European Cities Moving Towards a Future With No Cars

Despite cars having become a mainstay of our daily life and transportation needs, some cities are slowly beginning to evict them.  Congestion, smog and safety are some of the key drivers behind this change.  Some of the fastest and most significant changes are taking place in Europe, where cities were designed before the age of the automobile.

In fact, in 2011 the European Union revealed, according to an article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, a plan to reduced Carbon Monoxide emissions by 60% over the next 40 years by banning cars from cities by the year 2050. that was hailed as ‘draconian,’ but illustrates the seriousness with which the EU is addressing the issue.

Countries have also been taking action unilaterally.  Earlier this year, according to the Financial Times of London, the French Government, which owns 15% of automakers, Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen pledged to phase out diesel vehicles, which constitute over two-thirds of the companies’ annual European sales.  The French are certainly not alone in their war on diesel-powered cars as a way to reduce smog in cities.

Below is a list of cities, which for one reason or another are moving towards eliminating cars.




London has long had a city-centre congestion charge.  If you want to take your car in to central London, you pay a $10 equivalent fee.  However, the City of London is now taking things further, by declaring London as an “ultra-low emission zone” and doubling the congestion charge for older diesel vehicles. The key reason for London’s decisions. Research findings in recent studies from the International Council on Clean Transportation and Kings College (University of London), where 60,000 annual deaths are linked to diesel emissions.




Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark has been well underway for decades to becoming a car-free city.  As such, it claims amongst the lowest rate of car ownership anywhere in Europe.  It achieved this by introducing car-free zones in the 1960s in the centre of Copenhagen.  Over time, these zones were widened to other areas.  City residents rely heavily upon bike use with more than 50% of the city’s population cycling to work everyday.  Of course, an extensive network of bike lanes facilitates this and the city is planning new trunk routes to the suburbs.




Lack of alternate transportation is always the biggest challenge when trying reduce reliance upon cars.  For the German city, Hamburg, tackling this obstacle means introducing a new ‘green network,” designed to connect parks across the city.  This lack of connection currently makes it hard for Hamburg residents to get around Hamburg without a car.

The network, which is expected to be completed within the next 20 years and spanning some 40% of the city will enable residents to walk or bike across the city.




Helsinki has ambitious plans to turn its suburbs, which are reliant upon cars for transportation, in to areas which encourage walking and are linked to the centre of Helsinki by improved public transport. The broader goal is to making car ownership uncessary.

Towards this end, the city is building a large scale Uber of its own.  The software app, designed to help its residents find alternative transportation to cars in much the same way as does Uber.  Taxis, bikeshare, carshare and even finding information on public transport including busses and trains.




Generally, traffic is banned in some streets of the Spanish capital.  Recently, the city decided to increase the areas destined as car-free, slapping a $100 fine on non-residents driving in the car-free zone.  In fact, Madrid is redesigning streets for walking and to ease the transition, parking fees on those streets will increase for car-owners.




The city of Milan is going one step further to reduce smog by reducing cars in the centre of the city.  Milan will pay its residents if they keep their cars out of the city centre in free public transport vouchers.  Each day a car is not driven in to the city earns the owner a day of free use of the city’s transport.  Cheating is prevented by installation of a GPS-box in the car, which keeps track of the car’s whereabouts.




Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has always been a staunch supporter of reducing the smog over Paris.  In fact, last year, after five days of record pollution in the city, she banned half of all cars in Paris from driving for a day.  The experiment was declared successful with a 30% decline in pollution.  Hidalgo is pushing anti-polution measures further by banning weekend driving for non-city centre residents and its quite conceivable that the ban might be extended to the entire week.

In an effort to significantly reduce emissions by 2020, Hidalgo wants to ban diesel cars altogether and grant access to key Paris areas to only ultra-low emissions vehicles.  Her efforts seem to be working with Parisian car ownership having declined over the last year by 50%.

Me Blog

    By Farra Majid, May 12, 2015



SpeediMango can help get the best price for your car.  Get Started now!

Be sociable.  Share!

Posted by: Farra Majid on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 at 3:38 pm in LIFESTYLE