Following on from our post on Vauban in Germany, we wanted to look at another car free community, this time in Canada.
It is often easy to forget that the reason our cities have so many traffic controls and rules is because of the highly dangerous nature of the majority of vehicles on our road. This article on the Toronto islands points out that once these vehicles are removed, hundreds of cycles and pedestrians can safely interact with pretty much zero danger.
The Toronto islands boast North America’s largest car-free urban community. Bicycles, wheelchairs, and feet are virtually the only way of getting around, and only emergency and maintenance vehicles are allowed to drive on the islands…The islands are comprised of roads that resemble any other roads that you might see in the city, except there are three things missing: automobiles, traffic signals and traffic fatalities.
Of course cars are part of our urban life now and no-one would want to live in a city wholely without the benefits of motor vehicles – especially since horse and carts were causing a lot of health issues when cars rose to dominance. However, as with most things in life, too much of a good thing has its own downside. Loss of urban space, safety concerns and the frowing obesity epidemic (closely linked to a sedentary lifestyle) all indicate a car culture gone too far. Doctors used to talk about the downsides of motor vehicles as a health issue but that seems to have gone by the wayside (or the motorway).
It appears that the current debate in Auckland is ongoing in Toronto – home of the now infamous, crack smoking Rob Ford. This article on Tree Hugger repeats the point that stop signs and other traffic control devices were put in place (usually on roads that predated cars) to control cars – not active modes.