Reflections on Why People Should Not Be Allowed to Drive Their Cars in the Downtown Area

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Private car ownership has grown rapidly during the last two decades. The number of motor vehicles in the world grew from around 75 million to 1 billion between 1950 and 2010, in which 80% of these vehicles are cars and motorcycles, which were primarily used for private transportation (Linda, 27). These increasingly high number of private cars required more parking spaces, produced more pollution, and caused more traffic accident in a crowded place such as downtown area as time went on. We can’t deny the fact that using private vehicles in the city is not only inefficient, dangerous, and lower air quality, but also required resources from the city in which they are struggling to support. Therefore, people should not be allowed to use private vehicles in the downtown area to help increase spaces for the city, reduce pollution, and lower road accident, and the use of private transportation should be replaced by other methods of transit.

First, parking spaces required a lot of large areas that would normally be used for other useful purposes. For example, Scharnhorst reported that there are more than 2.2 million parking spaces in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is almost equal to one-tenth of the city. This size of the area can easily be used to build parks, hospitals, schools, and even more city infrastructures. Looking at this number, it is obvious that many cities have overbuilt parking spaces. In fact, the law in the US requires all new developments to include specified amounts of added parking spaces. Many of these spaces exist due to city regulations, requiring developers to provide a certain amount of spaces for every residential and office building they build, on the presumption that residents must drive to get there. The idea of these regulations is to improve the quality of life and convenience for the city’s residents, especially in the US, where private cars are the major choice of transportation. The effect is usually the exact opposite, as parking spaces decrease the area where residents could walk, live, play, and do business. On the other hand, major European cities such as Hamburg and Zurich have been removing unnecessary parking to make wider and safer sidewalks, bike paths, and public benches, which make the city safer for pedestrian and cyclist and further promoting alternative ways to transit other than private cars. Fewer car in the downtown area would decrease the demand for parking spaces in total, creating more area for the city’s development.

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Another reason we should not allow cars in the downtown area is pollution, as emissions from private cars increase the amount of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A typical car engine is an internal combustion engine, operate at what is called air/fuel ratio when there is the correct quantity of air to allow complete combustion of the fuel with no excess oxygen. In reality, the combustion process is not perfect and car engines emit several types of pollutants (Ali and Abd-Rahman, 67). In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared automobiles as 'mobile sources' of pollution. Motor vehicles collectively cause 75% of carbon monoxide pollution and 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. While the U.S. has 30% of the world's automobiles, it contributes roughly half of the world's carbon emissions from motor vehicles. Private vehicles also create a major impact on air quality, especially during traffic jams and rush hours (Ali and Abd-Rahman, 83). Not only that they are the leading cause of air pollution in the city, but the health risks of air pollution are extremely serious. A study from Union of Concerned Scientists shows that poor air quality heightens respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, increase the risk of cancer, and reduce average life expectancy by 10 years (‘Vehicles, Air Pollution, and Human Health’). It is no doubt that reducing the number of cars allowed in the city would result in better health and reducing the risk of cancer for the residents.

Finally, private vehicles caused more accidents when compared to the other method of transit such as public transportation and taxi. Supporting the use of public transportation instead of private vehicles will undoubtingly reduce traffic accident in the city. In 2007, Israel introduced the Night Buses project, which is to operate public buses in nighttime and encouraging people to travel by buses instead of their private cars during the late-night hour. The results show a 37% reduction in accidents involving drivers during the night and a 24% reduction in injuries resulting from a late-night accident (Lichtman-Sadot, 30). The city of Hollywood in Florida also implemented similar mass transit project to reduce fatigued driving and providing an alternative to drunk driving, which resulted in fewer incidents of reckless driving overall (Flaxman Law Group). Taxis are also found to be much safer than driving private cars. According to the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation, the probability of a road accident per 1 km driven is almost 3 times lower for taxis when compared to people driving their private vehicles; furthermore, the number of lethal road accidents per km is roughly 5 times lower for taxis than for private vehicles (‘Taxis Found to Be Three Times Safer than Driving Your Own Car’). In comparison, public transportations are much safer than driving your own vehicle and should be encouraged to do so in a crowded area like downtown.

In conclusion, driving private cars in the downtown area required the city to support them with large and inefficient parking spaces, which otherwise could have been used for public infrastructures or safer pedestrian walks and bike paths. Furthermore, private vehicles also produced a large amount of carbon monoxide and greenhouse gasses, which increase global temperature, reduce air quality and impact respiratory for the city residents, even as far as increasing cancer risks. Finally, private cars caused more accidents than public transportation, and encouraging residents to use other methods of transit can help reduce accidents and reckless driving in the city. While the use of private vehicles is convenient for some people, they caused a lot more problems for the city and the residents, especially in a crowded place like the downtown area. Reducing the number of private vehicles allowed in the downtown area will not only help the residents there, but also help improve the city in general.

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Reflections on Why People Should Not Be Allowed to Drive Their Cars in the Downtown Area. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
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