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Car-free cities: a rare moment to make radical change?

  • by JW

Temporary moves to give over more road space to public transport, bikes and pedestrians may give way to more permanent measures


Over a year and a half ago, Exeter was making all sorts of promises:

Exeter’s huge new vision will need people to ‘give up the car’ – Devon Live

Back in May, further plans were being mooted – in the middle of the pandemic:

Council leader on his vision for a post-coronavirus Exeter – Devon Live

Which is all a bit late, as “The council’s signed up to plans to be a carbon-neutral city by 2030; an ambition that’s slipped back five years”:

Exeter could become car-free – Radio Exe


What’s emerging in other places is a much more ambitious plan

– for the ’15 minute city’, where everything will be within a quarter of an hour’s walk:

Welcome to the 15-minute city | Financial Times

Mayors Tout the ’15-Minute City’ as Covid Recovery – Bloomberg

How to build back better with a 15-minute city


Tonight’s Costing the Earth on Radio 4 took us to Bristol and Paris:


Autopia to Utopia? Car-Free Cities

Costing the Earth

Lockdown saw many more people jumping on bikes and walking – as much as a way to get out of the house as get around – but pollution levels dropped and nature could be heard without the background roar of traffic. Jheni Osman asks if this the way it could or should be? Has this given us a new way of thinking about how we get around and can city leaders bank on this to change the infrastructure to be ‘car free’? After 100 years of city design being built around the private car, this is a rare opportunity to bank on the behaviour change to reduce pollution, improve air quality and get more of us active.

Temporary moves to give over more road space to public transport, bikes and pedestrians may give way to more permanent measures and has accelerated plans for ‘Car Free Cities’. Jheni explores models that have been applied elsewhere, looks at changes coming in across Milan, Bristol and Birmingham and asks what’s needed to make them work? Will we be zooming about on e-scooters and goods transported underground instead? Plans aren’t without cost or controversy but is this a rare moment to make a radical change the new normal?

Costing the Earth – Autopia to Utopia? Car-Free Cities – BBC Sounds


The question is, however, to what extent this model can be extended to smaller towns and rural areas…

Are we condemned to use the car in less densely-populated areas?

An uncertain future for bus services in Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And are the current ‘temporary’ measures working?

Part-pedestrianisation for Sidmouth town centre – Vision Group for Sidmouth


photo: Car Free And Edited Photomontage – Free photo on Pixabay