Cars have run their course in U.S. cities. Here’s what’s next

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“Cars are guests.” And they’re no longer welcome. Sticking closer to home because of COVID-19 has shown many people what cities can be like with less traffic, noise, congestion, and pollution. Roads and parking lots devoted to cars take up a lot of land . For example, in Phoenix, Los Angeles , and New York City , these spaces account for over one-third of each city’s total area. Read Full Story

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Coronavirus is causing a biking surge—can it last when cities open up again?

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Biking is suddenly the safest and most convenient way to get around a lot of cities—and cities are responding by making it easier to bike. But when people can start driving to work again, will everything go backwards? As the coronavirus crisis has shut down some public transit service and taken so many cars off roads that the air has visibly cleared in cities such as Los Angeles, bikes have emerged as the right tool for a pandemic—a way to quickly get around cities and get exercise while staying a safe distance from everyone else. Read Full Story

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The pandemic pushed cities to take back their streets from cars. Will they keep them in 2021?

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Across the world, as COVID-19 reshaped people’s routines, cities quickly converted streets to bike lanes, pedestrian areas, and places for outdoor dining. As the pandemic ends, it will require a lot of political will to prevent the status quo from returning. Until recently, the Rue de Rivoli, a major street that cuts across the center of Paris, was filled with cars. But when the pandemic forced the city to shut down in the spring, the majority of the road was turned over to people on bikes. On some days, as many as 20,000 cyclists use the street. But as the end of the pandemic draws closer, the change is going to become permanent. Read Full Story

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This sustainable neighborhood of the future is designed to manage both climate change and pandemics

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A proposal for a new city in China is designed to be as green as possible—and also make it easy to isolate in the case of another outbreak. Eighty miles southwest of Beijing, the Chinese government is planning a new five-million person city as a model of sustainability—powered by clean energy, featuring huge green spaces, and unsullied by many cars. A new design shows what neighborhoods in the city, called Xiong’an New Area, might look like. Read Full Story

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Why one city in car-obsessed Florida is prioritizing pedestrians

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Developers in Tampa have designed a community that mimics walkable neighborhoods such as Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. When Jeff Vinik bought the Tampa Bay Lightning and its NHL arena in 2010, he got a couple of extra pieces of land as part of the deal. Like the arena, which is surrounded by parking lots and cut off from the rest of the city’s downtown by an expressway, the other lots were similarly isolated in a part of town that had seen better days. It was something of a dead zone. But it was also a blank slate. Read Full Story

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This is what a zero-emissions city looks like

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Oslo has an ambitious goal to cut emissions by 95% by 2030. Here’s how it will do it. On streets in downtown Oslo, former parking spaces are now bike lanes and parklets with benches and gardens. Since the city made the change, converting hundreds of parking spaces in 2017 and 2018 , car traffic has steeply dropped, falling 28% by 2019. At rush hour in the city center, people walk, bike, and wait for trams and buses instead of sitting in traffic. Read Full Story

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“It’s an incredible experiment”: Banning cars in cities stirs controversy—and has mixed results

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Converting streets slowly, and involving every member of the community, can lead to long-term closures that promote vibrant city life without cars. Streets are the realm of the automobile these days, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before cars and parking spots took over the space between our buildings and homes, streets were much more diverse: Photos from the pre-car era show people on foot and bike intermixed with horses, wagons, pushcarts, vendors, streetcars, and more. Today, the ubiquity of the motorized vehicle and the auto-dependency of much of modern cities has slashed the street’s diversity basically down to the car alone. Read Full Story

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Emissions dropped during COVID-19. Here’s what cities can do to keep them from rising

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It’s time to double down on electric vehicles. COVID-19 upended our daily lives and shifted our relationship to transportation, although we don’t yet know how trends that started during the pandemic will play out. Will people forsake public transit for cars? Will street closures continue, creating more permanent space for walking, biking, and outdoor restaurants? Will work-from-home continue to be the norm, cutting down on commuting hours—and emissions—in the process? Read Full Story

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London is transforming its center into a car-free zone to create more distancing when it reopens

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“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work.” Before the pandemic, roughly two million people rode London’s subway system every day, often packed on crowded cars at rush hour. As the city tries to figure out how workers can safely commute when more businesses reopen, it wants people to avoid public transit when possible—but not to switch to driving. To help make it easier to bike and walk to work, the city is creating a massive car-free zone in the center of the city. Read Full Story

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