Car-Free & Car-Light Areas in Cities

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  • These suggestions are in no particular order -- be sure to try them all!
  • Nor are they exhaustive -- I'm just hoping they help you get started. I'm sure that by the end of the project you'll have unearthed far more resources and will be an expert on the topic.  :-)

Articles & Books

1. For a transportation topic, my first choice is often TRID: the TRIS and ITRD database.

  • Note that we own most - but not all - of the publications covered in this database. However, even for the publications that we own, the links provided in TRID will only work if you are on campus. If you're researching from off campus, follow the instructions in this FAQ for accessing such items.

2. GEOBASE & Environment Complete

These databases will each have quite a bit of overlap with TRID, but they are still worth exploring as they will likely include some unique items.

3. Books, eBooks, and Reports in the SFU Library Catalogue

Try this rough search to get started. A few samples:

  • See also this site with additional material relevant to these last two books.


  • The City of Vancouver, in its quest to become the world's Greenest City, has many reports that touch on efforts to create more sustainable and more engaging spaces. For example...

  • Need demographic and business data on specific Vancouver neighbourhoods? Try these sources:
  • SimplyAnalytics - Current Canadian demographic and high-level spending data, mappable down to dissemination areas (neighbourhoods of approx. 500 people). Also includes locations of 1.3 million businesses.
  • Areas of the City - the City of Vancouver's own data and descriptions of the many neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Includes links to census data and much more.
  • Vancouver's Neighbourhoods - A slightly different perspective on neighbourhoods such as Gastown and the West End, this site is maintained by Tourism Vancouver. Most of the neighbourhood pages include links to the "business improvement association" (BIA) for the area being profiled, but you can click here to get a list of links to all of the Vancouver BIAs (and more).

More on Vancouver?

  • BCStats - provides data on businesses and more, often at a city level.
  • Still with data, try the this site if you want detailed data on the number of businesses, their industries, and the number of employees in a small neighbourhood. (Not simple to use!)
  • If you need public opinion polling data, start with the local firm, InsightsWest. (They seem to cover bike lanes, which is a related topic.)
  • Our local business newspaper, Business in Vancouver is probably a good source to check for news about topics such as bike lanes (again, related in some ways to car-free areas)... with a business-friendly perspective.
  • Do you need to know the Daytime Population (definition) in a neighbourhood? This realtor site offers that data as well as summary demographic and spending data on small neighbourhoods. Sometimes such numbers as Daytime Population are useful if you are focused on local -- the data on spending in SimplyAnalytics is based on where people live, but they may be travelling elsewhere for work during the day.
  • Search for a neighbourhood or even for all of Vancouver, then pick a business for sale close to the area you are analyzing. Scan both the Neighbourhood and Statistics tabs for local data.

Miscellaneous reports & sites

I've spotted many reports and articles on this topic in my initial searches. See below for some key examples. Remember, though, that this guide is just a starting point: search broadly!

  • This report is from the World Carfree Network -- "a clearinghouse of information from around the world on how to revitalise our towns and cities and create a sustainable future."
  • Civitas, in Europe, has reports on many projects aimed at innovative urban mobility solutions.


1. As you probably know, sometimes it just takes a couple solid articles to add some momentum to your search.

  • What subjects were used on those items?
  • Could those terms be used in your next search?
  • Are any of their cited references useful? Have newer (and likely related) articles cited them in PsycInfo or Google Scholar?

2. I've come across a few reports that used the term "low-emission zones" rather than "car-free zones." Maybe worth exploring that term in your searches? Also try the term pedestrianisation.

3. I understand that your case has a focus on the effects of such zoning on businesses. I've used a broader scope in looking for resources for this guide as many arguments and facts on other aspects of such policies may also have business impacts. Similarly, many related initiatives (e.g., removing parking to add bike lanes or transit lines) will have analyzed business impacts in ways that may prove relevant. Think broadly when you search!

<No further suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add any tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>