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CityLab
Perspective

Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm

In cities like New York, Paris, Rotterdam, and soon San Francisco, car-free streets are emerging amid a growing movement.
A man runs as his daughters bicycle on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées during a day without cars in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.
A man runs as his daughters bicycle on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées during a day without cars in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.Thibault Camus/AP

When asked what they like most about a city they have visited, almost no one answers: “The cars whizzing by on the streets.” Cultural attractions, the people we meet, walking through the city and gazing at plazas, buildings, and places—these are the things that make a city unique.

What if there was a way to get more of what we all like and less of the noise and congestion we don’t? Many cities are working towards that goal, by closing major streets to traffic and opening them up to people.