Singapore: No More Cars

No more room for cars.

That freeway serves a trivial share of Singapore’s travel demand.

I’ve written about the why cars are a bad fit for cities in the past.  While technologies such as automation and electrification may offer improvements in safety and environmental impact, the spatial requirements of automobiles will always be at odds with the spatial limitations of cities.

Cities in the United States have an estimated 8 parking spaces for every car.  Automobiles take up a lot of space just to store, and require even more space on streets to move and be useful.

As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Singapore has already devoted 12% of its land area to roads and there is no room to add more.  Their updated policy to cap the total number of privately owned automobiles, including those used for ride-hailing services such as Uber and and its Southeast Asian competitor Grab, isn’t what some commentators may decry as a “war on cars”.  It is an acknowledgement of the facts of geometry.

Cities, by definition, have relatively little space per person.  Cars take up a lot of space per person. For cities undergoing population and economic growth, the only long-term solution to this geometric problem is to enable people to get around using less space than cars require — through walking, cycling and mass transit.

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