Monday 6 August 2012

Solving the problem of pavement car parking in residential streets

Ruysdaelstraat in Assen in 2009
Ruysdaelstraat in 2012
Residential areas frequently suffer from problems caused by car parking. This can take the form of cars parked on the road getting in the way of other drivers, cars parked on the road causing cyclists to have to swerve around parked cars (can be dangerous especially for less confident cyclists) or cars parked on the pavements (sidewalks) causing nuisance and danger for pedestrians.

Detail of parking space. Note that the
kerb is angled. It's designed to enable
driving over only at a slow speed.
Such problems can be addressed by redesign of the street, and there are many good examples of this in the Netherlands, including on many streets in Assen such as that shown above. The first picture, from Google Maps, shows how the street used to look up until very recently. The second was taken today as I cycled along this street.

These houses and the street which they are built alongside, date from the 1930s but existing trees on just one side of the road were recently taken up and replaced with trees on both sides of the road combined with parking bays.

Note that while the direction of motorized traffic was changed recently, this street has been one-way except for cyclists for some years. Routes for cyclists are unravelled from those for drivers. This is a useful through route with a bike, but not with a car. This makes yet another example of how segregation of modes is achieved without building cycle-paths.

Other examples:
This street in the newly built suburb of Kloosterveen uses the same design to keep cars off  a series of streets which together form a direct route only by bike. This is the only photo in this blog post of a new development.
A different way of achieving a similar result can be to use concrete setts through which  the grass can grow.
In some areas, bollards are used to control parking, This is a one-way street with cyclists excepted.
The same street, showing how there are again angled kerbs to climb a low speed in order to park one's car.

Sometimes, parking bays are built on-road, alternating from one side to another. This is again a street which makes a good through route for cyclists (linking up with the bridge shown in this video) but which goes nowhere for drivers. In this case, the permitted side of the road for parking alternates, which makes the road meander and serves to slow traffic.
All the streets in these photos have 30 km/h or lower speed limits. In this case with a smooth speed bump with a cycle by-pass on both sides and parking bays for cars on one side of the street. Again this street does not offer a useful through route by car.

The only street in Assen converted into a Woonerf. Here the speed limit is walking pace. Note that cars can park on one side only.
An older treatment showing parking bays on both sides of the road to achieve a similar result.
Another example of cars parked between the road and the pavement (sidewalk)
The bays can be made quite attractive, improving the green look of a neighbourhood rather than  resulting in residential areas looking like car parks.
Work continues right now on the process
of transforming older residential streets
This process of improvement is continuing right now on streets across Assen as more residential streets get this treatment. Where possible there is always enough car parking so as to avoid parked cars becoming a problem. This is how drivers are persuaded not to leave their cars in places which cause problems for cyclists and pedestrians.

In the Netherlands, people are not discouraged from driving by providing inadequate car parking spaces (as has been done to disastrous effect in the UK) but are provided adequate spaces to park their cars while cycling is made attractive by making cycling routes more convenient.

Dutch homes provide secure cycle parking by law but most other countries do not. In either case it's a good idea to use a secure bicycle lock on any parked bicycle.

The highest modal share for cycling in the world works due to carrots, not sticks.


Sandy said...

One of the biggest problems here in the UK is that motorists are not discouraged from using residential streets as a fast cut through to avoid traffic jams in the main roads.

We often times have streets running parallel to each other where each could be turned into one way going in opposite direction to each other. Then with a 20 mile an hour limit this would make many streets safe for cycling both ways at barely any cost to the town or county.

Over here it seems that if a road is wide enough for two lanes then make it a two way street.

It really just needs better thought and planning to force motorised vehicles to stick to the faster main roads.

The photos above show that it would supply more parking for residential streets. Instead of as they do here now allow parking on some parts of the road and alternating it with double yellow lines. Sometimes there simply isn't enough parking for residents nowadays because so many are multi car families with no facilities for off road parking.

Alicia said...

Great post! I was just in Zeeland and while cycling through Krabbendijk, I noticed the on-street parking problem... it's not something that I usually encounter around the Netherlands! But there was one stretch of residential road in Krabbendijk with awkwardly parked cars, it was inconvenient for cyclists and car drivers... each of the houses had a driveway and private parking so I'm not sure why they don't do away with the on street parking. I guess there's always room for improvement.

Koen said...

If you look at most older futuristic visions of how the urban landscape of the future would have to look, most of the time there are lots of highrise buildings with (floating, hovering or wheeling) carlike or trainlike transport vehicles between them. Only the last few years have I come across greener visons, of parks, domelike buildings and lots of pedestrians. Still the bicycle gets left out...

The process of quietening streets should not be too difficult or expensive, and would make small streets a lot more livable. Perhaps the main obstacle here is that policy makers simply aren't aware of the possibilities? Time they read your blog! Do you have a link on measures against ratrunning?

Jon Bendtsen said...

a shame about the trees though. I found the old street more cosy, the new one looks too designed.

Anonymous said...

This is really nice, I wonder who I'd need to petition to get this in California and US street design standard, as it is now " caltrans does not approve"

Bob said...

I recall getting myself into a couple examples of a "Woonerf". (not sure of the plural, "Woonerfen"?)
It's a little unnerving in an Audi A6. Tried not to do that too often.
You make one wrong turn...

Koen said...

Ha! found the rat running link after some searching:

Nice that you keep such good tags on your blog...

Dennis Hindman said...

The subtle use of texture in the Netherlands is quite different than the plain vanilla designs of the USA and this makes it difficult to comprehend the reasoning behind some of it. For instance, why do drivers on the street have to go over a curb to enter or exit a parking bay? A standard sized street curb in the USA is 8" high and it would take a lot of force for a vehicle to overcome this to move onto the sidewalk. I don't see a grade separation for the parking bays and the sidewalks in several of the pictures, so how does the design keep the drivers from parking on the sidewalks?

Anonymous said...

Where I live the problem facing advocates of narrowing the streets is that the local fire department generally claims that by narrowing the street, the response times to fires will be increased and that narrower streets will impede the firefighters ability to get close enough to structures to actually fight fires. I am curious how these types of objections are addressed in the Netherlands.

PeterK said...

@Dennis: The design doesn't stop them; civility and common sense does.

To park on the sidewalk you'd have to deliberately ignore the parking space, ride across it, and come to a stop on the sidewalk.

Of course there is no need to park your car on the sidewalk if there's plenty of full-width parking spaces between the road and the sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

In the Netherlands does the cycling board, the local universities or perhaps the local govenment do any type of post street redesign study to evaluate how much cycling actually increased on the streets where these improvements were done or is enough that the local residents are pleased with the results and that is enough for the local government?

Unknown said...

Love the blog, but a few issues with this "carrot not sticks" argument:

1) As you've stated there is a large amount of Dutch roads with a 30km/h speed limit. Is this not a massive "stick" limiting car driving attractiveness compared to countries like US and Australia where even most residential streets have 50km/h and above?

2) Logically it seems it would be a lot less detrimental to urban fabric to accommodate reasonable parking rates in Netherlands areas with car ownership ~400/1000 population and car mode share of less than 50%, than in Australia etc where its 700+/1000 inhabitants owning cars with much higher mode shares.

But the examples do perhaps suggest the approach should be infrastructure improvements coming first as a political/social strategy.