The city center of London, which was mostly laid out during the horse-and-buggy years, is going to try being car-free for a day.
More than 12 miles of roads in the English capital will be closed off from vehicles in an effort to encourage citizens to choose greener modes of transportation.
The narrow streets are now so overcrowded, that taxi drivers have been known to have conniption fits when a fare asks to be transported into the jammed downtown area. It happens.
Although the car-free day is largely symbolic, London has joined other cities around the world looking at permanent ways to dramatically decrease the number of vehicles on its streets. Some have suggested eventually banning automobiles entirely.
Now, close your eyes and try to imagine Los Angeles sans all automobiles.
Oslo, Paris and Montreal have experimented with a variety of ways to ban cars. Barcelona has created a handful of “superblocks” as part of an ambitious plan to limit vehicles in 70% of the city’s streets.
Leaders in some U.S. cities are also exploring plans to drastically cut down on cars and promote walking, bikes and other forms of travel.
Advocates for car-free cities see automobiles as a scourge of urban life. Cars, some argue, clog city streets while pumping noxious chemicals into the air, creating noise pollution and endangering pedestrians and bicyclists around them.
Between highways, streets and parking, cars take up an enormous amount of room that could be used to create more efficient and enjoyable living spaces for residents, some argue.
Limiting the number of drivers on the road is also seen as a major step in the fight over climate change.
In America, the country where Henry Ford pioneered the automotive industry, humans regard car ownership as a right, handed down by our ancestors.
Some argue that a car-centered transportation system is simply at odds with the logic of a dense city. On the road, a lane of highway traffic can transport about 3,000 people per hour under perfect conditions, while a subway can easily manage 10 times that — and many do better.
In our view, buses and trolley cars would encounter huge, immovable traffic problems in city centers and subway construction would take decades.
Lancaster and Palmdale are no longer farm-country towns and old timers are apprehensive about the long lines at stoplights.
Some roundabouts are being built, but stop-and-go drivers are skeptical, believing they may become fender-bender traps for motorists who are not familiar with traffic circle driving.
Americans are not likely to abandon their love affair with their personal vehicles. We don’t envision that any city will be able to promote car-free streets.
It’s apparent from the political campaigns, that many candidates believe pollution-free vehicles will take over the nation’s streets in the future. Good luck, London, with your car-free experiment, which we believe is an impossible dream that can never be implemented.