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What Kind Of Cities Work Best For Most People?

The cities where people of all ages, abilities, and incomes have true freedom of movement. Theses cities prioritize people over cars.

Owning a car in a city with good infrastructure (reliable, clean, safe transit, cycling, and pedestrian options) should be an expensive choice, not a necessity. In American culture, it is common to associate cars with freedom—but the moment someone questions our country’s car dependence, the inevitable retort is “I need a car. I cannot meet my basic needs without one.” How is that freedom?

This section of my site is for those who are willing to risk imagining what good cities should be. It includes resources that help explain why excessive car dependence and prioritization in cities is bad for the environment, kids, maintaining a physically and mentally healthy population, housing, safety, anyone not wealthy, etc. These resources give examples of what good cities are like.

A really important video (esp. from the perspective of kids/young people): Why American Cities are Boring (and how to fix it)

Full Disclosure: I Don’t “Hate” Cars Or Want Them “Banned”

I actually really like driving, especially on road trips. I try to do so responsibly with my choice of vehicle (size, gas mileage, etc.) and be efficient in my use of it. I am also willing to pay the true cost of car ownership (that is currently HEAVILY subsidized in America) and never expect free car storage (parking). I live in a suburb in the American South. Public transportation is lacking. I did the best I could in choosing to live in a smaller home in a walkable-ish community with greenway bike trails, etc. (the kind of neighborhood people love for Halloween trick or treating). We could easily have twice the size home with more private amenities if we were willing to add even10-15 minutes more car time. Nor do I (or anyone I have ever met who wants to reduce the use of cars) have a problem with people who need cars for their occupation (truly, not giant, fancy vanity trucks) or live in rural areas.

What About The Disabled (And Other Vulnerable Populations)?

This question comes up frequently on social media, usually from those with good intentions who are compelled to point out ableism. The answer is that a reduction of car dependence and increased public transit infrastructure is far and away safer for EVERYONE, but especially those with disabilities, the elderly, children, women/girls. As the mother of a non-neurotypical child, cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tokyo, etc., would be exponentially safer for him, particularly if he wanted to navigate alone and/or needed assistance. As it stands, I am terrified every time he rides his bike or wants to play outside (and the stats on children killed by cars back me up) and live in dread if he desires to drive a car one day. Because in America, pedestrians are prey and low on the priority list for traffic engineers and American-raised car drivers. We put the onus on those not encased in multi-ton vehicles to be highly visible and they better never, ever make a mistake (like walking too slow for an impatient driver). We chastise “lazy kids” for not wanting to play outside or walk anywhere when we literally build cities and suburbs with giant roads that are unsafe for walking or cycling (rarely are there protected bike lanes, for example), especially alone. How do you foster independence in a child before the age of 16 if they are driven everywhere out of necessity?

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