Cities around the globe are challenging the "car-only" model through a combination of automobile taxes, urban designs, and alternative transportation initiatives. Some of the most innovative public transportation systems, those that shift huge numbers of people from cars into buses, have been developed in Curitiba (Brazil) and Bogota (Colombia). In China, Beijing is one of 20 cities developing bus rapid transit systems, and several cities in Africa are planning them. Some cities are reducing traffic congestion and air pollution by charging cars to enter the city. Meanwhile, in the US, the National Complete Streets Coalition is challenging the historic US dependence on cars. Many American communities now lack sidewalks and bike lanes, making it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to get around safely, particularly where streets are heavily traveled. The Netherlands, the unquestioned leader among industrial countries in encouraging bicycle use, has incorporated a vision of the role of bicycles into a Bicycle Master Plan.
rates ranging from just over $1 per W o r l d T r e n d s & F o r e c a s t s day to $40 per year. At this point, Mayor Delanoë is well along on his goal of cutting car traffic by 40% and Environment carbon emissions by a similar amount. Meanwhile, in the United States, the National Complete Streets Coali- tion, a powerful assemblage of citi- zen groups, is challenging the his- Cities Battle Auto Dominance toric U.S. dependence on cars. Car taxes, alternative transport, better design will curb the car. Many American communities now lack sidewalks and bike lanes, mak- C ing it difficult for pedestrians and ities around the globe are chal- cyclists to get around safely, particu- By Lester R. Brown lenging the “car-only” model larly where streets are heavily trav- through a combination of auto- eled. Complete Streets promotes pe- mobile taxes, urban designs, and al- destrian- and bike-friendly design in ternative transportation initiatives. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, urban centers. Barbara McCann, Some of the most innovative pub- who was elected in 2001, faced some head of the Coalition, reports that as lic transportation systems, those that of Europe’s worst traffic congestion of July 2007, “complete streets” poli- shift huge numbers of people from and air pollution. He decided traffic cies are in place in 14 states and 52 cars into buses, have been developed would have to be cut 40% by 2020. cities. in Curitiba (Brazil) and Bogotá (Co- The first step was to invest in better Countries that have well-devel- lombia). The success of Bogotá’s bus transit in outlying regions to ensure oped urban transit systems and a rapid transit (BRT) system, Trans- that everyone in the greater Paris mature bicycle infrastructure are Milenio, which uses special express area had access to high-quality pub- much better positioned to withstand lanes to move people quickly lic transit. The next step was to cre- the stresses of a downturn in world through the city, is being replicated ate express lanes on main thorough- oil production than are countries not only in six other Colombian cit- fares for buses and bicycles, thus w
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