The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

One image shows what cities would look like without cars

Traffic flows toward the Holland Tunnel, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

If you’ve ever lived in New York, San Francisco, or another major, bustling city, you know that one of the most valuable things in an urban area is space. Suddenly, things that are normal in the suburbs, like having a sofa, or washing your clothes in your own house, become luxuries and status symbols.

So it’s kind of crazy that urban dwellers give up as much space as they do to cars. Having a car in a city takes up a lot more of this rare, expensive space than you might realize.

The image below, which uses photographs from a poster by International Sustainable Solutions taken by OnRequest Images in downtown Seattle, demonstrates that idea. The images show what 200 people look like, first in 177 cars, then without cars, then on three buses, and finally on bikes.

Here's a gif of this image that adds light rail:

This isn’t a new idea. Urbanists have tried to make this argument many times.

As the creator of the original gif points out, these images also help you visualize just how much traffic subway systems are moving underground. Imagine how many more traffic jams our cities would have without them.

You might also like:

-A stunning new look from space at nature, North Korea and Chipotle

-What it would look like if the Hiroshima bomb hit your city

-What’s across the ocean from you when you’re at the beach, in 7 fascinating maps