Hooniverse Asks: What if Your City or Country Abolished Gas-Powered Automobiles?

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They say, when cars are outlawed, only outlaws will have cars. We haven’t gotten there quite yet but some cities are banning cars from their urban centers and some countries, like Norway, are talking about eliminating the sale of gas-powered cars entirely. You Norwegians still have until 2025 before that’s expected to take place so don’t panic.
People have been on this planet for thousands of years and being the social animals we are, we tend to like to live together in clumps. That means cities and a number of the world’s major meeting points are in fact centuries old. As populations have grown the ability of the oldest of cities, places like London, Rome, and Paris have come under intense pressure to support peoples’ need to get around. Some have started along the path to clearing their urban centers of cars, initiating congestion taxes and outright bans. Other issues linked to autos are resource usage and pollution, two major factors that are leading countries like Norway to banish the internal combustion engine outright.
Now, I’m not saying that the hippie tree-huggers are going to be banging on your garage door with their hand-hewn pitchforks and hemp sandals demanding you give up your Miata for a bus pass, but it’s pretty evident that around the globe municipalities and nations are giving the gas-engined automobile the stink eye. What would you do if where you lived got rid of the traditional gas-engined car?
Image: bicycledutch

0 Comments

  1. First they came for the coal power, and I did not speak out—
    Because I did not own a power plant.
    Then they came for the incandescent light bulbs, and I did not speak out—
    Because I bought CFLs.
    Then they came for the refrigerants, and I did not speak out—
    Because I did not have an industrial refrigeration system.
    Then they came for my automobile—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  2. Cities? If there’s decent ways of mass transportation I’m ok with it. One of the things I enjoy most about visiting big cities is to be able to fly in and not have to worry about parking/vandalism/bumps/dents/scratches/etc. Hop on a train at the airport and be in the city center in a matter of minutes. And if I were ever to live in a big city, I think I’d be ok with it. But you can bet that walking distance from a train stop on the outskirts of town I’d have a car in storage and ready to go.
    In the meantime though, I like our little place out in the country.

    1. I was curious if I could commute via the KC Metro transit system. According to the transit authority’s online route calculator, in order to be on time for work every morning, I would have to leave home the day before…a half-hour before I get off work.

      1. Ok… a city set up with a good transportation infrastructure. New York, Chicago, DC, etc. Large sections of western Europe, for that matter. But yeah, do that in a metro area that doesn’t make it easy, you’re screwed. Bring/rent a car or perish.

  3. Run for whichever office I would need to hold to veto such legislation. I could solicit campaign contributions from vehicle manufacturers, oil companies, and automotive enthusiasts.

  4. As it is, I average about 400km a week, which is right about Tesla range. On a rare occasion, I might drive more than 300km in a day, and even then, it’s probably something day trip where I’m stopping somewhere for lunch anyhow. Electric cars are already pretty close to suiting my needs 100% of the time.
    Then again, my commute to work takes 20 minutes by car and 30 minutes by bike (and I’m currently the Before picture in weight loss ads), and I live somewhere with decent public transit, so if it weren’t for my family and in-laws (and also occasionally heading down to Niagara-on-the-Lake and such), I could very nearly ditch a car altogether.

  5. I would love an electric daily driver, but only the top model Teslas (which I can’t even dream of affording) have enough range for me, and even those don’t have any charging stations where I need them. Central Canada, things are *very* far apart.
    So because even a politician can understand that, it won’t happen here until BEVs are truly ready to take over. At which time I’d be perfectly okay with it. Although I’d much prefer bigger pollution problems to be dealt with first, like ocean freighters which are kind of horrifying polluters and could easily be vastly improved.

    1. “Although I’d much prefer bigger pollution problems to be dealt with
      first, like ocean freighters which are kind of horrifying polluters and
      could easily be vastly improved.

      Which is already happening now. First “normal” Heavy Fuel Oil was replaced by Low Sulfur Heavy Fuel Oil, then the new regulations (generic IMO standards, but even more so local Environmental Control areas https://www.dieselnet.com/standards/inter/imo.php ) went into effect. This has made heavy fuel oil a no-no in many areas, and ship owners have started jumping past diesel (which would require selective catalytic reduction (yes, ships with honking big catalytic converters) or exhaust gas recirculation) into LNG powered engines http://www.lngworldnews.com/norway-worlds-first-lng-powered-cargo-ship-launched/

  6. I literally wouldn’t be able to get anywhere. I can barely afford my crappy Swedish cars; I’m not gonna afford a new electric car. There’s no public transport outside of two bus lines in town, which is a ten minute drive away. I mean, I could ride my bike, but there’s a 600ft increase in elevation between town and my house; I’d die on the way back up.

  7. I would ask if this hypothetical included track-only race cars, but who has an electric tow rig?

    1. I’m heavily considering going hybrid for my next tow vehicle. Granted, it’d be replacing a clapped out HHR that tows a lightweight trailer and a Ducati, so towing ‘capacity’ isn’t really an issue, but I’m hoping a Volt is up for the duty. Between the ability to drop the seats with the hatchback and being able to top off the battery for free at work as a commuter and winter commuter car, it’s tempting.
      A friend of mine is doing pre-work for me with a used high mile Volt. I’m watching his battery life with great interest.

  8. Norway has been really good at making cars their enemies. Toll roads into cities are about to be adjusted to demand 27+$ per entry during rush hour. The toll ring in Bergen has been raised to 5.50$ per entry at peak times, which has reduced traffic considerably. In cities, that all might make sense. When I still lived there, I was biking 100-200km a week on average, depending on the season, and I’d occasionally take a damp and disgusting bus, too.
    But…it doesn’t make much sense to me outside of cities. Yada yada, electric car ranges will improve and personal freedom will descend from heaven in the form of golden unicorns. Yet the energy density of batteries vs gasoline is still ridiculously different. All the cars on the road right now should be allowed to be used up without too punitive taxes. And what about really old cars and industrial heritage? Tracks only? There is too much unsure about this idea. We certainly don’t want to move out of our tiny paradise.
    Another issue here is that Norwegian politicians are very attention craving and, occasionally, narrow minded. Big announcements and decisions are very popular. Next year, the country is supposed to switch from FM radio to DAB/DAB+, with the former being turned off. The problem is that DAB is already outdated. Why not rather install wifi along all roads? Or create radios that work on cell phone coverage – which is mandated to cover 95% or so of all households and thus a bit patchy on roads, but still much better than DAB coverage? Bleh.

    1. Very true, but looking at that picture, I am not too sure exactly what you’re over prepared for….

  9. The DFW DART has been in service 20 years now… and in those 20 years I have never ridden DART.
    So what was the question?

  10. I was recently looking to buy a place to retire and one option I was considering is to move close to town that I could walk to stores and cafes. Having less auto traffic would make it easier to walk and especially bicycle around. In that case I wouldn’t mind it. Of course I still want to be able to leave town and have the ability to have larger items delivered to my house. As long as that could be dealt with I wouldn’t really have a problem.

  11. Since, generally, the cities that enact rules like this have fantastic infrastructure for alternative transportation methods, I suppose I’d bike more or take the train.

  12. I’d be just fine. I live downtown and rarely need my car – though when I do need a car it’s pretty essential. But for ninety percent of my needs I can walk, take transit, ride a bike, hail a cab, etc. Owning a car in a city is mainly an expensive hassle. AAA estimates the average cost of car ownership in the US at nearly ten grand a year – with all expenses and depreciation figured in. That could by a lot of transit passes or cab rides.
    But, there are a number of issues sort of being jammed together here. A lot of the car bans are due to poor air quality (public health) and wanting to reduce carbon dioxide production (mitigate global warming).
    Car free zones and entry restrictions tend to be more about managing congestion. That means that the area is generally dense and thriving. Limiting car access allows more people to move more rapidly on foot, bike and transit, than could if there were more single occupancy vehicles. And there are other quality of life aspects to not being immersed in gridlock all day long, including fewer accidents and injuries.

  13. Well since this happens in very large cities with excellent public transport and poor air quality, and any city currently without excellent public transport certainly won’t get it within 30 years (bureaucracy!), I’m not worrying.

  14. This wouldn’t work in Denver unless electric cars become much more affordable, or public transit becomes much more widespread. There’s just too much urban sprawl.

  15. This would be impractical and politically untenable here. I’d be worked up enough to phone / write letters to my congress critters. I’ve voted against people for lesser slights (e.g. my congressman is unlikely to get my vote this year, simply due to who he endorsed for president.)

  16. There’s always the East Oakland strategy: ride ATVs and unregistered dirt bikes on public roads anyway. There are a few folks that do this and can be regularly found out past Fruitvale on International Blvd.
    Ok, in reality, I’m for congestion bans on cars in city centers with good transit infrastructure. I’d rather take a train into town and not deal with dense traffic and parking. Right now, I BART to work on days where I go into the office.
    I am going to be annoyed if I’m ever required to give up riding and driving liquid fueled, internal combustion engine powered vehicles.

  17. I could see electric vehicles by 2025 being capable for most people, most of the time. But what about the rest of the time, and the rest of the people?

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