Commuters, transport officials and citizens of the world's most populated cities are coming to the same conclusion. We need fewer cars on our roads.

Just a couple of decades ago it would have seemed an unlikely shift. Now, there are a number of cities taking progressive steps to reduce pollution and congestion levels in urban areas. 

 

Lyon: digital thinking, future transport

Lyon transport

Gilles Vesco, the mastermind behind Lyon's sustainable transport scheme, is convinced that soon social media and smartphones have an important role to play. He imagines a future where people will use their smartphones to access public transport and car-sharing schemes.

For example, a person without a car will be able to connect with somebody else travelling by car to the same destination. The driver can provide transport for a modest fee in a win-win situation for everybody.

The passenger arrives at their destination, the roads are less congested and the driver makes a small profit on a journey they were already intending to take.

 

Birmingham: the city investing in public transport

Birmingham city transport

Birmingham’s industry relies heavily on vehicle manufacture. It may come as a surprise then, to learn that Birmingham City Council chiefs have huge plans for increasing the number using public transport and decreasing congestion.

Investment in streamlined public transport (a bus and rail service which interconnects in terms of departure/arrival times) is being combined with innovative improvements to the infrastructure of the city. These measures intend to speed up travel times while reducing traffic levels.

 

London: a city for cyclists

London cycling city

The streets of London weren’t developed to sustain large volumes of traffic. The congestion charge has eased things to a degree.

Boris Bikes and the planned "cycle superhighways" means that people are increasingly swapping four wheels for two, and engines for pedal power.

 

Helsinki: an increasing population, a decreasing reliance on cars

Helsinki public transport

In just 35 years, the population of Helsinki is predicted to double. Despite this, transport experts remain confident that the number of vehicles will not increase.

Planning ministers have put rules in place to ensure city centre apartment blocks do not feature car-parking spaces in order to discourage car ownership.

The urbanisation of the city centre means that although more people are living in the area, the same people are working there too. A bespoke minibus service is already in place, with the route of the bus changing depending on the bookings it has at any given time.

 

Masdar City: ring-fencing carbon

Masdar city carbon cars
Image via Tech Gen Mag

Masdar is an environmentally friendly community within Abu Dhabi, where traditional "carbon cars" are kept at the perimeter of the area. Cycling and walking are encouraged, and it's likely that cars running on renewable energy will become commonplace in the near future.

Although the economic crisis of 2008 has slowed the development of this "carbonless community", the idea continues to live on.

Feature image via Masdar City

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