As Cities Evolve, the Car is Giving Way to Bikes and Walking

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What can city planners expect during the next 50 years? Looking in the rear view mirror has never been the right choice, and that's never been more true than now. For the most part, cities have evolved during the past 50 years to accommodate the personal auto. As people increasingly migrate to cities (more than half the human population now lives in urban areas), this auto-centricity is giving way to a more people-centric approach. As more cities look to expand mass transit, introduce road diets, add bike lanes and examine the walkability of neighborhoods, there can be little doubt city planning will have to account for a suite of transportation options that aren't focused on four wheels.

In Europe many cities are banning cars altogether from certain neighborhoods. Adele Peters looks at how a growing number of car-free zones are working out in Madrid, Paris, Milan and other urban areas in this Fast Company article. Helsinki hopes to make cars unnecessary for its citizens within a decade.

Planning for areas that are friendly to people, rather than cars, is great for cities, for local merchants and for the people that live there.

With many U.S. communities having been built for cars from the outset, it may be easy to think that a transition like this would be a little more difficult to achieve. However, with new alternatives like bike sharing programs skyrocketing, we may see change faster than you'd think.

Today's new communities and developments are especially looking to incorporate bike-friendly infrastructure as a way to attract a new generation of professionals. For example, at Zagster we've helped more than a dozen large real estate companies offer bike sharing at more than 30 properties as a convenient service for tenants, who are increasingly looking to more healthy and sustainable modes of transport.

Our bet is that bike sharing, and other forms of on-demand mobility will be key to ensuring that when people do need to get somewhere, they've got a set of wheels to do it.

Photo credit: Flickr: Mispahn