To mitigate climate change and make cities more pedestrian-friendly, more policy makers around the world are aiming to ban cars.
In 2015, Oslo announced a plan to ban all cars from its city center by 2019. As the Guardian notes, the plan received some protest from businesses, so the city came up with a clever solution.
Instead of kicking out cars, Oslo's council said in June 2017 that it will just make it harder for them to get there by ban parking spaces. A few months earlier, Norway also confirmed that it will phase out diesel and gas-powered cars nationwide by 2025.
But cities in Norway are not the only ones getting ready to
take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel.
Here are 13 cities leading the car-free movement.
Oslo, Norway will implement its car ban by 2019.
Oslo plans to permanently ban all cars from its city center by 2019 — six years before Norway's country-wide ban would go into effect.
The Norwegian capital will invest heavily in public transportation and replace 35 miles of roads previously dominated by cars with bike lanes.
"The fact that Oslo is moving forward so rapidly is encouraging, and I think it will be inspiring if they are successful," said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an organization that supports bikers in New York City and advocates for car-free cities.
Madrid's planned ban is even more extensive.
Madrid plans to ban cars from 500 acres of its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city's busiest streets for walking rather than driving.
The initiative is part of the city's "sustainable mobility plan," which aims to reduce daily car usage from 29% to 23%. Drivers who ignore the new regulations will pay a fine of at least $100. And the most polluting cars will pay more to park.
"In neighborhoods, you can do a lot with small interventions," Mateus Porto and Verónica Martínez, who are both architects and urban planners from the local pedestrian advocacy group A PIE, told Fast Company. "We believe that regardless of what the General Plan says about the future of the city, many things can be done today, if there is political will."
People in Chengdu, China will be able to walk anywhere in 15 minutes or less.
Chicago-based architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill designed a new residential area for the Chinese city. The layout makes it easier to walk than drive, with streets designed so that people can walk anywhere in 15 minutes.
While Chengdu won't completely ban cars, only half the roads in the 80,000-person city will allow vehicles. The firm originally planned to make this happen by 2020, but zoning issues are delaying the deadline.
Hamburg is making it easier not to drive.
The German city plans to make walking and biking its dominant mode of transport. Within the next two decades, Hamburg will reduce the number of cars by only allowing pedestrians and bikers to enter certain areas.
The project calls for a gruenes netz, or a "green network," of connected spaces that people can access without cars. By 2035, the network will cover 40% of Hamburg and will include parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and cemeteries.
Paris will ban diesel cars and double the number of bike lanes.
When Paris banned cars with even-numbered plates for a day in 2014, pollution dropped by 30%. Now, the city wants to discourage cars from driving in the city center at all.
As of July 2016, all drivers with cars made before 1997 are not permitted to drive in the city center on weekdays. If they do, they will be fined, though they can drive there freely on the weekends.
The mayor says Paris also plans to double its bike lanes and limit select streets to electric cars by 2020. The city also continues to make smaller, short-term efforts to curb emissions — its first car-free day was in 2015, and it instated a car-free Sundays rule in 2016.
London asks drivers to pay a congestion charge.
Just like Paris, the mayor of London says the city will ban diesel cars by 2020.
Currently, the city discourages the use of diesel engines in some areas of the city by charging a fee of $12.50 per day for diesel cars that enter during peak hours. They call it a "congestion charge."
"London is already talking about an ultra low emission zone, banning all sorts of diesel vehicles," Stephen Joseph from the Campaign for Better Transport told The Telegraph. "This is not unlikely that they will be banned altogether in the same way Paris has done."
In July, Britain as a whole announced that it would ban sales of new diesel and gas cars by 2040. The goal is to combat Britain's growing air pollution crisis, according to The Guardian.
Brussels, Belgium features the largest car-free area in Europe.
Most streets that surround Brussels' city square, stock exchange, and Rue Neuve (a major shopping street) have always been pedestrian-only. The roads make up the second largest car-free zone in Europe, behind Copenhagen.
In 2002, Brussels launched its first "Mobility Week," which was meant to encourage public transportation over private transport. And for one day every September, all cars are banned from the entire city center.
The city is looking for more ways to expand its car-free zones — one proposal would turn a popular four-lane boulevard into a pedestrian-only area. In February 2016, Brussels announced that diesel cars made prior to 1998 will be banned starting in 2018.