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11 Cities That Went for a Dramatic Change to Save the Planet

The faster the glaciers in Antarctica melt, the more people think about the environmental situation, air pollution, and the impending global warming. Scientists think that air quality kills more people than smoking. This is why city administrations are trying to change the way they work and teach their inhabitants to do the same.

We at Bright Side feel the need to inform you about the cities that are already going the right way with their environmental approach and who already have some results to show. But there are also other cities that have only just started to take their first steps toward breathing cleaner air.

1. In Oslo, parking spots for cars were transformed into bicycle lanes.

In downtown Oslo, the parking spots on the street were transformed into bicycle lanes, benches, and small parks. At the beginning of 2019, the city finished the process of removing 700 parking spots as a way to stimulate people to not drive downtown. But what the authorities did for car drivers was to add several charging stations for electric cars and more parking spots for disabled drivers.

2. The authorities in Buenos Aires are placing flowers on the roads for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

The center of a giant boulevard in Buenos Aires that used to have 20 lanes of traffic is now only occupied with buses. When these changes started to happen in the city, the time the inhabitants spent on the way to work decreased significantly.

Also, they managed to free about 100 blocks from cars and turn them into pedestrian zones.

Additionally, bright road markings are being put on the busiest pedestrian crossings in the city. Bicycle lanes are painted in bright colors (look at the photo above) to make them as safe as possible for cyclists and pedestrians. This way the authorities are utilizing a method called tactical urbanism, that’s supposed to be an inexpensive renovation in a population dense area that should improve the districts and places with a lot of people.

3. London is decreasing the roadways for pedestrians.

In 2003, the London government introduced a fee for entering the city center during rush hour. In 2010, they started opening the first bicycle highways on the busiest routes. And in 2019, the development of a new transportation strategy was finished. It is supposed to improve the quality of air and decrease the noise level by using cars with zero emissions.

And in order to battle the problem of air pollution, which is connected with the increase in population, the government has created a special plan. The point of the plan is that half of the streets will be free from cars and public transportation will travel no faster than 15 miles per hour. Also, they are going to build protected bicycle lanes on the main city streets.

4. Seoul is planning to completely get rid of “harmful” cars by the year 2020.

In 2017, Seoul finished the transformation of a car highway into a pedestrian area like the High Line in New York. Now, more than 10 million people have used this area. Thanks to this part, business is thriving: the overall sales in this area have increased by 42%.

By the year 2025, the city authorities are planning to use 3,000 electric buses and improve their routes in order to stimulate people to use public transportation over their own cars.

5. Madrid has made its central district transport-free.

If you don’t live in downtown Madrid, there is a huge chance that you won’t be able to enter this district in your own car. In November of 2018, the authorities started to limit driving downtown if you have a harmful vehicle. After the law was passed, the traffic dropped by 32% and it happened very fast.

The project with the so-called “area with a low level of emissions” was designed to make the air in the downtown of the capital cleaner. The Spanish government was so excited by the success of this project, that they are going to prohibit the driving of any cars that have emissions above zero (which are electric) in all other city centers across the entire country.

6. In Beijing, cars can only drive on special days of the week.

Even though the drivers in Beijing are allowed to drive their “harmful” cars, they are limited in time and with their license plate numbers. If it ends with a certain number, a person can only drive a car on a certain day of the week. The city administration has also suggested using a small financial stimulation program for people who prefer to not drive on the allotted day. And in the new districts, the government decided to prohibit all private cars, except for those that are electric.

7. In Paris, a busy highway was made into a pedestrian area.

In 2017, the highway next to the Seine was turned into a pedestrian road and a car-free park. This is one of the stages of the constant work being done by the city to decrease the level of pollution by decreasing car traffic. Also, there is a limit for old, harmful cars on work days. By the year 2024, the authorities are planning to have prohibited diesel cars and by the year 2030 — all gas cars.

8. India will have completely transitioned to electric cars by the year 2024.

Until recently, walking and shopping on a busy street in Chennai meant that you had to dodge numerous cars and rickshaws. But now, this district is turning into a pedestrian square. Its construction is supposed to be finished in 2019. Also, the Indian government said that by the year 2030, all cars have to be electric.

9. Copenhagen is creating a cycle superhighway.

Today, more than 50% of Copenhagen’s population ride their bicycles to work. The Danish program that’s concentrating on creating more pedestrian areas was started back in the 1960s, and today the capital of Denmark already has over 200 miles of bicycle lanes and one of lowest percentages of car owners in Europe. The last step of their project is to make a superhighway for bicycles. The first route of the 28 they planned was opened in 2014, and 11 more were finished in 2018. They are also planning to make the city carbon-neutral by the year 2025.

10. Berlin is building a bicycle highway that is not part of car roads.

In 2017, the Berlin Department of Environment, Transportation, and Climate Protection conducted a study which finally led to a complete reconstruction of 12 car highways into bicycle highways. This was one of the first attempts by the city to make traveling around the city as safe as possible. The main goal of the government is to increase the number of cyclists up to 2.4 million by the year 2025.

11. Georgia is completely giving up on producing and using plastic.

In April 2019, the Ministry of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture in the country of Georgia have prohibited the production, usage, and import of plastic bags. They suggest using biodegradable bags that degrade in a much shorter time and do way less harm. If somebody violates the law, law enforcement will give a warning at first. And if the manufacturers continue to do the same thing, they will have to pay the first fine of $185, and the next one will be $370.

And what are you doing in order to protect the environment?

Preview photo credit juanjom / Twitter
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