The 10 Best Cities For People Who Hate Traffic
Earlier this month, the government of Oslo, Norway, announced that it will completely ban automobiles from the city's center by 2019 — citing environmental and traffic concerns as motivation for the decision.
Though a car-less cityscape might sound like a bizarre concept, other urban centers around the world are also taking major strides to ditch cars. In the process, they're cutting down on smog and creating pedestrian-friendly areas accessible to biking enthusiasts and avid walkers alike.
Probably unsurprisingly, most of these progressive areas are in Europe, though the Americas house a few. Until the day that all cars are made more efficient (or Tesla totally takes over), we'll look over these idyllic streets in envy.
La Cumbrecita, Argentina
Visitors need to say goodbye to their cars at the entrance to this tiny pedestrian town in the Argentinian mountains.
Last year, the mayor of Brussels — a busy urban hub that's been referred to as a "sewer for cars" — announced a plan to completely ban driving in the city center.
Copenhagen is home to more than 200 miles of bike lanes, and its scenic Strøget strip is Europe's longest pedestrian-only street.
This summer, Dublin announced a plan to divert cars from parts of the city's center. They're aiming for 55 percent of pedestrians to use public transport, 15 percent to cycle, 10 percent to walk, and 20 percent to use private cars by 2017.
Visitors who don't live in Madrid are slapped with $115 fines if they're caught driving through certain central streets. The city has also implemented a bike share program for electric bicycles.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Cars have been banned from this 3-mile island in Michigan's upper peninsula since 1898, and all locals and visitors travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.
Though no timeline has been set for the project, Milan plans to revamp its streets to be completely pedestrian-friendly. The city currently bans cars whenever smog exceeds the city's pollution limits for longer than 12 days.
In a plan to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next 15 years, Oslo will ban cars from its city center by 2019. The city is investing in improvements to the existing public transportation system and miles of new bike lanes.
On September 27 of this year, Paris held its first carless day, and the event cut down on smog-producing chemicals by 40 percent. The city's mayor now wants to turn car-free Sundays into monthly affairs.
Venice's series of 177 canals and 400 bridges make it a boat lover's (or walkaholic's) dream.
Preview image credit: @urbanisma
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.