Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

As a German who never owned a car (have driver license 30+ years) and never will, hurray!

Next: Petrol cars please.

Costs for cities would decrease a lot [1], room for bicycles would increase, noise would drop to a level which can't believed, ambulances would be adjusted to walking persons instead of loud cars with their stereos on and air would be wonderful.

[1] https://www.amazon.de/High-Cost-Free-Parking/dp/193236496X




And the German economy would crash, but never mind that. Before you ban all petrol cars you will first need something that can replace them because not everybody is in a position to use public transport both due to capacity, speed and door-to-door elements.


As far as I know, no German city has ban any cars yet at a larger scale. Some have done so for their inner city.

This court ruling just allows German cities to ban diesel cars, so whatever a city decides to do, is possible as long as it isn't challenged by the public or there is a new law.

I go by bike to work every single day. It's 8.5 km one way, today morning was -9C outside and while my beard was full of ice, I biked my way to work. On the way to work, there was a sign: "Achtung, erhöhte Feinstaubbelastung!" - "Attention, high fine dust pollution!"

I don't understand why my health should be at risk for something I don't produce.

Regarding a ban of certain cars: I think German cities can still make it work. There is public transportation in most cities. It's also reasonable to allow trucks at least at certain times. It's also reasonable to allow diesel cars with 2 or more people inside or allow diesel cars at certain times.

This is a time to have a conversation about how we want to live in the future and every mayor has to think hard about what (s)he want for the citizen of her/his city.


Sorry to see you downvoted.

I'm totally sympathetic to the end goal, I would just like to see a realistic approach and the GGP's call for an outright ban on vehicles in the present is not supportable.

The biggest problem I have with various 'green' parties is that for the most part their solutions are bordering on the militant and do not take in to account the various complications that will need to be dealt with in order to implement the final vision.

I cycle a lot, wear out a couple of bike tires in a year. I also drive a lot, live in a small town outside of Amsterdam. So I think I see the world from both sides and a life-long interest in green technology (windmills, solar) as well as electric vehicles has given me a pretty good ground level of knowledge about all this stuff.

There is one part of me that would very much like to see this car-free city of the future come to pass in my lifetime, I'd probably move there in a heartbeat if it were done properly. But if it were done improperly I highly doubt it would fly and it would likely end up being undone and that would cause a setback we can not afford.

So better to think really hard about how to make this work, prepare plans that are properly wrought through in such a way that they work for everybody and in ways that do not accidentally kill the thing they are aiming for.

Keep in mind that cars were not thrown into cities without reason, and that at the time they were invented the bicycles were already there as well. The car mostly displaced the horse because it was cleaner.

The time when things went wrong is roughly the 1960's (for Europe at least) when suddenly a car was within reach of everybody that wanted one and the cities were ill prepared to deal with that. By the 1970's the disaster was already complete and traffic became a mess. It's been downhill from there so we definitely will need to make changes.

In my experience to date it takes roughly as long to get out of a problematic situation as it takes to get into it. Any major changes on time-scales of less than a few years will lead to trouble, a realistic transition plan would probably run for a decade or more.


> ...and the cities were ill prepared to deal with that.

For all the faults around Europe with traffic, I think they did far better adapting to cars than the UK. Mainly by preserving some of the alternatives better.

The Netherlands has infinitely more sensibly integrated public transport, and provision for cycles than we will probably ever have. At least that's my perspective as an occasional visitor.

Postwar rebuilding here gave us internal combustion as the answer to all, leading to much, now regretted, removal of rail lines and trams. Not forgetting the many people-hostile choices like cutting communities in two (e.g. Mancunian Way) and giving residents a motorway right above the house (Birmingham, M6). Trying to undo those choices always comes with a bill in the £bns for the shortest length or rail or tram.


> provision for cycles than we will probably ever have.

I'd recommend a brief history of cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands. It was actually quite poor here, too. i.e., it wasn't culture naturally shaping a cyclist-first traffic regime throughout Dutch history, it were conscious policy decisions to uproot a car-friendly traffic regime and make a decades-long effort for change. The Dutch system sucked in the 50s and 60s and it changed its policies in the 70s, which took off only in the 80s.

https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/case-study/focusing-bi...


I understand you and I have to say that there are more than only a few things politicians like to say that are absolutely not possible if you can calculate and know how to look up things in Google. The whole German "Energiewende" and electrical car thing is impossible to do. It's just a wishful dream.

What is absolutely possible is to ban cars from certain areas for certain times. And the thing is, VW and the other car manufacturers are the guys at fault. I'm pretty sure they will have to pay a big price for their downplay of the scandal.


VW just closed one of their highest quarters ever, the Diesel scandal seems to have not affected the brand much. This is not what I expected but consumers apparently care less than what you might think.

Politicians will say whatever they want to get people to vote for them regardless of whether or not their plans are actually realistic.

The electrical car is doable as a complete replacement, but not overnight. It will need a lot of work and time before this can be a reality, but step-by-step we might get there.


Yes, this is how I try to argue with my dad. And then I pick one little example, calculate what is needed and figure - no, it's just impossible.

If you know German, there is a video on what it costs to use wind and solar energy in Germany's energy network: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV_0uHP3BDY

This isn't news for the Germany's big four power grid operators: https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Stromnetz-unter-Druc...

What would happen when there are lots of e-cars in one street: https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Elektroautos-koennte...

How many Tesla PowerWalls would you need to have Munich's power covered for one week? I'm really to lazy to translate it, so I just paste it from my email:

Laut Google hat ein 4 Personen Haushalt im Jahr einen Stromverbrauch von 4.000 kWh.

Ich rechne einfach mal mit 50 Wochen im Jahr, an denen so ein Tesla-Speicher verwendet wird. Dann benoetigt die Familie im Mittel 80 kWh pro Woche (Winter ist dabei schon nicht dabei). Bei 13.5 kWh, die so eine Tesla PowerWall speichern kann, braucht diese Familie also 6 Stück davon, um eine Woche von jeder Energiezufuhr abgeschnitten sein zu können.

