“We Need to Stop Designing Our Lives Around Cars”

Streetsblog Network member Boston Biker has picked up the most recent Streetfilms release, Fixing the Great Mistake: Autocentric Development, and written an eloquent post about the necessity of moving away from car-centered planning.

The
post begins by taking on the question so may of us have had to answer
— you know the one, about how we "hate cars." As Boston Biker writes,
it’s more about hating what cars do to humans, and seeing the need for
change:

2750132310_907cdab2d4.jpgBoston’s future doesn’t have to look like this. (Photo: SpecialKRB via Flickr)

People will sometimes ask me, "Why do you hate cars so much?" The truth
is, I don’t hate cars. They are useful to some people (delivery trucks,
people with disabilities). The car itself is not the problem, it is
what happens to society when everyone owns a car that is the problem.…

So what are we to do? If the "one car one person" model has failed
so fully, what do we do to reverse it? The answer is simple, but is
going to require a lot of effort. We need to stop designing our lives
around cars. That means everything — removing on-street parking,
building larger sidewalks, making people pay more for parking, building
dense cities, providing good public transportation, and getting more
people to ride bikes!

If Boston were to take seriously the idea of building a city based
around what people need, and not what cars need, it would be a
radically different place. Imagine for a second if the T reached every
neighborhood, if there was a series of well designed bus routes that
connected the places that the MBTA didn’t go. Imagine a system of bike
lanes and bike paths that allowed you to get all over town quickly and
stress free. Imagine if sidewalks were large and offered lots of space
for people to walk and business to have on-street offerings. Imagine
the benefits in health (air quality, obesity rates, asthma, cancer,
deaths from car crashes). …

I would love to live in a city like that. That’s the kind of city
you would want to raise a kid in, the kind of place you would want to
open a business in. The kind of quiet green place filled with healthy
people living close together to encourage community. The kind of place
that Boston must become, because the alternative is simply too horrible
to contemplate.

More from around the network: Building a Better Shreveport writes about efforts to improve bicycling infrastructure in that Louisiana city. How We Drive has a post about why it’s a good thing when unlicensed drivers get caught at DUI checkpoints. And Mobilizing the Region reports that the Connecticut DOT has been spending its money more wisely lately.

  • Erik G.

    One of the great unintended contributions Boston gave to public policy was the morphing of a $2.8 Billion project into a $15 Billion one. And Massachusetts still has not figure out how to pay it off, or if it was indeed built to last more than 20 years. That fact alone puts mega road projects into a special category of “Things you may wish to avoid”.

  • Boston got scamed by the Big Dig. They should call it the big lie. The State of Mass and the MBTA promised to upgrade transit to offset the impact. However, after they built their underground highway(which is already congested)they reneged on their promise to improve transit. At least Boston got a nice park. That’s more than LA has.

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