City Ordinances that Promote Bicycling

There are a lot of city policies that promote bicycling, make bicycling safer, more convenient and altogether help level the playing field between auto and nonmotorized modes.

I thought that first, however, I would tackle City Ordinances, actual city laws that become part of the Municipal Code. There are far fewer such ordinances, than policies. Below is a list that I have compiled of topics that are covered by ordinance with an example of a US City that has such an ordinance.

Eventually i would like to include direct links to such ordinances,. so any submissions of actual links would be appreciated!

The most common ordinances:

  1. Developer Bike Parking requirements

Example: Many many examples all across the USA

2. An easy-but-not- so-common corollary ordinance is to require showers in new buildings, which facilitates bike commuting as well as other active lifestyle activities such as lunch time workouts runners etc.


Palo Alto California Title 18   of the Municipal Code (18.32.070 (c), 18.37, 18.41)

Mountain View California  Municipal Code Chapter 36 Article IV

3. Sidewalk bicycle riding is regulated  in most if not all states   by city ordinance. Note that this regulate the use of bicycles on sidewalks, they do not force cyclists to use sidewalks, which is contrary to most state vehicle codes.

4. Increasingly common since 2000 are Complete Streets Ordinances. More information can be found at

Note that many cities handle this by Resolution instead of Ordnance.

5. Subdivision/Land Development Ordinances:  The Subdivision Ordinance  requires that when a city expands onto undeveloped land, then the new development shall build roadways that meet city standards. Also when the frontage of a roadway is  developed or redeveloped, the roadway must be rebuilt to city standards (and city standards include bike lanes).

Example: The city of Bend Development Code requires developers to include bike lanes on required new roads if they are collector or arterial class streets (Chapter 3.4 ( ).  Bike “paths” are characterized as “primary” and “connector” multi-modal facilities and are also required to be dedicated and constructed by a developer if the City Transportation Plan shows them going across the developing property.  That portion is in the City’s Code Chapter 3.1.300.  There is minimal wiggle room in the Code, but there is some for special circumstances.

Land development  ordinances  such as The Smart Code  also cover other important bike connectivity issues such as _o mandate limited cul de sacs lengths.  connectivity at the ends of cul de sacs and between long blocks

Example: Davidson, NC and maybe Charlotte, NC).

6. A related type of ordinance is a Traffic Impact Fee. Typically only larger cities have a TIF, and not all of them do. But  if they do, bicycle infrastructure should be part of the list of improvements.

TIFs are established by ordinance and  allow agencies to collect fees in order to build infrastructure that will benefit an entire area.  The logic is that individually no one development would generate the need for large public works projects, for example a major roadway widenings,  new freeway interchanges, traffic signal interconnection. But many smaller developments cumulatively could create the demand for such infrastructure. The TIF allows all projects in the TIF area to contribute proportionately to the total cost.  The problem is that all too often, the only infrastructure  considered is auto-oriented, thus perpetuating the mode choice in favor of SOV’s.  TIF’s should include contributions to not only the needed bikeway infrastructure but also the transit expansion needed to serve the area covered by the TIF.

The following topics are covered by ordinance in at least one U.S. city. Thanks to those who submitted examples.

7. Drive in Facilities

—Palo Alto  California  Zoning ordinance section 18.43.040 requires that drive-in facilities, excluding carwashes, provide full access to pedestrians and bicyclists. The ordinance does not apply retroactively to facilities built prior to adoption of the ordinance unless the building is expanded or modified.

8. No narrowing of bike lane or right turn lane

—SF Traffic Code prohibits the narrowing of the right lane or the bike lane w/o Board approval on bikeway network.

The following are areas that could be covered by ordinance but I have not found an actual U.S. example to – date.

From John Cock

The best of these types of ordinances also require local street design that encourages slow motor vehicle speeds (narrow streets, on-street parking, vertical elements along the roadway – i.e., street trees,) and dispersal of MV traffic through maximizing connectivity.

Ordinances that limit driveways and encourage parcel/parking lot interconnectivity for commercial lots also help cyclist safety.

Check the Smart Code (applied in many locales, including Miami); also, Charlotte’s subdivision regs; and development standards in Davidson, NC; Salisbury, NC; Wilson, NC, for example.

From Jessica Roberts:

– Stolen bikes – require shops that sell second-hand bicycles to record photo ID and keep bike unsold for 2 weeks while they check it against police records of reported stolen bikes
– Snow removal on sidewalks – require a certain turnaround; have a mechanism for reporting/enforcing/doing it and charging homeowner
– Pedicab regulation
– Bicycle licensing – don’t do it!

Transit Coordination- how the Europeans do it

This is my proposal for a Ph D Dissertation, some day….

The regulatory, political and organizational structure of effective metropolitan public transit in multi-operator multi-jurisdictional metropolitan areas: can effective models in Western Europe be applied in the United States and elsewhere?