Jetzt hat Muenchen aktuell ca 1 430 000 Einwohner. Man braucht als ca 2145000 von diesen Tesla Walls und dann ist vermutlich der Erdvorrat an Metallen, die man darin verwenden kann, aufgebraucht. ;-)


What do you think we should do to replace fossil fuels?


I wish we could replace them. I don't see it yet. I doubt it will be possible in the next 20 years.

The diesel scandal is the following: people like to drive big cars like SUVs. A car in the 90s weighed maybe 500kg. Now a new SUV weighs 3t. To drive this, you have to have a diesel engine. A diesel engine can be relatively environmental friendly if you add enough AdBlue. But AdBlue isn't cheap and the AdBlue tank takes up space in the car. So VW, Bosch, and the other German car manufacturers switched of the AdBlue as soon as the car detects it's not in a testing setup.

We were more environmental friendly in the 90s only because our cars didn't weigh as much.

So, can we replace fossil fuels in energy generators?

A lot of countries like Brazil build new nuclear reactors to generate energy. The problem is, the waste is going no where. Maybe it's possible to send the waste to the backside of the moon, but the risk of an exploding rocket seems too high for me.

Solar energy does generate only energy when the sun is shining. That's maybe 12h a day and it depends a lot on the location on earth surface. The problem of storage and transportation of energy isn't solved yet.

Wind energy is massively changing. It can generate a lot of energy in a short time period and the next week there isn't even a breeze. It's hard to switch power plants on and off as fast as the wind is changing.

I was thinking, there should be Tesla Power Walls or similar technology next to decentralized wind and solar energy generators. But I really doubt it is possible to switch of all fossil energy.


It's not optional to switch, and soon. The next 20 years will be too long. (Some niche cases can take longer to switch, of course, and that's fine.) If it's not possible we have the options of either using less or suffering massive problems in the medium-term future, which will cost a lot more.

I'm not sure what to do about this. Lobbying and investing in renewable research might not be enough.. but is there anything else really?


Would you really need a car if you lived in Amsterdam though ?


That depends strongly on your family situation and your job. For a single individual working in the city or a family with all their extended family nearby you could easily get away without a car.

But not everybody is that lucky and plenty of professions will require you to be in places where public transportation is not an option. An interesting reversal of intentions is happening between the cities of Almere and Amsterdam. Almere and Amsterdam are connected very well through public transport and many people will take the train into Amsterdam each day from Almere. The Amsterdam public transport system is reasonably good and services most of the areas with corporate activity. The fact that Almere has a large and skilled professional population caused some clever business people to move their operation to Almere. Initially those companies were staffed with people living almost exclusively in Almere itself. But now people from Amsterdam have started to commute to Almere in the morning causing a substantial amount of traffic the other way because the Almere industrial areas are not as well serviced with public transport as they probably should have been.

The best combination for such transportation that I've found is to take a small folding bike along on the train, this gets you within a few km of where you need to go and then it is an easy bike ride. But this option is not open to everybody, and it almost closed for me too due to a self inflicted bike accident.

Amsterdam is just about ideal for cycling, Copenhagen is the other EU city that really gets this right and Helsinki gets a lot of credit from me for being almost there. But the majority of EU cities have a very long way to go to make the bicycle the best form of transportation and even in Amsterdam bicycling is anything but safe (mostly due to scooters and taxis).

Amsterdam could probably get away now with closing off the center for traffic completely, say from Munt to central station and east to the Cruqius mill and west to Haarlemmer poort. They would have to build some more underground parking though because that would lose the main new parking garage at Oosterdok.

Maybe in a couple of years, time will tell.


It's an interesting read but really does not answer at all. Don't see how having all extended family nearby is a factor. Rentals? Getting picked up by the family too remote from a public transport hub? You don't need a car as much as you think you do.


>I don't understand why my health should be at risk for something I don't produce.

A modern society requires some amount of pollution to function. This has been reduced, and we should work to continue to reduce it, but generating/storing/transporting energy (as well as many other activities) generate some pollution. Some of it we directly benefit from (powering our homes, getting food on our tables), but others are indirect (pollution to produce/transport medical equipment when we aren't the ones using it). Given this, one can think of it as a tax on your health for the benefit of society.

Of course there are issues with ensuring people pay their fair share, that people aren't over burdened with the taxation, and that the revenue is being efficiently utilized.


There needs to be a discussion. Public transport is horrendously expensive in some German cities. For example, it costs me 8.90 euros to take the U-Bahn into Munich and back. It's far cheaper to drive, particularly if you have a passenger.


How is it cheaper if you have a passenger? Are you charging your passenger half your car trip?


Except that cities and towns which have ban vehicles for general use can deal with exceptions, and have dealt with this problem.

Some highly economically productive cities in Europe have similar bans on private vehicles in the centre, and function perfectly well.


Typically these bans are limited to the inner city or the historic center, there is - outside of some small towns in Switzerland - no major European city that I am aware of that has banned vehicles outright.

The towns that have banned vehicles completely that I am aware of are all small and have simply set up a major parking lot right next to the access road into town. For the ones that I am aware of this was a practical thing to do because the streets in winter were already more or less useless due to the snow and the inclined roads so it was a relatively minor step.

A nice example of such a town:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saas-Fee

Pop. < 2000, car free since the 1950's.


Also, the greek island of Spetses https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spetses


Spetses is not car-free per se. You can't bring your car on the island as a visitor - but people who live there can have a car (+ taxis & buses)


Of course, but cars are not allowed in the town of Spetses where almost all of the population of the island resides. I've been there before some years and it was great!

Taxis buses and other cars are used for transportation to remote areas of the island.


Islands are pretty good candidates to start this. We have a couple here in NL but the majority have vehicle access through ferries.


> And the German economy would crash That will also happen if you remove any major industry. And that's why you plan that in the long term. You start banning some use cases, and you keep increasing it. That's what is being done with tobacco, for example. But it is not a reason to not do it.

So I think that you both are right, and it is just a misunderstanding on the time-frame that this changes will happen.


You claim things without being knowledgeable of the matter. For certain businesses that require door to door contact there are exceptions. You don't know the plans with regarding alternative means of transportation.


