Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Progressive transit through urban planning

A story on Copenhagen was published in the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, examining the measures taken in that Danish city to lessen reliance on single-car commuting (including promotion of bicycles, a new metro system, and progressive urban planning) and whether or not Ottawa would be able to follow in Copenhagen's footsteps. Danish urban plannign specialist Jan Gehl is consulted by author Maria Cook in the story, and he says the city needs some form of rapid public transit system:

Mr. Gehl says Ottawa's plans for light rail are essential to feeding the city's success.

"A good public realm and good public transport system are brother and sister. If you want people to use public space you have to make sure they can get to it in style, safety and comfort."

Every city faces the problem of how to finance large infrastructure. Copenhagen has built metro lines to areas it wants developed, then sold adjacent city-owned land at the increased value brought to it by transit proximity.

Wow, there's an idea! In a city where 'urban planning' amounts to a greenbelt which has pushed urban sprawl further from the city's core, the idea of actually using profit-making tactics to offset the cost of transit projects by unloading some costs onto business interests--which are then able to profit themselves--seems absolutely divine.

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