Research Scope and Objectives
Metropolitan areas, both large and small, are typically composed of dozens or even hundreds of small, medium and large cities surrounding one or two major cities. In addition, in many areas of the world, the growth of metropolitan regions has spilled out beyond traditional boundaries. This phenomenon has been noted in the United States for at least 50 years (see, e.g., Gottman, 1961) and has also spread to regions in Europe (see, e.g., Taylor and Pain, 2006) and elsewhere in the world (Florida et al., 2007, identifying some 40 megaregions world-wide). Serving this complex political morass are often: 1) the major city’s public transit system; 2) inter-regional transit operator(s); 3) intraregional (cross-county) public transit operator(s) which are managed by either the major city or other government levels or special districts; and 4) dozens of local bus operators serving the smaller cities at the periphery of the metropolitan area. The worst-case scenario is that each transit agency sets its own fares, plans its own routes, determines its own schedules and independently performs long-range planning for future service extensions. How to organize all of these players into an effective seamless regional transit system? Good models can be found in Zurich and Stuttgart, where a traveler from the suburbs needs only a single ticket to arrive in the city center and then use all transit modes within the city; the total cost is approximately half that of buying each ticket individually and most intermodal transfers are relatively seamless. How did this come about? Who is responsible for decisions that affect different agencies and political entities? What are new institutional arrangements for organizing and delivering public infrastructure and services? This is the essence of this research proposal.
This research is to conduct a comparative study of urban and regional public policy on effective inter-agency metropolitan public transport; specifically, the purpose is to identify the organizational structure that enables the many operators and modes throughout an entire metropolitan area, to be as integrated and coordinated as possible. “Metropolitan public transport” is defined as all the players involved in planning, operating, maintaining, funding, marketing and analyzing fixed-route, scheduled passenger service open to the public, and typically includes several of the following modes: metro/subway, commuter rail, light rail, trams, local buses, express buses, BRT and occasionally cable cars, funiculars and ferries. The objectives of the study are to:
1. Determine appropriate indicators to measure the effectiveness of coordinated and integrated metropolitan public transport, and develop a rating/scoring system for integrated metropolitan public transport.
2. Choose a dozen metropolitan areas and rate the public transport integration by this methodology.
3. Choose three to five of the highly rated metropolitan areas as more detailed case studies.
• For each of the selected case studies, research how transit coordination is achieved with a focus on the legal, institutional and financial mechanisms used to support and carry out said integration.
• Examine the specific structure for decision making for transit coordination in the region.
• Determine if the mechanisms and organizational structures are periodically renewed and/or evolve with time.
4. Evaluate the extent to which the organizational structure(s) and other key organizational and institutional elements identified in the cases is replicable across country lines or are dependent on country-specific laws or culture.
5. Evaluate whether any of the institutional arrangements could be applied to US cities using the San Francisco Bay Area as a case. Identify barriers to transfer of successful transit coordination models to the US and ways to overcome those barriers.
Despite increasing focus in the past decade on smart growth and transit-oriented development, metropolitan areas in the US will continue to be composed of many political jurisdictions and many transit providers. For example, in the 8 million population San Francisco Bay Area, there are three major subcenters (San Francisco, Oakland-Berkeley, and San Jose), 101 separate cities, nine counties, six regional (multi-county) transit agencies, seven countywide transit agencies and 13 city or multi-city bus agencies, plus a ferry agency. In addition, the region has been spilling over its traditional boundaries and now involves significant commutes from three additional counties as well as overlapping commute sheds and other economic activities with the 2.5 million population Sacramento metropolitan region (160 kilometers from Oakland). This emerging megaregion means that even more jurisdictions and agencies have a stake in intra and interregional transit provision.
Every so often, there is a push by politicians and policy makers in the SF Bay Area to consolidate all the transit agencies into one giant operator. However, given the size of the metropolitan area, this approach is unlikely to be feasible. Moreover, the model of a single operator has some significant drawbacks from the perspective of labor relations, resiliency, and responsiveness to localized considerations. Furthermore, the single-operator model is not the solution used by western Europe (or arguably anywhere); these metropolitan areas recognize that local transit operators know their localities best and should remain separate from, although coordinated with, regional transit. (Krauss, 2009). Instead, mechanisms for coordination through regional Public Transport Authorities (PTA) have been established.
With the growth of metropolitan areas as well as megaregions throughout the world, there will be increasing need for effective institutional arrangements for transit coordination. Thus an assessment of effective mechanisms for inter-agency coordination is especially timely, as is an assessment of the transferability of best practices across national borders.
In 2009, I was the recipient of a German Marshall Fund fellowship for which I studied transit-oriented development in Germany and Italy. One of the main conclusions of my policy brief was that the United States needed a bold new approach in order to answer the question: What comes first – high quality mass transit service or denser land uses? I wrote: “The solution? Region-wide master planning for mass transit networks without regard to political boundaries. Just as in 1956, when the federal government committed to funding the Interstate Highway System, the United States needs a similar visionary commitment to plan, construct, and operate efficient, affordable mass transit systems in every urban area [in order to be able to] traverse the metropolitan area via one or more mass transit modes without regard to artificial boundaries.” (DeRobertis, 2010).
In the absence of such a national initiative to spend billions of dollars to plan and fund region-wide mass transit networks, I believe there is still much that can be done to coordinate transit within a metropolitan area. As part of the aforementioned fellowship, I met with representatives of Stuttgart Strassen-bahnen (SSB) and Agenzia Mobilita’ Metropolitana di Torino (AMMT) and learned about the Public Transport Authorities of Stuttgart and Torino. I would now like to pick up where my fellowship left off and study how to optimize metropolitan public transit coordination.
The State of the Art in the Field
Although there has been some research on public transit organizational theory and policy, much of it is over 15 – 20 years old, and the definition of organization varies from study to study. Vuchic (2005) addresses integration of transit services provided by different operators: “the three obstacles to achieving full integration of the multiple transit services are historic, political/legal and organizational”. The first PTA to provide coordinated, integrated metropolitan public transport was in Hamburg Germany, called a “verkehrsverbund” (Vuchic, 2005). Cervero (1998) wrote that a “verkehrsverbund is the ideal organizational approach for providing integrated transit service”. The concept quickly spread to other cities in Germany then western Europe as well as South Africa (Raboroko and Whitehead, 2009) and Brazil (Peixoto, 2009). Indeed there is now an Association of European Metropolitan Transport Authorities (EMTA) which was formed in 1998 to serve as a “venue for exchange of information and best practices” (EMTA 2008). It currently has 30 members and has several publications; EMTA will undoubtedly be an invaluable resource for this research.
Joachim Krauss’ power point presentation (Krauss 2009) explains the Greater Stuttgart Region’s model. The premise is that public transit in metropolitan areas needs three levels: 1) Public Agencies, 2) the Transport Coordinator (PTA), and 3) the Operators. The boundaries between the three levels are drawn differently in every PTA and even within PTA’s. The Greater Stuttgart Region’s PTA, Verkehrs-und Tarifverbund Stuttgart (VVS), coordinates five counties, 179 municipalities and 40+ operators in terms of fare coordination, collection and distribution, schedule coordination and conceptual planning. Half of the Board are representatives of political jurisdictions and half represent transit operators.
In October 2011, the Florence School of Regulation held the First European Urban Transport Regulation Forum on “Role, Functions and Status of Transport Authorities” which I attended. Pedro Abrantes’ presentation explained England’s system of “Passenger Transport Executives” which “provide, plan, procure and promote passenger transport in the six largest English conurbations outside London.” (Abrantes 2011).
Eugene Jud described the excellent transit setting of the metropolitan area of Zurich and strongly recommended it as a case study, and recommended Nash 2001 for further reading (Jud 2011). Cervero (1998) reported Zurich has twice as many public transit trips per capita as London, and its PTA, created in 1990, has been “absolutely indispensable in coordinating tariffs and service”.
Veeneman’s (2002) dissertation studied the organization of metropolitan public transport from an interdisciplinary perspective. He analyzed four cases studies of PTA’s from various perspectives within five disciplines. He identified many performance indicators, some of which may be useful for my research.
Although Vuchic and others indicate that PTA’s are the key to integrated and coordinated transit by multiple transit providers within a metropolitan area, I have found little in the academic or technical literature that describes any performance indicators for the effectiveness of said integration and coordination of public transit. Nor have I seen a comparative analysis of the governance structure of PTA’s or an assessment of which organizational structures might work best in certain regulatory or political environments.
Hypothesis and Methodology
Hypothesis: A metropolitan area Public Transport Authority with a Board of Directors composed of representatives of both small and large operators and the political jurisdictions is the key to providing effective coordinated interagency public transit across large metropolitan regions including megaregions. The organizational structure of the authority must be able to adjust periodically to changes in the size and shape of the region. Lessons learned from studying successful transit authorities in the EU may be applied to improve transit performance in large regions in the US such as the San Francisco Bay Area.
I propose to use qualitative research methodologies primarily using empirical research of comparative case studies. I would conduct informal interviews with staff as well as conduct selected surveys as needed. A combination of exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, and evaluative qualitative methods would be developed in conjunction with research advisors and by consulting standard text books such as Denzin & Lincoln, 2003.
To study this hypothesis, I will first need to answer two related questions in order to identify the case study locations:
1. What Measures of Effectiveness (MOE’s) have been or could be developed to measure effective coordination and integration of public transit service in a multi-operator multi-jurisdictional metropolitan area? Is there an industry standard? Do individual countries have any MOE’s? If not, then I would develop MOE’s using qualitative methods such as interviews with transit authority staff for the key roles of an PTA. I may survey public transportation users, if appropriate.

