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Let's give cars more competition!

What competition do cars have in your city? I don't mean competition between Toyota, Ford or Hyundai. I don't even mean competition between cars and public transport for this morning's work trips.

I am talking about competition between a car-owning lifestyle and a set of alternatives that add up to a whole lifestyle, creating a complete 'mobility package' attractive enough to make car ownership feel optional.

In places like Manhattan or Hong Kong or the inner cities of Zurich, Paris, Tokyo or London a lifestyle without your own car is already an attractive option even for wealthy people.  But could we extend the range of places where not having a car is an excellent lifestyle choice? Can we make car use more provisional and less locked-in to our liefstyles and our urban systems? How?

Here is a presentation I gave last year which tackles some of these issues in a non-technical way.


In the presentation above I claim that the following issues in urban transport are under-appreciated and neglected.
  • Public transport integration and comprehensiveness; 
  • Short trips between 1 and 4 km; 
  • Taxis and car-sharing; 
  • Car ownership cost structures; 
  • Parking policy. 
They have in common that they seem much more important when we focus our minds on competing with the car-owning lifestyle and not just to get people out of their cars for specific trips.

My central messages were:
  • Urban transport policy for liveable cities can and should dare to compete successfully with car ownership.
  • Seeing the car-owning lifestyle as our primary competition expands and enriches our policy horizons.
  • Imagining excellent mobility without owning a car prompts a more critical look at car ownership arrangements.



I think this line of thinking offers hope for gradually offering a real alternative to the car-owning lifestyle. It brings together themes I have written about before, here, here and here. People who have been thinking along similar lines include Robin Chase, Chris Bradshaw, Eric Britton, the late Bill Mitchell, and Susan Zielinski.

For more detail on this approach to competing with cars see my working paper on the issue.

Comments

  1. I like the idea of less cars, a friend of mine from Germany told me they are planning to change the concept of urban transport by introducing a card that guarantees you door to door transport, part of it with cars, part of it with public transportation and the philosophy behind it is that instead of a single payer paying a lot, a lot of people pay relatively little. What is your take on it? Do you think it's doable?

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