Should Cars Be Banned in Downtown Areas?


How does the future of driving look to you?

More specifically, how does the future of driving in big cities look to you? In the coming years and decades, there’s no question that the face of driving in large, congested cities will change. The clogged streets of New York City and the infamous standstills of Los Angeles will most likely not look the way they do today.

As small city cars begin to infiltrate the roads and public transportation options persuade people away from vehicles, it’s pretty certain that city driving will change over the years.

One country, in fact, wants to ban gas-powered cars from cities altogether.

In Scotland, the government has unveiled plans to ban cars powered by gas and diesel from the nation’s downtown areas. With consumer incentives planned to increase ownership of electric vehicles, officials hope they can make the loud and polluted urban hubs a distant memory.

The Scots may have a point here. Research shows that many citizens embark on exceptionally short journeys in their cars, with a third of all car journeys being less than two miles long, and a quarter fewer than one mile long.

That sounds familiar, yeah? Those of in the United States will hop in a car and drive 500 feet just to get to the corner Starbucks faster. If gas vehicles were banned, maybe people would be more likely to trade their accelerator pedal for a nice pair of shoes.

The other side of the argument will say that we don’t need to ban cars, we need to improve streets and infrastructure. From that point of view, it’s not the cars that are the problem, it’s the lack of wide enough streets, poorly planned intersections or just an effect of poorly timed traffic lights.

I believe people should always have the choice to drive in cities. I think governments can, and probably should, create obstacles to driving in congested areas but ultimately the choice of how to navigate through a downtown area should be an individual’s decision.

Should gas and diesel powered vehicles be banned in downtown areas? 


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  1. We’ve learned as a country in the USA that the urban sprawl model doesn’t work well and creates waste and poor quality of living. In Europe, where distances are compressed and most downtowns are relatively small and walkable, banning of cars is already a reality in limited areas. London’s car problem is so severe that a very high tax has been levied on private cars driving into the core city during the day, which has helped reduce traffic jams and leave roads free for mass transit. Even taxis are not exempt and must pay astronomical fees to operate in London. London has special problems though- If you’ve ever been there, you know how large and spread out it is. Most town centers are a lot more manageable, though, and banning cars only in core areas can work, especially if there are good mass transit modes to move people in the central city. Some newer, more novel ideas like large moving sidewalks moving pedestrians towards mass transit site like train stations would be a big success.
    In America, though, we are addicted to doing things quick and on the cheap, and few areas will do anything to improve traffic. Here in Michigan, roads are often unimproved and are trying to handle 2000% or more increase in traffic with the same basic configuration they had fifty or more years ago, and when new roads are built, they are done so poorly they start breaking up almost immediately.

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