Over the last century, cars have been the dominant element when designing cities and towns. Driving lanes, lane expansions, parking garages, and surface lots have been utilized as we continue our heavy reliance on cars, leaving urban planners to devise creative ways to make city streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists alike. But many cities, especially a handful in Europe, have become blueprints for forward-thinking ideologies on how to design new spaces to become car-free and rethink streets to make them pedestrian-friendly. Are we experiencing the slow death of cars in urban cores around the world in favor of those who prefer to walk or ride bikes? And if so, how can it be done on a larger scale?
Historically, the United States has encountered a serious problem with making roadways pedestrian-friendly. On a large scale, the dependency on cars is especially evident in the massive highway infrastructure. While intuitively it may seem that adding highways will reduce traffic, it instead has the complete opposite effect- where more highways lead to more problems and more cars. America’s obsession with the ongoing construction of roadways doesn’t stop with large interstates, and even some of the most prominent and busy urban cores have struggled with how to become less car-reliant.
In recent years, there have been calls for proposals that take cars off the streets in favor of pedestrian and cyclist use. New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge is perhaps the most recently notable, with many ideas circulating around how the tourist attraction can serve users who cross from one borough into the next. Late last year, the bridge reclaimed space from cars on the Manhattan-bound side and returned it as a dedicated cyclist lane.