March 25, 2007

On & off the rails

Strasbourg--seat of the European Parliament--has a population of 265,000, less than half Seattle's, yet in the past 15 years it has built four interconnecting lines of light rail with some 50 stops. That's in addition to 35 bus lines, over 250 miles of new bike paths and plenty of bike racks at tram stops.

Strasbourg tram.JPG

Another element in the plan: integrated municipal parking. Nineteen new parking garages for 6,000 cars in addition to 10,000 street spaces; cost is between 1 and 2 euros an hour, depending on proximity to the city center. As a result, the parking system alone has 3.6 million users a year. Parking a private car on the outskirts is easy and inexpensive; using it to travel to the city center is difficult and costly.

There's even a Flexcar-like vehicle sharing program that rents cars to subscribers for about two bucks an hour.

Getting to this point was not without pain; streets were torn up for years. But Strasbourg today is a model of an urban transportation system that works. No matter where you live, there's public transportation--tram, bus, shared car--within blocks, every five or ten minutes.

What made the diff was political leadership: a new mayor dumped the previous administration's expensive and disruptive plan for a glamorous subway system. It also helped that the national Transportation Ministry had picked a single standard for tramways throughout France, so the light-rail technology was already on the shelf.

Not to mention a political tradition that expects local officials to just get on with it. Are you listening, Christine? Ron? Greg? Frank?

Posted by Ronald Holden at March 25, 2007 2:40 AM

Recent Entries

TIK logo.gif
The International Kitchen
Cooking school vacations in Italy, France & Spain.


The International Vineyard, a new way to learn about wine in France, Italy and Spain: three-night programs for wine lovers in less-traveled regions.

The International Kitchen, the leading source for culinary vacations in France and Italy.

French Word-A-Day, fascinating lessons about language and daily life in Provence

Belltown Messenger, chronicle of a Seattle neighborhood's denizens, derelicts, clubs, bars & eateries. Restaurant reviews by Cornichon.

Small Screen Network, where food & drink celebrities like Robert Hess have recorded terrific videos.

French Chef Sally is my friend Sally McArthur, who hosts luxurious, week-long cooking classes at the Chateau du Riveau in the Loire Valley.

Local Wine, the worlds leading Food and Wine tasting calendar. Spirits and Beer events as well. Post your own event or sign up to be notified when new events are po sted to your own area.

VinoLover, Seattle wine promoter David LeClaire's bulletin board of tastings, dinners and special events.

Wine Educator Dieter Schafer maintains a full schedule of Seattle-area tastings and seminars for amateur wine drinkers and professional alike.

Nat Decants, a free wine e-newsletter from Natalie MacLean, recently named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. Wine picks, articles and humor; no ads.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35
More blogs about food wine travel.
Who links to me?