> You claim things without being knowledgeable of the matter.

Oh, sorry about that, forgive me for speaking my mind in a public forum, and out of turn at that. Would you like a position paper with references?

I claim things because I've been interested in transportation for a very long time and have read up on the subject from countless sources. There are a whole pile of reasons why you can't just overnight remove all traffic from cities. For one you're still going to have to supply the cities which means you will need to keep all road and other infrastructure in one piece but with a far smaller tax base available to pay for them, you will have numerous exceptions to your rule (due to for instance people with handicaps, emergency vehicles and so on), there is the small detail of a lack of public transport capability, the fact that public transport is not usually practically usable when you need to transport more than a small bag of stuff and so on. Another issue is that if the larger part of the alternative transportation methods will use electricity that we will need more grid infrastructure, charging points and generating capacity, all of which will not spring into being overnight.

Simplistic solutions such as 'ban all cars' from one day to the next will have serious side effects and you're not going to win this battle by making such idiotic suggestions. Society is like a super tanker, the minimum turning radius is large and if you try to exceed that limit something will break.

'Plans with regarding alternative means of transportation' require time to be implemented and require actual alternatives.

Amsterdam has been slowly but surely pushing vehicles out of the cities inner center with a combination of tax pressure, changes to infrastructure, improved public transport and so on, it's been going on for decades and the effect is very clear. If they had done this any faster there would have been too little time to adapt for all the individuals and businesses depending on mobility.

It's akin to how you change a large technological system: the agile method applied to society. Large uncontrolled swings in direction will not be manageable and will result in only one of two things: some kind of disaster or a reversal. If you don't want either of those you are going to have to be a bit more patient for a proper solution.


I'll just ignore the passive aggressiveness that gushes out between your lines, because it only makes exchanging information about the matter at hand harder.

Let me start by summarizing the facts to get this straight. Germany does not generally ban diesel cars from cities. Some cities plan to ban diesel cars in limited areas and under certain conditions. These conditions are non-exclusively such that if door to door businesses is necessary you are still free to go with your diesel car.

You claimed that "the German economy would crash" as a response to a comment that asked for "Next: Petrol cars please.", which in turn was a comment to the article with headline "Diesel cars can be banned from German cities, court rules".

Germanies economy wouldn't just crash when german cities were able to ban petrol cars. What happens depends on when what bans are imposed and with what accompanying measures.

You don't name a single accompanying measure the cities that are planing. You don't name what exactly is banned. In the absence of knowing these facts, no conclusion can be drawn.

Also, neither I, nor the comment you responded to beforehand, nor the article of the thread mention banning all cars. Where did you get that from? Did you just made that up?

The metaphorical analogies don't convince me, because they seem to be based on intution and not on science.

I don't disagree with the other very interesting points you bring up. Surely, they need to be considered. I'm quite sure any city that plans a ban has thought about them and then some more, and has come up with solutions.

Cheers from a random person on the internet!


Economy will crash in the next 5 years either way with mass replacement of people by AI (call centers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, ...).

Edit: Plus German car industry will crash either way because most people work not in building cars, but motors, electronics, transmission etc. which are mostly redundant with electric cars.


This isn't sound logic. "The economy is going to crash because of reason X, so it's fine to make it crash worse because of reason Y".


No the argument is:

A. No cars, clean air!

B. Don't do this, economy will crash

A. Doesn't scare me, economy will crash either way, keeping cars will not prevent a crash.


I'll take either bet. €1000 says the German economy will not crash in the next 5 years due to the mass replacement of people by AI. Another €1000 says that the transition to electric vehicles will not crash the German vehicle industry. (I've changed your wording from cars to vehicles because I do not see the point of the needless restriction.) Let's say as well if the same person wins both bets they get a bonus €1000.

Sound reasonable and good to you? I mean you do believe in what you're saying, yes?

What's your email address so that I can mail you the contract?


[flagged]


I never gamble. Effectively what I'm saying is: polite way–"I'm so confident you're spouting rubbish that I'm will to risk €3000 of my money to prove you wrong even though I never gamble." less polite way–"Put up or shut up."

Also I'm from a neighbouring (check out how I spell neighbour for a clue!) EU country so a link to a US gambling site is no use to me. ;-)


I never gamble. I know next time is black.


In that case no sweat, take that bet, it is money in your pocket.


AI is far from solving these problems to the extent of being deployed world wide.


No it's five years. As the internet changed everything in 10 years, mobile internet changed everything in 5 years. Change will come rapidly not slow.

Also if you're a lawyer

"An AI just beat top lawyers at their own game" https://mashable.com/2018/02/26/ai-beats-humans-at-contracts...


That lawyer thing is like saying "a calculator just beat top mathematicians at their own arithmetic" and expecting it to generate replace maths professors within 5 years.

AI is great but it's hilarious to think much will have changed in 5 years. Have a look at the results from the Stanford Question Answering Database if you want to see how far there is still to go.


90% of lawyers do are not top notch defence lawyers. Most of lawyers work in companies and do NDA work.


This comment does not parse, and the second part of it makes very little sense. NDA -> Non Disclosure Agreement, that's a fairly standard legal device which definitely does not employ the majority of lawyers in corporations.


Just like it did during the industrial revolution with mass replacement of people by machines.


Quite a few Luddites starved during those times.


Most of the farmers were able to get jobs in factories, with little downtime or retraining necessary. What are today's factory workers going to do that's comparable? Remember, they still have rent to pay, food to buy, families to support.


One can derive argument for both sides from industrial revolution (not many horses working around), but generalizing from one datapoint isn't the most intellectually robust way to analyze the issue.


No, during the industrial revolution jobs were mostly created. This was at the same time the agricultural sector lost most jobs. With industry 2.0 and people being replaced, these moved into the service industry. Now the service industry is replaced with no where to go.


50 years, you mean? The technology may be moving fast, but the social/political/financial changes won't.


> ambulances would be adjusted to walking persons instead of loud cars with their stereos on

German ambulances and firetrucks have an unbelievable siren volume! It is piercing - I have to literally cover my ears if I'm a bystander. I have never heard anything like that in other European countries or the US. So I suspect that you can already lower their volume if you German people were willing to, seeing that it works fine in other places...


