Retrofitting urban streets in Munich


Roadway space is priceless. When cities grow – the capacity of their transportation system must also grow. Still, even the most auto-centric cities must one day face the fact that they can’t simply widen their way out of a congestion problem. In built urban areas, often the only option is to retrofit a street within its existing footprint and to give people more travel options in hopes of squeezing out every last drop of roadway capacity.

Tight quarters on Munich’s cycle tracks are causing the city to start reallocating roadway space to introduce bike lanes. The concept of bike lanes is as foreign to Munich drivers as cycle tracks are to Portland drivers. Munich started introducing cycle tracks way back in the 1970s and the culture of segregation has permeated through until today. The problem lies in the fact that the miles-and-miles of cycle track were built solely at the expense of sidewalk space, not auto space. As a result, it is common to see streets where cyclists are confined to a 4-foot cycle track while they ride past crowded sidewalks – as is shown in this photo of Lindwurmstrasse.

Steady growth in the number of cyclists (and a current standard of 6.5 feet) means something’s gotta give. And, if that means removing a travel lane, it won’t be easy. There was a reason Munich decided to preserve space for cars back in the 70s. Just like in Portland, the tradeoffs get increasingly more difficult.

About Denver Igarta

This blog was established to document my search for streets that my 5-year old can play near without my constant supervision. Where kids can live active lives and learn independence. My quest began when I was selected as an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, for info: I am a multi-modal transportation planner for the City of Portland (OR), America's sustainable transportation capital. SHORT BIO/PROJECT DESCRIPTION Denver Igarta (October-November 2011), Urban Planner, City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Project: Livable Streets Where People Live: Fostering People-Friendly Streets by De-emphasizing Automobile Traffic in Residential Areas Cities: Munich, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Malmö Denver Igarta is an urban planner with the Transportation Bureau of the City of Portland. He works on a broad range of transportation policy, street design initiatives and pedestrian, bicycle and freight planning efforts. He recently served as one of the principal authors of Portland's new bicycle plan. He is currently staffing two “active transportation” projects: a rails-with-trails project along the Banfield Freeway and a local street system plan for one of the state's most diverse neighborhoods. He performed his graduate studies at the University of Dortmund, Germany and the University of the Philippines and holds a Master of Science in Regional Development Planning. Portland is struggling to reverse generations of auto-oriented development patterns and make neighborhood streets more “livable” (people-friendly) by restoring their multimodal and placemaking functions. Mr. Igarta's research will evaluate how cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden have enacted policies to restore the multiple functions of public streets through traffic management, green infrastructure and giving priority to sustainable travel modes. He will meet with local practitioners, policymakers and civic leaders involved in transportation planning, traffic safety and neighborhood livability projects, street design, and implementation of multi-modal traffic policies. The ultimate aim of the study is to compile a set of best practices and policies implemented in European cities that have broadened the role of residential streets beyond automobile mobility. Additional focus will be given to understanding how acceptable policy tradeoffs are determined within city agencies and the level of public support for measures that restrict car movements, such as reduced speed zones, bicycle streets, shared spaces, residents-only streets and residential parking restrictions.
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One Response to Retrofitting urban streets in Munich

  1. Tom Litster says:

    Trade-offs, yes. We can’t make plans without planning for them. Thanks for posting this blog.

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