Car-Free Pedestrian-Friendly Cities Improve Well-Being

car free cities

Today, we glorify cars as a method of transportation that has made our modern civilization possible. They allow us to travel farther and bring the world closer. However, it is interesting to note that some of the happiest places on Earth are those without cars, such as car-free streets, cities, or islands.

A few places like this come to mind, such as Koh Phi Phi Island in Thailand, Ginza in Tokyo, Japan (which is free from traffic on certain days of the week), and Mackinac, Michigan, USA. In all of these places, I felt a certain level of relief that I haven’t felt in any other places where cars are present.

I mean, sure, we need cars to go to work, shopping, or for a weekend getaway. However, whenever we are stationary, it somehow becomes better if there are no cars or other vehicles around (such as scooters, buses, trains, etc.). This is probably because we no longer have to look over our shoulder when crossing a road and can be closer to other relaxed people. Walking in places like this tends to have more commerce, recreational activities, less pollution, and allows children to run around unsupervised.

To this extent, the rule seems to be “the fewer cars, the better,” as a busy highway is more stressful for pedestrians than a popular street for cars in the inner city. Even less stressful is a dead-end street hosting a car entrance for only a few houses. In each case, there are fewer cars, and metaphorically speaking, it is easier to breathe.

Furthermore, roads, cars, and other car infrastructure require space, which creates even more distance between streets, people, and businesses. Just consider how much space car parking takes up, which could instead be used for people. In addition, pedestrians now have to wait for the green light to cross the road instead of being able to walk unimpeded. This means that sidewalks become crowded, and pedestrians have to be mindful of whether drivers will actually stop for them, even when they have the right of way.

This separation becomes more evident when considering how cars and roads disrupt and divide nature and natural habitats for animals, birds, and insects. These innocent creatures now have to navigate a dangerous obstacle that previously did not exist. As a result, this adds to the ongoing environmental crisis and the alarming rate of wildlife extinction.

City planners have long ago realized that removing cars from pedestrian areas will make everyone happier. They have started to limit traffic during certain times and in certain areas. Some countries and cities have even pledged to decrease the level of traffic significantly, sometimes permanently closing certain central streets to traffic and only allowing public transportation to facilitate movement in and around these locations.

The result, as expected, is an increase in the well-being of pedestrians, local businesses, and even nature and wildlife. Sure, car drivers may have to endure some inconvenience, but if they exit their vehicles, they too may enjoy these car-free areas.

And while the car-free revolution is happening in many cities around the world, it isn’t happening fast enough. The powerful automobile industry is pushing against such initiatives, and many drivers themselves are resisting the car-free revolution. They continue to glorify the benefits of cars without fully realizing what they are sacrificing by maintaining this system in place.

Overall, I am not suggesting that we completely remove cars from our lives, as they serve an important purpose. However, we should definitely limit their access to certain locations, such as streets in city centers where pedestrians like to visit and hang out. This will undoubtedly increase people’s well-being.

Roman Russo: Author of Optimal Happiness

Roman Russo: Author of Optimal Happiness

Roman Russo wasn't always happy and struggled with his own negative emotions, anxieties, and depression, until one day he pledged to resolve this part of life, whatever it took. The journey took 6 years, but it was worth it. Today, Roman considers himself to be one of the happiest people alive, part of the 1% of the happiest elite, and he now teaches others a working and universal happiness formula to reach a similar goal. He offers his best advice on Optimal Happiness social media, newsletter, blog, and books, and teaches a complete and unconditional happiness formula in his online courses.

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“The problem is that of optimization,” states Roman Russo, author of Optimal Happiness: The Fastest & Surest Way To Reach Your Happiest Potential. There is plenty of advice on how to be happier or less sad, but no one is speaking about how to become the happiest we can be. And this is the difference that makes all the difference. By not looking at our maximum potential for happiness, we fall short of achieving it. After all, we all have hundreds of ideas on how to be happier or less sad, but most people still feel like they are not living their best lives. As such, Optimal Happiness explores the question of how to be the happiest we can be, regardless of who we are, where we are from, and what our life circumstances are. It proposes a complete and unconditional formula for happiness and explains how you too can become happy today and forever, inviting you to join the 1% happiness elite and become one of the happiest people alive.

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