From New York to Los Angeles, commuters and other drivers are spending more and more time in their cars.
So what can we do about it? Recently, Curbed published an article based on what European countries are doing in major cities to cut down on heavy traffic. Here are five ideas the United States can borrow to start doing the same thing here:
Streets don’t have to be for cars only. In fact, in Europe, many cities have streets where cars share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. Unlike US cities, European cities design their roadways, so walkers and bicycles have room. In the US, most of our designs are geared to cars first, everyone else second.
Major metros like New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco all have projects in the works, or areas up and running, that allow for the sharing of the road, but more can be done in those cities and elsewhere.
Congestion pricing and limited traffic zones
We’ve written articles about this before. Large metros are starting to debate whether they should implement congestion pricing. With congestion pricing, drivers are charged an extra fee to travel on roads and business districts during peak hours. The idea is based on the economic theory that by raising prices, you’ll reduce demand.
New York City is on track to implement congestion pricing here in the US, and San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Chicago are debating it.
The limited traffic zones are not that hard to set up. In Italy, for example, there is a program called the ZTL, which designates when vehicles can get into certain city centers.
Eliminate street parking
Some cities decided to eliminate parking rather than set up congestion pricing zones (or removed the zones because of push back). But the theory holds if there are fewer places to park, there will be less traffic.
In Europe, some cities base available parking on how close it is to public transportation. Others have stopped adding parking altogether. And some take the revenue and put it toward alternative transportation, like the bike system in Barcelona.
Add transit options
Rail, subways, buses, rideshares and other means of transportation can be added to cities to help diversify the way people can commute. Adding transportation options also mean cities must provide reliable and frequent ways people can get to work.
Commuter benefits would be an excellent addition to cities, too. With commuter benefits, employees could save up to $270 per month from their paychecks to use for subway, buses, rideshares, and qualified parking commuting.
Reclaim public places
Cities can cut back on traffic lanes and free up other public spaces so pedestrians can enjoy the area and not have to worry about cars. Europe is full of pedestrian plazas, and the US should be too.
For more information on how commuter benefits work, download the 101 Guide.