2. Which multi-jurisdictional multi-operator metropolitan areas have effective coordinated public transit service, as defined in No. 1?

Then three to five case studies would be chosen from those metropolitan areas which meet the effectiveness criteria described above. I would conduct a comparative analysis of these case studies, determining the nature of the mechanism, most probably a PTA, that coordinates interagency public transit. Through interviews, observations, and review of archival documents, I would research how the PTA was created and the legal and other obstacles in its creation. How did each PTA come to exist and become responsible for binding decisions across operating agencies and political entities? When the PTA was formed, who were the “winners” and who were the “losers” of the inevitable power struggle? How did the “losers” get on board? Next, I would compare and contrast the case study PTA’s with respect to the composition of their Boards, their duties and powers, and the pertinent national state or regional laws. Lastly, I would assess these organizational structures for applicability to other countries and to the United States.

Short Bibliography.
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle, “Transit Agencies Urged to Coordinate Service”, October 27, 2011.
Abrantes, Pedro, 2011, Presentation at the FSR First European Forum on Urban Passenger Transport, October 14, 2011. Transport/Policy_events/Workhops/20111/1stEUrbanTRF.
Cervero, Robert, The Transit Metropolis, Island Press, 1998.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2003). Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Denzin N.K. & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
DeRobertis, Michelle, “Land Development and Transportation Policies for Transit-Oriented Development in Germany and Italy – Five Case Studies”, 2010.
Ebol, Laura and Gabriella Mazzulla “A methodology for evaluating transit service quality based on subjective and objective measures from the passengers point of view” , Department of Land Use Planning, University of Calabria, Italy, January 2011 – cor1
EMTA, Association of European Metropolitan Transport Authorities, Directory 2008,
Florida, Richard, Tim Gulden and Charlotta Mellander, The Rise of the Mega-Region, University of Toronto, October 2007, at
Gottman, Jean (1961). Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States. New York: Twentieth Century Fund.
Jud, Eugene, Lecturer, California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, interview, December 30, 2011.
Krauss, Joachim, powerpoint presentation and interview, staff member of the Board office, SSB, Stuttgart, 2009.
Nash, Andrew, Zurich’s Transit Priority System, Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose, MTI 01-13, FHWA/CA/RM-2000/09, October 2001
Peixoto, Dilson, “The Greater Recife (Brazil) Transport Consortium: The Consolidation of a Transport Authority” Public Transport International Volume 58, Issue 6, UITP 2009
International Association of Public Transport, (UITP) “UITP Position Paper -Developing Public Transport in Low Density Areas through Appropriate Fare Systems” May 2005
Raboroko, Eze and Melissa Whitehead, “Institutional Parameters for Achieving Sustainable Public Transport Integration: The Gauteng Transport Management Authority, South Africa”; Public Transport International Volume 58, Issue 6, UITP 2009
Regional Plan Association (2006). America 2050: A Prospectus. New York, NY: Regional Plan Association.
Taylor, Peter J. and Kathy Pain (2006) , Polycentric Mega-city Regions: Exploratory Research from Western Europe, at
Veeneman, Wijnand. “Mind the Gap – Bridging theories and practice for the organization of metropolitan public transport”; TU Delft University, PhD dissertation, 2002
Vuchic, Vukan, Urban Transit-Operations, Planning, and Economics, John Wiley & Sons Inc. , 2005.

milano and parking and public transit

Milano’s new PGT (Piano Governo di Territoriale) is directly addressing the problem  of over stringent parking requirements by assigning all areas of the city into one of four categories based on the transportation infrastructure. If the infrastructure changes, then the category changes. These categories each have different allowable land use densities and different parking requirements. The most accessible category, the central city, has the highest allowable densities and in fact has density minimums that must be met. It also has the lowest parking requirements and in fact has a maximum allowable parking rate. The outermost land uses have maximum allowable densities and are required to provide the most parking spaces. As shown in the figure, the entire central core of Milano, a diameter of approximately X__ kilometer is Zone 1. Zone 2 is the area bounded by a second concentric circle and within 400 meters of a metro station. Zone 3 is all areas outside this second circle and within 400 meters of a metro or train station. Zone 4 is all the remaining areas of the city.

Land Development and Transportation Policies for TOD in Germany and Italy – Five case studies

This is my Policy Brief, the culmination of the 3-month  German Marshal Fund’s  Comparative Domestic Policy fellowship I spent in Italy and Germany in 2009.  This contains  a couple of  “lessons learned” that got edited out of the Policy Brief on the GMF website, due to the word count limitations.  (

Land Development and Transportation Policies for Transit-Oriented Development in Germany and Italy – Five Case Studies

Across the United States, metropolitan regions are increasingly turning to transit-oriented development (TOD) as a logical alternative to the auto-dependent land development patterns of the last six decades. TOD projects, however, face policy hurdles that could inhibit their effectiveness, particularly those that address land use densities, parking, and the role of traffic impact studies. American planners can benefit from a comparative examination of recent TOD developments in Europe, where transit is taken for granted and land use planning has evolved concurrently.

Evolution of the Policy Causality-Loop Conundrum

American decision-makers are often stymied by how and where to enter the following causality loop:

Mass transit[1] can help reduce traffic congestion. However, mass transit is only tenable with high ridership. High ridership is achieved through denser land use. Yet, unless mass transit service is already in place, density often leads to increased traffic congestion.

Before World War II, most American cities had well-developed transit systems. The transition from transit-based to auto-based urbanized areas was slow but steady. For many reasons, including increased affluence, cheap gasoline, and development of the Interstate Highway System[2], transportation planning gradually became roadway planning and transit planning became an afterthought. This was especially true in the West and in California where it seemed there was an infinite supply of land. Auto-dependency became the norm, and by the 1960’s whole communities were built without any transit since roads and freeways could be forever widened. Consequently, transit service, ubiquitous before 1940, suffered.  Although toward the end of the 20th century, transit service improved in many parts of the country, roadway capacity remained the main focus of transportation analyses and investments in most metropolitan areas.

Consensus has finally been reached that roadways can no longer be widened ad infinitem.  Traffic congestion was not eliminated even with 12-lane freeways, 6 to 8-lane arterials and double (and triple!) eft-turn lanes. Transit’s role in reducing congestion and providing mobility is now recognized. Yet transit cannot increase ridership without significant geographic expansion and improved service levels.  However, transit agencies cannot justify expansion unless it would pay off with more riders.  How can we get around this chicken-and-egg conundrum?  Transportation planners and transit advocates have realized that the missing element is land use. Ridership will inevitably increase when density is created near mass transit stations.  Likewise, denser developments benefit through greater access for customers and increased commuting options for tenants. This symbiosis is transit-oriented development.

TOD brings us to a new location in the causality loop: mass transit needs denser land use but denser land use can overload the immediate area with traffic, especially when it is built without transit infrastructure. Furthermore, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) [3] requires a traffic impact study for most developments.  If road widening is not an option, developers are sometimes asked to reduce the size of a project (which of course reduces its density) to mitigate the “traffic impacts”.  In addition, local parking ordinances often require parking to be built at the same car-centric ratios regardless of proximity to transit.

Over the past 15 years, California has seen an increasing trend of high-density mixed-use projects both near and far from transit stations, with and without bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Generally, the same standards for parking and traffic “impacts” were applied to TOD areas. During my fellowship, I looked at how European planners made crucial decisions regarding land use density, parking, and traffic studies in the planning and approval of land-development projects. I studied projects in five Italian and German cities to identify lessons for American policies and practices in TOD.

I studied projects in Turin, Milan and Genoa, Italy and in Stuttgart and Hamburg, Germany. [4] All case studies were located within city limits at a mass transit station: commuter rail in Hamburg and Genoa; light rail / tram stations in Stuttgart, Turin, and Milan; and a metro station in Milan and Turin. All were built (or had components built) since 2000 and are occupied, with the exception of the Milan project, currently under construction.

Turin, home to Fiat, and Stuttgart, home to Mercedes–Benz and Porsche, are relatively auto-dependent as reflected in their auto-ownership rates shown in Figure 1. Genoa and Hamburg are major seaports with many port-related industries.  The fifth city, Milan, also has a large industrial base. In general, none of the cities is known for being particularly innovative or aggressive in discouraging car use. Therefore, their policies may be more transferable to car-centric American cities than those of other European cities.

Lessons Learned from Italy and Germany

For each case study, I interviewed city planners, architects and engineers about the process for determining land use mix and densities as well as parking and traffic study requirements. I identified many lessons for American practitioners. The lessons below reference their applicability primarily to San Francisco Bay Area projects, but can potentially be applied to other metro areas as well.

1. Mass transit is essential to a livable city.

My research of TOD projects was not specifically about transit service, yet the transit setting in Italy and Germany cannot be ignored. All five case studies had at least two forms of mass transit[5] with excellent coverage throughout the entire urban area.  The commitment to provide and fund both mass transit and local bus service was so ingrained that it is considered one of the essential components of a livable city, along with clean water, sanitation, and garbage collection.  In short, frequent, affordable, and fast mass transit enables hundreds of thousands to live in dense urban areas; it is accepted that the government will provide (or contract for) transit service.

2. Density and mass transit must be planned in concert.

Mass transit needs density and density (and society) benefits from mass transit. Allowing high densities where there is no mass transit is as shortsighted as allowing low densities at mass transit stations. Long-range transit planning is essential. This can be as visionary and pro-active as 1920s Hamburg constructing five commuter rail lines and preserving adjacent land for future infill development, or late 20th century catch-up projects such as Turin opening its metro line in 2006.

Furthermore mass transit must be an integral part of every development project. Of all my case studies, the underlying assumption was that if a large project was being developed, then the train, metro, or tram would be extended to serve it.  This will only work if there is a train, metro, or tram to extend.

In Santa Clara County, the proposed Coyote Valley project in south San Jose is located along the Caltrain commuter rail line; a new station is planned to serve the site. In Oakland, however, the largest redevelopment opportunity is the former Oakland Army base; the only mass transit line (BART) is over one mile away. Although BRT is in the planning stages, it is not currently planned to serve this site. Since the base redevelopment project is on hold, it is hard to criticize the lack of planning for BRT. But when the project is revived, the City of Oakland should ensure that it indeed has mass transit so that the mistakes of the past fifty years are avoided.

3. Density Should Not Be Feared or Avoided

In both Italy and Germany, density and land use are decided by assessing the surrounding area to determine the new site’s density. The proposed land-use mix then undergoes a public process to determine what land uses/services are missing from the neighborhood. While cities are expected to have more multistory buildings than the suburbs, density is not uniform throughout the city; it varies based on factors such as topography and transportation infrastructure.  The two cities that chose more dense development, Stuttgart and Milan, based decisions on proximity to major transit stations. Two cities justified the same densities for the same reason. One city made the decision that the site should be less dense due to the neighborhood’s lack of open space. (However it must be noted that this “less dense” development was the equivalent of 63 dwelling units (d.u.) per acre; for comparison, San Jose’s highest residential density zoning is 20-50 d.u./acre.)

The most significant influence on density was proximity to transit. It is accepted practice in both Italy and Germany that denser developments must be closer to mass transit. Surprisingly, this key TOD practice was not officially adopted policy.

4. Parking Requirements cannot be “One Size Fits All”

Parking supply regulation is one area where U.S. policies appear more effective than in Italy or Germany.  German and Italian cities must comply with nationally mandated overly high parking requirements. Typically in the U.S., each city has the flexibility to set parking requirements for new development. However, local control does not always result in effective parking policies; each city must independently recognize the impacts of overly strict parking standards and change its ordinances. For instance, Italian and German cities are required to provide bicycle parking, in contrast to the city-by-city ordinances in the U.S. that often fail to address this need.

In sum, context is important: one size does not fit all cities or all neighborhoods.  Both Turin and Milan have realized that national parking standards are too high for land uses next to mass transit.  The state of Baden-Württemburg, where Stuttgart is located, has adopted, and the City of Milan is about to adopt, lower parking ratios for office/retail developments located near mass transit. The developer funds that would have built parking are now used for other City services; the developer doesn’t benefit from building less parking – the public does.

5. Developer fees for transportation impacts should be based on a set formula applied equally across the metropolitan area rather than on a case-by-case basis.

Italy and Germany have standard development fees for public works projects, and Italy also has fees to improve the public space (in addition to land donation). In California, traffic impact fees are often determined through project-specific traffic studies, a method which benefits those projects developed first, when roadways could still absorb the traffic. It also encourages suburban sprawl. Thus, many California communities have implemented or are considering traffic impact development fees or ways to allocate costs proportionately to fund future transportation improvements. However, improvement projects are typically roadway projects; impact fees to fund transit capital or operating costs are rare.  Improvements are almost always confined to one city; regional cooperation is extremely difficult.  Finally, travel forecasting models used to predict future traffic volumes and future roadway needs are calibrated on historical trip-making patterns, which are the result of auto-dependent land use.

Standard fees citywide would be more equitable than project-by-project, but region-wide fees, which would keep developers from playing one city against another to obtain the lowest fees, would be even better.

6.  Mixed land use is a component of a successful project.

All five of my case studies were part of a mixed-use project, which included at a minimum residential, office space, retail and at least one other land use.  In some cases the residential buildings were themselves mixed use, in that they incorporated ground-floor retail and office; in other cases the land uses were segregated into separate buildings. Nevertheless, the case studies showed that an area as small as 12 acres benefits from the synergy of varying land uses and even varying residential uses (including student housing in Turin and Stuttgart, and owner-occupied row houses in Hamburg).

7. Vibrant cities will have traffic congestion

While traffic studies were conducted at various stages, traffic impacts did not affect, let alone rule, the density decision. Furthermore, a good mass transit system enables the construction of high density developments without having to “mitigate” traffic congestion. As Milan’s CityLife project forecast, drivers will pay the price by waiting in traffic, but the metro riders will be unaffected. Building more freeways and roadways is a vicious cycle; if there is anything that California has learned in the last 50 years, it is that “if you build it (freeways and wider roadways), they (motorists) will come”.

Case Study: Turin

The major transportation project in Turin for the past decade has been Spina Centrale- the Central Spine – a 12-km corridor that contains the new metro, and which includes undergrounding the railways that provide commuter, regional and intercity train service.  It also includes a complete redesign of Corso Inghilterra, the former industrial frontage road to the railroad tracks.  This project has made 2 million m2 (500 acres) of land available for redevelopment. The city divided this large corridor into four project areas called Spina 1, 2, 3, and 4.  This case study focuses on the site within Spina 2 called “Spina 2-PRIN,” directly served by two tram lines and 300 meters away from the existing Porta Susa train/metro station.

Land use and density for this project was determined by the city’s General Plan (PRG[6]). The PRG specifies the Floor Area Ratio (FAR, the ratio of building floor area to parcel size,)[7] and the land use mix for each building. Critically, Italy has a national law requiring a significant percentage of the property be donated to the city for public facilities. A strict formula allocates the donation into four categories, one of which is public parking. [8] This law in effect increases the density on an individual parcel since the allowable building size is now built on a smaller land area.

The plan was for Spina 2 to blend in with the existing neighborhood in terms of land use, density, and the street network, but with more public space; therefore the maximum allowable FAR was 0.7. The PRG also required that the buildings have both residential (60% — 80%) and retail/office (40% — 20%). In the U.S., housing densities are typically described in terms of the number of dwelling units per acre; requiring mixed use within a residential building is still uncommon.

In the case of the 12.7-acre Spina 2-PRIN, 4.1 acres were developed by the developer and 8.6 acres were donated to the city. The allowable building area was 37,000 m2 (70% of  12.7 acres ) but in fact only 31,000 m2 was built: 260 apartments in three multistory buildings with a total of 2,300 m2 retail and 5,000 m2 office. From an American perspective, this comes to 20 d.u./acre over the full 12.7-acre site, or 64 d.u./acre on the 4.1 acre parcel. Given that these buildings also contain office and retail, the net use is even higher, equivalent to over 80 d.u./acre.

Parking: Parking is calculated using formulae set by the national government for both “private” and “public” parking. New projects in areas that are already “built” need only provide 50% of the parking specified for “expansion zones.”  Cities and regional governments may increase parking supply, but only regions may decrease nonresidential parking. Residential buildings must supply approximately one parking space per residential unit, and 2.5 m2 per inhabitant for public parking. This public parking is part of the land donation required for “public facilities”.

Public parking may also be provided offsite. In Spina 2-PRIN, the public parking location is still being evaluated together with that required by the rest of Spina 2 and Spina 3, so its construction has been deferred to the next phase of redevelopment.

Turin’s parking rates have not changed since 1977, and adhere to regional and national standards, set in 1968.  As planning continues for the remainder of Spina 2, it is apparent that the current one-size-fits-all parking requirement will be extremely expensive to provide. Given its proximity to Turin’s main transit hub, city planners are recognizing the inefficiencies of spending hundreds of millions of Euros on transit improvements only to require parking at the same ratios as before.

Traffic Studies: While studies were conducted of future transportation conditions based on the redevelopment, increased railway capacity, new metro line, and new boulevard atop the undergrounded rail, there was no “traffic study “ of Spina 2-PRIN alone. The boulevard serving the project was designed with four-lanes, wide medians, sidewalks, and bike paths based on the city’s desire for aesthetics and the needs of all users; not based on a series of traffic level-of-service (LOS) calculations, as is standard practice in California and much of the U.S.

Finally, development fees for transportation are not determined based on the project’s traffic impacts, but on formulas developed by the city and state for all developments.


Milan’s old fairgrounds occupied a large site, about 0.6 kilometers km2 (over 100 acres) in a central location less than 3.5 km from the Duomo and the central train station. Given its prime location, Milan decided the site was better suited for a mixed-use development,[9] and held a competition for proposed designs. The winning project is called “City Life.”

Density: To build City Life, Milan amended its zoning plan to change the use from fairgrounds to mixed use, allowing an FAR of 1.0., under the premise was that it be denser than surrounding areas, but would offer more parks and open space. This density-open space combination was accomplished by concentrating residential uses in three 27-story towers.  Another key decision was not to extend roadways through the project site; rather it is designed as a campus with pedestrian and bicycle pathways and all parking underground.  Non-residential buildings, including a museum, retail and offices, were determined through public meetings and negotiations between the city and developers.

The three residential buildings each have 500 d.u. and total 148,000 m2 of floor area on 36 acres,  equivalent to 41 d.u./acre.  55% of this land area (19 acres) will be donated to the public, creating a net density of 85 d.u./acre.

Parking: City Life was approved using national parking formulae for residential parking and the Lombardia region formulae for public parking. Parking for office alone requires 1 m2 of parking per 1 m2 gross floor area.  In total, about 4,000 public parking spaces were required. Coincidentally, a new metro line had been sited near the project. City planners realigned the metro and sited a new station underneath City Life, and then re-analyzed the project’s traffic and parking generation, concluding that parking could be drastically reduced to 1,000 spaces. The funds that the developer would otherwise have spent on parking will be paid to the city for other public services.

Traffic Studies: Traffic studies for City Life concluded there would be significant congestion on one of the main access roads and recommended that it be undergrounded directly into the project’s parking garage. Milan planned to use the € 60 million in development fees to fund this tunnel, but the community and neighbors objected since these fees are intended to benefit the entire neighborhood, and they deemed the underpass would only “benefit” the project’s tenants and customers. Thus, it will not be built at this time because it lacks funding. Currently, metro and other public transportation provide alternatives to driving.


In Genoa, the “Fiumara” site previously housed several factories near the coast and port. In 1989, the city adopted a new general plan for the redevelopment of this and other sites to reflect the changing economy. Fiumara is not served by the (5.5 km) metro, but is directly served by a train service called “linea metropolitana.”  It runs several times an hour and is equivalent to commuter rail. By walking to the end of the platform, one can take stairs directly into the Fiumara campus.

Density: Genoa worked with the neighborhoods to select land uses that were under-represented, particularly public recreation. Fiumara has a movie theatre complex and a multisport fitness center in addition to the typical housing, retail, and office buildings. Genoa’s steep terrain concentrates the urbanized area on 64 of the city’s 240 km2. Thus, Genoa is one of the densest cities in Italy (and the densest case study, as shown in Figure 2);  significant open space was therefore considered essential.

Population Density Comparison

To maximize open space, city planners concentrated housing in three 19-story towers; built few roads within Fiumara, netting more land for green space and less for pavement and roadways; and like Milan’s City Life, designed roadways to go directly into the parking garage.

Aiming for less density compared to the surrounding neighborhood, Genoa’s zoning plan was amended to allow 0.7 FAR. The resulting 270 d.u. on 9.2 acres is 29 d.u./acre. Adjusted for the land donation to the public, the net density is 63 d.u./acre.

Parking: Parking in Genoa has always been at a premium, and as redevelopment has been so rare, very little of the city’s land use meets the national standards for “existing,” let alone expansion, sites. No attempts were made to reduce parking, as in Milan, or delay building it, as in Turin, since in Genoa very little street and off-street public parking exists, compared to other cities.[10] Genoa required all public parking for Fiumara be concentrated in one five-story parking garage. Private parking for residential and offices is underneath each building.


Stuttgart’s Möhringen Station was historically a freight station and rail yard. As the city built its tram lines, the station became important in linking the former village of Möhringen to the city center.  Eventually the rail yard became defunct and in 1995 Stuttgart began to plan for its redevelopment.

Density: Since Stuttgart’s latest general plan was from 1990, an amendment was needed for the Möhringen station area. Planners considered its location at a light rail station, and the services required, including a supermarket, a kindergarten, senior residences, and student housing. Stuttgart selected densities consistent with other city areas with these same characteristics, even though Möhringen was much denser than the adjacent neighborhood. Furthermore in the zoning amendment, the city rezoned the abutting low density housing to this same higher density.

Land use density in Germany is set by two parameters: the FAR, and the maximum building footprint ratio (GRZ in German). The Möhringen apartments’ footprint was set at 60% maximum and the FAR was 1.8. For the main residential buildings, the land use mix was required to be 80% residential and 20% retail/office. The five residential buildings have four stories with 36 d.u. each and ground floor office/ retail. This calculates to 42 d.u./acre.

Parking: Parking standards in Germany are set by the state, in this case the state of Baden-Württemburg, which mandates 0.8 space per unit of multifamily housing; no public parking is required. For nonresidential uses, the formula gets quite complicated depending on the specific type of retail permitted. This supply is then divided into public versus private. Stuttgart sets additional parking conditions on a project-by-project basis. In the case of Möhringen’s residential buildings, virtually all parking had to be underground; three handicapped spaces per building were allowed at-grade. Public parking for visitors and shoppers is only available on the street.

Traffic Studies: Traffic studies and an EIR were performed but do not affect the density or the development fees, which are based on a formula, and appears to be less than Italy (especially considering the required land donations in Italy).  Since more housing is desired by the city of Stuttgart, residential development is encouraged and thus is subject to fewer fees compared to other land uses.


Hamburg, the largest city studied, is both a city and a state, and therefore has more autonomy in setting development and parking regulations. In the 1920s, Hamburg built a radial system of commuter lines in addition to an urban metro system. Over the years, Hamburg bought land near the commuter tracks to preserve for future residential uses. In the late 1980,s planning began for one of these areas, known as Allermöhe. A new train station was built to serve the planned population of 12,000. The total site includes retail, apartments, lower density townhouses, four schools and other community uses. In 1995, the first residents arrived ; a few undeveloped parcels remain.

Allermöhe is essentially a stand-alone development since it is not contiguous with an existing developed area of the city, and resembles a California-style “subdivision” project, with four key differences:

1)     Deliberately sited next to a commuter rail line and a new train station built for the development;

2)     Includes a mix of uses (retail, office, community center, sport fields, schools from daycare through high school);

3)     Two distinct styles of homes, for socio-economic and demographic diversity; and

4)     Designed to make it easier to walk rather than drive to the train station and shops. Canals that help with flood control and offer recreational opportunities are also effectively used to facilitate bike and pedestrian circulation, although car access to the shops and between homes is possible.

Density: Allermöhe is sandwiched between a railroad line and a freeway, and surrounding land uses will remain agricultural.  Land use densities were similar to Bergedorf, an established community at the next train station. City planners also based decisions on lessons learned from 1970s development, rejecting high-rise residential buildings in favor of three and four-story apartment buildings to enhance the sense of community. Density for the apartments was set to 0.4 GRZ / 1.2 FAR, whereas townhome density was set at 0.4 GRZ / 0.8 FAR. This translates into 61 d.u. / acre and 23 d.u./acre, respectively. Schools and retail areas were allowed higher building footprints.

Parking: Hamburg has the most local control of parking requirements of all the case studies because it is both a city and a state. Although within the city center, required parking is 25 % of the city formula, in Allermöhe, the full parking ratio was required:  0.8 space per apartment and 1.0 space per townhouse.

Traffic Studies: An EIR was conducted for the project but the main concern was mitigation of noise from the adjacent freeway. Traffic was not an issue; it was estimated that internal traffic would be low and that external trips would utilize the freeway or the train.


Many areas of the U.S. will continue to experience population growth, primarily concentrated in metropolitan areas composed of several, if not dozens, of different political jurisdictions, not to mention transit agencies. While some cities have gotten the message with respect to density, many of these projects were built far from existing mass transit stations (e.g. Santana Row in San Jose and Bay Street in Emeryville, CA). However it is hard to find fault when there is a paucity of high-capacity transit systems and no long-range plan of where such routes might be.

To guide TOD, a bold new approach is needed to answer the question of what comes first – transit or density. The solution? Region-wide master planning for mass transit networks without regard to political boundaries. Just as in 1956, when the federal government committed to funding the Interstate System[11], the United States needs a similar visionary commitment to plan, construct, and operate efficient, affordable mass transit systems in every urban area as small as 200,000 residents. It should be possible to traverse the metropolitan area via one or more mass transit modes without regard to artificial boundaries, just as we can hop on an Interstate and drive unaware of city and county boundaries. The larger the urban area, the more modes and lines per mode are needed. [12] Identification of these future mass transit routes would provide the needed framework on which local governments would then base their land use zoning plans.

Clearly leadership and coordination at the state and federal levels are needed.  Successful models in the U.S. exist for region-wide transit: New York’s MTA, Trimet in the Portland, OR region, and the newly formed transit board in Greater Atlanta.  European cities have had a regional perspective for decades: state governments ensure interurban options such as commuter and regional rail, while cities cooperate with their suburbs on where and how to extend metros and LRT beyond city limits. Fare reciprocity is standard procedure between transit service providers within an urban area; this, along with schedule coordination, is an essential component of effective region-wide transit.

This approach could be the needed catalyst to free development impact studies from their focus on intersection LOS. Transportation impact studies, while still necessary, could concentrate on multimodal solutions.  Development fees and savings from reduced parking should be set aside to pay for regional transit’s capital and operating costs. Now that the United States has a world-class interstate system, it is time to catch up with rest of the world by providing high quality mass transit in all of our metropolitan areas.

[1] Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail (LRT), subways, and commuter rail are collectively referred to here as “mass transit”, to differentiate them from local bus service.

[2] Established in 1944, funded in 1952 and expanded in 1956, the Interstate Highway System was completed after 35 years and cost $114 billion, equivalent to $425 billion in 2006 dollars.

[3] In California, the pertinent regulation is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

[4] Italy and Germany are similar in size and structure: Italy (pop. 60 million) has 20 states called “regione;” Germany (pop. 82 million) has 16 states called “bundesland”.

[5] This is in addition to regional train service provided by the state and interurban rail service provided by the national railway.

[6] Piano Regolatore Generale

[7] FAR is the number of square meters of building floor space per square meter of land area

[8] The other three categories are parks, green spaces and places for sport; education and childcare facilities; and “facilities for the public interest”.

[9] The fairgrounds were relocated beyond the terminus of an existing metro line which was extended to serve the new site; Europe’s Expo 2010 will take place there..

[10] I suspect the reason for the high motorcycle /motor scooter use in Genoa compared to the other case study cities, as shown in Figure 1, has more to do with limited parking supply than traffic conditions or gasoline prices.

[11] Another unprecedented and visionary public project was the State of California’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which among other things, established tuition-free community (2-year) colleges for all California residents.

[12] A note about the SF Bay Area where I live and work: the City and County of San Francisco is well-served by multiple rail modes, but at 49 sq. miles and 800,000 residents, this is only 1% of the land and 11% of the population of the metropolitan area. San Jose is the most populous city, almost 1,000,000; portions have both commuter rail and light rail, but much of the city has neither.  While Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have BART lines, BART is functionally a commuter-train; these two counties have no metro or light rail. To fill these gaps, BRT planning is underway in San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara; however it suffers from typical American transit planning limitations: short-range vision due to chronic budget crises endured by American transit agencies. This situation is exacerbated by the current recession and budget crises faced by many states including California. The current emphasis on jobs creation should recognized that transit operations and construction create jobs just as building roads does. In the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), only 17 % of the transportation funding was for transit

Baden-Würtemburg’s Parking Reduction Policies near Transit

The State of Baden- Würtemburg has developed a formula to reduce the amount of required auto parking at new developments based on the number of  “points”  they have:  Thanks to Ina Gerhard, the Baden- Würtemburg policy  has been translated into English below.


To determine the number of parking spaces, proceed as follows:

  1. The location of the building/development project will be assessed based on the availability of/access to public transportation per Table A. An assessment is not done for buildings listed in Table B that are marked with a star. An assessment is also not done for facilities serving persons with mobility impairments.
  1. Criteria Public Transportation (PT)
Points per criterion Distance to PT* Availability of multiple PT lines Headway** PT service characteristics
1 At least one station/stop => 500 m – max 600 m More than one bus/train/tram line Max 15 min Bus service mostly in dedicated ROW
2 At least one station/stop => 300 m – max 500 m More than two bus/train/tram line Max 10 min Tram/ commuter rail
3 At least one station/stop in R = max 300 m More than three bus/train/tram line Max 5 min Rail in exclusive ROW

*Special circumstance that limit accessibility such as rail Row or rivers have to be taken into account.

** Shortest headway of the most reliable service.

Obviously, the maximum number of points that can be reached is 12. Examples follow.

  1. Per Table B, the number of parking spaces is determined based on the type of use and size of the facility. The number can be reduced based on the number of points calculated as described under item 1 above.

Accordingly, the number of required parking spaces is

Less than 4 points = 100% of the spaces as determined per Table B

4 – 6 points = 80% of the spaces as determined per Table B

7 – 9 points = 60% of the spaces as determined per Table B

10 – 11 points = 40% of the spaces as determined per Table B

12 points = 30% of the spaces as determined per Table B

Nr. Traffic generator # of parking spaces
1. Residential facilities 1 parking space per 10 – 15 residents, min 3
1.1 For seniors  
1.2 for persons with disabilities 1 parking space per 10 – 15 residents, min 3
1.3 for kids/juveniles 1 parking space per 20 residents, min 2

Funiculare- Como

Lago Como also has a funicolare
Connects the town of Lago Como to the town of Bruanate
Began in 1894-
Climbs from 200 meters to 600 meters in 7 minutes, 55% grade
Currently managed by the ATM of Milan,  (not sure how long AMT has managed it)

There are two vehicles and one track, one goes up while one goes down,

they pass each other where the tracks widen out just like Genova, also just like Genova, there is no driver; I was told it’s been automated for 20 years.
The cars had 24 seats,  and the unique /interesting aspect was the slanted loading; off of stairs, essentially, the vehicle was not level.
Price 4.5 E round trip  for me, there is probably a resident passlike there was in Genova.

como to brunante

Como funicular Car

GMF findings

Go to the GMF website for my Policy Brief


A power point of the findings is below

Presentation VTA-DEC09pdfreduced

policy similarities and differences

Germany and Italy both can be just as bureaucratic as the U.S. in their zoning, and land development procedures including  footprints, building heights, # of floors,  even roof pitch and siding materials. Both have strict parking standards for  redevelopment areas and undeveloped areas; built up areas have parking requirements that are 50% less than the requirement of the former.

National law in Italy requires more public parking than Germany and requires  a percentage  of the property to be donated to the City. This seems to result in more fees and more parking. Italy does, however, allow for the required parking to be off-site.

Germany parking is set at the state level, and requires parking be on site.

In both countries, if the required number of spaces is not built, then the developers  must pay for the parking spaces, in Hamburg it is 10,000 euros per space.

Hamburg Public Transit; Hochbahn and HVV

The transit company in Hamburg is called the Hochbahn, but like everywhere else I have been, the tickets and fares are integrated among all the modes  and  with all the other public transit companies in the metropolitan area.  So it does not matter which modes or service you actually ride, it only matters how far you are go.  There are fare zones, and the metro fares for instance, are distance based like BART, but the single ticket will also get you onto the local bus or ferry  for that trip.

The coordination is done by Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV) which translates into English as the Hamburg Transport Association, which has had Integrated Tickets since 1965: “That’s when we became the world’s very first integrated public transport association. One ticket, one timetable: use any HVV public transport service you like.”

The total public transport network consists of buses in the many (dozens?) of communities in three states  that belong to HVV; the Schnellbahn rapid transit rail services (U-bahn, S-bahn und A-Bahn); the  Regional Rail (R-Bahn), and the five ferries around the  Hamburg harbour and on the River Elbe.  Note that the City of Hamburg is also a state- one  of the 16 states in Germany. So HVV includes the entire city- state of Hamburg plus neighboring communities from two adjacent states.

People/ Customer friendly features
• On weekends the rapid transit U-Bahn and S-Bahn rail services run every 20 minutes all through the night within Hamburg.
• 7 days a week there are night buses that run after the rapid transit shuts down
• After 7 PM on some bus lines, specially marked buses, drivers can stop in between official stops to discharge passengers
• Real time “next bus” and “next three buses”
• Dogs allowed oboard,  on a leash, free
• Bikes allowed free with certain time restrictions which vary  depending on bus, u- bahn or s-bahn
• Bikes allowed at all times on regional trains for a Euro 3.50 a day fee
• Bikes allowed at all times for free on 4 of 5 ferries
• Tickets available from machine as well as Bus drivers who sell single tickets and day tickets, (but not the weekly /monthly /annual passes)
• After 9 am, discounted fare for all
• Any time, up to three kids under age 14 travel free with one adult
• After 9 am:  Group ticket  for 5 people of any age
• Special pass prices for children /seniors and apprentice/college students

Hamburg Parking Policies for New Land Development

Parking Requirements are set by the City of Hamburg since it is also the state.  There is a ratio for number of cars spaces and bike spaces  for dozens of land use types, (no requirement for  motorcycles).  The  parking requirements are  typically based on building floor area, but for some land uses, it is based on # units or number of seats. The parking ordinance also specifies the  % of this amount that is for the  “residents or employees “ or the visitors of the land use.  The permitted variations to the requirements set forth in the table are:

  1. In the “city center”, most uses are reduced to 25% exactly; no more no less can be provided (this does not apply to residential or hotels). There used to be three tiers of reduced parking but it was  discontinued about 7 years ago as it was difficult to administer.
  2. Residential parking can be reduced or eliminated if four conditions are present:
  • The building has at least 30 units
  • The residents sign a contract not to own a car (or it’s in their lease)
  • The building must be at a U bahn or S bahn station
  • Other concepts are incorporated to reduce need for car such exceptional bike parking, car sharing, no specific requirements, but there must have a strategy of some kind.

3. For office commercial sites, the number of parking spaces can be reduced on a sliding scale if at least 50% of employees are given a HVV transit pass; reduction begins at 5%,  and increases to 50 % if 90% of employees are given a pass.

4. For new theatres, if they have a contract with HVV that the ticket for the event also is valid on all public transportation to and from the event, they can reduce parking 50%.  There is also some sort of deal with existing theatres and but not quite sure what it is. Up to 50 % of new required parking can be shared with another nearby land use if the peak time periods do not overlap , for example an office and a theatre;  new rules will increase this to 80% .


  1. If there is no space for the required parking on the parcel or it is difficult to go underground due to the high water table in Hamburg, it is permitted to build parking up to 300 meters away, this will be increased to 500 meters.
  2. The developer can also contract with an existing public parking garage so that the spaces needed are permanently leased from the garage as part of the parking for this building.
  3. If the required parking is not provided or cannot be provided, they pay the city 10000 euro  per space in the city center and 6000 outside the city center.
  4. Finally if developer calculates that their project  won’t generate as much parking demand as the standards require, they may be allowed to have Stundung,  a temporary reprieve or delay to see if that really is the case. In five years, if they for example only have 20 employees for the business and 40 spaces were required, they do not have to provide the full amount. If however, they cannot verify their assumptions, then they need to  build it or they  have to pay as described  above.

Thanks to  Thorsten Gierenz, City of Hamburg, for explaining all this to me, any errors are my own. Thanks also to Arno Plentz, City of Hamburg for arranging this and other meetings while I was in Hamburg, a free and hanseatic city.