Reducing Private Vehicle Use and Encouraging Sustainable Transportation
At the onset of the 21st century, Israel is completely dependent on private vehicles. This has a direct impact on urban planning and quality of life. Plans for new neighborhoods made in the past three decades relied heavily on private vehicles, and worse: they presume that each family needs two or three cars. Such basic assumptions come in strict opposition to the vision of urban development - they dictate the planning of commuter towns and suburbs. The older city centers we all know and cherish (such as those of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramat Gan), where one may take a pleasant stroll, could not be conceived in the planning reality of today.
Our addiction to private vehicles comes at the expense of urban, public areas. The sanctification of the private vehicle requires establishment of enormous infrastructures - roads, parking garages and parking spaces - all covering our cities with asphalt and drastically influencing other aspects of urban planning, such as housing, public spaces and more. This world view reproduces itself in urban planning that necessitates city residents to use private vehicles in order to commute within the cities. It also causes air pollution hazards in the city centers and reduces the urban quality of life. It is important to remember that investing in massive infrastructure that favors the private vehicle comes at the expense of infrastructure designed for public transport, bike paths, walking and more. Furthermore, favoring such infrastructure excludes residents from the urban street and harms the city’s economy.
The congested roads acutely harm the quality of life in public spaces. Reducing the use of private vehicles and advancing towards sustainable transportation reduces noise and air pollution, protects the public’s health and adds space to public areas. The secret to success lies in combining a number of diverse solutions that could make public transport accessible to residents, while reducing traffic and parking congestion. This could bring vitality back to the streets and squares and generate a live and buzzing community.