Take a look at Norway where the capital city Oslo has removed over 700 parking spaces in the downtown and replaced those spaces with benches, bike racks and public spaces.The City has 50 parking spaces left, mainly for disabled persons in vehicles and for deliveries to local businesses.
i have been writing about European cities going for slower streets, and finding that residents are happy with the slower vehicular speeds. The Economist observes that many European cities are going for outright vehicular reduction in their downtowns. London and Stockholm have congestion charges, and I have written about London’s new ultra low emissions zone.
Paris has tried to limit vehicular use on certain days. But Oslo’s approach of closing off the downtown to private cars, and changing streets to limit traffic flow in one direction is the closest to a “downtown car ban” . While opponents to the ban have complained about limited access to the downtown, there are still vehicles in the downtown, just fewer places to park. Downtown Oslo business owners worried that “fewer cars could mean fewer customers”. While those statistics are not in yet, pedestrian traffic has increased in the downtown by 10%, and the experience in London showed that spending increased by 40% with people that walked, cycled or took public transit to downtown shopping areas.
In Oslo the main commercial areas of the downtown already have a lot of pedestrian foot traffic and are likely to only be positively impacted by private vehicle restrictions. And those restrictions when enacted in Stockholm Sweden actually assisted private vehicle owners and public transit users as “factors such as shorter travel times and safer roads far outweigh the fees paid by drivers.”
This is the time of conservatism, but local politicians including Vice-Mayor Hanna Marcussen have been working on an incremental approach to the adoption of the downtown vehicular parking ban, speaking directly with business owners and assessing potential impacts of a walkable downtown.
“Ms Marcussen likens her government’s traffic reforms to Norway’s public-smoking ban, which was enacted in 2004. Many grumbled before the law was passed, but few today would clamour to let people smoke in pubs again.”
This YouTube video outlines Oslo’s approach with their new policies. The comments on the video are worth a quick read as well, as they represent the divergent opinion on this initiative.