I hear it all the time in Houston. I'm pretty sure it's because of high noise plus most modern vehicles trying to reduce or eliminate outside noise. Emergency vehicles need to punch through all that noise reduction.


One thing I've quickly realized from driving an electric car: gas (petrol) cars smell really, really bad. We're just so used to it we don't notice.


Nothing like the cars from the '70s or earlier. Every once in a while driving, I'll pass a restored car from the 60s or 70s going the other way, and can smell the exhaust for about a mile. And that's one car.


Nothing like a two-stroke moped. Those are the worst by far.


That reminds me of the Wartburg [1]. Our neighbor had one where I grew up, and us kids used to call it the "Atom bomb" due to the mushroom cloud of blue smoke it generated when it started up or pulled in.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wartburg_353


Between those, the Trabants and the Serenas a morning in the former Eastblock would always look like fog. Heavy, worn out diesel engines of trucks and buses didn't help either.

The situation is now much better than when I lived there but even so Poland still has a huge smog problem.


Yep. That was the reason I chose a four-stroke myself. Also easier maintenance and less problems starting in bad weather.


The worst people are those who drive two-stroke mopeds over the bridge bike paths in NYC.


My car (gasoline Euro-5) smells only when the engine is cold. Once it warms up, I can't smell anything. I guess it probably means that the catalytic converter is working as expected (it needs to be hot enough to work properly).


One funny thing I've realized is that I like the smell of coal fires. It must have been horrible back when cities were choking on it, but coal is so completely phased out now that when I occasionally do smell coal smoke from a domestic fire or say a steam engine I really like it.


s/bad/good/g


As a ___ who never owned ____ I would love to see ____ completely banned.

I guess I sometimes feel this way about some things, but then pretty quickly get over it and realize that other people have different utility functions than me, and that I kinda like this whole life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness thing.

I much rather take the approach that externalities be accounted for properly than to ban anything that produces an externality.

So it’s rather much more like; how many trees do you want me to plant to keep my car? Or more probably, enjoy the $2.50/gal I just paid your town in taxes to fill up my gas tank. Instead of, fuck off with your dirty car you’re not welcome here.


The thing is, I don't see how you can put a price on these externalities. 13.000 people die early in Germany alone because of this. What would you have them do with this money? Planting trees wont do them much good.

Liberty is not an absolute thing. My freedom to drive my car ends where it encroaches on other peoples freedom to have a passable living environment.

We've banned smoking in public spaces for exactly the same reasons. The current system is really the tyranny of the majority. Let's just be honest about that and not use euphemisms like "accounting for externalities".


Personally I was thinking purely in terms of the various forms of pollution, although the Harvard study does try to account for injury and loss of life. Externality is an economic theory, far from a euphemism.

It’s easy to gauge how many lives are lost due to the automobile. But how many lives are saved? How many lives are enriched? How many lives are even made possible because of the automobile?

You can look at only the costs of a thing, but I find the appeal to emotion, similar to gun control arguments, to be entirely unconvincing.

Furthermore, technology has steadily improved the safety of these machines, and I’m convinced we’re less than a decade away from a quantum leap in safety by automating more and more of the driving process.

As automobiles get quieter, safer, less polluting, available on demand, and less expensive, I’m afraid you’re going to see quite a bit more of them, not less.

It’s nothing less than economic warfare to ban diesel cars outright from entering a city. Ban the sale of new diesels if you want. Tax the hell out of diesel fuel if you want. Add a toll booth and set a lower speed limit. But your well meaning compatriots spent their hard earned money to buy their vehicles and if you’d just assume fuck them over for it, I’m sure they will find a way to repay the favor. Probably by not coming to your city (and spending their money there) in the first place. To which you might say, “Good riddance!” And we have an expression for that too.

Oftentimes there is an entirely valid reason to get in a car and drive somewhere. I know, this may be shocking to you. Shocking to the people talking about bicycling a couch uphill downthread too.

There are 45 million passenger cars in Germany (for 82 million people) so it seems you’re in the minority on this. Before you call for just outright banning cars, maybe consider how you could make public policy which would decrease the number of cars by 10% without increasing the cost of cars.


How does driving a car in a big German city (which is what I am talking about at least) make lives possible where they weren't before, or save them? I think nobody here is advocating to ban ambulances or fire trucks.

Me too, I can't wait for self-driving electric cars to be used inside the city. That will take care of the local pollution burden put on residents today, and hopefully put cars in a more submissive role in traffic, where they belong.


In many, many ways. People face all sorts of conditions and situations for which an automobile can significantly improve their quality of life.

I’m sorry you can’t imagine the range of human conditions which can make cars a absolute necessary part of modern life for some people, even in dense urban environments.

The funniest example that comes to mind is you (or your wife’s) water breaks and it’s time to head to the hospital. Quick, let’s get on the bus!

You honestly think the only way people should be able to get privately and expeditiously from point A to point B (while potentially transporting hundreds of pounds of cargo) is calling emergency services?


If anything, this site has a nasty "sacrifice life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for some future concept of good" thing going on at times. I sense we'd all be packed in cities, forced to ride bicycles, eat only vegetables, be unable to reproduce without a permit, and live in massive apartment towers with 200 sq of space to save the world.


This site also has a nasty, "I should be able to do anything I want, and damn any externalities" thing, too.


You seriously believe those $2.50/gal peanuts do account for the whole cost and damage you create with your lazy lifestyle?


What a bizarre rebuttal to see on HN. But I’ll respond despite the poor tone.

I took a guess of $2.50 per gallon in total net externality. Turns out after a bit of Googling a study out of Harvard University [1] put the number at $2.10. So, yeah I do believe it, seriously!

By the way, those $2.50 peanuts would add up to $360 billion per year in the US.

I don’t have a problem with a gas tax that tries to fully cover the externalities of driving, as long as the money is earmarked to actually try to offset the cost.

[1] - https://sites.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/heep/ee-workshop_131024...


