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Carfree, low car - what's the difference?

Melia, Steve

Carfree, low car - what's the difference? Thumbnail


Steven Melia
Senior Lecturer in Transport Planning


This paper aims to propose a definition and typology of carfree development and to assess the benefits and problems associated with it. It aims to contrast these with the concept and practice of ‘low car’ development.
Through a review of the literature and study visits to European carfree areas, 3 types of carfree development were identified: the Vauban model, Limited Access model and pedestrianised city centres with substantial residential populations. Differences in the previous definitions of carfree development reflect two different aspects of the concept: exclusion of vehicles from the residential area, and places where people live without owning cars. The definition proposed here reflects both of these, although neither was absolutely implemented in the examples visited. Although intermediate cases are possible, in practice clear differences are apparent between the carfree and ‘low car’ developments reviewed in the literature and studied in one case, in the UK.

The study visits supported the claims in the literature that carfree developments help to reduce problems created by traffic in urban areas. They facilitate active travel and independent play amongst children. Their main problems relate to the management of parking and vehicular access. Low car developments by contrast can offer similar benefits to policymakers, but fewer benefits to residents.


Melia, S. (2010, October). Carfree, low car - what's the difference?. Paper presented at European Transport Conference, Glasgow, Scotland

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name European Transport Conference
Conference Location Glasgow, Scotland
Start Date Oct 11, 2010
End Date Oct 13, 2010
Publication Date Oct 1, 2010
Deposit Date Jan 26, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 10, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
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Publisher URL
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melia_Carfree_Low_Car_[ETC_Paper].docx (868 Kb)

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