Ending the Ceaseless Cycle of Car Dependency

Rather than the doomsday scenarios envisioned by critics, recent results indicate that closing streets to cars can have a demonstrable effect in improving circulation.

Despite recent examples to the contrary in cities like New York, Copenhagen, and Wolverhampton, UK, "there remains constant misconception about closing streets to cars: chaos and congestion are imminent," says Pedro Madruga. "All those cars will just end up somewhere else. On other streets, in other neighbourhoods."

Madruga reviews the recent literature on the effects on congestion of both eliminating space for automobile and adding lanes for traffic and finds that "1) building more roads doesn't mean alleviating traffic flow but instead could even make congestion worse; 2) closing a street down to cars improves pedestrian and cycling share and the overall number of cars will be reduced, thus less congestion throughout the city."

Full Story: Closing Streets to Cars - for Good



Pedestrian malls are the flip side of freeways, and just as bad

Why does it have to be all or nothing for some people? Pedestrian malls are the flip side of freeways, and just as bad. Both take the age-old custom of multi-modal surface streets and warp them beyond all recognition, granting preference to one group, or another, and wreck whole neighborhoods, and eventually regional economies, in the process.

I suppose the current 1960s revival craze is to blame, but, as with that era's version of pedestrian malls, today's version will also fail. The cold hard fact of the matter is that cars, like mixed-use development, bring "eyes upon the street," as well as consumers that make an area thrive. Get rid of one, or the other, as both pedestrian malls and suburban freeways do, and the synergy that urbanized cities require is lost.

Pity we can't just keep the glamorous glass boxes, futuristic furniture and timeless fashion design of the mid-20th Century and dispense with the rest.

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