Imagining a car-free future: London takes the lead

Rishi Sunak has watered down the governments green agenda but Brits believe London will be the first car-free city in the world, according to a major new survey. Mayor Khan has expanded the capital’s ULEZ zone and has refused to budge on the issue despite residents’ anger.

In the recent study conducted on the heels of Mayor Khan’s ULEZ initiative, Brits were asked to speculate on which city in the world might become the first car-free zone, and the resounding answer was London.

Imagining a car-free future: London takes the lead

As a testament to this sentiment, an AI artist was commissioned to provide a glimpse into what London could look like in just over 25 years. The resulting images showcase not only London but also several other major cities around the world, offering a captivating vision of a future unburdened by cars.

Imagining a car-free future: London takes the lead

The survey, which garnered insights from 2,000 participants, unveiled a prevailing belief that the UK will lead the charge towards a car-free city, and this transformation could be realised as early as 2050. London emerged as the top contender, closely followed by Amsterdam, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Beijing.

When it comes to envisioning the replacement for conventional vehicles, more than half of respondents (55%) predicted a surge in bikes and e-bikes, while a quarter (23%) foresaw a rise in scooter usage. A notable 12% of respondents even envisioned segways becoming a commonplace mode of transportation, and an optimistic 10% speculated the introduction of travelators and hover boards to expedite pedestrian travel.

Imagining a car-free future: London takes the lead

This shift towards a car-free future holds immense promise for our environment, with a projected substantial reduction in CO2 emissions. For instance, if all 2.6 million registered cars in London were to be replaced with Swapfiets bikes, an astounding 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 could be averted annually. To put this into perspective, that’s equivalent to the emissions of 125,000 double-decker London buses, 110,000 Big Ben bells, over 700 London Eyes, and nearly 3.3 billion pints of beer.

Brits also anticipate that car-less cities will be more liveable, with fewer roads but more green spaces and trees (41%), expanded cycling and pedestrian zones (40%), and a proliferation of street dining options (24%). Furthermore, new landmarks, commemorative statues, and enhanced sporting facilities are also envisioned.

Futurist Dan Sodergren, in collaboration with AI artists, has visually depicted how some of Europe’s most iconic cities, including London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, and Berlin, might appear in a car-free future.

Dan Sodergren emphasised, “Like many, I dream of a future less dependent on automobiles. This societal shift promises not only to better our environment but also to redefine our urban spaces—think walkable pedestrian zones, extensive cycling paths, and an influx of green spaces to aid in the battle against climate change.”

He further urged, “While the road to this idyllic future might be challenging, the rewards promise to be bountiful. Armed with technology, we must resiliently undertake this transformative journey starting as soon as possible. We needn’t aim for a world entirely without cars, but one significantly leaner on them, and we owe it to the next generations to make this happen.”

In conclusion, the cities Brits believe will be at the forefront of the car-free movement are:

  1. London
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Tokyo
  4. Copenhagen
  5. Beijing

Moreover, the top five anticipated modes of transport in a car-less city are:

  1. Bikes/e-bikes (55%)
  2. Trams (46%)
  3. Scooters (23%)
  4. Segways (12%)
  5. Travelators (10%)

Finally, respondents identified the following as the most likely uses for the reclaimed road space:

  1. Green spaces, trees, and parks (41%)
  2. Cycling lanes and pedestrianised zones (40%)
  3. Tram lines (32%)
  4. Street dining venues (24%)
  5. Sports facilities (12%)

The future of our cities is on the cusp of a transformative evolution, one that promises not only cleaner air but also more vibrant, accessible, and eco-friendly urban spaces for generations to come.

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