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urban space from the automobile in Northern Europe

In the space of just a few decades, urban areas across the world, in both developed and developing countries, have become increasingly automobile-dominated and less sustainable. In developing countries in particular, cities have experienced a rapid growth in transport-related challenges, including pollution, congestion, accidents, public transport decline, environmental degradation, climate change, energy depletion, visual intrusion, and lack of accessibility for the urban poor. In more developed countries, particularly in Northern Europe, some cities have witnessed a trend of reclaiming urban space from the automobile and prohibiting cars from major parts of downtown areas and/or confining them in other ways. Today, these places are often considered as leading examples of sustainable urban development, as cities across the world strive to meet urban sustainability standards by improving public transport, encouraging non-motorized modes, creating pedestrian zones, limiting the use of private cars, and otherwise trying to undo the transformation of cities caused by automobile dominance. Concepts of automobile restraint that were unthinkable just a few decades ago are now being considered or even adopted in many urban areas around the globe, both north and south, with the encouragement and support of major international organizations (see [1–5]). This article critically reviews the potential role and impact of nine commonly considered options for sustainable urban transport in medium-sized cities located in developing countries: (1) road infrastructure; (2) rail-based public transport; (3) road-based public transport; (4) support for non-motorized travel modes; (5) technological solutions; (6) awareness-raising campaigns; (7) pricing mechanisms; (8) vehicle access restrictions; and (9) control of land uses. These options for action are overlapping and interconnected. They cover both the demand and the supply side of urban transport with a focus on the latter. The article is organized around “interventions” rather than according to geographic regions, implementation stages, or types of impact.