Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreaming of a car-free landscape?

If that is the case, wake up and move to Germany. Vauban is a little suburb that decided to buck the trend and keep cars out and reward those that bike and walk. This could be a model that might finally prove that suburbs can be done right. Here are some excerpts from the NY Times article:

Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

While there have been efforts in the past two decades to make cities denser, and suburbs and focusing specifically on environmental benefits like reducing emissions. Vauban, home to 5,500 residents within a rectangular square mile, may be the most advanced experiment in low-car suburban life. But its basic precepts are being adopted around the world in attempts to make suburbs more compact and more accessible to public transportation, with less space for parking. In this new approach, stores are placed a walk away, on a main street, rather than in malls along some distant highway.

Who thought suburbs could look so livable and vibrant.

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