In the social theorist Jeremy Rifkin wrote an infor- mative, thought-provoking book called The European Dream,8 in which he compared and contrasted these cross-Atlantic value systems, arguing that the Europeans in many ways have their priorities in better order. Table 1. The new European Dream focuses more on sustainable develop- ment, quality of life, and interdependence. Opinion surveys suggest a shift in the direction of smaller housing units, and a desire and intention to become more embedded in neighbor- hood and place.
Perhaps more important is to recognize that from a sustainability perspec- tive, and from a perspective of planetary health, the European Dream is a better model. I should not overstate the shifts in American lifestyle and consumption;Americans will still be highly consumptive, highly individu- alistic in their outlook, eschew the public for the private, and at least in the short term be very dependent on cars. Nevertheless, we seem unusu- ally poised for change, and looking at European urban innovations and planning seems especially timely indeed.
Americans are not getting much exercise, and individual and community health are in no small measure an outcome of unsustainable land use pat- terns. It is time to search for new and healthier models of urban develop- ment.
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Figuring out how to design places and communities that propel us forward as pedestrians, that allow a natural integration of physical exercise and activity into our daily lives, that help to make us healthy is a major goal, and European cities again provide inspiration and hope. What is it that recom- mends European cities as exemplars for the emerging urban age? While European cities have been experiencing considerable decentral- ization pressures, they are typically much more compact and dense than American cities. And while sprawl has been happening in Europe, there are still many more positive and compelling examples of cities maintain- ing and even growing dense urban cores.
In Oslo, for instance, as a result of explicit planning policy, the city and region have densified.
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In Freiburg, Germany see chapter 3 , a set of principles has been cre- ated—the Freiburg Charter for Sustainable Urbanism, with compact urban form at the center. Box 1.
There are many factors that explain this urban form, including a historic pattern of compact villages and cities, a limited land base in many countries, and different cultural attitudes about land. Never- theless, in the cities covered in this book Copenhagen, Freiburg, Helsinki, London, Paris, and Vitoria-Gasteiz , there are conscious policies aimed at strengthening a tight urban core. And importance has been placed, in cities like Freiburg and Copenhagen, on maintaining populations living in the very center of these cities; unlike cities succumbing to sprawl, they are twenty-four-hour metropolises.
Major new growth areas in European cities tend to be located in more sustainable locations—adjacent to existing developed areas—and typi- cally are designed at relatively high densities. New growth areas, further- more, typically include and design-in a wide range of ecological design and planning concepts.
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From solar and wind energy, to community food production, to natural drainage, these new development areas and urban neighborhoods demonstrate convincingly that ecological and urban can go together. Many good examples of this compact green growth can be seen in the new development and redevelopment areas in many of the cities described in this book, from Vauban in Freiburg, to the Thames Gateway in London. Sustainable Mobility Rethinking the role of the car in cities and society more generally re- mains a major challenge for contemporary planners in the U.
In the face of rising global demand for oil, and declining supplies peak oil , many of us believe something must change and will.
While there is much work The future model for new settlements should be the Compact City. This is a city concept consisting of independently functioning units, in which the aspects of everyday life can be laid out and accessed within walking distance by all members of society. The City of the Future is a city of social and functional integration, cul- tural diversity, accessible education, resource conservation and regional dialogue. When outward growth is unavoidable or imperative for economic or cultural rea- sons, that growth should follow the principle of the Compact City. The following 12 principles are intended to provide the point of departure for the Compact City and as such serve as the foundation for the Sustainable City.
They should be ap- plied to all new development. The 12 Guiding Principles Spatial I. Diversity, Safety Tolerance II. City of Neighborhoods III. City of Short Distances IV. Public Transport Density Content V. Education, Science Culture VI. Industry Jobs VII. Design Quality Process IX. Long-Term Vision X.
Communication Participation XI. Co-operation Partnership Source: Academy of Urbanism, In the cities described in this book, a high level of priority is given to building and maintaining fast, comfortable, and reliable systems of public transport. Regional and national train systems are fully integrated with local transit. It is easy to shift from one mode to another. And with the continuing commitment to the development of a European high-speed rail network, modal integration is becoming even greater. Cities like Freiburg, which never gave up on its municipal trams, or Paris, which plans to dra- matically expand its metro system in years ahead, show how we can ad- dress the future of urban mobility.
Especially impressive has been the expansion of high-speed rail into countries and parts of Europe where it did not formerly exist, such as Spain and Italy, and the transformative effects it is already having. As we struggle to understand why high-speed rail is so controversial in the U. Already the high-speed link from Barcelona to Madrid has shifted much travel away from air transport, with significant reductions in carbon emissions a passenger traveling by high-speed train consumes an esti- mated one-fifth the carbon emissions of someone traveling by plane. A key message from Europe is that creating the conditions for car-free or car- reduced urban lives will require these kinds of inter-city rail investments.
Importantly, these investments complement, and are coordinated with, major land use decisions. Virtually all the major new growth ar- eas identified have good public transit service as a basic, underlying as- sumption. The new community growth areas of Rieselfeld and Vauban, in Freiburg, for instance, both had new tramlines installed before the projects were fully built both projects are described in chapter 3.
