Crowded infrastructure, murky traffic and billowing clouds of pollution. These are all issues that the modern city dweller has come to expect when they walk outside their front door. But what if there was a way to change this side effect of urban life? What if, instead of focusing on drivable cities, urban planners and city officials decided to do something drastic? Could a car share community become the standard in a city built with the intention of completely eliminating personal transportation?
That’s right, we’re talking about the creation of a car-less city. The idea of banning, or at least reducing, the use of personal automobiles and promoting more environmentally friendly and efficient modes of transportation might seem a bit extreme, but not when you consider how many people already subscribe to a car share community. Countless studies and reports have made it clear: our love affair with the automobile is no longer a defining aspect of our lives. Working towards a car-less community is thus the natural progression… one that many major city centers are already eagerly exploring.
Car-Free Communities Already Exist
While most of our car share community members have grown up surrounded by personal transportation, it’s worth noting that there are already a handful of car-less communities in operation around the world. Examples include Michigan’s Mackinac Island, Sark Island in the UK and even Venice. While typically small and tourist-focused, these experiments in alternative transportation offer larger centers a unique perspective on connectivity and planning, opening the door to new, exploratory urban advances in places like Paris, Hamburg and yes, even right here in NYC.
A Worldwide Shift
So just which cities are making an effort to extinguish personal vehicle ownership in favor of more environmentally-friendly options, like car share communities? Here’s a quick rundown of three international approaches:
When it comes to a car-loving country, one doesn’t have to look much further than the Germany and it’s high-speed autobahn. And yet, the country’s second-largest city is actively pursuing ways to eliminate cars by the year 2034. The concept, which is named the Green Network Plan, aims to expand public transportation and increase the number of pedestrian and cycling routes. What’s more, the plan clearly calls for a steady phase out of automobiles from the city’s center.
Paris has toyed with the idea of banning some, but not all, automobiles for quite some time. One approach includes putting a restriction on the use of vehicles powered by traditional internal combustion engines, while encouraging electric- and hydrogen-powered alternatives.
Recently, the French government attempted to institute a controversial law banning half the traffic from Parisian streets. The law, which limited motorists based on their license plate numbers, was instituted after five straight days of dangerous smog was recorded over the capital. As part of the ban, 700 police officers took to the streets on Monday March 17th, ticketing any vehicle bearing an even numbered plate. The ban was lifted at 12 midnight on the 17th after the ecology minister, Philippe Martin, declared that the experiment had been successful at reducing the pollution levels.
Chengdu Tianfu District Great City, China
Designed by Chicago-based architects, the Chengdu Tianfu District Great City is a self-sustainable satellite city designed specifically to avoid the high energy consumption and carbon emissions commonly associated with suburban sprawl. While still in its conceptual phases, the architects behind Chengdu Tianfu say that it will take just eight years to build, and once completed will have the ability to house roughly 30,000 families or roughly 80,000 people.
The secret behind the city’s design? According to the aerial blueprint, the distances between any two points in the city is no more than a 15 minute walk.
New York City’s Approach to Congestion
As a car share community member, you’re no stranger to New York City traffic congestion. In fact, you likely battle with it every time you get behind the wheel of one of our vehicles. Which is why, back in 2007, Mayor Bloomberg set about finding ways to limit traffic and pollution in the city. His plan? A proposal that would result in a special fee for vehicles traveling into the or within the Manhattan central business district. Proposed as part of the city’s environmental sustainability plan, entitled PlaNYC 2030: A Greener, Greater New York the proposal would have been the first such fee scheme enacted in the United States. After much debate, the proposal was struck down.
Even so, Mayor Bloomberg was successful in implementing a number of roadway improvements, including pedestrian-only plazas in key areas of congestion (we’re looking at you, Times Square). Only time will tell if Mayor de Blasio will continue with similar improvements.
Could NYC ever be an entirely car-free city? Perhaps. But until that day comes, do your part to help limit traffic congestion and pollution in our beautiful city. Become a part of our Carpingo car share community today.