Walkable City is a window to a future city where the pedestrian, the cyclist and accessibility rule, not cars. It is part of Future Window Sthlm — an audiovisual experience that shows how life in a better Stockholm could be, sound and feel.
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Today, cars rule in almost all cities around the world. It has been that way for so long that most of us no longer reflect on the dominance of cars. But the price we pay for individuals´ right to drive around the city is high. More square meters are dedicated to roads and parking than housing and green spaces. Globally, urban traffic causes around two million cases of childhood asthma each year, and in the EU, congestion costs up to two percent of GDP annually (approximately 450 billion euros). By 2035, half the world´s population will likely suffer from obesity. Not that it is solely due to cars, but car-centred urban landscapes don´t help.
It´s as if we can´t imagine a city without cars, which became evident when we worked on this window into the future. We sketched how future streets could look by asking an AI tool to generate images of a car-free street environment. But regardless of the instructions we gave, the AI consistently placed at least a couple of cars somewhere in the street environment. And if the AI, trained on millions of data points, can´t imagine a city environment without cars, then the car is king.
Removing or significantly limiting car traffic in the city opens up a multitude of possibilities for better utilization of the environment. What would you like to see? More parks and gardens? More social spaces? Or perhaps more places for culture and art?
Of course, the walkable city will require intelligent solutions. From new distribution systems to new ways of getting around the city. A significant shift is also to focus on having everything people need in their daily lives nearby so that they don´t have to travel. In the city of the future, people should travel because they want to, not because they have to.
Removing cars requires courage, but in cities around the world where it has been done, they have found that people have become happier. There is usually loud opposition at first, but few want to turn back the clock once the pedestrian, bicycle, public transportation, and accessibility-focused city are in place.