$2.50/gal would be a massive price cut in most of Europe. A quick glance suggests that petrol is around 1.359 €/L in Germany at the moment.


He/she meant in pure taxes


So what‘s with the constitutional guarantee of ownership ? I highly doubt that court decision is constitutional, I think and hope it is going to be overthrown by the German Federal Consitutional Court. I‘m so tired of the freedom hostile Green-Leftist agenda in Germany !


> The ruling was praised by environmental groups but angered many politicians and business lobbies who said millions of drivers might end up unable to use or sell vehicles they bought in good faith.

That latter part is a very serious concern. This isn't hurting big evil corporations who are killing the planet. It's hurting regular lower/middle class Germans who bought cars that they could afford just as everyone else was... electric isn't a financial option for the vast majority of people and diesel has been sold/advertised as comparable to petrol for quite some time...

Like most bad policies it's based in good intentions with some highly questionable/harmful real-world implications.


> unable to use or sell vehicles they bought in good faith.

In Germany, there's a "right to sell"?


> So what‘s with the constitutional guarantee of ownership

You still own the car, it's just worth less (most probably).


I somewhat understand your anger, but it seems misdirected. I hope VW gets sued out of existence for their reckless behaviour.


As a German urbanite who has been moving in and out of cities to even rural areas I have to say: Look beyond your own nose. Not everybody lives in Berlin Kreuzberg.

It's basically statements like these "Next: Petrol cars please" that deprive the clean-air activists of any credibility.


As a German who also never owned a car (also have a driver's license), I find your enthusiasm invigorating. But I do not see it happening.

If the outcome was better funding for public transportation, I would be all for it. With more people using public transportation, traffic would lighten up and may get more relaxed? Everybody wins!

It would be really nice if it turned out this way, but I am not overly optimistic. The car lobby has a lot of power, and the relationship people have with their cars is not very rational.

(I will freely admit that my relationship to my computers is similarly irrational, but all my computers combined gobble up far less energy than a single car with its motor running in idle. Plus, a substantial amount of the electricity that drives my computers comes from renewable sources.)


What do you think about the idea that this is a hidden stimulation for the German car industry, ie. If you can find a reason to ban all cars that are painted blue, you create massive demands for other colors.


This lawsuit was between cities trying to ban diesel cars and their respective states. The two states are openly supportive of their local car industry, while the cities were motivated to improve local air quality by looming EU fines. The court, being the highest administrative court in the country, is also unlikely to be in the car industry's pocket: any backroom communication with industry lobbyists would be a major scandal. To draw an analogy to the US Supreme Court: judges may bring all sorts of personal biases to the bench. But they are unlikely to risk the social prestige of their role for whatever bribe is on offer. After all, they could have chosen much more lucrative careers in the private sector long ago if money was their motivation.

As a factual matter, i. e. "unexpected consequences", your idea might become true. But it's a risky strategy to hope that premature obsolescence of your product will result in consumers coming back for more. With the VW diesel scandal in the background, it's also possible that the industry will end up having to shoulder a major part of the monetary burdens. It's much more likely that the loss to their brands, and the very public failure of their diesel strategy, will far outweigh any gains from some turnover in cars.

Some diesel cars may also be retrofitted with cleaner technology, and others can probably be sold abroad, making the losses not quite as large as one might expect.


What I am trying to say is - I don't belive that this is an obvious form of corruption, pribes and so on. This seems at that scale very unlikely in any Western democracy.

But I find suprising that over the last years it became obvious that electric cars are not the choice for the largest majority of any new car buyers. But all of the sudden the car manufacturer industry is having a scandal (aparently mostly in Germany) that becomes such a manficent scandal that is reaching a dimension never seen before. As a result a large number of cars is most likely going to be taken out of the market that would have never been replaced that early on.

Besides from kicking out a few employees, updating a few models and paying fines, the latter both probably covered by their insurances, the companies have no real consequences experienced. Sales and revenues seem to be stable and a few % changes in brand reputation are not going to hurt them either. Ultimately there will soon be a lot more cares purchased at a time where Tesla is still not mainstream ready.

Sometimes you have to kill the one to save the many.


In my case it does. I am driving a Euro5 Diesel car and live in one of those cities where they may be banned. So, yes, I need to buy a new one. Which is quite difficult, or at least expensive, because it's quite possible that cars with the newer Euro6 Diesel emission standard may also be banned in the mid-term, and the latest standard Euro6d is brand new.


I live in one of those cities as well and sold my diesel car last year when the talks regarding the ban started. I now drive a petrol car. It's not that big of a difference.


Well, either buy a car which doesn’t poison your neighbours or walk?


He bought a car that by every reasonable standard of informing himself about emissions was perfectly fine.

There is simply no way to lay blame on him. Blame the car industry.


I don’t know about poison but I certainly wish your comment had a little less venom.


> ambulances would be adjusted to walking persons

What about death? I mean, wouldn't this take too long to reach people and to bring them into hospital if needed?

(We already have cases were people die on the way to the hospital as things stand.)


I think he meant the loudness of the ambulance siren.


Please no bicylces, they are terrible for pedestrians. I'd rather deal with cars than bikes.


In most cities with good bike infrastructure I've seen you cannot ride a bike among pedestrians, they are limited to roads and bike lanes[0]. Whenever I see bicycle on a sidewalk is most often because road is jammed with cars or it's too dangerous for bikes, if we get rid of (most) cars, this will not be a problem as there will be plenty of space for everyone.

0. http://www.cambridgema.gov/~/media/Images/CDD/Transportation...


Um, cars kill astronomically more pedestrians than do bikes.


There are two differences: a) It's something that I can control, as long as I stay on the sidewalk and the cars stay on the street. But I have no control over bicycles on the sidewalks (even if there is a bike lane and it's illegal, many cyclists just take the shortest path, because they can). b) it's a problem than can mostly be solved by technology. I would like to see automatic pedestrian braking being required for new cars. I doubt we'll see bicycles with any kind of emergency braking system in the next decades.


Sure, in isolation I would prefer a car staying in its car-lane to a bicycle driving all over the sidewalk.

