National and International News

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 146.

UK cities reveal bold plans to reduce car use

Image: © Andy Falconer, Unsplash
Image as described adjacent

Car bans, circulation plans and charging zones are becoming increasingly common concepts across the UK, as local governments come to grips with the climate emergency.

York (right) is banning private cars from the medieval city centre from 2023, following recent plans approved by councillors to cut congestion and improve air quality. The city of Birmingham has announced plans to stop cars travelling through the city, following Ghent-style city zoning. Cars will be able to travel within their own zone, but to get to another zone they’ll have to use the ring road. Other modes of transport, such as cycling, walking and buses, will be able to cross zones freely.

Other cities in the UK have also been making progress. Bristol recently approved plans to ban diesel cars from parts of the city centre. Brighton and Hove City Council is debating whether to ban private cars from Brighton city centre. Oxford is introducing a Zero Emissions Zone to its city centre by the end of 2020, with polluting vehicles subject to a £10 charge. Oxford City Councillor Tom Hayes says: ‘we’re listening to Oxford’s Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change by speeding up our journey to a city-wide Zero Emission Zone. Local government isn’t prepared to delay action.’

Read more about Birmingham’s inspiration – the successful Ghent circulation plan – on page 18.

New Paris cycle lanes deliver a 54% increase in cycling

According to a road survey conducted by the Paris mayor’s office, cycle use has shot up by 54% in just one year. There are now 840,000 bike trips each day in the city, surpassing the number made by motorcycles and scooters.

Françoise Picard, host of The Debate on France 24, said ‘it’s the culmination of years of growing restrictions on cars, the introduction of bike-sharing services and, most recently, the construction of bike lanes across the French capital’.

The impressive results are thanks to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who introduced ‘Plan Vélo’ in 2015. The aim of the plan is to create an integrated cycle network that will be no more than 2km from any Parisian residence. By the end of 2021, there will be 870 more miles of cycle lanes than there were in 2015, and Hidalgo has pledged to make every single street in Paris cycle-friendly by 2024 if she is re-elected this year.

No cyclist or pedestrian killed in Oslo road accidents in 2019

No cyclist, pedestrian or child died in a traffic accident in the Norwegian capital in 2019. Officials say this is a result of the Norwegian Vision Zero policy.

Oslo implemented Vision Zero through a mixture of regulations lowering speeds and barring cars from certain areas of the city. It also expanded its cycle network and added trafficcalming measures around schools.

In 2015, Oslo devised a plan to restrict cars from its city centre, and increase charges for entering and parking. Charges were increased further in 2017 with 700 parking spaces removed and replaced by 37 miles of bike lanes and parks. Cars were banned from the city centre in early 2019. Christoffer Solstad Steen, a spokesman for Norwegian traffic organisation Trygg Trafikk, said: ‘The more you separate the different road groups, the less the risk of serious traffic accidents.’