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Auto-free zone

From Academic Kids

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Venice (J.H. Crawford)

Auto-free zones are also known as car-free zones and pedestrianised zones.

Many communities have come to recognize that it is desirable to have areas that are not dominated by the automobile. Converting a street or an area to car-free use is called pedestrianization. Some examples of different types of carfree areas are:

  • A large number, perhaps the majority, of European towns and cities have made part of their historic centers carfree since the early 1960's. Central Copenhagen is one of the largest and oldest examples: the auto-free zone is centered on Strøget, a pedestrian shopping street, but it is in fact not a single street but a series of interconnected avenues which create a very large auto-free zone, although it is crossed in places by streets with vehicular traffic.
  • Venice on the Adriatic sea offers one of the largest auto-free zones in any urban area in the world. Though its canals are filled with motorized boats of all sizes which offer many of the inconveniences (and conveniences) of automobiles, the number of boats is appreciably smaller than the number of cars, trucks, and buses that would be typical of other wealthy cities based on motorized road transport.
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Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre
  • There are a great many auto-free zones in Southern European hill towns and villages, such as the Cinque Terre in Italy, since many, if not most of the streets are too steep and/or narrow for automobile circulation.
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Fes al-Jdid, a medina of Fes (J.H. Crawford)
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Vauban in Freiburg
  • Several dozen new carfree neighborhoods have been built in recent decades, mostly in Europe. An example is Vauban, a neighborhood of 5,000 in Freiburg, Germany.
  • Towns in many low-income countries are effectively largely carfree simply because cars are uncommon in those countries. As cars become more common, however, many of these towns are suffering from the ill effects that accompany motorization. The most serious instances can be found in Africa, where road death rates, expressed in terms of fatalities per vehicle, reach extreme values.
  • Auto-free zones are fewer in North America. One example is the residential area of the Toronto Islands. A number of cities have created single pedestrian streets. Mackinac Island, between the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan, prohibits motorised vehicles on the island, except for emergency vehicles. Travel on the island is largely by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. An 8.5 mile road, M-185, rings the island, and numerous roads cover the interior. M-185 is one of the only highways in the United States without motorized vehicles.
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Bicyclists on the carfree highway (M-185) on Mackinac Island

Auto-free zones have a great variety of attitudes or rules towards human powered vehicles such as bicycles, inline skates, skateboards and push scooters. Some have a total ban on anything with wheels, others ban certain categories, others segregate the human-powered wheels from foot traffic, and others still have no rules at all. Many of the Middle Eastern examples have no wheeled traffic, but use donkeys for freight transport.

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