But then, this change doesn't have to happen in isolation. The Netherlands is a great example of a decades-long investment in pedestrian-first & cyclist-first infrastructure over cars. Cycles have their own dedicated lanes, increasingly not just painted on the car-lanes but separated from both the car lanes and sidewalks with elevations. And as they're ubiquitous and well-kept, cyclists have no real reason to drive on the sidewalk.

Cycling on the sidewalk just isn't a problem of any significance anymore in most places in the Netherlands. But when I went to Berlin and cycled there, I often found myself on the sidewalk by way of convenience and safety. The solution isn't to say no to bikes and have cars instead because cars have dedicated infrastructure they stick to, the solution is dedicated infrastructure for bicycles and incentives + enforcement to make them stick to it. It works very well in the Netherlands, which was actually, at one time, a country with tons of development geared towards cars.


Do you think the pedestrians who get killed by cars were somehow "forgetting to control it"? That makes zero sense.


Why? Excluding children, most pedestrians who get killed by cars didn't pay attention while crossing the street. That's the no 1 cause for adults. The other one is walking on streets without sidewalks.

(sorry, ony have stats in German: https://www.adac.de/_mmm/pdf/Praesentation11-13_192487.pdf)


OK but more people are killed by cars on the sidewalk than are killed by bicycles total.

Evidence: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/article196605814.ht...


A couple of relatively recent studies done in Australia came up with the result that driver error was the cause of collisions with pedestrians/bikes around 80% of the time.


As a matter of simple physics, the only way pedestrians are killed in crashes is because cars are moving sufficiently fast to bring deadly force to a crash— which makes cars traveling at speeds over 20mph in areas with pedestrians the fundamental cause of pedestrian deaths.

https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/relationship_between_speed_risk_...


Where do you get these stats? Not that I'm doubting your numbers but I'd love to see an article or dataset about this.


It'd also practically stop economic growth of areas outside large cities and slow down economic growth of the city itself. Many businesses would be ruined (and thus people working on them). Many people would loose their jobs.

This is a very backwards approach. Why don't we destroy our cities that have replaced the beautiful nature that used to be there instead of them?


For what it's worth, I'm trying to find a place that is free of cars because, well, they ruin life if you enjoy walking and cycling.

So far, places that come to mind are central Ghent and Rothenburg ob der Tauber (sadly the latter allows cars but they're still very few in number). If I were there I would expect to work remote, or start my own gig. I'd shop locally.

There are very few places in the world where you can live near other people and escape automobiles, and I suspect there are at least a few other people like myself.


In many cases I see cycling ruin life if you enjoy driving or walking ;). I do find places that i've seen be bike friendly in Europe do a much better job at this. But cyclists in Toronto can be pretty awful. Likewise can pedestrians and cars. Whichever way I travel, the other two are annoying me or causing me grief somehow.


Some people are inconsiderate :-( . Some of those people ride bikes. I've been annoyed at bicyclists while walking along holding my helmet just after docking my Dublinbike, even.

But a jerk walking is virtually certainly not going to kill me (or my kid). A jerk cycling almost certainly won't either. But a jerk driving quite possibly will - after all, where I come from there's a 9/11 on the roads every month due to drivers, and the dead are disproportionately people walking or cycling.

Of course, 100 years ago the streets were for walking (or horses, bikes, early autos, whathaveyou) and it was quite a feat that auto makers convinced people that only folks inside cars deserved to use 90% of it (all of it, in much of the US), and that it was perfectly normal to leave people walking clinging on to a shred of space at the edge.


Actually a jerk walking may kill you and your kid...its called "mugging" which can happen when you walk places, and which really can't happen easily if you are in a car. And there are many areas in an average city where it's completely unsafe to walk in.

And keep in mind, it's a lot more dangerous for a woman to walk alone than the average HN poster, especially if they need to do so at night.


> Actually a jerk walking may kill you and your kid...its called "mugging" which can happen when you walk places, and which really can't happen easily if you are in a car.

“Mugging” can't happen in a car only in the sense that when it happens to people in a car, it is called “carjacking” instead of “mugging”.


It's a lot harder to carjack someone than to mug, to be honest. Colleges in particular tend to be pretty serious about the risks of danger of being accosted,to the point of littering the campus with callboxes and maintaining a security staff. My point though is that it's not always a one to one comparison; walking has unique dangers to it.


That's a question of intent, and in my mind a different matter. I meant jerk as in inconsiderate, not murderous.


When you say cyclists in Toronto can be awful, what do you mean? Are they mean to you, or do they not follow the rules of the road, or something else?

When I cycle I fear being killed by a motorist; when I drive I fear killing a cyclist. It's important to clarify whether cyclists are putting you in danger or if they are stressing you out. Both suck, but one sucks a lot more.


Most of them are good. But i've seen many run red lights, go the wrong way on a one way street, i've been nearly hit by cyclists a few times. In terms of driving with cyclists, I think the main thing is lack of space more than actual actions. So an infrastructure problem. When driving what tends to give me pause is people acting out of place. So someone jay walking, or a cyclist cutting across lanes, as I then need to be more aware for people doing things incorrectly.

You are quite right in terms of where the danger lies though. It's on the driver more than any other to be the most careful with their actions.


The rules are not made for cyclists, and you can see that in their riding. When you expend your own power for every acceleration and have better vision & hearing, a red pedestrian light with nobody using it suddenly looks less absolute. A one-way street that can easily take 5 of you next to each other, and probably nobody even driving there, when the way around is 500m longer - the same.

You can see the same behaviour from car drivers when the rules don't make any sense (as for example in some upcoming countries).


Cycling only really works when it is classed as a different kind of traffic from pedestrians and cars. If you lump the cyclists in with the pedestrians it will make the sidewalks dangerous and if you put them on the roads they get killed by drivers. Cycling needs separate infrastructure to be a real contender.


Don't really know Toronto, but bikes are pretty annoying for pedestrians here in Germany as well.


Ah okay. I was mainly recalling what I saw in Amsterdam as well more recently in Vienna. I have been to germany, but my memory of cyclist life there is much more hazy :)


The big difference is that cyclists can, at worst, annoy drivers, but drivers regularly kill cyclists.


