Europe fights the automobile | Arkansas Blog

Europe fights the automobile

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First things first. I know. It could never happen here.

In Arkansas — and most of the U.S. — we insist on a god-given right to live 50 miles from work and to drive an SUV on that commute daily, preferably to a job in downtown Little Rock with a free parking space in a deck connected to a state office building where the driver need not set foot on Little Rock soil in a week's work of commuting from Cabot/Sheridan/Bryant/so on. Every few years, taxpayers chip in jillions to make the commutes home easier with freeway widening projects.

Cast eyes upon a much different reality, in European cities. There, streets have been closed to vehicles. High-emission vehicles are discouraged. Parking is rare and expensive. Office and apartments are encouraged, without parking. Taxes on fuel make the cost higher. City planners are even making driving harder, such as with serial red lights. Result: Dense cities with lots of public transit and fewer cars.


“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”

Again. I know. It's still interesting.

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