Car Free Cities From Around The World

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The world looks like it is in peril. The number of four-wheelers are on the rise, air pollution is on the rise, and natural resources like crude oil are depleting.

Traffic jams are also on the rise. A simple 15 minute route to work in the modern day seems like a week long road trip. Driving to work has become more work than actual work itself.

How would it be if the city or the streets had no cars at all? Well, this is exactly what is happening and what these places have worked hard for. Some are already car free while others will be in a few years.

Here is a look at a few car free and the future car free cities from around the world:

1. Sark Island:

Location: English Channel
This little island allows only horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles and tractors. A few battery powered buggies and vehicles have been given permission for the elderly citizens. Goods and passengers are ferried to the island since it does not have an airport either.

2. Madrid:

Location: Spain
Madrid has already banned traffic from certain streets in the city and this car free expansion will carry on for another five years until central Madrid is completely pedestrianized. Local neighbourhood residents will have permission to drive but others will be fined over USD 100. 24 of the busiest streets will be redesigned for walking and in the future, to encourage people to walk, cars that pollute the most will have to pay more to park.

3. Paris

Location: France
Now this is a place where the Mayor is planning to double the number of bicycle lanes, ban diesel cars and limit certain streets to just electric cars. In the city centre, people who don't live in the local neighbourhood won't be able to take their cars out on weekends. This could soon become all week as well. People who own cars in the city is already starting to drop. In 2001, only 40 percent of Paris residents didn't have cars and now its gone to 60 percent.

4. Chengdu

Location: China
Chicago-based architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill are behind the designs of this city in China, which instead of making it a necessity to drive, plans are such that any location in the city can be reached in 15 minutes, on foot. This yet to be completed project will let motor vehicles on the road, but only one half of the road. This project was originally supposed to be finished by 2020, but it will take longer.

5. Hamburg

Location: Germany
The second largest city in Germany, is trying hard to make it easier for people to walk, so that nobody drives. A ‘Green Network' project, which will be completed in the next 15 to 20 years will connect all the parks in the city, so citizens can walk or cycle. This will cover 40 percent of the city's space.


Location: Finland
Helsinki is inviting more people and letting less cars on the streets. The city's plan is to transform car-dependent suburbs into walkable communities, linked by fast public transit. The city is building mobility-on-demand service and testing a new app that helps citizens call up a shared bike, car, or taxi. In a few years from now, the city will make cars unnecessary.

7. Milan:

Location: Italy
Milan has come up with a good way to make people stop using cars. If a commuter leaves his car at home, he will get a free public transit voucher. Cars are kept track of via an internet connected box so nobody cheats by taking their cars. So each day the car is at home, the city sends a voucher with the same value as a ticket on the bus or train. Thats smart!

8. Copenhagen:

Location: Denmark
Copenhagen has more than 200 miles of bike lanes and bike superhighways are under development. Over half the city's population bikes to work. Copenhagen introduced pedestrian zones in the 1960s in the city centre and over the next few decades, car-free zones started increasing. This city also has the lowest rate of car ownership in Europe.

9. Mackinac Island:

Location: USA
This little island with a population of around 600 people, banned all motorized vehicles back in 1898, apart from a few snowmobiles and emergency vehicles. Means of transport on this island is by foot, bicycle or horse carriages.

10. The Medina of Fes-al-Bali:

Location: Morocco
The Medina of Fes-al-Bali is the largest car-free urban area in the world. This is solely due to the fact that the streets are narrow. A few streets are so narrow that even bikes won't fit through. It has a total population of 156,000.

11. Hydra, Saronic Islands:

Location: Greece
In Hydra, Saronic Islands in Greece, no motor vehicles are allowed apart from garbage trucks. Horses, donkeys and water taxis are the main transport options and the place is so compact that people walk to get to places.

12. La Cumbrecita:

Location: Argentina
To get to La Cumbrecita, one has to get there by foot. There is a big parking lot well outside the main entrance, where vehicles have to be dropped off. The place focuses on eco-tourism and has small, stone-paved streets.

13. Lamu Island:

Location: Kenya
Lamu Island, once known for slave trade, does not allow vehicles. Donkeys are the most famous mode of transport here and the place has around 3,000 working donkeys.

14. Venice:

Location: Italy
Venice is one of Europe's largest car-free urban areas. Walking or taking a boat is the best mode of transport. Venice has about 400 bridges that connect 118 small islands.

Read more on: #off beat
Story first published: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 12:37 [IST]
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