3. The effects of the car free city area.

3.1. Environment.

Noise pollution. With regard to noise pollution the car free plan shows a positive result in respect of the base plan. Measured by the standards applied by the Noise Pollution Act, the differences between the two plans are not spectacular. This is also caused by the fact the base plan contains only two road surfaces with an intensity exceeding 2450 motorcars/per 24 hours. As can be deduced from figure 33 (page 53), the base plan covers also road surfaces with intensities of 1300 to more than 2000 motorcars/per 24 hours.

These road surfaces, although not subjected to zoning stipulations, are significant to the noise levels in the immediate vicinity.

Also on these road surfaces the car free plan results in significant intensity reduction and reduction in noise levels.The city area is surrounded by ring-roads with traffic loading being high already without the influence of the research location. In addition the ring-roads are used relatively little by the inhabitants of the research location, so that making the city area car free results only in slight intensity reductions and has hardly any influence on noise levels.

At new construction of city areas of some size, where ring-roads or city area opening routes perform a stronger function for the city area, rendering the city area car free will show more significant differences. If the noise pollution caused outside the city area is not taken into account, the car free city area is in principle a quiet residential area. Only the residential construction directly around the entrances of the city area, alongside the diagonals and alongside the streetcar are still encountering traffic noise, albeit to a much lesser extent than in the base plan.

In the residential areas motorized traffic appears only incidentally, and in the residential streets almost never. With this a marginal note should be entered that mopeds may manifest themselves in the noise framework in a more negative sense by their relative high noise production and great number.

In the Parliamentary Note "Traffic and Environment" (MAW, MVROM, December 1987) the formulation of a Bicycles Action Plan Noise Pollution has been announced.

Air pollution

The car free city area accounts for almost 3800 cars less than the base plan, consequentially in excess of 60 million car kilometers are travelled less per annum.

With the aid of so called park emission factors it has been calculated on a per annum basis 439 tons of carbon monoxide, 84 tons of hydrocarbons, 169 tons of nitrogen oxides and 8 tons of aerosols are released less into the atmosphere. These quantities are 0,7 pro-mille, or 1/1400th part, of the emissions which were released by passenger cars in 1986. If half the amount of 600.000 new construction residences to be constructed in the period 1990 to 2015 were to be realized within car free residence areas, the stated amounts may be multiplied by 54.

As a result the emission reduction increases upwards to 4%.

Energy consumption

Primary energy consumption is reduced per annum with approx. 0,17 Peta-Joule (1 PJ = 1015 Joule) as a result of reducing 60 million car kilometers per annum. This equals the energy content of almost 4000 tons of crude oil or 5 million cubic meters natural gas and equals 16 million KWh electricity, generated by a contemporary power station (11).

Compared to energy consumption of all households in The Netherlands (510 P) the saving seems little. Nevertheless the economized 0,17 Peta-Joule equals the per annum energy consumption of more than 1700 households.

This becomes even more impressive if one realizes well over 5000 households bring about this saving by not having a car.

Spatial demand

Rendering a city area car free will result in land use shifts, most important being reduction of the amount of hardened surface from 28,6% to 17,8%.

As a result of this 15 Ha land becomes available for other purposes equally distributed over the entire city area. According to theory this would indicate the car free plan in relation to the base plan requires 11% less surface for the same number of residences. The actual realization of such a minimization of the plan area is not realistic, as this would entail narrowing of almost all street profiles in the car free plan. This kind of compression is effected at the expense of the practical value and perception of the environment value of the car free plan. The use of half (5 to 6%) of the space made available for density increase however must be feasible.

When a limitation of spatial demand is pursued, the car free plan offers the opportunity either to reduce the construction location by 5 to 6% or to increase the number of residences by 5 to 6%. The first possibility will as a rule have little useful effect, as the size and shape of construction locations is determined rather by situational data than by percentages more or less residences.

The second possibility offers more perspective. If half of the 600.000 residences to be constructed in the 'Randstad' (urban agglomeration of Western Holland) until 2015 were to be realized within car free city areas this would result in a land use reduction of approx 400 Ha. This is an area 3 times as large as the entire research location surface.

Spatial demand is also indirectly influenced by the reduction of 3790 cars in the city area.

Besides for parking space close to residences cars also require parking space at a.o. shopping centers, sports facilities, recreation areas, offices and enterprises.

A possible reduction of this land use will become interesting only at several car free city areas within the same service area.

