Ljubljana, Slovenia, a small European capital, realizes a car-free city center

By Alexis Ferenczi, Vice, October 19, 2021

“In 2007 [Ljubljana] published ‘Vision 2025’, an incredibly thorough set of proposals for a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable city.

“Central to Ljubljana’s proposal for creating an environmentally responsible metropolis was turning the city centre into a car-free zone. […]

“The scheme wasn’t always so well-received by Slovenians. […]

“One of the major challenges facing the Vision 2025 team was how best to go about rethinking Slovenska Cesta, a main road that runs right through the middle of Ljubljana’s tourist district. […]

“In addition to classic sustainability policies and pledges like promoting the use of bikes and pre-existing forms of transport, the city introduced ‘Kavalir’, a small fleet of electric vehicles that are free to use and slow enough to be hailed with ease…Ljubljana’s [population of 300,000] means such a scheme only requires a handful of vehicles to be operational at any time.

“Despite initial misgivings about the long-term sustainability of cordoning off a section of the city from privately owned vehicles [Academic Saša Poljak Istenič, who has written about the impact of pedestrianization on the city,] is of the opinion that ‘it’s been a decade now and none of us can really imagine cars ever staging a comeback in the city centre.’

“Istenič is adamant that other local authorities who are looking towards Ljubljana as a model for the (relatively) car-free city of the future have to bear one thing particularly in mind. ‘It is crucial that you outline to residents exactly what the plans are and why they’re being proposed,’ she says.”

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