Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reviewing car-free estates

In Vienna Floridsdorf there exists a car-free estate since almost 10 years. Due to the absurd parking regulations here, they had to get a special permit to be able to build less car parks and safe that money for something more useful. Earlier I've posted a video by the Greens about this particular project (German with English subtitles) which explains very well how it works and what it looks like.

Car-free estate in Floridsdorf, Vienna, Austria

Recently I stumbled again across Christoph Chorherr's blog and read that they did an evaluation among the residents to find out what they think about their estate and community. The main results are summerized in these three files (in German): short version (2 pages), medium version (5 pages) and full version (96 pages).

So far I haven't read all of the full version myself, but here are the parameters and main things they found out:
  • 244 flats (11.400 m²) but instead of 244 car parks only 25 [according to the Viennese building law the rate "car park:flat" of 1:1 can only be reduced to 1:10 with a special permit]
  • build between 1997 and 1999
  • concept: people that move in have to resign from owning a car (that's even stated in the rental agreement), ecological measures and green areas, no decrease of building costs (which would have been possible because of the fewer car parks) but rededication of the capital
  • right before moving in about 24% did own a car
  • for 53% it was very important and for 21% important to live in a car-free estate when moving in
  • car-sharing is available but only used by 28% for shopping, about 1/3 of the residents don't use this service at all
  • 88% already owned a bicycle before moving in, 7% bought one later
  • the bicycle is used up to 10 times more than in an average car-free (!) household in Vienna [about 1/3 of Viennese households are car-free]
  • 56% of the people living there use a bicycle to get to work or school
  • per household they calculated bike storage for 2.5 bicycles which turned out to be far-off (they actually need storage for 1.5 bicycles per person!)
  • the residents are very happy with their estate, which mostly results from joint projects that were carried out from the money that wasn't spend on parking lots: public areas, saunas, gardens, kindergarten, gym, garage etc.
  • the communication among neighbors and other residents works well (something which elsewhere is basically nonexistent)

Actually I've applied for a flat in that estate one year back, but it's basically impossible to get hold of such sought-after living space. In view of that overwhelming demand the Greens are planning a similar project called Bikecity at an old train station in the north-west of the city. Hope that will work out.

For more reading you can find some information on car-free living on the "Wohnen plus Mobilität" website in German and English (it contains general information and various prototypes in Germany and Austria). Moreover there is a German website on autofrei wohnen and here's an English pendant on carfree cities (with an excellent link list). More on car-free housing estates in Europe e.g. in "Car-free housing in European cities" by Jan Scheurer. Well, the internet is full of information about car-free habitation :-).

Conclusion: car-free is carefree, so enjoy a car(e)free life if somehow possible!

5 comments:

spiderleggreen said...

sounds like utopia! just think how quite it must be there. I live on a busy street and rarely experience silence in my home.

Perhaps, I'm unconsciously headed toward a car-free existence, because I'm thinking of buying a new bike, with some extra money I have, instead of fixing up my car. Putting money into my car seems like a waste too me... but I hope it keeps running. ;)

Filigree said...

I did not know at first that such a neighborhood already existed, in addition to the Bike City they re planning to build. It looks interesting, though I am not a fan of socially engineered communities.

John in NH said...

darn it, would have liked to have visited this when in the lovely city back in April. oh well save something for next time! it just shows that it can be done with the right people and the right environment, we don't need to all become aliens or Lance Armstrong's to live this care free life.

workbike said...

Er... how is the alternative not 'Socially Engineered?' like this, it's based on a set of values and a way of seeing the world, and assumptions about the best way to live. The expanse called Suburbia (which, I'll agree, doesn't engender community) assumes a car, which reduces the social groups who can feasibly live there. Now that's Social Engineering.

She Rides a Bike said...

Interesting. I have to agree with workbike on social engineering. If a community seeks to integrate neighborhood it is called social engineering but it a developer builds a gated community and it's residents oppose the creation of affordable housing across the road it is dubbed protecting property values and freedom of association. I like seeing the possibilities that are realized in other countries. As Portlandize just commented, the powers that be often pay lip service to progressive ideas and values but often don't seem to provide to tools for realizing the dream. I'd love to be on a waiting list for this kind of community.

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