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Benefits of Banning Cars in City?

Discuss whether or not a ban on cars in a city will benefit the city’s households and firms.


CIE October/November 2023.



Title: Ban on Cars in a City: An Evaluation of the Impact on Households and Firms


The spectre of urban traffic congestion and its subsequent socio-economic effects have led to proposals suggesting the total ban of cars in cities. Such proposals, while potentially transformative for households and firms, are not without their challenges and potential downsides. This essay explores whether a ban on cars in a city is beneficial or detrimental to city dwellers and businesses.

Advantages of a car ban: (Level 3-6)

A ban on cars can have numerous economic benefits. Firstly, air and noise pollution, significant external costs of car usage, could be substantially reduced. This could lead to a healthier urban population requiring less healthcare (level 3). Consequently, businesses may experience lower staff absence rates due to illness, which can increase productivity (level 4).

Furthermore, avoiding traffic congestion can result in significant time savings, leading to improvements in labour efficiency. The reduction in accidents could also save city resources related to emergency services, litigation, and insurance.

Improved public transit infrastructure could result from increased demand due to a car ban, creating jobs and positively impacting household incomes and the local economy (level 5). Pedestrianised shopping centres may also draw more customers, benefiting local businesses and boosting sales.

Moreover, with reduced resources spent on road management and accident prevention, more funds could be allocated towards improving other public services such as education, health, and housing, which can improve overall quality of life (level 6).

Potential downsides of a car ban: (Level 3-6)

However, a car ban might not be beneficial for every member of the society. Longer journey times, for instance, could deter frequent and long-distance travel, potentially reducing customer visits and demand for local businesses (level 3). A lower number of visitors could lead to falling house prices, affecting homeowners (level 4).

Significant negative impact is to be expected for vehicle sales firms, who may be forced to exit the local market resulting in economic and job losses. Reducing car usage could also hinder labour mobility as individuals find it harder to commute long distances for work, potentially limiting economic growth (level 5).


The balance of costs and benefits would likely depend on the characteristics and circumstances of each city. For instance, in a city with an efficient, comprehensive public transport infrastructure, a car ban might be feasible. However, in cities where public transport is limited, a sudden ban on cars may lead to significant disruption and economic hardship (level 6).


In conclusion, while a ban on cars could lead to several socio-economic benefits such as reduced pollution, fewer accidents, and enhanced public services, it also carries possible disadvantages, including potentially longer journey times, reduction in visitors, and adverse effects on certain businesses and property values. A clear analysis of specific circumstances in each city needs to be carried out to determine the net benefits or costs of such policy.






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