Our liveable and car-free cities

By Ludo Campbell-Reid1, Auckland- Pilar Conesa2, Boyd Cohen3 - Barcelona - Sunil Dubey4, Sydney -  Karuna Gopal5, Hyderabad GIUI6, Guangzhou, - Christer Larsson7, Malmö – Carlos Moreno8, Paris –Jorge Perez Jaramillo9, Medellin – Germanico Pinto10, Quito - Gaëtan Siew11 & Zaheer Allam12, Port Saint Louis – Brent Toderian13, Vancouver.


A major effort is necessary so that the entire urban ecosystem

takes part with creativity and involvement to the transformation of our

cities to make them more liveable and more lively



A new edition of «Paris with no cars» will be held next September, 25th.

A wide area of the town will be closed to the car traffic and the banks will thus be made available to the citizens.

We want to tackle with the issue of the city and the cars, in the light of our works as international experts that we are.

Present on the five continents, we are interested in understanding the dynamic which lies in the world urban development, the growth of cities, the paradigm shift, and how they face today the demands of the urban life, in particular in the field of mobility.

A flurry of reports has been mounting up over the last years on the urban health, and the link with the air pollution, and especially, fine particulates linked to the car traffic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created on a world basis, a databank on the atmospheric urban pollution.

The WHO has been able to compare the levels of the small particulates and the fine particulate matters (MP10 and MP2,5) in 795 cities among 67 countries on a five years period (2008-2013).

With its update in 2016, the WHO points out that the air pollution in the urban areas continues to make progress at an alarming pace, with devastating effects on the human health. More than 80% of the people living in the urban zones where the air pollution is watched, are exposed to levels of air quality which do not respect the limits set out.

As the world’s cities grow as an epicentre of human activity, it leads us to be confronted to an urban transformation where what is at stake is more than just a public health issue.

We are facing a crucial challenge of urban choices which is quite «embodied» and visible today.

Our action as experts is to help make our cities fight against air pollution in a systemic way, for the re appropriation of the town by the pedestrians, so that the water and the biodiversity should be put forward as sources and places of living, so that the citizen and social dynamic expresses itself in the public spaces, which will therefore be comforted and enlarged, saving space owing to the closing of the urban motorways and the pushing away of cars from our urban centers.

It is a question of being equal to the challenges of this century, in order to reinvent life in our cities, again find one’s specific identity, help make them more polycentric, breathable, liveable, fluid, and imagine other kinds of housing, working, moving and feeling the city.

Already today, the town where we walk, the city of the shared bikes and electric cars, or the aerial city with the cable metro, or with bus-boats are becoming familiar to us.

Other modes will come with the implementation of the buses on demand, and the new modes of transportation with the electrical urban shuttles, the cars without drivers, and other ways of moving using the advanced technologies in every field, such as the materials, energy, chemistry, the internet of things, the big data, etc…

On this century of the Cities, of the global cities, a major effort is necessary so that the entire urban ecosystem takes part with creativity and involvement to the transformation of our cities, to make them more liveable and more lively.

In each of our city, we can witness the efforts that are being undertaken in that sense. While sharing those examples throughout the world, we want to assert that this issue is a world issue, and that we can bring solutions to build an urban future, where the quality of life will be the focal point:                                                                                                                    



Auckland, City of Cars is undergoing an urban revolution. Its waterfront has been unlocked for people, total public transport patronage has increased 140% since 1994 (Rail up by 1,200%) and its car clogged streets are being transformed into a vibrant laneway circuit of shared spaces where businesses are flourishing with a 440% uplift in retail hospitality takings and the pedestrian is King!



Barcelona has stimulated historically the use of the public transport, which today is intensified by the orthogonal network of buses. Betting on the intensive use of the bicycle and the innovative project of the «superblocks», which minimizes the use of the car and promotes the citizen utilisation of the public space.



Megacity Guangzhou’s daily public transport ridership is one the highest in the world, almost carrying the entire population of Sweden on daily basis. 
It’s BRT and bike sharing programme is one the largest in the world, focusing on eliminating ‘car dependencies’ in one of the fastest growing cities of the world. 



