Implementing Car-Free Cities: Rationale, Requirements, Barriers and Facilitators

  • Mark NieuwenhuijsenEmail author
  • Jeroen Bastiaanssen
  • Stephanie Sersli
  • E. Owen D. Waygood
  • Haneen Khreis


Cities across the world are beginning to shift away from private cars and towards more sustainable, healthy, just and inclusive mobilities. Hamburg, Oslo and Madrid have recently announced their plans to become (partly) car free. Despite the accepted importance of moving towards such transport systems, many cities struggle with the transition towards becoming car free. We describe the rationale, prerequisites, barriers, facilitators and strategies for car free cities. We describe 9 prerequisites to facilitate the transition towards becoming car free. Compact cities may be easier to refit to car free cities than sprawled cities. The main challenges will be how to change existing infrastructure that was mainly designed for cars to infrastructure for active and public transport, and how to change people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviors. Retail interest and the car industry may be some of the biggest barriers. More research on cities in the vanguard of becoming car free is needed to urge this transition. Some cities have initiated strategies to create car free spaces. There is a need for creating good and feasible strategies and scenarios, and research evidence which can facilitate the move towards healthier cities.



The review was conducted without any specific funding source. We thank James Woodcock for some helpful comments and input into the paper.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Nieuwenhuijsen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jeroen Bastiaanssen
    • 4
  • Stephanie Sersli
    • 5
  • E. Owen D. Waygood
    • 6
  • Haneen Khreis
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.ISGlobal, Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.CIBER Epidemiologia y Salud Publica (CIBERESP)MadridSpain
  4. 4.Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)University of LeedsLeedsUK
  5. 5.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  6. 6.Université LavalQuebec CityCanada

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