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   The boom in car ownership has brought about a crisis in the  relationship
   between  cars and cities.  In European cities it is the car  which,  more
   than  any  other means of transport, consumes  an  increasingly  precious
   resource, namely space.  However, apart from being spatially inefficient,
   cars are also environmentally inefficient, as can be seen from the  noise
   pollution, air pollution and visual pollution they cause in urban areas.
   The  spread of the motor car is also responsible for urban  sprawl  which
   has   resulted  in  the  extension  of  residential  areas   into   areas
   increasingly  remote  from  the city centre,  producing  dormitory  towns
   devoid  of  urban  quality,  social  complexity  and  opportunities   for
   interpersonal relations.
   Based   on  these  observations,  Carlo RIPA  di  MEANA,   the   European
   Environment Commissioner, has had a study carried out on car-free  cities
   in  an  attempt  to find the answer to  the  following  question:  Is  it
   possible,  and  if so to what extent, to conceive of a  city  which  will
   operate  more  efficiently than the type of cities we  have  at  present,
   using alternative means of transport to the private car?
   The  answer provided by the study is positive, even in  purely  financial
   terms:  the  car-free  city costs between two and five  times  less  (the
   costs  varying  depending on the population density  of  the  city).  The
   transition from a city with cars to a city without cars will have to take
   place gradually, of course, with action being taken at two levels:
   - at the level of the city itself, to ensure a diversity of functions  so
     that  services  are available close to where people live,  thus  making
     mobility a choice and not a necessity;
   - at  the level of public transport, to make it more efficient  and  more
     competitive, including experiments with alternative means of  transport
     (moving pavements, escalators, etc.).
   The study highlights the need to start planning and experimenting on  the
   basis  of the new approach of devising a transport system adapted to  the
   city rather than the approach followed so far of adapting cities to cars.
   The  model  for the car-free city outlined in the study is a  city  where
   people walk short distances and use public transport (which will have  to
   be reorganized and improved) for longer distances.
   In order to bring about this change cities have to be rethought, but  not
   only  in terms of urban planning and transport organization.  It is  also
   necessary  to  make  a  special  effort  to  persuade  the  major   motor
   manufacturers  to  rethink  their long-term policy and  to  modify  their
   activities and their products accordingly.
   The heads of private firms will have to be involved in the management  of
   public transport services so that they will share responsibility for  the
   new  system and be encouraged to make public transport achieve  the  same
   standards of quality and efficiency as private transport.
   The Commission is attempting to promote this point of view on a practical
   level  in  the context of experiments.  Many cities have  put  themselves
   forward,  from Amsterdam to Aosta, from Bath to Naples.  The idea  is  to
   set  up  a  club of car-free cities in order to  pool  ideas,  proposals,
   research,  and  planning  approaches.  An  "index"  of  the  quality   of
   mobility,  or  rather the relationship between cities  and  mobility,  is
   being  worked  out, which can be calculated objectively so as  to  define
   criteria  for  admission to the club.  In addition,  the  possibility  is
   being  examined of using the LIFE fund, as soon as it is operational,  to
   finance  one or more pilot projects designed gradually to remove  private
   cars from city centres.
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