There are still plenty of cars in Ghent, except for the very heart of the city. The circulation plan they implemented there works to some extent but it has actually made the situation in the outskirts of the city worse because people that do have to drive now drive longer distances to get to the same place.

There is still inner city parking too (the underground garages) so Ghent is not really free of cars yet.

If you want to live without cars the best place would be a nature reservation or silence zone, there are a few of those in Europe and the few houses that are there are priced quite high as a result but I think they would come closest to your vision.


I was hoping to bear near people as well. I suppose it was a bit fanciful; I visited Ghent in spring and it was jaw-droppingly beautiful (flowers spilling over railings along a pretty river. The blue skies didn't hurt either). That would cost a bit, but from the looks of it not _too_ much all things considered. Some of the old walled cities are car-free enough that I'd let a six year old ride a bike in them, thus Rothenburg odt.

Alternately, a nature reservation shouldn't have residences in it, should it? When we get away from cities, towns, and villages, it becomes more feasible to just buy enough land to enjoy it without automobiles. A bit lonely though.


> Alternately, a nature reservation shouldn't have residences in it, should it?

True, but the ones that have historically been there are usually grandfathered in when the area as a whole is declared a reservation. There will be strict limits on what you can do with such a place but that's a small price to pay.

There was one for sale here in NL, at least 2500 meters away from any trafficked road but - ironically - the people that live there have road access to their property making the whole thing much worse for the other users of that area such as me when I'm cycling there (the road is only about 2 meters wide).

I'd be very happy if you had bought it, that would save at least two vehicles that still use that road!


:-( that's a shame. Can I ask how you found it? I've been researching this sort of thing casually and am not sure where to begin. I'm not aware of an EU-wide real estate search, aside from sites missing 95% of inventory like ee24.


I found it on a bike trip. I've also lived in one of those places (Oudezijl, North-Eastern Groningen). The North-East of the country here is quite bike friendly and definitely as close to car free as it gets. Houses there are cheap because of the fear of earthquakes due to gas extraction, which means it is easy to buy in but very hard to sell.

One very good way to find such houses is to look at night time satellite images and to look for places with very little light. Any houses in those regions will be in very lightly trafficked areas.


Living in a densely populated city is far less resource-consuming than living in rural areas.

You should be thankful for cities, especially if you enjoy living in nature. Distributing city populations evenly across the land would do serious harm to that natural beauty you claim to enjoy.


A city ban on cars would effect areas outside of cities?


Yes, of course. People from outside the city come to the city by car to buy goods and offer their services because mass transit is not available or not practical. It's impossible to make mass transit practical for everyone.


It is practical to offer parking at train stations at the outskirts of the city so that people can commute to the train station and leave their car outside the exclusion zones.


That does happen in some cities - also to provide an alternative to exorbitant inner city parking costs - but it will add a lot of overhead to your trip, so for a daily commute it becomes unfeasible unless you're okay with adding 30-60 minutes to it. Every day.

(I did public transit to my assignment (working as a consultant) for five years; won't work with my current one as it's a 2 hour journey for just 60 kilometers).


Sometimes people, you know, fill their cars with the “goods” that they are trying to bring into the city.

It’s fine to debate the merits of the policy, but don’t pretend it wouldn’t come at an enourmous cost.


It would come at a big cost, but lets optimise cities more for the people who actually have to live in them. The balance is too far from centre as it is.


That only works for large cities that can afford high density tram, underground and bus systems


Coincidentally the same places that contemplate banning cars. How convenient!


So how does that stop economic growth of areas outside of the city? Sounds like it would ignite economic growth as smaller cities have to create their own services.


If it was better to have these services in the area outside the city, they'd already exist. These areas are too sparsely populated for these services to practically exist, and the ones that already exist depend on car traffic from the cities that would cease to exist if it was impractical to own a car in the city.


[citation needed]

Cars are a net negative for societies (see e.g. https://tu-dresden.de/bu/verkehr/ivs/voeko/ressourcen/dateie...). Just imagine having most (80%+) of goods transported by cargo bike: lots of (local!) employment, lots of new technology needed, etc.


Like sofas, armchairs, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, flat-screen TVs and oak beds?

Great idea, but how would you feasibly transport them?

The deliveroo boxes are going to have to increase in size...


In the Netherlands bakfiets (http://img.tweede-hands.net/pics/00/13/08/63/97/3c.jpg?d0cc3...) can be easily used to transport this kind of things.

Also, realistically, do you need to transport these things on a daily basis? Can you not rent a (electric) truck whenever you need this kind of things?


Heck, a car in the netherlands is also very, very expensive. Especially if you live in the inner core of a relatively old city, which are not designed for cars and where parking space is at a premium.

I'm fairly sure most people working normal office kind of jobs could easily live without a car, especially if cities use that money to make public transport available to more "remote" regions easily.

My employer actually used this reasoning and has an office next to the train station, which makes traveling with public transport from other cities a breeze and prevents the company from having to pay massive fees for parking space.


Western-European capital city here. I can indeed absolutely get-by without a car, as I have for literally all my life.

There are certainly instances where a car is necessary, or sufficiently convenient. For example, I rent a truck when I move homes or get new furniture, and I get a taxi after surgery or a night out, and rent a car when doing something time/convenience-sensitive like hopping between locations on elaborate wedding days that involve a ceremony, food, drinks and after-party all around the city. But all in all, about 5% of my trips need to happen by personal vehicle, at most. Everything else is can be done via public transport or bicycles.

Nowadays we have ride-sharing and electric 'public transportation' mini-cars available that you can rent for 15 minutes or a few days. The costs are about twice that of a normal car, but as I only use it in 5% of my trips my total expenses are barely affected, while giving me the convenience of a car when necessary.

There's no real reason to keep a personal car myself. Actually I've never owned one, but it's become easier and more convenient over time. Borrowing a car from a friend or traveling far to a car rental, or expenses of renting aren't problems anymore.

