Success Measures for Transforming Into Car-Free Cities: Recommendations for Implementation

Success Measures for Transforming Into Car-Free Cities: Recommendations for Implementation

Rahma M. Doheim (University of Business and Technology, Saudi Arabia & Assiut University, Egypt), Alshimaa Aboelmakarem Farag (Zagazig University, Egypt) and Samaa Badawi (Mansoura University, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3507-3.ch010


Private cars contribute heavily to air pollution and significantly lower air quality in cities. The number of deaths because of pollution and car accidents is increasing on a global level; therefore, achieving sustainable mobility in urban areas is essential. Hence, the transformation into a car-free model is not a marginal issue but rather a crucial need that should be a global trend. The biggest challenge in this transforming process is to minimize the dependency on private cars. This chapter reviews thoroughly some global practices of inspiring models of transforming into car-free cities around the world. This review aims to identify the success measures for the transformation of a car-free city through investigating the challenges that affected the adoption of the transformation process. This would potentially guide governments and policymakers to select the approach that copes effectively with the cultural, social, geographical, and economic characteristics of their countries.
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In the 21st century, the private car mode becomes an important part of the transportation system, since it is an affordable, and comfortable transport alternative. In fact, private cars have become a dominating force on the streets of cities after the Industrial Revolution. The dependence on private cars as an essential transportation mode has grown rapidly during the last decades, which caused the past century to be defined as “A Century Of The Car” (Gilroy, 2000). The number of motorized vehicles in the world grew from about 75 million to about 675 million between1950 and 1990. Around 80% of these vehicles were primarily private cars (Linda, 2003). The number of motorized vehicles is still increasing; in the middle of the year 2010, there were more than 1 billion cars registered worldwide. At the beginning of 2019, they were about a quarter of a billion more. Furthermore, it is expected that by the year 2035, over 1,8 billion automobiles will be in use worldwide (Worldwide Automobile Productions, 2020).

The heavy dependence on private cars has resulted in many environmental and socio-economic problems. It contributes heavily to air pollution and significantly lowers air quality in urban cities. Cars emit CO2, black carbon and other greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Additionally, they cause heat, road damage, congestion, and oil dependence (Santos et al., 2010(a)). According to the European Environment Agency, automobiles and airplanes are considered to be more damaging to the environment than other modes of transport. The Co2 emission for a car is 124.5 gm/km compared to 130.2 for the airplane and coming in second place (Adbelhamid et al., 2018). Thus, car use is one of the most significant contributors to climate change, accounting for 27% of global CO2 emissions, and is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions (Zarrilli, 2019). Car dependence also affects the social aspect as it threatens the quality of life due to noise pollution. Moreover, the cars dominate the city’s streets leaving less space available for walking due to the car lanes and parking spaces, which occupies most of the urban spaces in cities that could be used for other purposes such as pedestrian walkways and parks which are more beneficial to public health and wellbeing (Amoly et al., 2014). Another critical problem is safety. Motor vehicle crashes are a direct cause of a large number of deaths and injuries. According to the World Health Organization, in the Global status report on road safety in 2018, the number of road traffic deaths is getting worse and continues to climb, reaching 1.35 million in 2016. Nearly 3700 people dying on the world’s roads every day, and tens of millions more are injured or disabled every year. These losses severely impact families and communities (WHO, 2018). Car dependence also causes economic problems, which mainly represent a decrease in accessibility to economically important destinations due to congestion. Congestion in European cities costs have increased from about 100 billion euros in 2003 to 270 billion euros per year in 2020, and are projected to increase in the future (Boffey, 2020).

Megacities all over the world have high rates of car use, and their citizens spend hours in traffic suffering from the previously mentioned problems every day. Therefore, there is a real need for careful planning and long term strategies in the local and international levels to cope with the emerging crises due to the increasing demand for urban mobility. A prominent example of international action towards the deteriorating environmental status is Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) which represents a successful model for global collaboration between the world’s megacities to exchange policies, programs, and solutions that focus on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces climate risks while enhancing the wellbeing and economic opportunities for citizens. C40 is a global community that its members could share ideas and solutions through 16 thematic networks; transportation actions is one of them. Those actions include using innovative financing approaches for transportation, encouraging Transit-Oriented Development, and dependence on Low Emission Vehicles (Zarrilli, 2019). In this regard, many cities worldwide have taken serious steps towards the car-free zone model.

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