Staff Editorial: Oslo car ban admirable, yet impractical for U.S.

The city of Oslo, Norway plans to ban all personal cars and build 35 miles of new bike lanes in its city center within the next four years. Madrid has set up a similar plan to implement more eco-friendly habits in its metropolitan areas.

For people in large, congested cities in the United States like New York City, cars are not necessarily the preferred method of transportation. In several western cities like Berkeley, California and Portland, Oregon, for example, biking is common among commuters.

Although most major cities have mass public transportation systems or transportation alternatives, many people live in areas that necessitate commuting in cars. Though it is a great conservation effort that will most likely reduce pollution, Oslo’s no-car policy does not seem to be applicable to most areas in the U.S.

Geneseo is in farm country; without a car, students won’t make it very far past Main Street. It is difficult to imagine a situation on campus where everyone relies on the bus to get around—especially considering how unreliable those buses can be.

In other areas in New York such as Long Island, the only major alternative to driving a car is to take the train—yet, passengers usually have to take a car or taxi to their final destination from the train station.

Projecting this problem to the country at large, many U.S. cities were essentially built around the automobile. According to a 2008 study by Experian Automotive, the average American household includes 2.28 cars. Reducing the amount of cars in major U.S. cities may make a difference in those areas, but the massive dependence on cars in the rest of the country may outweigh these efforts.

Whether a shift to a low-car or carless model in the U.S. in coming decades will be a beneficial process is one question—and whether it will be possible is another. Our country’s lack of rural and suburban mass transit infrastructure and our dependence on cars may make the push for alternate fuel resources a more hopeful initiative than an outright car ban.