Traffic, congestion, and carbon emissions are among the most pressing issues that cities around the world are currently dealing with. In response, some cities are taking bold steps to combat these issues by banning cars altogether. One such city that has implemented such a rule is Zermatt in Switzerland. This charming mountain town has banned all private and gasoline cars, except for a select few tiny electric cars.
Zermatt, situated at the base of the famous Matterhorn mountain, has always been a popular destination for hikers and skiers. But the influx of visitors has led to a surge in traffic and pollution, leading the town’s leaders to take action. In 2016, the town council announced a ban on gasoline cars that would be implemented in stages over several years. As of 2021, the ban is fully in place, making the town an entirely car-free zone.
However, to cater to the needs of local businesses, the town has introduced tiny electric cars that can be used for official purposes such as transporting goods and services. The electric cars are made by Swiss companies and are available for lease to qualifying businesses. These tiny cars are much smaller than regular vehicles, making them more maneuverable and less disruptive in the narrow streets of the town. They are also cheaper to run and have significantly lower carbon emissions.
The ban on cars has drastically improved the quality of life in Zermatt. There is now a sense of peace and tranquility owing to the absence of traffic noise and pollution. Visitors to Zermatt must park their cars at a designated lot at the town’s entrance and continue their journey by train or electric taxis. A fleet of electric buses links the different parts of the town, making it easy for visitors to move around.
The ban on cars has also led to an increase in cycling and walking, as there are now more bike lanes and pedestrian paths. Many hotels have started to rent electric bikes to their guests, and there are now more than 400 bikes available for hire. Cycling and walking allow visitors to experience the beauty of the town at a slower pace and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Zermatt Town’s forward-thinking decision to ban private cars and most gasoline cars is a shining example of innovative action in the fight against climate change. The introduction of electric vehicles and bikes has helped preserve the town’s tranquility and beauty while also promoting sustainable tourism. The success of this initiative has led to calls for more towns and cities around the world to implement similar measures to reduce traffic and pollution. If Zermatt can do it, why can’t we all?