End of the car age: how cities outgrew the automobile

End of the car age: how cities outgrew the automobile

Cities around the world are coming to the same conclusion: they’d be better off with far fewer cars. So what’s behind this seismic shift in our urban lifestyles? Stephen Moss goes on an epic (car-free) journey to find out

Gilles Vesco calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. He anticipates a revolution which will transform not just transport but the cities themselves. “The goal is to rebalance the public space and create a city for people,” he says. “There will be less pollution, less noise, less stress; it will be a more walkable city.”

Vesco, the politician responsible for sustainable transport in Lyon, played a leading role in introducing the city’s Vélo’v bike-sharing scheme a decade ago. It has since been replicated in cities all over the world. Now, though, he is convinced that digital technology has changed the rules of the game, and will make possible the move away from cars that was unimaginable when Vélo’v launched in May 2005. “Digital information is the fuel of mobility,” he says. “Some transport sociologists say that information about mobility is 50% of mobility. The car will become an accessory to the smartphone.”

The goal is to rebalance the public space and create a city for people

Birmingham was seen as the champion of the car, so there’s been no longer-term vision

London’s twisting roads ​​were never conducive to the domination by car that occurred in many US and European cities

The younger generation are no longer car dependent. They are less likely to have a driving licence

It is five minutes to midnight for the private car. It’s no longer rational to use cars in cities like London

For the past decade, predating the global economic downturn, car traffic has been flatlining

We’ve seen companies that didn’t recognise the changes that were happening around them – and they don’t exist any more

People think we love our cars, but do we? If you get a good enough service-level offer, you will switch

If cities in the developing world go through the same cycle that we have in the past 50 years, we have a problem

The idea that we use privately owned cars to shift the massive bulk of people around a city seems utterly absurd to me

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Source: Guardian Transport

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