Tuesday, April 28, 2015
End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile
Cities around the world are coming to the same conclusion: they’d be better off with far fewer cars. So what’s behind this seismic shift in our urban lifestyles? Gilles Vesco from Lyon calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. Birmingham, which vies with Manchester for the title of England’s second city, has been following the experience of Lyon and other European cities closely, and is now embarking on its own 20-year plan called Birmingham Connected, to reduce dependence on cars. For a city so associated in the public mind with car manufacturing, this is quite a step. London, which has pioneered congestion charging and has a well-integrated system of public transport, has led the move away from cars over the past decade, during which time 9% of car commuters have switched to other forms of transport. Helsinki has a vision of how the city will look in 2050. It will have a lot more people – the population is projected to rise by 50% – but with much less dependence on cars. And much, much more here.