Ban cars once weekly?

I just caught up with this week-old entry on the Capricious Commuter blog and the interesting questions it raises. The basic question posed by the writer is this: What if — as on a recently-broadcast television episode — the government made it illegal to drive cars one weekday a week? How would that affect the Bay Area?

I thought:

  • It’s not hard to agree with his contention that mass transit here could not handle the sudden extra load.
  • He doesn’t mention telecommuting, but that’s only for a segment of white-collar workers. If everyone telecommuted who could, it would probably take only ten or fifteen percent of the cars off the road.
  • Silicon Valley would certainly be less congested, dur to the higher percentage of its workers who could telecommute. But its suburban layout, and that of the suburbs, would mean many people would be effectively cut off in their subdivisions.
  • Of course, that’s something residents could plan for, just as people plan to get through store closures on Christmas day.
  • Though the idea of outlawing cars one day a week is a great jumping-off point, I like much more the idea of outlawing a percentage of cars — say, on Mondays you could outlaw cars whose license plates end in 0 or 1; on Tuesday 2 and 3; and so on. Fully-loaded carpools could be exempt.
  • Then there’s congestion pricing, as practiced in some European cities. Because of San Francisco’s small size and the ease with which access can be controlled from bridges and freeways, many have suggested it’s a natural. New York was looking at it too — but an article today suggests the idea is facing some tough questions.

And by the way, I’m one of those people who is lucky enough to be able to telecommute from time to time; I’m doing it right now.

Your thoughts?

4 Comments so far

  1. anna (unregistered) on November 19th, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    I was thinking the exact thing when I watched Mrs. Pritchard- on BBC last week- that SF should ban cars once a week. God, that would be so great. But then again, I have a flexible schedule and it wouldn’t be hard for me.


  2. bradley (unregistered) on November 19th, 2007 @ 7:01 pm

    there’s a hybrid of these ideas in action right now…not banning cars outright on any given day or by license number, etc…but banning car traffic in a specific area of the city.. the business center…say the Financial District. replace the roadways in the area outright with public spaces, bike paths, etc.


  3. TinMan (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    Easier for single people in dense metropolitan areas. Not so easy for families with young kids, especially those in the suburbs or rural areas. As a matter of fact, this idea sort of punishes anyone who lives or works in a rural area. Also, those who work swing or graveyard shifts would be hating it.


  4. Capricious Commuter (unregistered) on November 26th, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

    Tinman, you’re right about people working odd shifts, as I do, coming in at 10 and leaving at 7 or 8 p.m. The idea of even carpooling seems improbable, if not impossible. I think that if you’re going to start prohibiting cars on certain days or in certain percentages or however, it would be best to do it just in highly congested areas during peak hours.



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