- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Inner city Driveways and Garages Strictly Not Allowed

Very interesting article here in the New York Times.

Of course, as usual, Japan appears to still be going in the opposite direction. I am told that many wards of Tokyo will raise taxes on vacant lots in an attempt to force owners to build on empty plots. One exemption however is car parking. So, them message is clear: pave over and create a 4-car carpark and you will save tax. Some wards even go so far as REQUIRING SPECIFICALLY that car parking park be created on a vacant lot if a building is not to be erected immediately.

Imagine if a slightly different policy were implemented - that driveways and garages could not be created in built up areas. There would be less parking. It would become more expensive. Less people would drive. More people would walk or cycle. More people would catch the train. Trains would make more money and (hopefully) improve service and increase lines. Community based organizations would prosper (less bed-town phenomena). Only good things could come from this - except perhaps the inevitable vitriol that would come from old men who like to drive cars. But I would enjoy that. When these old men complain, I know we have got something right.

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