On the rise in American cities: the car-free zone
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers are king of the road – at least sometimes – as more US cities ban autos from parks or designated districts.
Beginning this month, El Paso will detour cars from seven roads every Sunday from 7 to 11 a.m. so that cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians can use them instead.
“City leaders were faced with a challenge: to get a poor city of overweight, sedentary people moving when there weren’t any parks or [bicycle] lanes,” says Robin Stallings of the Texas Bicycle Coalition. A national magazine declared the city one of the four fattest in the US, he says, “and that really got everyone’s attention.”
Two years of planning and $100,000 in donations made the program possible. El Paso is the first ciclovia city in Texas – and it needs it more than most, says Beto O’Rourke, the city councilman who championed the idea. It has just 25 percent of the park space of the average US city, a smaller tax base, and few spaces for pedestrians or bicyclists, he says. “This solves a lot of problems at once.”
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