A Town Without Cars
Sounds like science fiction, but it’s a reality in Vauban, Germany. This community of 5,000 was designed and built in 2006 to be car-free except for the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few side streets on the perimeter of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but cars must be parked in large garages at the edge of the community. Parking is purchased along with your house. As a result, 70% of the families don’t own cars and 57% sold a car to more there.
Vauban is an example of a growing trend in Europe and in the U.S. that separates suburban life from reliance on cars. It is a component of the “smart planning” movement. And it is one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Passenger cars produce 12% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and up to 50% in car-intensive parts of the U.S.
Could this model work in America? The residents of Quarry Village, on the outskirts of Oakland, California, say yes. The Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a Vauban-like community accessible without car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and a university campus. The development is attracting a lot of attention, but faces roadblocks from mortgage lenders to zoning laws. “People in the U.S. are incredibly suspicious of any idea where people are not going to own cars, or are going to own fewer,” said David Ceaser, co-founder of CarFree City USA.
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