3.2. Mobility

Transportation behavior


Transportation behavior

The 90% reduction of car property in the city area brings about shifts in transportation methods. The table shows modal value split for base plan and car free plan.

% of movements by inhabitants (to and from the city area)

Tranportation mode Base plan Car free plan
Car 35,4 % 12 %
Public transportation 23,1 % 33,1 %
Bicycle 21,1 % 28,6 %
Walking 20,4 % 26,4 %

Freedom of movement


Basic principle for the car free city area stipulates inhabitants are not limited in their mobility.

For this reason in the car free plan consideration has been focussed on the quality of facilities for public transportation, bicycling and walking. Nevertheless the question may be posed for which inhabitant categories and for which movement needs no longer having a car may be a negative experience.

From the verification executed in chapter 6.2.2. it follows the influence the car free plan may exert upon the (experienced) freedom of movement differs according to the extent in which expectation patterns and transportation behavior were geared to the availability of a car. In that respect three categories of inhabitants may be distinguished:

* Inhabitants who also in the base plan never had the availability of a car (approx. 24% of the inhabitants of the car free city area).

For this group the car free plan signifies improvements only: good public transportation, good walking and bicycling connections and a traffic safe environment.

*Inhabitants who as members of a household in which a car is present had at times the availability of a car, but do so no longer in the car free plan (45% of the inhabitants).

For this category the same improvements are perceptible as for the first group mentioned.

At certain movements in which earlier as driver or passenger use was made of a car, (with luggage, transport of voluminous or heavy goods, holidays, going out) lacking a car may be felt. Making use of a taxi may be an alternative, but possibly carries a costs threshold.

* Inhabitants who as car owners had in principle the availability of a car for all movements and who should be lacking a car in the car free plan. (30% of all inhabitants).

This category will have a tendency to contrast the new (car free) situation with the advantages and disadvantages of car use.

Aspects such as comfort, speed and flexibility are important items in that balancing process.

In that regard the car free plan will be defeated in many kinds of movements from the "standard" situation and the process in breaking the habit will know traumatic moments at times.

All three categories mentioned will have to deal with the fact the improvements the car free plan entails for public transportation, bicycling and walking, have less impact as a greater part of a movement occurs outside the city area.

For outside the city area one is confronted again with "standard" quality.

The manner in which the concept of the car free city area has been elaborated results in limitations with regard to penetration degree of the city area for motorized traffic (refer to figure 41 on page 60).

The city area is not accessible to private car traffic. (Only inhabitants of small areas with standard car property have access to the city area).

Goods and services traffic have access to the city area, but the penetration degree is limited.

For regular goods and services traffic and taxis a rough grid road system is available in which it is only permitted to stay for a limited period of time. (trucks have been exempted from this restriction as this traffic has no interest to stay longer within the city area than is strictly necessary). This means 57% of the residences in the car free plan are not accessible right in front of the residence for goods and services traffic as most residence streets are (semi permanently) closed off for motorized traffic. For collecting and delivering of goods the distance between the address and the accessible road system should be covered on foot with or without the aid of carts and the like.

For emergency traffic this limitation could lead to unacceptable problems. For moving, funerals, fire brigade, and police the individual residences must be accessible. Therefore the choice is made for closing off the residence streets semi permanently, which by means of a key (to be issued at the main entrance) may be removed. As a result in urgent circumstances 92% of the residences in the car free plan can be reached.

To reduce delay in emergency situations, the car free city area has two main entrances, situated at the most important point of origin directions and destination directions. The delay, if any, at the main entrances and the residence street enclosures is in the order of magnitude of seconds. Manned entrance stations may play an important role in counteracting possible disadvantages of accessibility limitations. In particular consideration should be given to providing of services for delivery and collection of goods, the availability of carts and the like and route maps on which is indicated the quickest way to the destination within the city area.

3.3. Costs

The car free plan land costs are 17,5 million guilders less than land costs for the base plan.

When total land costs (including purchasing, preparing for construction etc.) of the base plan are estimated to be approx. 200 million guilders (fl 20.000,- location subsidy + fl 15.000,- needed land revenues averaged per residence), the saving amounts to approx. 8% of total land costs.

The saving realized is specific for the research location and the urban development plan. At other locations the saving may be greater or smaller.

* At the research location more than half of saving can be traced to a reduction in the number of structural works such as car bridges and the like.

In a plan with relatively little water and/or the use of so called culverts instead of bridges rendering the city area car free will result in less saving.

