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PHOTO CAPTION: Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is car-free

Are 'Carless' Cities the Wave of the Future?

Detroit Bureau's Paul Eisenstein investigates the phenomenon of more cities exploring the feasibility of going car-free, from Santa Monica to Hamburg, Germany.

Published: 28-Jan-2014

Few countries have had as intense a love affair with the automobile as the U.S. — except perhaps for Germany, home of the high-speed Autobahn. Yet, the country’s second largest city is studying ways to go carless.

The northern German city of Hamburg has laid out an initial concept, dubbed the Green Network plan, that would expand public transport and add more routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. But the most controversial aspect calls for a steady phase-out of automobiles in the city center over the next two decades.

The idea of banning, or at least reducing, the use of automobiles in the center city has become an increasingly hot topic among urban planners, especially in Europe and some other industrialized countries trying to deal with issues as diverse as congestion and smog. And with a number of different approaches under study, the auto industry is struggling to find ways to appease the call for cleaner, quieter, less crowded urban environments.

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