagens Nyheter chose to fuel the bikes versus cars debate and focus, right in the title, on the fact that the facility will not be opened for cars. Should a garage always be built with room for cars? No. How many cars can you park instead of 700 bicycles anyway? Not many. So why write such a thing?

The Bicycle Snake, Copenhagen
The Bicycle Snake, Copenhagen

Like it or not growing cities around the world can’t and won’t develop with private cars as the inevitable mode of transport in mind.

Stockholm, more than ever, has to concentrate on walking and cycling infrastructure and build a better mass transit system even if that means taking public space back from off-street and on-street parking facilities. There are around 36,000 on-street parking spots in central Stockholm (28,000 twenty years ago) and 1,500 are soon going to disappear to make room for the first of four planned dedicated bus lanes3. There’s no reason one should be stuck in traffic when using public transportation. Is there?

These two measures were in the news yesterday. They are likely to be followed by others. They’re going to piss off a few people and be labeled as green propaganda among other things. But hey. The times they are a-changin. Always.




congestion payment

More and more cities around the world are introducing congestion fees for people who drive their cars into town during peak times.

Congestion Fee Station

The idea is to discourage people from bringing their cars into unnecessarily crowded areas unless they really have to and are willing to pay for the privilege. So far it seems to be working but a lot of the money being raised isn’t used to improve the inner cities but to build more rounds outside towns.

Now Johan Ehrenberg (@JohanEhrenberg) at Dagens ETC has come up with a novel alternative. Instead of just discouraging people from driving their cars, we should actively encourage people to cycle. His idea is that everyone who cycles through a congestion station once per day will be paid 25 SEK. I don’t agree with all his ideas (wearing a hi-vis jacket with a registration number on it and that all people who cycle fast are idiots for example) but I think it’s a great idea. If I knew that I would actually earn money by cycling (as well as the savings I’d make on train tickets), I’d be much more likely to cycle as often as I could.

I don’t know if it’ll ever happen and it’ll certainly need some more thought but it’s pure genius. Read his full article (in Swedish) here.