Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

German suburb finds car-free life quite carefree

May 13, 2009

Have you ever heard of Vauban, a small suburb in Germany? I hadn’t until recently, but after reading an article in yesterday’s New York Times“In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars”—I’m ready to pack my bags and hop on the next plane there.

Vauban, completed in 2006, sits on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden, and Vauban’s streets are completely car-free, except for the main thoroughfare and a few streets on the outskirts of the suburb.

You may be asking yourself, How is this working out for the 5,500 residents of Vauban? Quite well, it seems. From the article:

The town is long and relatively narrow, so that the tram into Freiburg is an easy walk from every home. Stores, restaurants, banks and schools are more interspersed among homes than they are in a typical suburb. Most residents…have carts that they haul behind bicycles for shopping trips or children’s play dates. For trips to stores like IKEA or the ski slopes, families buy cars together or use communal cars rented out by Vauban’s car-sharing club.

Moreover, parents in Vauban rave about the safety that goes along with having no cars on the streets. Children can run free without their parents fearing for their safety as they would if their kids were playing on a busy street corner. Check out this interesting slideshow of Vauban.

Vauban is part of a growing suburban trend many are referring to as “smart planning.” In the U.S., the EPA is beginning to promote “car reduced” communities and experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year. Currently, most zoning laws in the U.S. still require two parking spaces per residential unit. Hopefully, Vauban’s success will lead to many more car-reduced cities and suburbs.

Bike Sharing

April 26, 2009

“The fact is, we already have a zero-emission, efficient, great way to get around and it’s called the bicycle and we just need to start providing for it,”
-Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives

You’ve heard of car sharing but have you heard of bike sharing? There are already successful bike sharing programs in Paris, Barcelona, London, Stockholm, Milan, Berlin, Munich, Vienna & Copenhagen- to name just a few. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before bike sharing starts spreading throughout the U.S. as well!

Below you can listen to a very interesting interview on last Friday’s Brian Lehrer Show. Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, discusses the possibility of introducing a bike sharing program in New York City.

Would you utilize a bike sharing service in Chicago? If not, why not? What would need to change in order to get you biking?

Eco-friendly bamboo bikes

March 8, 2009

As car sales continue to fall and gas prices remain above the $2/gallon mark, it seems like more and more people are taking up a common childhood activity – biking. Biking is a great way to get around the city- you don’t have to deal with parking, gas, tickets, insurance, or traffic – AND you get some exercise along the way!

If you’re thinking about buying a bike, check out the bamboo bikes from Calfee Design. Calfee Design claims that their bamboo bikes have the lowest carbon footprint of any bike on the market today. Moreover, Calfee Bamboo bikes have won awards for Best Road Bike, Best Off-Road Bike and Peoples’ Choice Award at the American Handmade Bicycle Show.