For many people, particularly in the United States, owning a car is considered to be an important status symbol or rite of passage. However, in many countries across the world, cities are choosing to go car-free as a way to reduce air pollution and make their streets safer. For example, Amsterdam and Oslo have removed parking spaces to make way for bike lanes, Paris shuts down its roads to traffic on the first Sunday of every month, and New York City has banned cars from Central Park.
At first glance the idea of living without a car might seem impractical, and depending on your lifestyle and the place you live, this might be true. However, there are also many potential benefits to be gained from ditching your vehicle. Here are some of the advantages of going car-free.
It can save you money
There’s no denying it—owning a car is expensive. Paying for gas, tax, insurance, maintenance, tolls, and parking all adds up to a high annual cost. In fact, according to AAA the average yearly cost of owning a car in the United States is over $9,000. Walking, cycling, or using car-sharing services or public transport instead can result in savings, which you can then spend on other items of fun activities. Plus, if you decide to sell Mercedes Benz or whatever type of car you currently own, you can actually make some money, too.
It can be more convenient
This one definitely depends on where you live, but in many urban areas it is actually more convenient to walk, cycle, or take public transportation than drive. This is only becoming more true as an increasing number of cities look to move towards becoming car-free. Traffic congestion is hugely inconvenient and time-consuming, and sometimes walking or hopping on the subway is actually the quicker option.
It’s good for the environment
We all know that transportation makes a huge contribution towards air pollution, harming both the environment and our health. By reducing the number of cars on the road we can improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, as well as the amount of toxic chemicals in the air. Not only does this help to reduce the effects of climate change, but it can also improve public health by reducing the prevalence of respiratory conditions such as asthma—all of which can help to make your neighborhood a far more pleasant place to live.
It can be less stressful and good for your health
Anyone who has ever sat in a traffic jam or spent hours hunting for a parking spot knows how stressful driving can be. Studies have shown that driving is the most stressful way to commute, so switching to walking, cycling, or public transportation could even help you relax; plus, it’s a great way to fit more exercise into your day. This can do wonders for your physical health—helping you to lose weight, improve your fitness, and reduce your risk of certain diseases. Fewer cars on the roads can also make our streets safer by reducing the number of traffic accidents.