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Former New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan ‘Car Free City’ Planning

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Former New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan advocated on behalf of what she called “car-free cities” to fight climate change, while appearing on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday.

The former Bloomberg advisor was part of a segment that suggested cities could work to distance themselves from cars and other vehicles in the wake of climate problems. Host Fareed Zakaria introduced the topic, noting that several European cities have already started considering a car ban.

“Many cities in Europe are flirting with banning private cars from the road, and many more have at least partial bans. There is an obvious reason to fight climate change, but car-free cities also lead to a better quality of life. Without cars, there is less smell, less noise, more space to walk, dine outside, play,” said Zakaria.

Sadik-Khan went on to suggest that the movement has accelerated after the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s so interesting because people are talking about the future of transportation, driverless cars or drones or flying taxis, and the most inspiring trends that we’ve seen both before and during and after the pandemic is the emergence of something that will make the car-free city which is actually a misnomer, as these aren’t exactly car-free cities, but what we’re seeing here are people-centric neighborhoods in cities, so there’s still streets and sidewalks, police cars and fire trucks and buses and vans and driving people. But what has changed is the design of our streets. They can be used as more than moving things from point a to point b as quickly as possible,” said Sadik-Khan.

Former transport commissioner Sadik-Khan stopped promoting the sale of cars.
Corbis via Getty Images

Her description of “car-free cities” comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in his state. The California regulators’ plan would theoretically cut car emissions in the state by half by 2040, although older models would still be allowed in the state.

Sadik-Khan stopped promoting sales bans, but welcomed actions by city, state and country leaders to promote other “options” besides driving.

“I think we need to become more like neighbors. We must live together. It’s not anti-car. It’s really pro choice and options. We have to create spaces where people want to be and not just drive through. So the strategies that cities and mayors around the world are embracing are ways of making it possible for people to get around more easily by bike, on foot and by bus and to create spaces where people want to be,” said Sadik. -Khan.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Getty Images for The LEGO Group

She added: “So they understand that this is the future of sustainable mobility, and you’re not going to improve the city by building more and more car lanes and providing roads with more and more cars. That’s like, you know, trying to fix obesity by loosening your belt. It just doesn’t work.”

Virginia should amend the California car ban due to a 2021 law signed by former Governor Ralph Northam, but Republican administration Glenn Youngkin is looking for ways to get around it. The ban is also likely to affect Massachusetts and Washington, as they also adhere to California’s emissions regulations.

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