A UK study found that typical drivers spend 106 days of their lives looking for parking. Commuters relying on personal transit to get to the world's densest center cities probably spend even more time in search of spaces. This, among a slew of other reasons like pollution and quality of life, are why some cities are turning to street design that focuses on the pedestrian, not the driver.
Here are seven cities where urban planners are focusing on neighborhood design that won't accommodate the car.
Paris combated peak smog by temporarily banning cars and successfully lowered air pollution by nearly a third. This prompted new driving laws prohibiting driving in neighborhoods on weekends except by local residents. Paris plans to continue limiting driving and congestion, possibly extending the ban on driving in other residential neighborhoods through the week.
Twenty-four of Madrid's busiest streets are being redesigned for the walker. This starts with an area over one square mile that bans most traffic. Residents of certain neighborhoods are allowed to drive their own automobiles within boundaries, but those who drive from elsewhere will be fined about $100. This is similar to congestion pricing introduce in London in the last decade and was at one point considered for New York City in lieu of increased bridge tolls.
Chicago-based architects Gordon Gill and Adrian Smith have designed the modern city for China that will make it possible to walk to any major service in under 15 minutes, eliminating the need for commuting via car. While zoning issues might delay construction of the city beyond the initial plan for 2020, it's expected to one day house a population around 80,000 where all residents can easily walk to work.
Copenhagen, Denmark has nine times the number of cyclists than the most bike-friendly cities in the US. Once home to the typical traffic, Copenhagen has spent several decades eliminating car travel from neighborhoods and enhancing both walkability and bikability.
Hamburg, Germany has a slightly different plan for the pedestrian. The city plans to cover about 40% of unused space in parks, which will make it easier to walk or bike to work. The 47 Autobahn will also include crossings and neighborhood parkland. This will not only be more inviting to pedestrians, but benefit air quality along the congested road.
Milan tracks commuter cars and sends a voucher for free mass transit to commuters for every day they don't drive. This keeps cars and congestion out of the center city and puts more people on mass transit, maybe even a few who would never have used the system.
Within the next decade, the city of Helsinki hopes it will become completely unnecessary to own a car. The plan is to create dense, walkable neighborhoods as population grows and to introduce more ways to find mass transit or taxis easily through mobile apps similar to HopStop and Uber.
Read more about the cities slowly saying goodbye to cars from Fast Company.