* In particular large scale new construction city areas are surrounded mostly by ring-roads which handle traffic to and from the city area.

At the connections of the city area with these ring-roads often traffic light installations are needed. This is also the case in the research location, but because the traffic intensities on the ring-roads are determined only for a relatively small part by the research location these traffic light installations remain necessary in the car free plan as well. In situations in which ring-roads do not perform a function above the city area traffic light installations could be dispensed with at a saving of approx. fl 250.000 per traffic light installation.

* residence areas with less residence density than the residence area described in this research project, require more driving, walking and bicycle surface hardening per residence. In such cases rendering car free results in a greater percentual reduction of surface hardening and a concomitant proportional costs saving.

The space made available can be applied for increasing the residence density, as a result of which the land revenues increase. In this manner in the research location an area of almost 15 Ha is made available for other purposes than surface hardening and parking. If one third of this area could be used for construction with a residence density of 40 residences per Ha, 200 additional residences could be built. Extra revenues would amount to approx. 1,5 million guilders.

With regard to the construction costs of the residences in the research location saving has been effected as the car free plan does not contain residences any more which require installation of noise abating facilities. Anyway, the saving is relatively minor in comparison to the reduction of land costs.

The car free city area requires measures to maintain the car free character.

The costs are in particular influenced by the city area entrances in which filtering takes place of permitted and prohibited motorized traffic.

The required electronic and mechanical equipment, cable work and buildings require a (onetime) extra investment of 1,02 million guilder in comparison to the base plan.

Within certain limitations this extra investment is independent from the size of the area plan.

Also in a car free area with less or more residences two manned and two unmanned entrance stations are required. Only if the size equals approx. 1500 residences it is justified from the accessibility point of view to reduce the number of entrances and exits in the city area.

In the planned car free city area approx. 80 cars are presented at the entrances and exits during rush hour. Only part of these are required to report to obtain an access ticket, so in regard of intensities there is a certain upward flexibility.

As a result the number of residences in the car free plan may be greater than 5600, without requiring additional entrances and exits (and additional costs).

Together the land costs, the construction costs and the technical costs provide on balance a saving of approx. 16,5 million guilder.

Assuming budget neutrality between a car free plan and a non car free plan this amount may be applied to several objectives. However, not the entire amount is to be dispensed with 'freely'. For instance, a substantial part will be required for payment of personnel at the city area entrances.

The remainder may be applied on behalf of:

* Improvement of public spaces

- more public greenery

- superior layout of play grounds and recreational locations

- more ponds

* Increasing residence quality

- construction quality

- residence size

- energy saving facilities/installations

* Improvement of mobility in casu counteracting reduced car mobility

- adequate stop and waiting facilities for public transportation

- "witkar" - system for heavy goods transport

- establishment of a service center, city area taxi, delivery of goods etc.

For free spending of costs saved it is necessary shifts are made possible between different financial households of land costs and construction costs (at present stringently separated).

A separate cost aspect are the financial consequences of the car free plan for households.

For inhabitants (groups of inhabitants) which already did not have a car at their disposal little changes in respect of costs. They stay dependent to the same degree on public transportation, bicycling and walking.

The quality of these transportation methods, however, is increased at the same cost level to them.

Inhabitants (groups of inhabitants) who have dispensed with their car will notice obvious differences. Counterbalancing reduced costs for depreciation, maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and fuel for a car, are new costs: public transportation subscriptions, taxi fees, etc.

These costs (public transportation subscription, additional taxi costs and the like) for a household of 3 to 4 individuals amount on a per annum basis to fl 5000,-. In many cases this will be significantly less than car costs.

Finally the social costs aspect should be mentioned.

Included in the derived costs of car use are environmental measures, measures in regard of traffic safety, police, justice, medical facilities etc.

In a recent study published by the Center for Energy Saving and Clean Technology at Delft it is calculated car mobility in the Netherlands carries a price tag of at least 6 billion guilders per annum for society.

The saving which is effected by the car free city area in this regard can be estimated by projecting on social costs the reduction in number of car kilometers of the car free city area in relation to the car kilometers covered in the entire Netherlands.

The result is 5600 residences in the car free city area reduce social costs in excess of 3 million guilders per annum.

3.4. Urban development aspects

In relation to the base plan the car free city area brings about rather large shifts in land use.

