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Transport Planning Elements: Case Study: Syria, Part 3

Mar 18, 2011

by Jihad Bitar, PhD and urban planner for VIA Architecture

Click here for Part 1 of Integrating Transport Planning and Land-Use Strategy as a Solution: Case Study – Syria
Click here for Part 2

Parking Policy

Parking Policy is a very important planning tool in balancing the supply and demand for parking spaces. With the objective of minimizing additional traffic by controlling and restricting parking we can decrease congestion and car usage while simultaneously ensuring the economic viability of the city centre and its popular spots.


(Photo Credit: Emad Al Sagheer)

A recent article5 by Ethan Baron in The Province led me to a very important study6 that was published by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy, the study emphasises the fact that “Parking policy can be a powerful tool to encourage people to take public transportation or to bike,” The study also blames the chaos of parking in the downtown areas of many cities world-wide on the absence of parking policies, which, evidently, is quite correct. It then concludes that “Parking regulation is the best way to regulate car use.”

Therefore, parking is a very critical part to any integrated transport system because it has a significant influence on car use. When parking is not available at our final destination, car usage will be questioned and consequently minimised.


(Photo Credit: Samer Kallas)

Here are a few parking policy strategies that can be used in city centres to help decrease car dependency and return public spaces to citizens:

  • Limit or remove on-street parking in city centres. This way popular city spots will give the city the space it needs to breath and for its citizens to use as walkways, café patios, public spaces, parks, and even bikeways.
  • Build new smart parking where possible. Maximize or upgrade existing parking in the downtown core using stalked parking but also freeze the numbers of car allowed in those parking areas.
  • Raise parking fees in downtown areas. This will result in reducing congestion and car dependency.
  • Encourage the use of public transportation and other modes of traveling.
  • With regards to parking policy in the residential neighbourhoods of the city; studies and research are highly recommended on the micro scale (neighbourhood and street) to determine where the best locations for the neighbourhoods’ residents parking should be.
  • By building and investing in smart parking that contains parked cars within the perimeter of each residence within each neighbourhood around the city we can perhaps be able to empty the streets from parked cars and create areas of high quality public spaces.


(Photo Credit: Samer Kallas)

  • Implement strict rules of how many cars any building can have according to its capacity
  • Encourage electric and compact-sized cars
  • Introduce the culture of car sharing and car-pooling

5- Baron, Ethan. Making Parking Difficult Makes for Better Cities. The Province, January 20, 2011.
6- Kodransky, Michael and Hermann, Gabrielle. Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation. Institute of Transportation and Development Policy, Spring, 2011.

Traffic and Road Management

“While travel is essential to economic productivity, many of the additional miles we are forced to drive simply because of the layout of our cities and a lack of options might be dubbed “empty miles”7


(Photo Credit: Wojciech Ogrodowczyk)

All city traffic consists of a hierarchy of road networks interacting with smaller local roads and various facilities and it is this connection that sometimes leads to conflicts. In order for the traffic on these road networks to flow properly it has to be balanced and therefore we need to have Traffic and Road management.

In general, the Traffic and Road management objectives are to:

  • Reduce the impact of arterial roads on activity centres and residential neighbourhoods
  • Reduce the barrier effect that arterial routes impose on the city’s urban fabric
  • Increase public transportation priority and performance on the roads
  • Reduce private vehicle dependency going into city centres and popular areas
  • Reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas.
  • Improve safety for all road users

The following are several effective strategies that work in managing traffic flows:

  • Propose the Congestion tool/pricing as a tool for managing congestions in the downtown area. The income can be used for upgrading public transportation. “A Congestion pricing or congestion charge is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. This variable pricing strategy regulates demand, making it possible to manage congestion without increasing supply. Market economics theory, which encompasses the congestion pricing concept, postulates that users will be forced to pay for the negative externalities they create, making them conscious of the costs they impose upon each other when consuming during the peak demand, and more aware of their impact on the environment.”8
  •  The old city of Damascus is a car-free zone 24/7 except for emergency and some commercial loading/unloading in specific hours between (cars being hazardous materials should a fire erupt)
  • Enforce and promote safe driving attitudes on the streets since driving habits play a major role in giving pedestrians a sense of security during travel and within their meeting places.
  • The frequency of public use of the streets will impact the vehicle speed zone. The more pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation vehicles on the streets the slower the traffic will be.


(Photo Credit: Samer Kallas)

  • Promote the health and environmental benefits of walking, cycling and using public transportation. Introduce fun and constructive ideas for the public (i.e. Walking day, Car-free day, Biking Day, Painting pavement day etc.) Introduce incentives that encourage people to consider walking to work or use public transportation.
  • Create an inter-regional partnership of job-housing balancing system that will work on not only on the micro planning level but also on the macro planning level.
  • Environmental justice needs to be addressed in detail for every neighbourhood and region of Syria. Through a special dedicated national fund Syrian citizens can support green projects such as brownfield rehabilitation projects and reviving natural elements (rivers, forests, green corridors)
  • Create a Department of Street and Public Life: Copenhagen, Denmark is an example where the public life and the way citizens interact with the city become an entity by itself.


(Photo Credit: Samer Kallas)

7 – Kooshian, Chuck. Winkelman, Steve. Growing Wealthier; Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity, Center for Clean Air Policy, January 2011.
8 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congestion_charge” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congestion_charge