Should we ban cars in cities: for the drivers

Hoping to tackle air pollution and reduce congestion, a Birmingham transport plan has been released which will ban private cars from driving through the city centre. The goal is for travel within the city to be public transport-oriented, not car-oriented

According to a resident of an adjacent village, the current public transport system is so unreliable that people choose to drive because they don’t trust local public transport. Banning cars with the hopes of increased use of public transport is therefore ridiculous, considering the current reluctance for many to use it. The idea behind the ban may be noble, but if it’s to be implemented, shouldn’t the system first be fixed so it can regain people’s trust? After all, they are the ones who will have to use and rely on it.

200,000 vehicles pass through the city every day, and reducing that number to 0 is simply unrealistic. Those who live inside the city, on one end of it, but work on the other must then endure longer commute hours. This is also unfair for out-of-city drivers who will need to drive around the city, adding even more hours to their daily commute.

It’s unreasonable to eliminate all traffic for privately-owned cars, but maybe they could try a timed limit and allow access to public roads only during certain hours. Or they could use the odd-even rule temporarily employed in Delhi and Jakarta, where only cars with odd-numbered plates can drive on odd dates and vice versa. This will reduce traffic and increase the use of public transport without completely taking away people’s freedom of driving.

A complete ban is also impractical when people need urgent hospital assistance. Yes, ambulances are cleared to use the road, but what about patients whose conditions aren’t threatening enough to receive immediate response, yet too unwell to navigate the busy public transport? Obviously, having to line up, get in and out of buses, walk between stations and endure the crowd won’t help them feel better. Nor will it help people who have to get to seriously ill loved ones at a moment’s notice. 

Unfortunately, this plan just seems incredibly short-sighted in the current situation.


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Erica Thajeb

February 2021
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