Oslo car ban is not an easy task

2017.06.21Oslo

In the post Oslo cuts on-street parking, we presented one of the city’s initiatives to meet its plan of having a car-free centre by 2019. To discourage car usage in the short term, the city opted to promote high-impact and low-cost improvements for cyclists and pedestrians by reducing on-street parking.

Although the measure seemed to be easily executed, local residents are not happy with the lack of parking. According to The Guardian, car owners’ resistance with the city’s plan aligned with the opposition of the local trade association, the Oslo Handelsstands Forening (OHF), who believe that the measures will have a negative impact on the city.

It is not surprising that local residents are against plan. In our experience, people tend to see on-street parking as an extension of their homes as if they had an acquired right to park their cars in the public space.  As we have discussed in previous posts, it is not unusual either that business owners expect a negative impact on their bottom line when parking is restricted. Read more: More parking isn’t always the answer, No parking, no business? and What’s the impact of reducing parking spaces?.

Business owners tend to believe that most of their clients travel to their venue by car. However, we have seen that this is not always the case. In fact, sometimes cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users spend more than car drivers.

Creating car-free zones or even making difficult to drive in certain areas requires a great change on the city’s transport network and most importantly on people’s mindsets. Cities like Madrid, Paris, and Barcelona are implementing drastic changes and also facing opposition. In some cases, conducting tests or creating pilot areas helped to convince the population and local business owners that the changes would bring an overall positive impact.

Image credit: The Guardian, Agency for Urban Environment, City of Oslo

 

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More parking isn’t always the answer

2017.05.11 On-street parking

Location is a crucial competitive aspect for retailers in general and restaurants in particular. Once the location is chosen, there are limited options to improve access to their business. Therefore, they usually tend to advocate for increasing parking supply as a way of providing more convenience to their current and potential customers and as such, abundant parking is perceived as vital for their business success. However, it is not always what clients want and not necessarily the right solution for increasing revenue.

As reported by The Conversation, research was conducted in three restaurant precincts in Brisbane focused on verifying if car parking is as important as restaurateurs believe. To understand that, customers’ mode of transportation to travel to the restaurant and their spend were investigated as well as restaurateurs’ perception on both aspects.

As can be seen in the graphs below, there are significant differences between restaurateurs’ perceptions and the actual consumer behaviour. The largest gap is related to car usage, while restaurateurs believe that 52% of their customers use this mode of transport, the reality is that it only represents 18%. On the other hand, the mode share of public transportation is underestimated by restaurateurs; they thought that only 15% of their clients travelled by public transport when in fact 41% of them do.

2017.05.10 Graph3

In addition, restaurateurs also have a misperception of the revenue share of customers according to their mode of transport. The graphs below demonstrate that gap:

2017.05.10 Graph4

The study indicates that consumers who walked, cycled or used public transport to travel to restaurants spent more than those who used cars. Researchers conducted two simulations to evaluate potential impacts of these findings on the restaurant’s revenue.

The first one increased the number of consumers who travelled to the precinct by car to 52% by reducing their travel costs by 30% (to $ 2.896 per person) while limiting the number of consumers per day to 300. The result was a 2% decrease in revenue because this change would result in a reduction of higher-spending consumers who travel by other modes.

The second simulation proposed reducing public transport costs by $2.89, applying similar conditions as the previous test; the result indicates a 3% increase in total revenue. Therefore, this analysis suggests that restaurateurs at those particular precincts should be advocating for improvements to attract more consumers who travel by public transport, bicycle or walk, instead of increasing parking supply.

Our post No parking, no business? discussed a similar study which presented the misperception of Toronto’s merchants regarding the travelling mode of their clients. In that case, local businesses’ best clients were those arriving by active transportation (walking or cycling) as they spent more and visited the area more frequently than the others.

For further information read the article What’s the impact of reducing parking spaces? and check the infographic Fact vs. Fiction parking control kills the retail strip.

Image source: Josh Wilburne and The Conversation

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Oslo cuts on-street parking

Oslo

Oslo’s plans for a car-free city centre by 2019 is resulting in several changes in the city transport matrix. The city is implementing strategies to make walking the preferred transportation mode, followed by cycling and public transport, as was reported in the Streetfilm movie below.

The city is working on creating more pedestrian friendly areas as well as increasing and enhancing their bike network. According to the Communication Officer of Oslo Agency for Cycling, Liv Jorun Andenes, the best way to promote high-impact and low-cost improvements for cyclists and pedestrians was to reduce on-street parking. The space is being repurposed to create new bike lanes and to enlarge the width of existing cycling paths and sidewalks. Check out the Before and After images below:

Oslo Before and After

In addition to changes in the public space, private properties are being affected as new developments within the central area need to be car-free, reducing even further the city’s parking inventory. Driving is also going to be a difficult experience in Oslo, with lane widths in some streets being reduced to give way to wider bike paths creating a more bike friendly city.

