Germany’s car-conscious community

A reader forwarded me an inspiring article from the Christian Science Monitor about a very car-conscious neighborhood in Germany.

Vauban — a new development of 2,000 homes just outside of Freiburg — has been designed to encourage car-free (I like to say “car-conscious”) living.

[A street in Vauban. What do you think the average speed is on a street like this?]
Photo by mattwyn from Flickr

What’s inspiring about the article are several quotes that show how far acceptance of car-free neighborhoods has come. According to the CS Monitor:

“Vauban has put into practice many ideas that were once dismissed as eco-fantasy but which are now moving to the center of public policy.”

“As a result, the car-ownership rate in Vauban is only 150 per 1,000 inhabitants, compared with 430 per 1,000 inhabitants in Freiburg proper. In contrast, the US average is 640 household vehicles per 1,000 residents.”

And note how important citizen activism can be in persuading government to plan more people-friendly neighborhoods:

“What makes Vauban unique, say experts, is that “it’s as much a grass-roots initiative as it is pursued by the city council,” says Mr. Scheurer. “It brings together the community, the government, and the private sector at every state of the game.”

And this is my favorite quote of the article,

“Before you had pilot projects. Now it’s like a movement.”

America needs to be a bigger part of this “movement”. We have been fooled for too long into thinking that single-occupancy vehicles need to be an essential part of our lives.

I wonder if there’s a chance of doing something similar to Vauban in one of the many new developments being built West of Portland?

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15 years ago

There’s more about Vauban by a fellow who lives there (and who took the photo) here: