Visions of a 'car-free future'

Oct 20, 2011

City centers could become virtually car-free over the next 20 years under new plans proposed by University of Leeds transport researchers.

The year is 2030. and smog have been banished from city centres and replaced with tree-lined boulevards where walk or cycle to a much greater extent than now; electric bicycles and airport style travelators have become common modes of travel.

It might sound like the setting for a science fiction film, but this is just one scenario outlined by scientists who aim to create which are safer, more sociable and less environmentally damaging.

The team have produced three 'visions' of future UK cities where up to 80% of all journeys are made by bike or on foot and where cars and lorries are virtually obsolete. Their proposals, published in the Journal of Transport Geography, are illustrated by animations and images of how these cities may look.

Each of the visions presents a scenario where a number of changes have been made to the infrastructure of urban areas. These range from relatively minor adjustments, to major shifts in society and infrastructure that would cut car journeys from around 60% of all trips to just 5%.

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Lead author Dr. Miles Tight, from the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies, said the benefits of such changes would go beyond simply reducing congestion. "Walking and cycling can make a considerable contribution to sustainable transport goals, but getting people out of their cars and onto their feet or a bicycle has the potential to address many other problems which blight urban areas, including , air and , and obesity," he said.

"The kinds of changes we're talking about are not beyond the realms of possibility. Obviously we don't expect people to give up their cars overnight, but we want to show people what cities could look like if walking and cycling played a much larger role and what the implications might be for lifestyle, behaviour and logistics."

More details of the three visions can be found below.

Vision 1: Change to current European best practice

• Similar to present-day European centers such as Copenhagen or Delft
• Moderate increases in walking and a major increase in cycling, better public transport and reduced number of car journeys (one in three journeys made on foot, one in ten by bike)
• Private car ownership reduced by 50% in urban areas, one in three journeys still made by car
• Greater control over drivers: Intelligent Speed Adaptation, road pricing, etc.
• Safer cycle paths and more pleasant pedestrian environments
• Car journeys remain for trips impossible by bike or foot
• Freight transport still largely undertaken by lorries and vans.

Vision 2: Dramatic social change, major reduction in car use

• Car is now the minority mode of transport (just 5% of journeys), partly curtailed by government intervention
• Car ownership is limited to those with mobility problems or for emergency use
• Public transport significantly improved, with door-to-door service in some areas
• Freight carried by public transport at off-peak times and more freight distribution in the evenings to avoid congestion
• A 'garden city' approach to regional development with communities largely independent from the central urban area
• Better road safety, reduced pollution and greater sense of 'community'

Vision 3: Extreme change brought about by fuel shortages

• Society blighted by a large-scale energy shortages
• Smart technology such as electric bikes, information systems and segways allow walking and cycling to become predominant mode of urban transport (80% of journeys).
• Less than vision 2 given the energy shortage
• Major shift in land use with employment and services becoming localised in several 'urban villages'
• Freight transported from distribution centres at the edge of urban area to locations in the city via bicycle and electric vehicles.

With the visions in place, the team are in the process of discussing with city authorities how the changes required might be achieved in the specific context of a number of towns and cities in the UK.

"Experience has shown us that simply making small changes like adding a bit of cycle lane here and there is not going to lead to large-scale sustainable change. A real paradigm shift from driving to walking and cycling is going to take government-led intervention on a large scale," added Dr. Tight.

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More information: www.visions2030.org.uk/

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User comments : 37

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Eikka
3 / 5 (14) Oct 20, 2011
How about not dictating what people can and can't do.

Why is it that every time you hear of some plans like this, it's not about making it better to travel on foot or by bike, but about deliberately making ownership and use of cars more difficult. "Dramatic social change" as it's called.

Why do people use cars? Because it saves time and effort. Why don't people walk? Because it's cumbersome and takes more time. Forcing the cars out of the city just means that the people will drive outside of the city for their groceries and furniture, and entertainment and whatnot.

I live in an "European best practices" type of city where some streets are closed off for cars, and the streets are narrow and maze-like so everybody just parks their cars outside of the center and walks everywhere. Guess where I like to go shopping?

Five miles outside of the city where there's room to turn.
SR71BlackBird
2.8 / 5 (9) Oct 20, 2011
Yup, agreed Eikka, well said.
CHollman82
2.1 / 5 (15) Oct 20, 2011
Dumb... I know I love biking or walking in pouring rain, freezing temperatures, in knee deep snow, on solid ice, etc... all of these are very real concerns for many major cities. A car is a mobile shelter, you are not going to replace it with anything but another mobile shelter.
tadchem
2.4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2011
Heavy and motorized transport will always be present for pick-up of solid waste and recyclables, and for delivery of materials. (Did you ever try to carry a 20 kg bag of dog food home on foot?) Bicycling has a limited range, often far less than the distance between a residence and a workplace. I personally could not bike 32 km (the average US commuting distance) each way to and from work.
The BIG problem comes when pedestrian, light transport (bicycles, segways, carts), and heavy transport (cars, trucks, buses) must share the same right-of-way. In a conflict, pedestrians and bicyclists can only lose.
Scottingham
3.4 / 5 (11) Oct 20, 2011
Having lived in the Netherlands for four months, this is definitely the way to go.

I never felt more free or mobile as when I didn't have a car there, just a sweet bike (as well as awesome public transit).

Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.
CHollman82
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 20, 2011
Having lived in the Netherlands for four months, this is definitely the way to go.

I never felt more free or mobile as when I didn't have a car there, just a sweet bike (as well as awesome public transit).

Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.


If you work somewhere besides McDonalds the phrase "Drive to work to pay for this car" has little meaning. My car expenses, including maintenance and fuel, cannot even be expressed as a whole number percentage of my income.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (11) Oct 20, 2011
"How about not dictating what people can and can't do." - Eikka

Your liberty ends where your destruction of my environment starts.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.9 / 5 (9) Oct 20, 2011
"Why is it that every time you hear of some plans like this, it's not about making it better to travel on foot or by bike, but about deliberately making ownership and use of cars more difficult." - Eikka

It's because you are a whining, pea-brained, loser.

see my comment above.

Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (9) Oct 20, 2011
"My car expenses, including maintenance and fuel, cannot even be expressed as a whole number percentage of my income." - CHollman82

The average car now costs around $8,000 a year to own and run - this includes amortized purchase costs.

If this is less than 1 percent of your income then your income must be on the order of 1 million per year after taxes.

The average wage of adequately employed Americans is about $35,000, so car ownership eats up about 1/4 of their wages.
Code_Warrior
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2011
Your liberty ends where your destruction of my environment starts.
And your hypocrisy ends when your life without a car starts.
kaasinees
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
I never felt more free or mobile as when I didn't have a car there, just a sweet bike (as well as awesome public transit).

Netherlands is small, densly populated and has decent biking roads. Public transport can be much better though, and depends on where u live. Its great in rotterdam and amsterdam and den haag. In other places it doesnt work well for jobs.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (7) Oct 21, 2011
"And your hypocrisy ends when your life without a car starts." - Code Tard

I don't own a car. Never have, never will.
Code_Warrior
3 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2011
"And your hypocrisy ends when your life without a car starts." - Code Tard

I don't own a car. Never have, never will.

Liar.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
Your liberty ends where your destruction of my environment starts.


So you alone own the environment, and you've decided that cars necessarily destroy it, now and forever?

How about adressing the other 90% of the sources of pollution before forcing everyone to give up basic transportation and the freedom of movement?

There's two ways of dealing with a sore thumb: you could heal it, or you could lop it off. What you, and all the other "social engineers" are proposing is to have a society without thumbs.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011

I don't own a car. Never have, never will.


Yet even you benefit from the fact that most other people do.

Otherwise you'd probably have no work, no goods brought to your local market, and pretty much no other people around your part of suburbia because the whole place wouldn't exist.

