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Car free cities: Pathways to healthy urban living?

April 6, 2016 14.00-17.00 Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB)


 Background: Many cities across the world are seeking to shift their transportation focus away from private cars and towards greener, citizen-focused and more active mobility means. Hamburg, Oslo, Helsinki, and Madrid have recently announced their plans to become (partly) private car free cities. Other cities like Paris, Milan, Chengdu, Masdar, Bogota, and Hyderabad have measures that aim at reducing traffic including implementing car free days, investing in cycling infrastructure and pedestrianization, restricting parking spaces and considerable increases in public transport provision. Such plans and measures are particularly implemented with the declared aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also the high air pollution levels, which many city centers are currently experiencing. These reductions are also likely to benefit public health.

Some of the likely effects of car free policies are e.g. reductions in traffic-related air pollution, noise, and temperature in city centers, and therefore a reduction in associated mortality and morbidity. Furthermore, the reduction in the number of cars and therefore a reduction in the need for parking places and road space may provide opportunities to increase green space in cities, which in turn can lead to many beneficial health effects. All these measures are likely to lead to 1) higher levels of physical activity through active mobility (i.e. walking and cycling for transport in combination with public transport) and therefore improved public health and 2) more opportunities for people to interact with each other in public space.

See attached programme.