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7 cities that don't have any cars

Business Insider 12/10/2015 Maddy Simpson, Modern Notion

Participants of the Five Lakes Skating Tour skate on one of the lakes near Giethoorn, northern Netherlands, Jan. 24, 2013. © PETER DEJONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS Participants of the Five Lakes Skating Tour skate on one of the lakes near Giethoorn, northern Netherlands, Jan. 24, 2013. On September 27, 2015, Paris enforced its first ever car-free day.

In attempt to give Parisians a chance to experience a Paris sans the pollution and dangers of cars, vehicles were banned from certain parts of the city, including major destinations like around the Eiffel Tower, Champs Élysées, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Left Bank.

According to The Guardian, the chemical responsible for smog, nitrogen dioxide, dropped by 40 percent in parts of the city during the car-free ban.

The experiment definitely made us think about what it would be like to live in cities without any cars at all.

What would a city look like without the green, yellow and red hues that tint street corners at night? Without white and yellow stripes on the cement, and with the only lanes as bike lanes?

Well, actually, you don’t have to think too hard because cities that don’t allow cars actually exist. We take a look at seven of those awesome cities below:

1. Giethoorn, Netherlands

In the Nordic town of Giethoorn, instead of roads, they have canals. Known as the Venice of the North, Giethoorn has become a huge attraction for tourists who want to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life, and who want to enjoy a destination with no cars.

The town was founded by a group of fugitives in 1230. When they stumbled across the land, they immediately noticed a pile of goat horns, presumably left from an area flood. So they named the area Giethoorn, “meaning goat horn.”

The remarkable feature of this town is the system of canals that the locals use for daily transportation. Colonists formed the canals when they discovered the abundance of peat in the area. Needing a way to access the peat, they carved out narrow waterways in which they could row their boats, and these waterways became the canals that make the town famous.

Today, boats with small electric motors float serenely through canals, providing daily transportation for the locals and tours for the visitors. In the winter, the canals freeze over and thousands of tourists flock to the area for excellent ice skating.

2. Mackinac Island, Michigan

The island outlawed motorized vehicles in 1898. © Provided by Business Insider The island outlawed motorized vehicles in 1898. Five hundred people live on Lake Huron’s Mackinac island permanently, but that number rises over the summer as tourists flood the northern Michigan resort town’s cottages and hotels. But, a reminder to all the visitors: no cars allowed.

The island outlawed motorized vehicles in 1898, so if you want to get anywhere now, you have to walk, ride a bike or hop in a horse-drawn buggy.

Before the ban, tourists brought cars to island, and it spooked the horses and ruined the sense of quiet that the residents of the peaceful island love. So, the townspeople banded together and banned cars. Now, the only cars that are on the island are solely there for emergency circumstances.

3. Hydra, Greece

Tourists enjoy a donkey ride as they pass an Alpha Bank AE bank branch while visiting the island of Hydra, Greece, May 11, 2015. © Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg Tourists enjoy a donkey ride as they pass an Alpha Bank AE bank branch while visiting the island of Hydra, Greece, May 11, 2015. In the Aegean Sea, between the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs, sits an island called Hydra. The main city, Hydra port, as it’s simply called, is the classic Greek town: white houses covering the hills of the area and a pure, clear ocean nearby.

What’s kept the island so pristine is its preservation law which doesn’t allow the installation of new buildings that would take away from the appearance of the town. On top of that, there are no cars in the town because the roads are too narrow and steep to drive on. So, Hydra is in much the same state as it was 50 years ago.

4. Fire Island, NY

The sun sets behind the Fire Island Inlet Bridge, July 21, 2014, in Babylon, N.Y. © Kathy Kmonicek/AP Photo The sun sets behind the Fire Island Inlet Bridge, July 21, 2014, in Babylon, N.Y. No one is quite sure where Fire Island got its name. Some say it was due to a misspelling on a deed, others insist that the name originates from an instance when pirates set fire to loot on the island’s shores. But the island off the coast of Long Island isn’t known for its name; it’s known for its size. Although it’s 31 miles long, it spans only a quarter mile wide at its widest spot.

The island is simply not wide enough for cars. The people of the island forgo cars for bikes. The lack of cars also means that people lug everything everywhere. A weeklong vacation equals a week of clothes, but without car trunks, residents and visitors uselarge wagons to carry their things. Instead of parking spots for cars, Fire Island haswagon parking lots.

5. Paqueta, Brazil

Bride Vanessa and her groom Ricardo kiss during their vintage-style wedding party on Paqueta island in Rio de Janeiro, Sept 14, 2013. © Pilar Olivares/REUTERS Bride Vanessa and her groom Ricardo kiss during their vintage-style wedding party on Paqueta island in Rio de Janeiro, Sept 14, 2013. This island off the coast of Brazil was originally home to the Tamoio Indian tribe. The Tamoio were a primarily hunting tribe, sustaining themselves by living off the land. When the French invaded their land, the Tamoio joined with the Portuguese and defeated their rivals, but this all but wiped out the Tamoio. This conflict marked the turn of the island from the hunting and gathering island that the Tamoio knew to an island that farmed to produce fruit, vegetables and timber.

Today, with its cobblestone streets and absence of vehicles, Paqueta maintains its old time charm. 

6. Venice, Italy

Gondolas are seen on Venice's Grand Canal in this Sept 15, 2014 photo. © Manuel Silvestri/Files/REUTERS Gondolas are seen on Venice's Grand Canal in this Sept 15, 2014 photo. Probably the most famous of all the car-less cities is the empire that is Venice. Venice is known for its wide canals and luxurious architecture. But how did Venice even become a city?

In the 5th century A.D., the Roman civilization had fallen, and barbarians were taking advantage of the chaos by raiding Rome’s former territories. The Romans decided to flee their homes and establish temporary settlements on the marshes of Torcello, Iesolo and Malamocco, the area that came to be known as Venice.

These temporary settlements eventually became permanent, and refugees from other parts of the fallen empire came and set up camp in the marshes. Today, Venice is actually 118 separate islands connected by canals and bridges, each originally formed by a specific group of refugees. 

7. Vauban, Germany

The town was purposefully planned in a way that was environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. © APN Photo/Winfried Rothermel The town was purposefully planned in a way that was environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. This small progressive town in Germany was created to be a sustainable place for people to live. The town was purposefully planned in a way that was environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

When designing the town, the city council had a number of goals in mind. Their primary goal was to design the city in such a way where the city center was completely free of cars. Other goals included creating businesses, public parks, schools and homes in a way that created a convenient way of life for those who chose to live in Vauban.

Though the city center doesn’t allow cars, those who choose to have cars are required to park them in a lot on the periphery of the residential area, thus creating a ‘parking-free’ area where the citizens live. The 40 percent of citizens who choose to forgo cars altogether are given a monetary reward or free use of the tram.

Today, Vauban has 5,000 inhabitants and 600 local jobs.

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