Having kids or working very far from home changes the incentives quite a bit. But I think there's a lot of value in optimising for distance. As a species we spend way too much time on mundane travel, even to the point of inefficiency. I've seen people chase a job that pays $300 more for $250 in self-paid traveling costs per month. These are people who will pay $10 for delivery of groceries instead of spending 30 minutes to go to the store, but are willing to travel 20 hours more each month for a $50 net benefit.


> But I think there's a lot of value in optimising for distance.

i definetly agree to this, spending time on travel is pure waste. One of the best decisions for my personal health and my career was getting a job which is located 10 minutes from my home by bicycle. The amount of free time you have left because you spend a lot less time traveling should not be understated. Also, i find commuting very boring and stressfull, and living close to work has done wonders for my mental health aswell.


No bakfiets, but fietsaanhanger :

https://hollandbikeshop.com/fietskarren/bagage-fietskarren/

English : bicycle trailer.


Yes, actually. All of those things can be transported by cargo bike.

There is a place for automobiles, and vans, in cities (ambulances come to mind) - just like there is a place for helicopters, but what we have now is a gross distortion that came as a result of more or less legalizing killing people with your car (as long as it was an accident) and giving people ample free asphalt and parking.


A sofa can't be transported by bike. Especially not up hills, don't be an idiot.

A better solution would be to restrict traffic to commercial vehicles and only at certain times.


Haha I've done it, the Dutch are a bit crazy but yeah... we transport furniture on what essentially is a (frontloaded) trailer-bike.

That having been said, I think it's a silly solution to expect bicycles to take over logistics. I think we can all agree however that if the only vehicles on the roads were for logistics and public benefit (e.g. ambulance) that'd be a massive improvement already.


They already have in some of the most appropriate circumstances. Article is 2017 but these are still up and running.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/container...


It will please you to know that gears are fitted as standard on many bicycles.

Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_advantage

Honestly trying to convince people that a full life can be lived with a bicycle feels a lot like the problem of the cave.

There's a whole world outside the parking lots, but too many people have never even seen it; just pictures of it on travel blogs about Amsterdam, and don't really think it's real.

Edit:

In addition to gears, batteries and motors are a thing.


What do you mean, free asphalt and parking? I'm paying huge taxes and this stuff is built from taxes.

Edit: To the people downvoting: We're talking about Europe. The US apparently works differently, but that's not how it's in the EU.


Speak for yourself. I'm referring to both, having spent most of my life in California and half a decade in Europe (ish - Ireland is peripheral in more than one sense).

There are some differences wrt property taxes, etc. but for the most part, roads are an all you can drive buffet, if you're in a car that is, so of course people use them without regard to cost. My taxes pay for roads but I only get a sliver of them as a bike lane on some of the thoroughfares in the city. Even the motorway tolls are laughably low; a few Euro at most barring one tunnel.

As always you can find exceptions. French motorways begin to cost enough to matter. Demand-priced parking and Express lanes in California have brought something resembling sanity to space allocation where it was obviously desperately needed. But for the most part my point stands.


You don't pay enough taxes to cover the cost of land in a big city. See for example this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15view.ht...


Grandparent probably doesn't mean "free", but "sunk cost".


I mean free at point of delivery. People using them don't necessarily pay for them (if I drive from SF to San Diego, I pay nothing to LA for the use of their roads, which doesn't really seem fair, though admittedly most of that drive would be on Interstate) I'd have no problem with tolled roads. Funny enough I would _love_ tolled bike paths - I'd pay several grand a year for them willingly - if I could even get them.

But I can't because we give roads to cars for free and that can't be questioned.

For that matter I'd love to lease some of the park and ride spots near transit so I could build an apartment on them (they're nearly free) but apparently I'm not allowed to do that. I can't even use them to park a mobile home permanently. How is that fair?


I disagree with the concept of toll roads, at least insomuch as they're effectively double-taxing us: we pay taxes for roads already. Now you want me to pay again to use the road?

But really, if roads were not free in the first place, toll roads would basically stop being a thing and the roads themselves would become the toll.


It's a double tax because you're not paying enough for the road in the first place. I understand that there's this huge resistance to paying tolls for roads, but there's a valid reason for them for a variety of policy reasons (decongestion of city centers, insufficient funding to build out the road without private participation/tolls) that make it a valid tool for governments to lean on. In fact, the tolls allow for a more focused alignment of price vs usage (insofar as non-users of the toll road aren't tolled), which is a reasonable approach to take as a mixed pricing (taxes + tolls) model.


I think most roads should be paid for by tolls and taxes reduced accordingly. This is because roads tend to have a huge number of negative externalities.

In some cases the very act of having to pay increases the utility of the road to the user - see congestion charging. This ensures people who gain the most economic benefit from using the road are the ones using this precious resource.

Of course, your point could be applied to any government-provided service where there is a fee. The tram receives public funding but I still have to buy a ticket, after all.


Most of these could be transported on bike trailers. The bed will probably need to be shipped in disassembled form, but then again, I've never seen beds shipped in one piece.

That said, there are certainly things that you absolutely have to transport with some sort of automobile. But there's no problem with exempting such transports from a possible car ban.


Ask your great great grandparents - horses! In the 19th century, cemeteries had railway stations for transporting the dead by steam train.


Been there, done that :) Just buy a good trailer. You get 10 top notch bikes plus trailer for the price of a car.


Oh no, people might actually buy less things!

Do we need to have personal cars just for delivery of those items? Or can we have trucks?


So let's take a different approach: Let's find a better solution for individual transportation that doesn't require human labor (e.g. pedaling) and offers the same benefits (ability to comfortably make 500 km per working day, for example - that's average daily mileage of a taxi driver).


You seem very much in favour of cars, but also imagining that cities without cars would look much like cities with cars. Huge amounts of land are given over to roads and parking. Get rid of these and you have much denser cities without decreasing usable space per inhabitant.


I assume you're talking about US cities. Because IMHO most European cities are already far too dense. You can hardly see the sky.


All cities with cars, and no, they aren't.


But if you make cities even densier, you'll have to restrict their height. People on the first floor still want sunlight for a reasonable time :) Meanwhile wide streets allow tall buildings..




Applications are open for YC Summer 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: