24 June 2011

1726 New Car Parking Spots in Copenhagen ?!?!?

Barcelona Pity the Motorist
Here's the biggest FAIL of the year so far from Copenhagen's politicians. It was agreed the other day to spend 161 million kroner [€21 million / $30 million] to establish 1726 new parking spaces for cars.

1726. Parking spaces. For cars. In Copenhagen. Not 1700 but 1726.

We've be highlighting for quite a while now here on Copenhagenize how Denmark and Copenhagen are becoming increasingly car-centric. At the expense of cyclists, pedestrians and transit-users. Mind-boggling, I know.

Even more mind-boggling is that the Lord Mayor, Frank Jensen, rallied a majority in the city council to vote for it. Not, however, the mayor for the Traffic and Environmental Administration (Dept of Transport), Ayfer Baykal. She walked out of the negotiations.

"We are spokesmen for cyclists, the collective traffic and pedestrians. We prioritise quality sidewalks, wider cycle tracks, more trees on the streets and green city spaces instead of more asphalt and loads of cars in the streets", she said.

At least we have some sensible politicans left after Klaus Bondam left the bicycle scene.

All sorts of quotes came out of city hall. Politicians pleased with themselves about their decision. Lord Mayor Frank Jensen said:

"Copenhagen is a modern, green metropolis where we prioritise collective traffic and bicycles very, very high. But there should also be space for those Copenhageners who have a car. With this vote we ensure a bit better conditions for them and create a framework for the city's growth."

Boy, he makes it sound like a lot of people have cars in Copenhagen. So who, exactly, are these parking spots for?

Because car ownership is, on average, only 17.7% in Copenhagen Municipality. The neighbourhood with the lowest car ownership is Nørrebro, at 12.9%. Vanløse has the highest at 23.2%.

Even if you measure by household, rather than by individual, and include company owned cars also operated for private use, the household average for 2010 is 28.1% in Copenhagen Municipality.

Have a look at this graph from a sustainability report from Aalborg University:

And we're spending 161 million on a tiny minority? That money could be used for 20 km of cycle tracks!

Former mayor in charge of traffic Bo Asmus - who is now gone - proposed investing in electric cars last year despite Copenhageners saying that they would rather have more and better bicycle lanes.

Now, once again, the majority is not being heard. We spending money on something that isn't there and isn't needed. Ironic that the Lord Mayor was splashed all over CNN recently about how fabulous and green Copenhagen is and then he pushes for this vote.

So, what's the alternative? Apart from listening to the wishes of Copenhageners and betting on bicycle traffic and public transport? There are several. One is pushing the plan for a proper bike share system forward.

Then there is this one. Car share. Here's an article about the programme I subscribe to.

Make Up Your Mind
The car share companies wanted car sharing to be integrated in the parking strategy in city hall.

They've done their homework, too. Shame it was ignored by Frank Jensen and his cronies.

According to Delebilfonden [Car Share Foundation]:
- There are currently 150 car share vehicles in Copenhagen. They have made 600 parking spots redundant.
- There would be 2400 few cars in the city if the number of car share vehicles rose to 600.
- 2400 fewer cars frees up 2400 parking spots - which is 60,000 square metres of urban space.
- This is would reduce car traffic by 45,000,000 kilometres a year.
- With a reduction of 10,500 of C02 each year.
- And an increase of 1,600,000 passengers a year on public transport.
- Not to mention an increase in cycling.

Where is the polictical support for car sharing? It would cost a fraction of the price of 1726 new parking spots.

At the moment, car sharing per 1000 citizens looks like this:

It's a clear cut solution with immediate and noticeable positive effects. It's cheap. It's practical. It's a solution tha reflects the reality that few people actually own cars. It's traffic planning for morons.


Another FAIL from Frank Jensen recently was his proposal for parking tickets for bicycles. Here's an article about his 'vision' in a Danish newspaper.

I asked the head of the Bicycle Office in Copenhagen, Andreas Røhl, what he thought about this idea. He thought about it for a moment while formulating a fitting, diplomatic answer. "This is not the kind of policy we usually work with".

My god, this is all so amazing. You've all been reading along on the blog for a while, seeing the best of what we do here in Copenhagen. Now you get to be a witness to how we are picking it all apart. Parking for cars. Bicycle helmet promotion. Money taken away from bicycle infrastructure.

Please learn from our mistakes. Please take away the good and use it wisely, but make sure you let Frank Jensen and politicians like him show you how NOT to build a green city.

Links, mostly in Danish
- Københavnere får masser af nye parkeringspladser
- Liberal Alliance - Bilister har ikke brug for kommunal hjælp

- Car ownership stats: Bæredygtighedsprofiler for bydele i København - Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut, Aalborg Universitet · 2009 (Sustainability profiles for neighbourhoods in Copenhagen)
- "Delebiler fjerner biler fra byrummet og reducerer CO2" from Delebilfonden.(Car share removes cars from the city and reduces C02)

Thanks to Miljøpunkt Amager and Lars Barfred and Rasmus for the links.

Strange Cargo Bike


Tiennou said...

Hi, I totally agree with the stupidity of making 1726 parking spots more and that money would be better spent to promote car sharing.

However, I was shocked by the sentense "And we're spending 161 million on a tiny minority?" which I find a very dangerous way of thinking.

It may be worth spending a lot of money on a tiny minority. It is the basic of any social politics. What is important is not to focus on a minority or not. What is important is to act accordingly to the goals you set.

I am French and when you want to build a bicycle track in France you often hear the very same sentence : "bicycle represent 2% of the trafic and you want to spend XX million on a tiny minority. We'd better enlarge the road for cars"... Yes but the official goal of the transport department is to decrease the number of cars.

I understand very well what you were thinking but the same argument is often used against politics for disabled people or any other minority so you should be very careful with the "money spent on a minority" argument.

Kim said...

Interesting to see the comment about CO2, you need to remind they that cars produce a lot more than CO2. Motor vehicle create far more air pollution than that, there is NOx, Ozone, and PPM10s as well.

Ask your politicians why they are so keen to see Copenhagen paying massive fines for air pollution and why they want to cause a large rise in childhood asthma?

Eva said...


I do agree with you and also with Tiennou. However, I am quite surprised that "the city of cyclists" is making 1726 parking spots. To encourage car use?? It is quite shocking coming from Copenhagen's govrnment, I think. I'm wondering to what extent is the car industry involved in this kind of decisions.
Similar policies in other countries could make very difficult the attempt to increase the number of cyclists.


tstreet said...

Can bicycles use the parking spots? Perhaps you could organize an effort for the bikes to take over any future spots. Also, does Copenhagen need to grow?

kfg said...

". . .CO2. Motor vehicle create far more air pollution than that. . ."

You cannot pollute a milk chocolate bar by adding a pinch more sugar, nor can you remove the sugar, because then it wouldn't be a milk chocolate bar anymore.

One might ask how the foundation of all life that you can see and most of the life you cannot see has been labeled a "pollutant," and so taken over the public discourse that the actual noxious pollutants have been driven from the public mind.

But that line of questioning might lead further down the rabbit hole than some are willing to go.

It totally baffles me how anyone who has taken the trouble to read the first chapter of a secondary school biology text can hear the term "CO2 pollution" and not have a reflexive reaction of "WTF!?" Perhaps I need to take the trouble to track down a contemporary text to see just what it is that they're teaching the kids these days, but I'm still recovering from an anaphylactic reaction to what they're teaching in the maths classes (Q: A train leaves Chicago heading east at 100 mph. Another train leaves NYC heading west at 60 mph. They hit head on in Buffalo and a baby dies. How does that make you feel?).

Well, OK, let's set all that aside for the moment and explicitly take up the issue of cycling advocacy.

Q: If your bicycle advocacy rests on the foundation of reducing C02 emissions and the "CO2 problem" is "solved"; where does that leave all your advocacy work?

I suggest that as cities are inherently energy efficient that the solution to that question can be expressed in only two words: Livable Cities.

There is a possible objection to this, I know because I'm perfectly capable of raising it myself, and have.

To answer the objection I will ask the student a question that I would actually like him/her/it to make an honest attempt at answering; it too can be answered with only two words:

The genus Homo grew/was created out of the "natural" environment. It then thrived, expanded and continued to evolve extraordinarily, despite being faced with changes in the environment that nearly wiped it out on more than one occasion. It is frequently referred to as "adaptive," although "tough little bastard" would do as well.

So, cities, a very recent technological innovation, a mere blip at the end of the millions of years of Homo history, are not necessary for humanity to do much better than merely thrive.

So what are they there for anyway? What effect was the tool "city" (the meta-tool of "bicycle") invented to produce? Why does "civilization" even exist?

Two words.

Anonymous said...

consider yourselves lucky. At US$17,381 per parking space that's considerably less than the US$61,500 each parking space in this boondoggle Portland project will cost.


Esmo said...

So do you know why the Copenhagen government is pushing cars so badly? Izzit perchance da money?

jim said...

Indeed, there should be a place for those people with cars. It's called Houston or LA.

Ciclistaurbano said...

Interesting first photo, a British driver in Barcelona in an article about Copenhagen!

Henrik B. said...

You write "car ownership is, on average, only 17.7% in Copenhagen Municipality."

With that as a base, the following calculation could be made:

540.000 inhabitants in Copenhagen Municipality with a 17,7% car ownership gives approx. 95,000 cars. In 1999 the average yearly ownership fee for a car in Denmark was DKR 3.435,- - it is probably reduced (but I couldn't find any newer figures) with the introduction of green vehicles so let's put it at DKR 2.500,-.
Furthermore let's say that each of these cars has a new price (retail) of DKR 200.000,- (of which approximately 60% goes are import tax and VAT) and are 3 years old.
Each car-owner has in that case provided the government with something like:

3 * 2.500 + 0,60 * 200.000 = DKR 127.500,- or 68.840 mio DKR in a three year period.

Of course this is not a very precise calculation and my basic approach isn't quite correct but it give some sort of idea of the amount of money we are talking about here.

I'm a car owner and lives in Copenhagen. For me there is no feasible alternative for a car, as public transport will more than double my transport times (from approx. 2½ hour total to 5½ hour total each day if there are no delays - not to mention that the car solution is cheaper than the public transportation solution) and a bicycle isn't really an option with 120 km to work. On the other hand I pretty much never use my car in central Copenhagen and we are almost always pooling our trips to work.

I do however see the large amount of people going in to Copenhagen every morning and to be honest: I don't think either of them enjoys sitting stuck in traffic or having to fight for parking space in Copenhagen. Will 20 km of extra bicycle lane help that? No.

kfg said...

"a bicycle isn't really an option with 120 km to work."

A record holder for crossing the USA by bicycle was able to achieve his level of fitness by a simple expedient; he moved 120 km away from his work.

"Will 20 km of extra bicycle lane help that?"

No, of course not; but 1000 km will.

Henrik B. said...

I'm sure that bicycling 2 * 120 km every day would greatly benefit the shape of my body. I'm also sure that it would ruin the relationship with my girlfriend :)

I doubt that creating 1000 km of bikelane in Copenhagen would seriously improve transport efficiency here. Creating robust public transportation that can be combined with bicyling on the other hand would.

kfg said...

Ahhhhh, but I said nothing about improving transport efficiency. I was thinking more along the lines of making your car commute nonviable. Then you wouldn't need to do it anymore. Then you wouldn't need a car to do it in anymore.

If, however, you were, for some reason, interested in robust public transportation you could do a lot worse than have a look at Tokyo.

In terms of efficiency, however, it would be most efficacious to eliminate "transport," to arrange matters so that people at point A don't have to daily rush to and from point B, while people at point B have to do the obverse, just to get some business done.

Eric Britton said...

This is a fine peice. May we eblog on World Streets under our Worst Practices department. Thaks for letting me know. Regards/Eric

Eric Britton said...

thanks. that is good piece of work. I like to seek your permission to re-block it on world streets. I would like to put it in our worst practices section if that is okay by you. Thanks and all the best/Eric