Activist Profile: VCD

Verkehrsclub Deutschland : Transportation Club of Germany

The VCD (german) is the ecological alternative to Germany’s version of AAA. So if AAA represents primarily the traditional automotive interests, then the VCD advocates for the interests of not only bicycle commuters, mass transit riders and pedestrians but also ecologically conscious drivers. What I find impressive about the VCD is how organized they are. They’re a Germany-wide organization with local subgroups who are active in front of city hall as well as within the political system. Continue reading

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Parking and the Public Service Employee

Übrigens: Nach einem Urteil des Landesar­beitsgerichts Schleswig-Holstein von 2001 (AZ 1 Sa 646 b/00) haben Arbeitnehmer im öffentlichen Dienst keinen Anspruch auf einen kostenlosen Parkplatz.

as per VCD Landesverband Nord (german)

Public service employees in the state of Schleswig-Hostein are not entitled to a free parking place.

I would love to see this policy instituted in NYC. It would go a long way to start changing a culture of expectancy and entitlement. Accompanying policies would promote use of public transit as well as bicycle commuting to get to work. Actions that employers could take, as suggested by the Transportation Club of Germany, an alternative to Germany’s equivalent of AAA, include:

the option to exchange a car parking spot for a bicycle provided by the employer

offering bicycle repair workshops at the workplace

sponsoring various bicycle events outside the workplace

a bicycle lottery – in which once a month or so a random name is drawn from a hat and if that person rode her bike to work she receives a related prize (users of public transit or those who walked are also eligible, only car-drivers are excluded)

providing showering and changing facilities as well as a place to hang wet clothing or rain gear

among other possibilities. For a comparison of the situation in NYC (and surroundings), here are just a few of the issues and the players involved:

NYPD here and here

Teachers Union here

Complaining residents who don’t want the laws to apply to them (and the City Council who supports them) here

MTA here

Mayor Bloomberg here

Chambors of Commerce/BIDs here, here and here

This theme deserves more research. A profile of the VCD (Transportation Club of Germany) is also forthcoming.

Money Side to Transportation

Being a New Yorker I almost started laughing after reading this article about fare hikes here in Hamburg, considering the past year’s worth and beyond of budget woes for the MTA.  Starting the 1st of January 2010 the price for a one way within the entire HVV zone is going up Continue reading

Why We’re Still Struggling

Two articles reporting on relatively similar things.  The first being the one from the Hamburger Abendblatt (in German,) reporting that a third of Germany”s automobile commuters could imagine that in the relatively near future they would get rid of their car, or at least leave it at home.  Then this article in the New York Times, reporting about how some people in the U.S. are willing to think about living without a car, but with more emphasis on what a difficult time car dealerships and manufacturers are having and how and when we’ll be back to record breaking numbers of car purchases.

First though, a bit of a run through on things I found interesting in the Hamburger Abendblatt article.  The statistics aren’t necessarily so indicative of the situation in Hamburg.  Continue reading

What Crisis?

Stadtbahn_BM_Bayern_925695g(photo from HHA) With NYC DOT trying to push Bus Rapid Transit on New Yorkers I thought it intresting this series of articles that came out this week in Hamburg newspapers relating to an upcoming fare hike, a new street car line to start construction 2012 and lastly a study that shows one third of Hamburg’s commuters would leave the car at home if they had better options with public transit.

I thought I’d start with a quick look at this new street car line, a LRT line connecting a ring of neighborhoods surrounding Hamburg City.  Ultimately the line will run from Bramfeld to Altona via Steilshoop, Winterhude, Eppendorf and Eimsbüttel.  Here’s the map with my extremely rough estimate of the new route (note: this is not the set-in-stone route.)  Currently these areas are only connected via buses.  The city wants to increase capacity along this line but not spend as much money as a new subway line would cost. Continue reading

The Traffic Network

and who has priority…

Times Square NYC features at the moment an experiment of the NYC DOT, an attempt to reclaim space for the pedestrian.  Of all Times Square users, pedestrians make up around seven times the number automobiles, yet the space devoted to them was previously 11%.  The current design turns Broadway around Times Square and Herald Square into a pedestrian zone, eliminating tricky intersections arising from Broadway’s diagonal cut through the uptown grid.  Not only does this reassign desperately needed space to the pedestrian Continue reading

Hamburg’s Bike Parking Houses

Fahrradhäuser bike parking house

Believe it or not, this is bicycle parking.  Here’s a website in German that explains more, or you can try my extremely rough translation.  In four neighborhoods around Hamburg these covered, locked bicycle parking facilities, Fahrradhäuser, have been built to accommodate bicycle parking for people living in an Altbau house, older buildings that may not have enough room on balconies or in hallways or basements for safely parking bicycles.  Continue reading

Car Free Sunday 20.09.2009

HH - Autofreier Sonntag 2009 HH - Autofreier Sonntag 2009 Car Free Sunday.  It happened twice in Hamburg this summer, once in June and again in September.  It’s not an unusual thing, to close off a large segment of a major street to automobile traffic and open it up for pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and such.  The NYC Department of Transportation has Car Free Summer, successive Saturday closings of Park Ave from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street and then into Central Park via 72nd.  One of the things I found interesting about Car Free Sunday in Hamburg was that it was sponsored by the local transit system, the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV.)  Continue reading

Park(ing) Day 18.09.2009

Park(ing) Day in Hamburg Park(ing) Day in Hamburg

Park(ing) Day in Hamburg was extremely relaxed, as I’m sure it was in many other cities.  Originating in San Francisco, activists and advocates reclaim parking spots on the street for pedestrian use for a day, clearly contrasting public space used for public purposes versus public spaced used for large parked private possessions.  Hamburg was one of two German cities with Park(ing) Day participants, Munich being the other.  This particular spot was organized by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy – Europe (ITDP,) an organization working for equitable forms of transportation as well as sustainable development in many different countries.  Continue reading

Reasoning and Disclosure

Hamburg

Working from the ground up for changes in transportation policy in the United States means responding to years of automobile-driven policy and a political system that can be difficult for the average citizen to navigate.  I think this article explains a little where we’re at right now.

As for a bit of background, I think it’s important to come clear with a few things.  The purpose of this research is to help progress mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle advocacy work in NYC and the United States in general.  This kind of research is certainly not unprecedented.  Continue reading