Car-free neighborhood: the bitter panacea

@Lebunetel architects

The car may no longer be popular, but it is never far away. Why do you want a car-free city? Since the city is a social construct, will it be able to develop and improve in carbon-free urban areas (without cars, but also without scooters, even electric ones, without bicycles and battery-powered scooters)?

The car is no longer popular, as can be seen from the editorial published in the newsletter #308 of Chroniques d’architecture. For Vulcan ex-Jupiter, rather than the Amish, it is time to be medieval and observe the bucolicism of children playing with marbles in neighborhoods with no more cars, but with thermal and electric engines carefully relegated to a maximum of 150 m from the dwelling. The car may no longer be popular, but it is never far away.

This is a prerequisite in the city planners’ specifications, control of cars in new districts. The parking spaces thus give way to alleys or narrow streets that are sold as such ultimate of ecology. Nine times out of ten surrounded by concrete. The cars are referred to the election outside the district, if not in parking lots renamed mobility centers. Newspeak when you hold us!

Removing the car from the cities would certainly reduce ALL forms of consumption, it’s not just the bad diesel on one side versus the nice electric battery on ” rare earth exploited by the underdeveloped populations of Asia, South America or Africa and mined by children in slippers. Removing the car from our dailies would help to reduce nuisances of all kinds, to restore some purchasing power to households. For urban planners, imagining a car-free city also means planning the city differently.

To imagine a car-free city, you first need a strong political will, well in advance of any future urban thinking. Today, low-carbon neighborhoods are growing in numerous cities without urban policies having been foreseen in the very long term. Ten years, on the scale of urban production, is a short time.

To live well, the city must meet the needs of its inhabitants. Humans would not have been grouped into communities since the dawn of time, except to facilitate the pooling of means of subsistence and the organization of the group’s weapons.

From now on, it is no longer a question of hunting for sustenance, but of a merchant, of ” small producer even in the center of a globalized megalopolis or hypermarket. Similarly, there is usually no need to go to the river to draw water or give a bit of body washing. No one keeps an eye on the fire anymore, as the household of energy sources brings light, cooking and heat (even coolness) to homes. We no longer vote with bones, but our society is still governed by ” chiefs which organize each other’s rights and duties in the city. The strongest always symbolically help the weakest, especially through taxation and redistribution of wealth. Communication channels have never been so efficient and numerous.

In our modernized territories, the city is a spatial, social organization and a technical organization.

Hide ” technical of the city for the benefit of large brands at the foot of buildings does not change anything, the city remains a common organization of means that allows the inhabitants to drink and eat, sort their waste, have light, hot water, move around and normally not to be cold in winter or hot in summer.

However, urban policies have lost this planning vision by liberalizing especially the most basic public services. Hospitals, transport, schools and by ensuring household self-sufficiency in food by creating hypermarket brands until anarchy.

From now on, in certain undercrowded regions of France, it is necessary to drive several hours to give birth at the body of the public hospital. On the other hand, in the same territories surrounded by fields and agricultural production, supermarkets are legion to sell tomatoes grown for kilometers a meter above the ground. How do you promote the car-free model in Landes, Corrèze or Nièvre when all public policy has been abandoned in favor of a few large cities?

Living in the city and the density thus promises the possibility of preferential access to all kinds of public services in exchange for the city dweller taking on the choice of a more expensive life than elsewhere. Among these services, which are less and less public, is public transport, which is taking over from cars.

In addition, the density favors businesses in the city centers.

Under these conditions, creating a car-free neighborhood seems like a complete solution. Especially since city dwellers, to whom it has been harped for years, that ” the car is bad have increasingly become aware, at least in the heart of metropolitan areas, that the car is less and less practical.

In Paris, neighborhoods without cars, or nearly so, have already sprung up from the ground or are under construction. Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (14th arrondissement) continues the Grands Voisins’ bohoized crusade by eliminating cars. A stone’s throw from Denfert-Rochereau, in the smart districts, transport and safety for goods and people are guaranteed. Schools and public facilities are not far away. Then it is possible to live without a car, at least on a daily basis.

Further on, the rehabilitation of the Caserne de Reuilly (12th century) had been an example. In a district that is always well visited, it is regrettable to see this district, without cars, closed by gates. The tenants of Paris Habitat, the landlord, would be so privileged that they have to cut themselves off from public space?

In Paris, it is tangible to imagine everyday life without a car, because there is a dense and obvious network of public transport, both on the surface and below the surface. For agoraphobes, it’s easy to rent a bike and walk. Paris is a city of walkers. We can see the sky and the end of the street. In addition, there are plenty of local shops, individual or city signs, there are schools almost every 500 meters. The line is harsh, but the idea is there.

On the other hand, past the outskirts of the ring road or ring roads in large cities, metros and buses are less present, as are local shops. Commuting journeys are more time-consuming. Social inequalities are growing, even within the cities.

However, transport, markets and other public services remain available. In Gennevilliers, Roubaix or Villeurbanne, it starts to become more difficult to do without an engine. This completely limits the farm as cities move away from urban centers.

When the inhabitants of Clichy-sous-Bois spend half an hour getting to the nearest RER station because the town is landlocked, a car-free policy would once again mean the ghettoization of already neglected populations. The same applies to the inhabitants of the villages, for whom the car is the necessary counterpart of life, any exit from the green political class aimed at making drivers feel guilty will not change anything if actions are not taken to provide all option to do without four wheels.

In political discourse, eliminating the individual car would help combat EGS and the effects of global warming. Can removing residents’ vehicles from a neighborhood have an impact? Because it is really not because the citizen does not use a car, scooter or electric bicycle that he decarbonises his life. The emergence of ” dark blinds and their swarms of delivery people on scooters are evidence of this. It would be a sensational game that some municipalities might not even be ashamed of.

For a haven of peace to exist, the desire to manage public policies must be long-term to envision the re-autonomization of neighborhoods by ensuring freedom of food, energy and access to all quality public services. By 2022, the traditional city is no longer able to promise a stable response to all these needs. Paris would hardly have three days of food autonomy, the medical deserts are constantly growing, the city centers are getting dirtier and dirtier. At this time, the city councilor is pushing for the purchase of electric cars, in times of energy crisis.

Under these conditions, is an urban model conceivable on the still smoking ruins of modern cities designed in the 20th century and already obsolete on the social, societal, hygienic and day-to-day logistical levels? What is the interest on a large scale in designing fake car-free neighborhoods, with accessible relay parking spaces, if not for the good conscience of the residents, who will not fail to go on vacation 500 miles away on August 1st in their shiny cars? passed on to karcher by the washing station that she will not suffer under the restrictions of the heat wave plan?

What is the point of pursuing a car-free policy while privatizing the giants of public transport and subjecting them to a logic of profitability with no more obligation than maintenance? In other words, how can car-free neighborhoods gain their raison d’être without a reliable and economical alternative to commuting or vacation travel?

Leah Muller

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