No cars in cities of the future?

12.00 | 16 July 2013 | | 6 comments

There will be a widespread ban on cars in London within the next 20 years, according to one of Britain’s leading architects, who has called for cities to be designed for pedestrians and cyclists rather than for traffic (The Times).

The prediction comes from Lord Rogers of Riverside who was behind the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the National Assembly Building in Cardiff and the Lloyd’s Building in London.

Lord Rogers predicts that small electric vehicles will become commonplace across the country and that increasing the number of cyclists will solve the capital’s congestion problems.

He said: “By the year 2033 – my 100th birthday – you’re looking at a widespread ban on cars, certainly in the centre of town.

“There will be a major change in the power and form of cars everywhere, with electric rickshaws and devices that resemble Segways a common sight.

“We’ve made many mistakes in the past by not attempting to visualise the future transport needs of London. What do we do with the extra space we will have in the city? Hopefully it will become a people space rather than the car space it currently is.”

Click here to read the full report in The Times.


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    In reality radical change in how we get about is necessary. We have to decarbonise our transport if we are to stick to our international climate change commitments; we have to probably take 90% of carbon by 2050. This is radical. A few people might say let’s disregard climate change….foolish given the growing flood risk to places like London but with the growing economies elsewhere in the world the prospects for fuel prices in the medium term are only on the upside. So the petrol fuelled car is on the decline in cities and this is likely to continue and those cities that adapt and encourage other forms of travel will be the most competitive in years to come. Those that still continue to build on the old model will suffer in this competitveness world. I look forward to this change; less traffic; less pollution; less noise; more cycling, more walking and importantly more and better public transport. There will be real health benefits with fewer road accidents ( widespread 20mph zones will help) and far fewer deaths from air pollution ..a hidden killer. I love cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen where cycling is really significant. London is well on the way and even ‘motor city’ Birmingham is going to be pushing widespread 20mph zones and investing in cycling. Let’s embrace this necessary change!

    Patrick Willcocks Birmingham
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    Duncan, not sure whether you think Birmingham has got it right or wrong. In my life I’ve spent enough hours in traffic jams in Stratford to believe that every town/city has an ambivalent relationship with motor traffic. Stratford is lucky in having a local celebrity to attract visitors, and is too far from the main transport corridors for alternatives to the car to be attractive. Result, major congestion. And if memory serves, Stratford has a pedestrianised area? Birmingham was “motor city” from 1960 to 1990. It may not be everyone’s idyll, but it has to juggle massive commuter traffic as well as traffic for its thriving cultural/nightlife and shopping venues. It has improved immeasurably in the last 25 years and this by carefully managing access by all modes of travel. Vehicle access to central areas is more restricted than before but I do not see a day when it won’t be necessary. Wolverhampton and Coventry are also undergoing public realm improvements which discourage vehicle access to central areas but again, we still accept a need for it.

    Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton
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    Via est Vita (the road is life). No road, no life, simple. Birmingham was one of the first cities to clear the cars away and leave the space between buildings purely for pedestrians. That worked out well didn’t it?

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon.
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    If you read the article you will see the idea comes from Lord Rogers, a highly respected architect – nothing to do with ‘Eurocrat politicians’. I’m not saying I agree with Lord Rogers but let’s stick to the facts rather than using this newsfeed to make political points.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    This is a classic form of “utopia” which has been dreamt up by various eurocrat politicians that won’t work. People need every mode of transport to be able to get about and not everyone can get work in just one geographical area. Besides, if it suddenly becomes that restricted then there will be no shops due to goods not being able to be delivered nor will there be any form of employment due to no shops within that area.

    Phil, Kent
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    How will goods get to the businesses so that people will have something to buy, eat and drink when they get there, if they can get there? I agree a more joined-up approach is needed but we may find out, when people have a choice, whether they go to those places that ban cars (except electric, it seems) or to other places where people are free to choose their transport mode.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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