Having a car-free centre means that the city must provide alternatives for people to move around, which includes expanding the current public transport network, creating faster and more efficient systems and improving the city’s bike share system. It is also necessary to ensure that deliveries can be made to guarantee the viability of retail and restaurant activities. Although some vehicle access will need to take place within the city centre, it is not going to be a pleasant ride as drivers will have to slow down through those shared zones. There is no single magical solution for Oslo, but the city is working on a number of different directions to ensure the plan’s success.

Watch the video below for further details:

Read the related articles: Strategies to reduce air pollution and No place for cars in Oslo development

Image credit: The Epoch Times and Streetfilm

 

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Innovative line marking – pros & cons

2017.04.18 Double Lines

Car park design made the news last week when NewsMail reported about a shopping centre using double lines to mark bays. While some drivers criticised the design, the car park owner seems supportive of its benefits in comparison to the traditional single line marking.

According to Australian standard, the size of bays with double line marking must be measured from the centre of the pair of marked lines.  Although the total space, including the area inside the double lines, remains the same as in traditional car parks, the actual bay is effectively smaller.

2017.04.18 Double Lines 3

The Parking & Traffic Consultants team identified a number of pros and cons of using double line marking on car park design:

Pros

  • Facilitating pedestrian movement between cars
  • Possible reduction of cars scratching doors against other vehicles
  • Helps drivers to park straight in the centre of the car space

Cons

  • The design makes drivers perceive that the bays are smaller than they actually are, potentially generating a negative impression
  • More lines can distract drivers making it difficult to identify bays when several spaces in a row are empty
  • For most people it is counterintuitive to park with the tyres on top of the lines which can make the parking experience difficult for large vehicles
  • Requires extra turns and manoeuvring to park in the right position
  • Higher cost to paint (and maintain) extra lines, compared to traditional design

The key question is should you consider or not this design on your next car park?

As each car park is unique, there isn’t a definitive answer and evaluating the pros and cons against the specific design challenges of your site may indicate the best way. In addition, you need to consider that most drivers are not used to this type of design, and therefore it may take some time for customers to adapt to it.

What is your opinion?

Photo Credit: Radcliffe Dacanay and NewsMail

 

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Another astonishing car park design

2017.04.12 ParkingDesign2

The new staff car park of the Cliniques Universities Saint-Luc hospital in Brussels is getting attention for its beautiful structure. The building, housing 985 parking spaces, has a wooden facade with a fluid undulating design to create a unique look. As reported by Web Urbanist, the architects responsible for the project were challenged to develop an impacting building that would serve as a welcoming point of the hospital without disregarding the car park’s functional purpose.

The design incorporates natural canyons to allow daylight and air to reach the lowest levels, resulting in a sinuous look. In addition, the architects included a functional green area on the roof which results in a pleasant view to look at from the adjacent hospital building. Click on the image gallery below to see this amazing car park:

Considering staff parking charges are quite low, it is interesting to see that investments of this nature are being funded regardless of the long pay back period.

Image source: Web Urbanist

 

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In-ground traffic lights

2017.04.12 InGroundTraffic Lights3

A trial of in-ground traffic lights is being conducted by the NSW state government to reduce accidents involving pedestrians, especially those addicted to their mobile phones. In-ground traffic lights were installed at the intersections of Pitt and Goulburn streets, and Hay and Dixon streets, as reported by SMH. The lights turn red to signal pedestrians to stop and are turned off when the pedestrian crossing signs at nearby poles turn green.

Melbourne is also aiming to get the attention of distracted pedestrians by a one-year trial at one of the city’s busiest intersections for foot traffic. Four sets of flashing lights were installed at the corner of Swanston Street and Little Collins Street. Differently from Sydney’s scheme, these lights turn red and green to signalise when pedestrians can or cannot cross the road.

Melbourne in-ground traffic lights

Melbourne in-ground traffic lights

Other countries as Germany and the Netherlands have similar initiatives as a way of trying to keep those distracted by their smartphones safe.

Image Source: Henry Li and The Age

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Adelaide Airport welcomes driverless shuttles

Driverless Shuttle

Driverless vehicles may be soon integrated to the transport landscape and part of our everyday life. After the launch of RAC’s autonomous shuttle bus in Perth last year, exciting news come from South Australia in this area.

Adelaide Airport intends to have driverless shuttles operating between the airport’s long-term car park and terminal. Last month, the $2.8 million trial was one of the projects selected to receive a share of South Australia’s Future Mobility Lab Fund.

The airport will receive $1 million from South Australia State Government to test three electric autonomous shuttles. According to Adelaide Airport Managing Director, Mark Young, “their compact size and agility will enable them to operate on a dedicated path at an increased frequency, potentially operating 24 hours a day, reducing road congestion and significantly lowering carbon emissions”.

