February 4, 2015

Washington suburbs and Stuttgart cow pastures: A comparison

Kay Teschke thinks this is analogous to the choice we have in the referendum: Suburbs or Stuttgart.

From CityLab:

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All the Ways Germany Is Less Car-Reliant Than the U.S.

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Compared to Americans, Germans own fewer cars, drive them shorter distances and less frequently, and walk and cycle and ride transit more often. They have slimmer waistlines to show for their active transport habits and suffer fewer traffic deaths whether in a car or not. They spend less household income on getting around even as they pay much more in driving costs. They use less energy per person on ground transport, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

So yeah. All the ways. …

Both areas have similar economies, labor markets, core populations (roughly 600,000 people), regional planning organizations that outline local transport policies. Yet Stuttgart comes off as less car-reliant than D.C. on all sorts of measures. We’ve bulleted some of the highlights:

  • Car-ownership (per 1,000 people) — D.C.: 744, Stuttgart: 544
  • Share of all trips by car — D.C.: 81%, Stuttgart: 57%
  • Center city share of all trips by car — D.C.: 51%, Stuttgart: 44%
  • Suburban share of all trips by car — D.C.: 70-85%, Stuttgart: 60%
  • Periphery share of all trips by car — D.C.: 90%, Stuttgart: 70-75%
  • Short trips by car (<1.25 miles) — DC: ~66%, Stuttgart: <25%

What’s especially notable here is that driving behavior in the remote periphery of Stuttgart is about the same as it is in the suburbs of D.C. To wit: the two most car-dependent suburbs of Stuttgart (Nürtingen and Geislingen) have shares of all trips by car roughly equivalent to the two least car-dependent suburbs of D.C. (Arlington and Alexandria): roughly 70 to 75 percent in each place. Meanwhile, walking and cycling account for 6 percent of trips in most D.C. suburbs, while in Stuttgart’s most car-oriented areas these modes still account for more than a fifth of all travel.

So the suburbs of D.C. are basically as car-oriented as the cow pastures of Stuttgart.

Full article here.

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  1. Stuttgart is probably the most car centric city in Germany. They are proud of their car manufacturing (Mercedes, Porsche and suppliers), have poor cycling infrastructure, steep hills, was almost entire rebuilt after World War II and grew fast. But I believe transit is quite good in Stuttgart. The city has recently introduced ebike share, including in the suburbs, to encourage people to bike to train and tram stations. The inner residential areas around the centre have stair cases in the steepest areas to it’s possible to shortcut on foot instead of following the longer street routes.

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