Even along the major roadways of Stockholm you find the different types of traffic are separate: bus lanes, car/truck lanes, and a fenced off cycling lane. Photo by MATT BLACKETT
In August, I spent some time in Stockholm, Sweden and came away amazed at how they have planned/organized their city and adapted to the realities of global warming and other environmental issues. The Star’s Christopher Hume arrived a few days after I left and seems to have similar observations. On Thursday he wrote, “Will Toronto follow Sweden down road to less traffic?”
Around the world, people will be paying special attention to the Swedish election this Sunday.
In addition to voting for all three levels of government, the residents of the capital will also cast ballots to approve — or not — a congestion tax. Like the London congestion zone before it, the Stockholm experiment is of enormous interest to urban planners everywhere, except, perhaps, Canada.The charges were in force from Jan. 3 to July 31. Though there were many exemptions, most drivers had to pay a fee ranging from $2 to $3.50, to a daily maximum of $10, every time they drove in and out of the designated zone. The fee applied Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.The cost of the trial, about $500 million, was paid for by the national government.
Needless to say, the majority of Stockholmers were adamantly opposed to the fee when the idea was first raised last year. “Resistance was highest before the program started,” says Gunnar Soderholm, Stockholm’s deputy chief executive officer. “Basically, the Green Party forced the ruling Social Democrats to support the congestion zone. A lot of Social Democrats thought it was political suicide. The media had also been strongly opposed to it, but switched immediately. People could see with their own eyes what the benefits were — better traffic and environmental conditions.”