Things I Didn’t Know

Photo by Hidesax/Flickr

I just came across this kernel about Tokyo, a city I’m always plotting to return to:

“The elevated expressways make it possible to traverse the city by car, but the average speed is only 15 km/h. That is if you have a car, because anyone who wants one has to prove they have their own parking space. Parking on the street is forbidden, and with an average street breadth of 4 m, often quite impossible.”

This comes from the book Mobility: A Room with a View, the catalog to the 2003 International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam (OK, so I’m slow getting to it), which I picked up not long ago at the bookstore of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (along with William Stout in San Francisco, one of the world’s best shops of that theme). It’s a mishmash, like all catalogs, but for mobility types there’s much on offer, including an essay on the aesthetic mandates for the autobahn during the Third Reich and an essay with the incredibly tempting title “The History of French Motorway Design.”

But back to Tokyo; I’d be curious to know more about the parking legislation. When did it pass? Was it a result of the narrow streets, or some other force? Has the law influenced urban form, vis a vis house construction? Are there more parking garages per capita in Tokyo than elsewhere?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 7:20 am and is filed under Things I Didn't Know, Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Things I Didn’t Know”

  1. Colin Says:

    I lived in rural Japan, and the same law was in effect there – you had to show evidence of your car space before you could register a car. There were a minimal car spaces in my apartment building, but I managed to rent one from the landlord. That’s what most people do. From memory if you owned a house you didn’t have to prove you had a car space – it was assumed you had one. No parking allowed on the street though!

  2. Richard Green Says:

    In most Japanese cities the blocks (and thus non-major roads) reflect the boundaries of rice paddies that were there for several hundred years prior and influenced the division of land. I think the causality is definately the result of the limited width of the roads rather than conscious urban planning.

    And if you think it’s absurd that long gone agriculture has such a large effect on modern urban environments, consider the pencil skyscrapers built where the scrap of land under a food stall was sold. It must be just too hard to acquire a lump of adjacent properties when families sat in the same place for generations.

    In terms of parking, in Osaka at least, many suburban streets are full of houses sitting over an open (but not enclosed) parking area for cars and bikes. It tends to make every street feel like an alleyway.

    Making walkable environments places that aren’t visually appealing to walk through!

  3. chris hutt Says:

    Google Street View is available for Tokyo so you can wander along and see for yourself. Mostly narrow streets with absolutely no parking on the street. It’s a weird world to west European eyes.

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