A ban on cars?

Can a modern metropolis turn its back on four wheels? Paris is hoping that it can

Parisians will be forced to spend a day without a car  on September 27. Simon Dawson / Bloomberg News
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Imagine a world without cars. That’s what many in Paris hope to experience when the city bans all motorised vehicles (except emergency vehicles) from the roads for a day on September 27.

Paris is not the first city to seek a new way to function. A handful of towns across Europe have sought to get rid of traffic lights and signs, in a bid to make drivers more aware of their surroundings. In one recent experiment, a German town called Bohmte near Hanover removed all road signs to create a pedestrian and car “shared space”. The number of accidents dropped.

That may be a good experiment, but in reality a city without cars would be a grim place with restricted freedom and prosperity. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi for instance, residential areas, shopping malls, hospitals and office buildings are all built with the car in mind. Removing them would be near impossible.

We are stuck with cars, then. But these experiments serve a purpose. In seeking to figure out ways to live without cars, we can also learn better ways to continue living with them.