Car-free cities
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(Credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti)
Oslo is the latest city to make its central zone car-free. Though some diehard drivers and business owners have been sceptical, the benefits are substantial.

A war on cars is under way in a growing number of cities. Oslo’s city centre is now almost entirely car-free. Madrid is aiming to reach the same milestone next year. Central zones in Fez, Morocco and Fazilka, India are already car-free.

The anti-car argument is convincing: cars, plus all the infrastructure that accompanies them, congest roads and take up valuable space. They divert investment and interest from public transport. And with crashes and air pollution, they’re deadly.

The experiences of some European cities suggest that there must be a phased transition. And there may need to be exceptions for emergency, electric and delivery vehicles as well as drivers or passengers with disabilities.

Despite concerns that banning cars would keep customers at home, the opposite is proving to be true in Oslo. Business has gone up in newly pedestrianised areas. And some sectors are benefitting directly. It’s a great time to invest in companies selling scooters, motorcycles and bicycles! These forms of transport, as well as public transport and walking, will become ever more important for non-driving workers. Also helpful are two parallel trends: the rise of remote work and the shift away from suburbs back to city centres, where it’s easier to go car-free.

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Image credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti.

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