Decongestion

Nope, not of the nasal sort. We're talking decongestion of a city here. On Reasons To Be Cheerful (which you must check out if you haven't already! Sadly, my website provider doesn't let me put a hyperlink for web addresses that end in .world so here's the link: www.reasonstobecheerful.world), there's an article from November 2020 which highlights five different ways that you can decongest a city without resorting to forcing everyone to work from home.

If you're wondering why making everyone work from home is not a great idea, some of the reasons that come to the forefront are the fact that it would kill off many downtown businesses and also cause the use of public transport to drop which could backfire - the last thing we want is people reverting to cars rather than public transport.


So Will Doig over at Reasons To Be Cheerful suggested five ways that you can reduce traffic in a city without killing off vital parts of said city.

  1. Charge for parking based on demand - this would discourage car use in the most congested parts of the city. San Francisco has been doing this for over a decade already.

  2. Collect a fee for entering the city - a very simple principle in which the drivers who are using the city streets pay for that service. Cars cost a lot in terms of public safety, the environment, and the free-flow of city streets. Congestion charges like those seen in Singapore and London help mitigate that cost.

  3. Use some simple tricks - earlier last year, we featured the city of Pontevedra here in Spain as it's a small city that reduced car use in its historic centre by 90%. It did this by simple engineering tweaks such as making some streets loops so that there is no incentive to drive on them unless your destination is actually on that street. Pontevedra doesn't give drivers any space to pull over, thus eliminating double parking. There are also garages on the outer perimeter so that drivers have somewhere to leave their cars and walk in.

  4. Give workers free public transport - places like Columbus, Ohio have made this possible by having businesses subsidise transport. Each downtown business pays the city 3 cents per square foot of property they occupy. That money then affords free bus passes to any downtown employee that wants one. It's a win-win situation as the businesses also don't have to build as much parking for their employees.

  5. Eliminate parking minimums for developers - initially, it seems sensible to require property developers to build a certain amount of parking per building. However, this backfires as it encourages car use in the city and makes housing more expensive as the developers pass on the extra costs of building parking to those buying the apartments.


It's definitely cheering to know that there are so many effective ways to reduce congestion without disrupting people's lives. There's healthy everyday urban activity and then there's traffic. One's a vital, colourful part of human life and the other is a giant pain in the ass.

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