And there would be nobody you could bum a ride from, when you actually need to go somewhere else than where the bus stops.
Dichotomy
not rated yet Oct 21, 2011
The car free future isn't going to happen until we have the technology to teleport around. We used horses for thousands of years until cars and roads effectively replaced them. The reasons why we use cars and horses are speed, carrying capacity, and shelter while traveling (carriages). For those who want a world without cars, create a means of transportation that has the identified benefits. Environmentally speaking, electric motors for all vehicles (cars, heavy trucks, aircraft, etc...) are already possible in terms of motor, transmission, and suspension. The missing capacity is energy in the form of battery power (we're not going to put nuclear power into every vehicle like the U.S. has for its submarine fleet considering cost, waste, and terrorist weaponization). After that the question will be how do we generate enough energy? With the costs of energy going up, the cost/benefit analysis will push people to make some of their own energy. The solution to this problem is already here.
CHollman82
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 21, 2011
"And your hypocrisy ends when your life without a car starts." - Code Tard

I don't own a car. Never have, never will.


That's sad, I'm sorry you're so poor, or that you live in an urban death trap.
CHollman82
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 21, 2011
The average car now costs around $8,000 a year to own and run - this includes amortized purchase costs.


This is your first mistake, buying a ridiculously expensive car. I bought my car used with 30 something thousand miles on it and paid just over 8k for it... it's not a shit box either it's a full size sedan with a power sunroof, 17" alloy wheels, component audio system with subwoofer, etc... Specifically, it's a Pontiac Grand Prix. Assuming I'll own it for about 10 years it won't even cost me $1000 a year, of course I do all my own repair and maintenance work.

If this is less than 1 percent of your income then your income must be on the order of 1 million per year after taxes.


I make about 1/10th that, about 80% of my income is salary, 15% dividends, and 5% I earned last year from selling PC/Android apps.

The average wage of adequately employed Americans is about $35,000, so car ownership eats up about 1/4 of their wages.


That's pathetic.
socean
5 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2011
Where are the robotic transports in these "visions"?! What is that rendering supposed to represent? Was it too inconvenient to include trees, flowers, and other things that make a city livable?
Fagamemnon
1 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
That's pathetic.


Want to elaborate on that? What aspect is pathetic?
CHollman82
1 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2011
That's pathetic.


Want to elaborate on that? What aspect is pathetic?


How many "aspects" were there in the quoted text that I might be referring to?

"The average wage of adequately employed Americans is about $35,000, so car ownership eats up about 1/4 of their wages."

That's pathetic... there is only one aspect there, the relative poverty of the American people, 35,000 a year is borderline poverty... That salary is pathetic and spending 25% of your income on your car is pathetic.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2011
If I include both my wife's income and my own income our family supposedly makes about 4x as much as the average American? That is pathetic. I thought average salary was 60-70k... not 35... I certainly don't feel rich, I shop frugally, I don't own elaborate or luxurious things... I frankly don't know how it would be possible to live on 35k a year... that's only about 600 a week after taxes... that's nuts.
Cave_Man
1 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
If I include both my wife's income and my own income our family supposedly makes about 4x as much as the average American? That is pathetic. I thought average salary was 60-70k... not 35... I certainly don't feel rich, I shop frugally, I don't own elaborate or luxurious things... I frankly don't know how it would be possible to live on 35k a year... that's only about 600 a week after taxes... that's nuts.

Your life is a mountain of trash and several million stadiums full of poisonous gas. And you think the people who live on less are pathetic?
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2011
I don't own car and I would never restrict the usage of cars with other people. But my feeling is, the contemporary cars are too heavy, infective and bulky. Their weight is dangerous for pedestrian or drivers itself. The electromobiles are just step back from this perspective due the weight of their batteries. Again, the cold fusion will change it for ever, but we will need to invest into strong and lightweight carbon-fiber based materials too.
JohnMoser
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2011
"I don't own a car. Never have, never will."

Or a brain.
CHollman82
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2011
If I include both my wife's income and my own income our family supposedly makes about 4x as much as the average American? That is pathetic. I thought average salary was 60-70k... not 35... I certainly don't feel rich, I shop frugally, I don't own elaborate or luxurious things... I frankly don't know how it would be possible to live on 35k a year... that's only about 600 a week after taxes... that's nuts.

Your life is a mountain of trash and several million stadiums full of poisonous gas. And you think the people who live on less are pathetic?


I have no clue what you are talking about.
Cave_Man
1.5 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2011
The fact is that cars are not state of the art (at least 99% of them) if there was an easy way to convert old cars into state of the art machines the person who details how to do that would be very very rich.

