Should cars be banned from cities?

  • Brian Caulfield

    Brian Caulfield

    Professor in transportation and Head of Department at Trinity College Dublin, Expert to the National Transport Authorithy (Ireland)

20 February 2024

I believe that, in tomorrow’s world, cars will have retreated from our cities.

Concerned about air pollution and the rising costs of car ownership, the younger generation will catalyze this change.


To push cars out of cities, we will require more public transportation services. In places with advanced metro systems, there’s only so much tunneling you can do without addressing transportation needs above ground, such as buses or trams.


Private vehicles will certainly continue to pervade rural life; and that's where shared electric autonomous vehicles can play a role. Although driverless vehicles have become a hot topic, I believe that we should focus more on ride-sharing rather than autonomous technology.

The future of mobility doesn’t — and shouldn’t — depend on futuristic tech solutions such as flying cars. Although technology will play a part in changing the way we move in cities, it’s only part of the bigger picture. As we tend to emphasize and amplify the benefits of new car technologies, I believe that our main focus should be on improving our already-existing basic services. We must channel our energy into enhancing our public transit networks to make them safer and more reliable.


Considering the finite spaces in cities, coupled with the effects of climate change, we will need more urban areas that can cool people down. As our cities and populations continue to grow, space will become a premium. Our main challenge is not the lack of public transportation;, but rather the lack of space.


Once we phase out cars and optimize our transportation networks, we will be able to redesign our cities with cleaner, healthier air. Cities where our children and grandchildren will wonder why we ever drove polluting cars in the first place.