On Tuesday, Germany's highest administrative court ruled that, in an effort to improve urban air quality, cities can ban cars from some streets.
As The New York Times notes, the ruling could open the floodgates for cities around the country to go car-free.
Stuttgart and Düsseldorf — German cities with high pollution levels — will likely enact the first bans in the fall. Stuttgart, home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, has recently favored such bans. In 2017, Stuttgart announced that starting this year, it will keep diesel vehicles that don't meet emissions standards from entering the city on high-pollution days.
But German cities are not the only ones getting ready to take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel.
Here are 13 cities leading the car-free movement.
Oslo, Norway will implement its car ban by 2019.
Oslo plans to permanently ban all cars from its city center by 2019 — six years before Norway's country-wide ban would go into effect.
The Norwegian capital will invest heavily in public transportation and replace 35 miles of roads previously dominated by cars with bike lanes.
"The fact that Oslo is moving forward so rapidly is encouraging, and I think it will be inspiring if they are successful," said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an organization that supports bikers in New York City and advocates for car-free cities.
Madrid's planned ban is even more extensive.
Madrid plans to ban cars from 500 acres of its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city's busiest streets for walking rather than driving.
The initiative is part of the city's "sustainable mobility plan," which aims to reduce daily car usage from 29% to 23%. Drivers who ignore the new regulations will pay a fine of at least $100. And the most polluting cars will pay more to park.
"In neighborhoods, you can do a lot with small interventions," Mateus Porto and Verónica Martínez, who are both architects and urban planners from the local pedestrian advocacy group A PIE, told Fast Company. "We believe that regardless of what the General Plan says about the future of the city, many things can be done today, if there is political will."
People in Chengdu, China will be able to walk anywhere in 15 minutes or less.
Chicago-based architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill designed a new residential area for the Chinese city. The layout makes it easier to walk than drive, with streets designed so that people can walk anywhere in 15 minutes.
While Chengdu won't completely ban cars, only half the roads in the 80,000-person city will allow vehicles. The firm originally planned to make this happen by 2020, but zoning issues are delaying the deadline.