Parks Instead of Cars for the World's Cities


More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Traffic and pollution are becoming a big problem in big cities all over the world. In megacities like Mexico City, Shanghai or Cairo the quality of the air is getting worse every day. In the United States commuters spend more time sitting in traffic jams.

Some of the world’s cities have already reacted to the crisis. In Bogota, the capital of Columbia, the mayor has taken measures to improve the quality of life for the city’s 8 million people. He created over a thousand new parks, created a new public transport system, built hundreds of cycling paths and pedestrian zones. The citizens of the city also participated in making their city one of the most livable places in South America.

Today city planners around the world are looking for ways to provide more room for living and less room for cars. Through traffic jams people do not only lose time in getting to work, cities become dirtier too. Too much space is taken away from nature and used for streets and parking areas. In the past city governments have not been spending enough money on public transport systems that work.

However , there are signs of change. In America public transport has increased over 2 % nationwide since the mid 1990s- not much but a start. More and more people leave their cars at home and get on buses, trains or even ride a bike to work.


Some cities are far better at planning than others. In Amsterdam, for example, only 40 % of the population uses their car to get to work, 35 % ride a bike while 25% use public transport. In Paris about half of the city’s commuters drive their car to work while on the other side of the Atlantic 95% of Atlanta’s workers go by car.

For Third World cities the problems have just started. Traffic is getting worse as more and more people can afford to buy a car.


public transport in London England

Public transport in London, England


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  • afford = to have the money to buy something
  • citizen = a person who lives in a city and has rights there
  • commuter = person who has to travel very far to get to work every day
  • create = make, build
  • cycling path = small road only for bikes
  • government = people who rule a city
  • however = but
  • increase = to go up
  • livable = good to live in
  • mayor = a person who is the leader of a city
  • megacity = a very big city with millions of people
  • nationwide = in the whole country
  • participate = take part in
  • pedestrian zone = area in the city where no cars are allowed
  • pollution = when you make air, water or ground dirty
  • provide = offer, give
  • public transport = buses, trains etc... that everyone can use
  • sign = signal
  • take measures = to do something; take action
  • traffic = cars and trucks that move along a road or street
  • traffic jam = when there are so many cars that block the roads, so that you cannot move on
  • urban = city