Yesterday I brought up the topic of congestion in cities and Scotland’s proposal to ban gas-powered vehicles in city centers.
I don’t meant to dwell on a topic that remains decades away, but it brings up some interesting questions about the problems of transportation in busy areas. A couple of commenters on that post got me wondering if the solution to urban congestion lies in bigger roads, smaller cars, or no cars at all.
The implications of whatever happens will directly influence the cars we buy in the future. Maybe that great bargain on a used Suburban won’t be as great when it can’t be driven to the office parking garage downtown.
One of yesterday’s commenters proposed only allowing small cars, such as the smart fortwo and Scion iQ, into city centers. That’s interesting, and would probably result in the sale of many more diminutive vehicles. Which, in turn, would result in just as many traffic jams. Only tinier. And a lot more humorous.
On second thought, maybe that’s the idea we need to roll with. It would be truly difficult to get all worked up and unleash road rage on a street full of cars that look like they were made by Mattel. It’s hard to act macho in a miniature vehicle or be mad at the guy driving the
Power Wheels smallest street-legal car in the world.
Tiny cars will get better fuel economy and reduce emissions in cities, but they won’t fix the issue of congestion. Most small cars still take up an entire lane, so the only way to reduce congestion is to either reduce the amount of traffic or put more cars in each lane.
If more people owned a Tango we could put two cars in each lane, which would help until everyone owned a Tango and the streets got clogged again. Better yet, there could be a fee charged to enter a city in a motor vehicle, which would encourage people to use public transportation and reduce the amount of cars on the street.
I think I have an even better solution, though: Don’t do anything. Let people buy whatever cars they want and let them go wherever they want. Those who don’t want to deal with the congestion and stress of downtown areas will avoid them, and the problem will fix itself naturally.
Brilliant, I know.
Would you pay to drive your car downtown?