How it Helps
By reducing total traffic levels and shifting travel to alternative modes, it can lead to increases in ridesharing activities, public transit use, and active modes such as biking and walking. Since vehicle restrictions will prohibit vehicles from entering certain streets, it will make pedestrians and other vulnerable road users feel safer on the roadways.
This transportation management strategy can be enforced by a permit system or number plate restriction system. 5 Further, it can operate during only certain time periods, such as nights or weekends, or impact only certain types of vehicles, such as heavy trucks. For example, private vehicles from outside the area and through traffic are often banned, while residents and service and commercial vehicles may receive permits. Number plate restrictions function by banning vehicles whose plates end in odd numbers on some days, and those ending in even numbers on the alternate days. These types of restrictions are most often used in city centers.
Restricting car traffic may inequitably effect people without other travel options.5 It could also cause traffic to divert to and impact adjacent areas. To avoid inequities, vehicle restrictions should include appropriate exemptions for certain road users such as older adults, individuals with disabilities, or other groups of people.1 These populations may be less able to utilize public transit or active transportation infrastructure and, therefore, rely on a private vehicle to get to their destinations.
Introducing vehicle restrictions will likely be met with some degree of public protest or political backlash, so there should be strategies in place to address this. For instance, education, incentives, and effective planning are all ways to minimize oppositions.
1) Truck Restricted Streets in Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts maintains a ‘Truck Restricted Streets List’ to reduce the adverse impacts of truck noise in the city. The city maintains a Truck Enforcement Unit, in addition to the Cambridge Police Department, to control and enforce truck routes.
2) Superblocks in Barcelona
The city of Barcelona developed a ‘Superblock’ urban design concept, and within each superblock contains green streets that are closed to most vehicular traffic. Therefore, walking and biking are the primary forms of transport, and the areas have experienced improved air quality, less noise pollution, and greater rates of physical activity. Although there was some pushback from the community over implementing these designs, the city council has focused on fostering equality, and the community has since welcomed the positive changes that superblocks have brought.