Artist's impression of a car-free Swanston Street in Melbourne  Credit: The Age

Artist’s impression of a car-free Swanston Street in Melbourne
Credit: The Age

A recent article in The Age puts the spotlight on cars and their role in Australian Cities. 

If you’ve been to Europe lately – there’s a noticeable trend. Cities are either being closed off to cars, or it’s becoming very expensive if you want the privilege of driving around.

Stockholm, London, Milan, Brussels and Paris (just to name a few) are all cities that have started restricting vehicle access in their centres. (In fact the European Commission has even spoken of Car Free Centres across Europe by 2050 in several discussion papers.)

So what about Australia?

An article this week in The Age suggests that perhaps it’s time for an Australian City (AKA Melbourne) to take the plunge.

Michael Short writing for The Age says that:

“It’s happening all over the world, and experts reckon it ought to happen here – cars should be progressively prohibited from the CBD and most streets all-but entirely turned over to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport…

Yes, many European cities, which tend to be higher density than ours, were largely built before cars were invented, so it is perhaps easier to make the transition in such places, and we will clearly have to invest heavily in public transport. We need to anyway; we just do not have sufficient space to rely on using cars to get into the CBD.”

It’s worth reading the article in its entirety.  It comes to the conclusion that this whole “let’s try to get cars through the centre of cities” has been something of a failure. It’s created congestion by design.

Vintage Adelaide

Vintage Adelaide photo from Papillionaire. Explanation: Adelaide’s urban planning from the end of the 19th century to the 1930s heavily focused on bike traffic. That’s because most of the city’s inhabitants had to commute long distances to work or to access vital services, and cars weren’t readily available.

But what would be the consequences of a car free city? (Both positive and negative.) It would undoubtedly bring up lots of questions such as access for emergency vehicles, commuters in outer suburbs etc.

What do you think? Can you imagine Adelaide in 2050 without cars? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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