I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing

A recent article in the New York Times puts forth a vision of a New York City re-designed to prioritize people; not cars. The article highlights the astronomical amount of space that American cities dedicate to cars and car infrastructure: in Manhattan, cars take up an area nearly four times as large as Central Park, and in Los Angeles, land dedicated to parking exceeds the size of Manhattan; enough space to house nearly a million people. 

"Without cars, Manhattan’s streets could give priority to more equitable and accessible ways of getting around, including an extensive system of bike 'superhighways' and bus rapid transit — a bus system with dedicated lanes in the roadway, creating a service that approaches the capacity, speed and efficiency of the subway, at a fraction of the cost."

Over the past few months, many cities have witnessed periods of significantly improved air quality and record-low levels of automobile fatalities as a result of decreased driving due to COVID-19. Furthermore, many cities had already made strides towards re-claiming space from cars: San Francisco banned private cars on Market Street, and sustained efforts by Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris have reduced traffic by 40% in a decade.

As we channel resources into rebuilding our economy and restoring civic life, will cities stumble back into car dependency, or will they take the opportunity to create a new future?

"I've Seen a Future Without Cars, and It's Amazing", The New York Times