The who industry around cars is pretty corrupt and mind bogglingly wasteful. Big petrol killed the pure latex tire industry so that you have to buy tires that need to be replaced at a cost of $500 per set.

The point is that you should ride a bike WHEN YOU CAN which is a huge percentage of the time. Or hell if you're too much of a fat lazy garbage can get a scooter and put-put yer fat ass around without using the 7 unnecessary cylinders in your queer ass hummer or ford F890 ( get it, the 89 is for buttsechs)

Seriously the amount of pollutants a car puts out will shorten your life by a good percentage.
CHollman82
1.8 / 5 (9) Oct 23, 2011
The point is that you should ride a bike WHEN YOU CAN which is a huge percentage of the time. Or hell if you're too much of a fat lazy garbage can get a scooter and put-put yer fat ass around without using the 7 unnecessary cylinders in your queer ass hummer or ford F890 ( get it, the 89 is for buttsechs)


Wow you're an idiot or your perspective is so narrow you must be living under a rock... I live on 22 acres of land, my closest neighbor is 3 miles away, the closest store is almost 7 miles away... I am not biking 14 miles to get some milk.

I feel truly sorry for those that live in cities, you will never know what a dark night is, you will never know what quite is. With the lights out in my house at night you can't see ANYTHING, there is no light outside to come in the windows, there is no sound of cars to keep me up at night, I can see the stars every single night using my telescope in my sun room...

point is, not everyone lives in urban death trap
Fagamemnon
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
What's pathetic is you can't stand to live within 3 miles of your nearest neighbor.

Why should we subsidize your lifestyle? You realize there is a shit load of extra roads paved so selfish assholes can live out in the middle of nowhere, right? Maybe you should have to pay to pave the 3 miles of road between you and your nearest neighbor? You should also have to pay a premium for postal delivery. Quit leeching off my tax dollars.
Decimatus
5 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
Rural vs Urban; source of at least half the political squabbling found in the United States.

You guys really need to walk around in each other's shoes for awhile so you each have a clue what the other is talking about.
Gilbert
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
Er. It's all just a matter of urban planning. The only reason you see people in cars in say -london or moscow, is because of the horrendous weather. Once urban density is such that there is a significant population living in the city centre, you see that the number of cars decreases dramatically, even without policy and/or law changes ...so long as people can walk outside without freezing to death...
CHollman82
1 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2011
What's pathetic is you can't stand to live within 3 miles of your nearest neighbor.

Why should we subsidize your lifestyle? You realize there is a shit load of extra roads paved so selfish assholes can live out in the middle of nowhere, right? Maybe you should have to pay to pave the 3 miles of road between you and your nearest neighbor? You should also have to pay a premium for postal delivery. Quit leeching off my tax dollars.


Jesus Christ you are stupid... Ever heard of farming? No? You have no idea what you are talking about.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
"A real paradigm shift from driving to walking and cycling is going to take government-led intervention on a large scale," added Dr. Tight."

Dear Dr. Tight,

Please don't shift your paradigm on my account. I would prefer to drive. Thanks!
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
"Having lived in the Netherlands for four months, this is definitely the way to go." - Scottingham

All well and good. For you. As long as you get out of the way of my car.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
"It's because you are a whining, pea-brained, loser." - Vendicar

Vendicar, your obnoxious rants, self-aggrandizing behavior and comebacks that amount to "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" are bad enough. Why do you feel it is also necessary to resort to fourth-grade name calling? Labeling everyone with whom you do not agree a Tard is the lowliest and, I suppose, easiest way to show us your state of ignorance. Furthermore, it is clearly against Physorg's comment guidelines. Here's hoping they cut you off.
kjsauers
5 / 5 (2) Oct 24, 2011
I really need to get my glasses checked, i was all excited for a 'cat free future'
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
"How about not dictating what people can and can't do." - Eikka

Your liberty ends where your destruction of my environment starts.
- Vendicar

The question is, how do you define destruction? There must be hundreds of actions we each take daily that have a non-benign effect on the environment. For example, Vendicar, when you excrete solid and liquid waste, you are polluting my environment. Should we take away your liberty?

It's absurd to point to a single human activity and say, "yep, that's the one I don't like, so we should ban that one."