Who owns the city?

What is the current space allocated to cars in your city? And to bikes and rail? What is the fairest way to share the public space between different mode shares?

We have touched on this topic in a previous article Cities are for people. In this article, we detailed the US National Association of City Transportation’s (NACTO) proposition of evaluating the effectiveness of a mode of share by its capacity to move people within a single lane of road instead of the traditional measures of vehicle traffic throughput and speed. Not surprisingly, cars were found to be the most ineffective way, yet we generally see cities being developed with a car-centric perspective.

Recently, we came across the What the street!? which is an interactive report showcasing the space taken by cars, bicycles and rail in cities such as Berlin, Tokyo, Jakarta, New York and many others (unfortunately, there no Australian city was included in the study). The website provides a visual representation and a comparison of the space dedicated to cars, rail and bicycles regarding parking and lanes.

Visitors of the website are invited to guess who “owns” the city, by indicating the percentage of space dedicated to each transport mode and navigate through all the interesting shapes and learn the areas occupied by each transport mode.

It is possible to click on the shapes and see it on an actual map. In the end, the user can compare his or her guess with the reality. Additionally, it is possible to check out a comparison between how the space is allocated and how people move in each of the studied cities. Watch the video below:

According to What the street!?, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are the top three cities when it comes to the space dedicated to bicycles. Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing are in highest positions regarding the area devoted to rail and Jakarta, Johannesburg and Los Angeles lead the car space rank.

It is of common knowledge that if you build more roads, more cars will occupy these roads. Therefore, the solution to urban mobility relies not necessarily on addressing solely the needs of car owners but on finding an adequate balance between all the different modes of share using a people-centric approach.

Visit the website and tell us your thoughts on this initiative.


Image credit: What is the street!? and moovel Group


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