To decongest the traffic, the State government has planned various projects to improve public transportation: Hyderabad Metro Rail and Hyderabad Bicycling Club. For last mile connectivity, Hyderabad Bicycling Club (HBC), Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) and UN Habitat entered into a tripartite MoU to provide first and last mile connectivity to Metro passengers: about 10,000 bicycles including e-bikes would be made available at 300 Bike Stations. 63 bike stations will be at Metro stations, while the rest will be the ‘feeder stations’ spread all over Hyderabad.



The City of Malmö’s Traffic and mobility plan describes how a holistic planning approach can achieve improved quality of life for more of Malmö´s residents, visitors and other stakeholders. The plan takes a grasp on planning and clarifies how the work should progress towards a more functionally mixed, dense, green and short distance city.



In Medellín, “the People’s way” and multimodal mobility are the priority today.

We have rediscovered the value of walking and living together.

Our cities won’t operate better, neither won’t be more functional, sustainable, equitable, competitive, healthy, nor happy, as long as there are cars.

“The People’s way” is crucial for public life.



Paris is developing an ambitious program in order to apply the agreements of the COP 21. The closing of the urban motorways on the banks of the Seine, the reclaiming of the city by the pedestrians, the redevelopment of the public squares and of the urban bathing water areas, the enhancement of nature and of biodiversity, the Champs-Elysées given back to pedestrians once a month, all of which are concrete examples of this commitment. Paris is a great world Capital, and a pioneer city in the intensive use of sharing bikes and electric cars.

Port Saint Louis


Mauritius, as an emerging African country. For millennia cities have been the driver for politics, and so is the case for Port Louis, which finds itself at a crossroad in history, between political and societal change. We witness a daily shift of hundreds of thousands of people and with over 100 yearly deaths linked to car accidents, solving the issue of cars will be primordial for a healthy Mauritius.



On the eve of the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, the issue of a city with no cars must be raised globally. In Quito, there has been for almost a decade an effort in diminishing the private car in the streets through several policies trending towards the strengthening of public transportation. Is it stunning that only 20% of the trips are made in private cars while the cars occupy more than 80% of the streets. There is a project to eliminate cars in the Historic Center of the town that should be implemented.



There’s new kind of ‘reclaim’ happening in Sydney, connecting urban experiences, city’s vast treasures of urban heritage and equitable increase in local economies. 
Sydney’s ‘Walking City’ phenomenon aspires to present reflections of ‘right to city’ and people focused economy, society and culture.



Like many leading cities around the world, Vancouver is re-prioritizing our streets and places for people rather than for cars. This isn’t a “war on the car,” it's a fight for a better city for ALL! When we make walking, biking and transit delightful, taking up less space and costing less public money to move more people, it works better for everyone, INCLUDING drivers!

Global Perspective


Technological determinists would have us believe that the future of transport in cities will be highly efficient and autonomous passenger vehicles shuttling citizens and visitors throughout the city with car-share models. In fact, this future is being tested by Uber in Pittsburgh in the US as we speak.  As you can see from the discussion of car free (or at least freer) cities above, our bet is that the future of mobility in cities is a focus on people, not technology, and that we actually must go “back to the future” when streets were treated as a commons prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists.   This transition will take bold leadership of city councils and a smart citizenry who must demand, and participate in a car-free future for our cities.


1City Design Champion Auckland, 2CEO Anteverti and Smarty City Expo World Congress curator, 3Professor of Entrepreneurship & Sustainabilty, EADA Business School, Barcelona, 4Senior Advisor Metropolis World Association, 5President of the Foundation for Futuristic Cities India6,Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation (GIUI), 7Director of City Planning Malö, 8Professor, Smart City expert and the Mayor of Paris’ Special Envoy for Smart Cities,  9Architect, former chief planner for Medellin, 10President Corporación Ciudad Smart Quito, former Minister of Ecuador, 11CEO Global Creative Leadership Initiative, former President of the International Union of Architects,  12Urbaniste Global Creative Leadership Initiative, 13Urbanist & City Planner,  former chief planner for Vancouver)