There is recognition in these cities of the importance of giving options to new residents, establishing Europeans have innovated and brought to scale many of our best sus- tainable mobility ideas. Car sharing, for instance, was pioneered in Zurich and other European cities, and has become a viable and increasingly popu- lar option. Car sharing in North America has grown from a few hundred members in a handful of cities in the s to more than half a million members, using more than ten thousand vehicles available in numerous cities.
Paris recently unveiled its Autolib scheme, a network of electric-powered blue cars also referred to as bubble cars , to be available at some one thousand dispersing locations around the city. Few would argue that the quality of life is lower in Copenhagen because of the reduced de- pendence on cars in fact, just the opposite. Bicycles are one of the more ubiquitous and important mobility op- tions in green European cities, those in the Netherlands, Germany, and northern Europe in particular.
There are some eight hundred kilometers of bike lanes in Berlin, for instance, and Vienna has more than doubled its bicycle network since the late s. Copenhagen now has a policy of installing bike lanes along all major streets, and bicycle use in that city has risen substantially. Forty percent of home-to-work trips in Copenhagen are made by bike, and the city is aspiring to go higher. Its new Green Cycle Routes initiative is creating new bicycle commuting routes into the city through and alongside parks and green areas.
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And even cities like London, where bicycles have been less important, are making significant and im- pressive strikes, creating there a series of Cycle Superhighways discussed in chapter 8. European cities have been responsible for pioneering the first, sec- ond, and third generations of public bikes, arguably beginning with the ideas of the Dutch activist Luud Schimmelpennink for a network of White More in- novations followed, including the still-impressive City Bikes programs operated in Scandinavian cities such as Copenhagen and Helsinki.
In the case of Copenhagen, some 2, public bicycles have been made available throughout the center of the city. Walking Cities Getting people out of their cars also requires creating urban places and spaces that delight, that bring people in contact with one another and with interesting objects, events, and environments. European cities have led the way with innovative bicycle mobility programs.
Credit: Timothy Beatley. While European cities have experienced a rise in automobility, their core urban form remains remarkably pedestrian. It is hard to overstate the value and importance of walkable streets, and indeed walkable cities. Providing physical exercise, opportunities to socialize, connections to place and nature, and enjoyment and fun, walking is an essential element of a green city. Spending time in cities like Vitoria-Gasteiz, it is almost impos- sible not to be an avid pedestrian; it is indeed the best way to get around see chapter 7.
Nearly half the trips made in Vitoria-Gasteiz are by foot, and no wonder, as it is a city of short distances, where emphasis has been placed on creating functional and beautiful pedestrian connections. The city puts walking front and center in its plans. The concept of shared space and shared streets was pioneered in the Netherlands, with their concept of the woonerf, but has now been extended in many other creative ways. In London, and other cities in the UK, similar shifts toward shared space have occurred, including the designation of so-called home zones, and more recently experimentation with DIY street reclaim- ing.
As the London chapter makes clear see chapter 8 , new approaches to way-finding will also be necessary. Biophilic Cities How to achieve compactness and density, but also ensure that urban in- habitants have adequate access to parks, trees, waterfronts, and nature, re- mains another key challenge and another way in which European cities lead the way.
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In many American cities and certainly many European cities as well , the prevailing living and working environments are largely of concrete and asphalt, not especially green or natural despite the acknowl- edged need for such elements in our lives. It is perhaps not surprising that Americans are inside so much of the day when conventional city and urban design pays such little attention to celebrating, restoring, and integrating nature and nat- ural systems into our communities.
One outcome is what the journalist Richard Louv has called Nature Deficit Disorder—a particular concern that children today are suffering from growing up in denatured neighborhoods and communities. Extensive tracts of forest and open lands are owned by cities such as Vienna, Berlin, and Graz among many others. Cities such as Helsinki and Copenhagen are spatially structured so that large wedges of green nearly penetrate the centers of these munici- palities.
It extends in an almost unbroken wedge from the center to an area of old- growth forest to the north of city, some one thousand hectares in area and eleven kilometers long see chapter 5. And in cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm, there are many beaches and bathing areas, even places along the Copenhagen Har- bor where, as a result of efforts at improving water quality over a number for years, urban residents are encouraged to swim see chapter 4. There is an important trend in the direction of creating and strength- ening ecological networks within and between urban centers, another area where European cities have been leading the way.
This has been most evident in Dutch cities, where national and provincial governments have focused on creating and protecting ecological networks. This net- work is then further delineated at the provincial level, and cities in turn are tiering this network and building on it.
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Such networks at the city level At the other end of the scale are efforts to connect together these national ecological networks to create a very ambitious European-wide ecological network. European green cities have also been leaders in integrating regional climate and weather considerations into their local plans, with climatic el- ements common in German and Austrian plans, for instance. Cities like Freiburg have identified important corridors for airflows and breezes and placed height and building limitations in these areas more in chapter 3. Oslo is a remarkable example of a green and biophilic city, with a com- pact and, as mentioned above, densifying urban form.
And nature in other forms surrounds to the south, with extensive natural shorelines and the Oslo fjord. In both cities, compactness permits this proximity to nature, rather than working against it. Even more impressive are the green and natural qualities that cities like Oslo are envisioning for its future. The E-mail Address es field is required. Please enter recipient e-mail address es.