A striking feature is the reduction of the amount of surface hardening from 28,6% in the base plan to 17,8% in the car free plan, which is predominantly caused by the reduced amount of surface hardening for parking lots and pedestrian pathways.

Together with some other (less important) shifts 11% of the plan area becomes available for other purposes: greenery, play grounds and recreational locations, housing construction etc.

The shifts mentioned in land use will be greater, as a car free plan to be drafted has less high density.

With regard to urban development qualities the improved (spatial and financial) application possibilities and layout possibilities for the public area are most remarkable.

Due to a greater amount of public space the public space can be organized in a more diversified and attractive manner. In addition in the car free city area the required road infrastructure has a less compelling role in area structuring.

This means for street profiles a choice can be made from a wider range of possibilities.

The disappearance of motorized traffic from large area sections increases and enlarges the application possibilities of the streets, by which large interconnected traffic safe residence areas may be realized.

The strict separation between recreational space and traffic space as required in "standard" residence areas, may be dispensed with in the car free plan.

Thus a much greater potential recreational space is made available: as well in quantitative as in qualitative meaning.

The aforementioned changes imply a car free city area may develop its own distinctive identity by which it is more than a standard residence area without cars.

In particular on lower spatial levels (block, street) possibilities for differentiation and diversification increase significantly, in favor of user value and perception of the environment.

3.5. Public Housing

Besides financial and technical feasibility the reality value of the car free city area is also determined by the interest in living in such a city area.

In chapter 6.5 it is worked out to what extent interest exists and if the interest may be so linked to specific population segments as to render compulsory fine tuning of the number of residences and residence differentiation.

Interest research indicates a favorable market perspective exists for living in a car free city area.

The group of people who are very interested and for whom it is plausible they will be living carfree, is large in relation to the research location city; approx. 42.000 individuals.

Although the composition of this group deviates from the average inhabitant composition in a new construction city area, the number of interested individuals is so great, for a city area equivalent in size to the researched location sufficient interest is generated and residence differentiation need not be different from a "car city area".

However it is necessary to take into account some sensitivities when situating specific inhabitant categories:

* For professional categories such as physicians, salesmen and the like who are dependent on a car, living in the car free section is less suitable. For them the car section of the car free city area is more appropriate.

* The aforementioned is also valid for handicapped people, although dependent on the handicap living close by public transportation junctions (streetcar + bus) may be an alternative.

* Elderly people should preferably be allocated close by public transportation junctions.

As more car free city areas would be constructed at a constant market potential, the qualitative tuning to the groups of interested individuals becomes more critical. To prevent lack of occupancy in this case a shift in residence differentiation is supposedly necessary:

* less elderly people

* more young single households

* more 'starting' families

* residences with low living expenses

For that matter, it is not imaginary the actual realization of a car free city area will influence the market potential: positively if the concept is successful, negatively with disappointing results.

It is evident the market potential will differentiate strongly on a regional basis.

This means for other car free city area locations marketing research is indicated, to work out if and how a car free city area may be tuned to local/regional interest.

3.6. Management

In the car free city area, management in the sense of technical maintenance, will show saving as well as extra investments. The saving results from a reduced surface hardening and a (significantly) less intensive use. This signifies repavement and maintenance/repairs of the subterranean infrastructure is required less frequently.

Additional investments will be required for repairs of so called "filters". It is not implausible to suppose the facilities applied to keep out motorized traffic may evoke irritations and in this way become the object of destruction.

In particular the small swing posts and the like at residence street endings will suffer.

The same applies to installations (sensors, rising steps, control boxes) at unmanned entrances/exits.

At least as important as the management facet is enforcement of the car free character.

Personnel deployment is absolutely required in the chosen concept for the car free city area. This entails an important cost item, for which sufficient funds should be made available.

The attractiveness of the car free city area may be enlarged by not limiting management tasks to enforcement and monitoring but also including service tasks therein.

In addition to practical advantages for inhabitants, the city area obtains a more friendly face and more status.

Car free character enforcement requires almost fl 500.000 on a per annum basis which can be paid out easily from car free city area saving.

However, it is quite conceivable these costs will be financed entirely or partly from another source.

For example paid parking (as well in the car section of the city area as the parking lots at the fringe), payment out of rental revenues or by means of levies such as the property tax.

Per residence situated within the city area an amount of fl 85,- per annum is concerned.

Introduction by municipalities of an integral parking policy would enable financing of management costs of one or more car free city areas by the created parking funds.

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