Flinders University’s collaboration with Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) for the $4 million driverless shuttle trial will also receive $1 million from the State Government’s fund. Students will be involved in the three year project and eventually the tests will be open to the public. “The trial will include the development of a mobile app that will allow people arriving by bus or train to arrange for a shuttle to meet them and deliver them quickly and conveniently to their final destination on campus”, says Flinders University Vice Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling.

The autonomous shuttles are a last mile transport alternative that could be implemented in different situations, as both these projects demonstrate.

Photo Credit: Navya

 

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Subscribe to your next car

2017.03.28 Cadillac

The future of car ownership and its impact in the parking industry depends on the available alternatives for the consumer and on the adoption of sharing trends. As we discussed in our recent article, Trends that will shape the future of parking, aspects such as public policies and cultural characteristics may determine the pace and extent that the disruption of autonomous vehicles and car sharing will have on each city and consequently the parking industry. As the car industry tests and creates its response for changes in our society, it is possible to add more pieces to the puzzle that complete scenarios of a feasible future.

Last year General Motors announced Maven, the group’s car sharing company focused on Chevy consumers which is currently available in the USA and being tested in Brazil. Maven offers the possibility of renting a vehicle per hour as other car sharing companies. Recently the company launched in Los Angeles and San Francisco the possibility of renting a vehicle for up to 28 days paying a flat rate.

To reach the luxury market, GM launched the car subscription service Book by Cadillac, which will initially be available only in Manhattan. According to the Washington Post, the service adopts the subscription model, with a monthly fee of US$1,500. Users of the premium package have access to 10 Cadillac models and allow exchanging vehicles up to 18 times a year.

In an era where consumers place more value on having experiences instead of ownership, GM’s model may be one of the answers that the automobile industry is looking for to stay relevant in a future dominated by the services economy. Both services are more expensive than leasing, but the advantage is in the flexibility of changing vehicle models and cancelling the subscription at any time, granting users the possibility to adjust the service according to their needs. Instead of owning the same car for 5-10 years, consumers can choose when and what model of car they want. On top of that, the subscription includes maintenance and insurance.

As we can see, the future brings several options to people’s mobility needs and vehicle subscription is just another one.

Image source: Cadillac

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Station-less bike share

Station-less Bike Share

One of the reasons given for not joining bike share schemes is the inconvenience of pick up and drop off points. According to Derrick Ko, Spin founder, “with station-based bike share, you’re limited to where the stations are. From a transportation standpoint, it’s very unnatural.”

According to Co.Exist, Spin launched a station-less bike share scheme this month in Austin and has plans to expand to other cities in the US during 2017. With this system, users can ride any Spin bike they see on the street or if none are in sight they can search for the closest one using the app.  The customer walks to the chosen bike and unlocks it with a code provided by the app. At the end of the trip, the user just needs to lock the bike to any existing rack.

Station-less bike share systems are already common in China and may be a solution for encouraging more people to use this type of transport in other countries.  As is usually the case with transportation, people tend to choose the most convenient alternative, and so the freedom to end the trip closer to one’s destination is definitely an advantage in comparison to traditional station-based bike shares.

The success of this bike share will depend on the number of bikes available and their distribution to ensure there are available bicycles where and when users need them. In addition, in locations where there is already a city bike share program, as is the case in Austin, private companies, such as Spin, need to be aligned with the city policies and plans, as was pointed out by City Lab.

However, docking station location is not always the only way to increase cycling rates. As we already mentioned in the Wayfinding Forum Blog, in Melbourne, 61% of people who don’t use the bike share scheme cited difficulties in finding a helmet or not willing to wear one as the main reason for not cycling. Sydney doesn’t have a bike share scheme yet, but the cycling rates in the city are lower than 2013 levels. Bicycle advocates argue that higher fines and more enforcement, together with poor infrastructure, are the main factors for this scenario.

 

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From car to transit-centred city

2017.03.06 From car to transit-centred city1

Downtown Seattle has seen a significant job growth, with 45,000 jobs added in the city centre between 2010 and 2016. Considering that the area had already reached almost full street capacity at peak hour, an expansion like that could have substantially worsened the local traffic.

However, a new report released by Commute Seattle shows that, despite the job growth, only 2,344 single occupant car trips to downtown were added since 2010. The other 95% were absorbed by public transport, ridesharing, walking, cycling and teleworking. Transit, which includes bus, rail and ferry, is the mode of transport chosen by 47% of commuters as can be seen in the graph below:

2017.03.06 Seattle Infographic1

It is important to note that cycling remained stable, representing 3% of the commuting, showing that there may be potential to increase other modes of transport as an alternative to driving alone.

According to Commute Seattle, investments such as the expansion of metro lines, light rail and protected bike lanes contributed to the results. In addition, employers played their part by providing infrastructure and incentives for their employees and tenants to choose alternatives mode of transport: “downtown employers invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits in 2016”.

The combination of different initiatives resulted in a boost of public transport as the preferred option to reach downtown Seattle:

2017.03.06 Seattle Infographic2

Image source: Unsplash and Commute Seattle

 

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