Creating A Liveable City – Nordic Countries Do It – Can WE?

In Asbury Park we have heard, “Asbury Park is unique” and, “we’re not (fill in name of any liveable, walkable, bikeable city), and “where will the delivery trucks park?”, with the implication that motor vehicles rule, and that walking and biking infrastructure won’t work here. Our Transportation Manager, Mike Manzella recently returned from a visit to Oslo, and other people-centered cities and we can’t wait to learn all about it!

In this BBC The Compass Podcast you can substitute Asbury Park for Oslo. You’ll hear how that city is also expanding, and making a commitment to “reducing carbon use and emissions”, working to  “avoid urban pitfalls that may lead to segregation and inequality.  Some say it might be impossible. Asbury Park is among cities all over the globe working to enable people to be less car-dependent, and to prioritize people in urban planning.

In the article below, you will read that Nordic planners have “prioritised liveability, sustainability, mobility and citizens’ empowerment”, and now there’s an international masters program to teach planners all over the world how to do the same. We have serious work to do in the US.

Oslo is “doing a a rigorous investigation into the city’s plans to grow quickly, but intelligently. They scrutinise the policies aimed at reducing fossil fuel emissions and creating a zero-carbon infrastructure, they look at the plans for preventing segregated neighbourhoods… ” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Let’s get to work.

What the Nordic nations can teach us about liveable cities

By Maddy Savage 12th November 2019

Fuelled by rising international interest in why the Nordic countries are doing so well, three of the region’s top universities recently joined forces to launch the world’s first international master’s programme specialising in Nordic urban planning.

“In the Nordics, there has long been an emphasis on people in urban life, and putting them at the centre,” explains David Pinder, a professor of urban studies at Roskilde University in Denmark. Planners have prioritised liveability, sustainability, mobility and citizens’ empowerment – ideals manifest in green parks, well-lit public spaces, strong transport networks and accessible local facilities for children and the elderly.”

Read about it~

No Parking? Oh yes!

Changing habits is hard. (People used to smoke in restaurants.) Residents and visitors begin to sense something is happening when a city begins to add bike lanes, bump outs for pedestrians, create a road diet to slow cars and calm traffic, build parklets for people, or have an open, car-free event in the streets. All of the above are happening in Asbury Park. Are we ready to reduce or eliminate cars from the center of our city? Maybe not yet…but we are learning that cars are not good for the environment, for public health, or for general quality of life. With the public transit added to the process we may be able to achieve a car-free city center someday.

What happened when Oslo decided to make its downtown basically car-free?

It was a huge success: Parking spots are now bike lanes, transit is fast and easy, and the streets (and local businesses) are full of people.

If you decide to drive in downtown Oslo, be forewarned: You won’t be able to park on the street. By the beginning of this year, the city finished removing more than 700 parking spots–replacing them with bike lanes, plants, tiny parks, and benches–as a major step toward a vision of a car-free city center.

The changes, unsurprisingly, have been met with some resistance, both from car owners and businesses. But while business owners initially worried about the city creating a ghost town that no one would visit, the opposite seems to be true; as in other cities that have converted some streets to pedestrian-only areas, the areas in Oslo that have been pedestrianized are some of the most popular parts of the city, Marcussen says. Last fall, after hundreds of parking spots had been removed, the city found that it had 10% more pedestrians in the center than the year before. “So that is telling me that we are doing something right,” she says.

Read about it!

Who Owns The Streets?

Do you drive and feel like people who walk and ride bikes are taking over your city – and you’re losing your privilege? How do you feel about walking in your city?  Are you riding a bike for recreation or daily for transportation? Maybe you drive a car when you need to, but also walk and ride a bike whenever you can? Let’s take a look at it…

The Pedestrian Strikes Back

Officials in several countries are getting the message: Cities are about people, not cars. Read about it: 

By Richard Conniff Contributing Opinion Writer Dec. 15, 2018

In many of the major cities of the world, it has begun to dawn even on public officials that walking is a highly efficient means of transit, as well as one of the great underrated pleasures in life. A few major cities have even tentatively begun to take back their streets for pedestrians.

Denver, for instance, is proposing a plan to invest $1.2 billion in sidewalks, and, at far greater cost, bring frequent public transit within a quarter-mile of most of its residents. In Europe, where clean, safe, punctual public transit is already widely available, Oslo plans to ban all cars from its city center beginning next year. Madrid is banning cars owned by nonresidents, and is also redesigning 24 major downtown avenues to take them back for pedestrians. Paris has banned vehicles from a road along the Seine, and plans to rebuild it for bicycle and pedestrian use.  

Yes, car owners are furious. That’s because they have mistaken their century-long domination over pedestrians for a right rather than a privilege. The truth is that cities are not doing nearly enough to restore streets for pedestrian use, and it’s the pedestrians who should be furious.

Read about it: