four changes that made Tehran a more liveable city

*This article was featured on Planetizen! and It is available in Chinese and Spanish

Tehran is a megacity and the capital of Iran, with a day population of 14 million and a permanent population of about 10 million people. The city’s size, its non-stop traffic, polluted air, and overpopulated streets are just some of Tehran’s well-known characteristics. Though Tehran’s previous Mayors have done many great things, when I last saw the city four years ago it was clear that in terms of new urbanism and sustainability there was a lot of room for improvement.

Today, the current mayor of Tehran – Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf –  has done many great things for the city, from a planning perspective at least. Here’s four of his successes:

1. Increasing the amount of green space

Tehran has 22 major neighborhoods. Though these neighborhoods are more like “mega neighborhoods” as a result of their size, the mayor’s office managed to develop 70 new or renewed parks in one neighborhood alone within the past five years. Using parks and green space is a very big part of the Iranian culture, and many of these spaces are used and managed daily. The mayor’s website states that over 800 parks and green spaces have been introduced to the city over the last 6 years, as well as 26 green corridors along the city’s major highways.

2. Increased use of public transport

The mayor’s office has used various methods in order to encourage the use of public transportation on a daily basis, including building an underground network. Though the metro is relatively new (only about 5 years old), it already carries more than two million riders every day. Compare this to New York’s more established and larger metro network which carries about 5 million people per day*. The city’s public transportation also includes buses, and ‘line taxis’ – vehicles with four passengers that drive in a certain direction.

3. Reduced amount of road accidents

Iran, in general, has a very high number of deaths resulting from road accidents. Tehran used to have a similarly high number of these unfortunate events, however, with strict rules and traffic controls introduced mayor’s office, these numbers have decreased greatly. A 20-day test found a 20% decrease in the number of accidents and total tickets given to drivers in Tehran.

4. Less incorrect parking

Some of most confusing traffic in the city used to result from incorrect and double-parking. The mayor’s office has started using parking polices to enforce correct parking throughout the city, with parking police available at every major corridor and street in the city to guide drivers. There are also new parking lots available near major shopping centers and attractions in an attempt to decrease the number of incorrect parking. The overall outcome of this change has been a significant decrease in hit-and-run accidents and unnecessary traffic throughout the city.

Images courtesy of kamshotsIvan Milinaricdanchitnis and bijan.tehrani on flickr