By Dom Nozzi
How can we design communities to have cars behave themselves and thereby restore a quality community for people?
My remedy can be summarized by saying that we need to return to the timeless tradition of designing our communities to make people happy, not cars. In the downtowns of our cities, that means… Traffic calming. Human-scaled (low-speed) street dimensions, modest building setbacks, and modest vehicle sizes. Higher residential densities. An end to subsidized (free) parking — largely by eliminating local government laws that require new developments to provide off-street parking. Setting 2 or 3 lanes as the maximum size of roads within a city (which requires, of course, that cities begin an incremental road diet/travel lane removal campaign). Have motorists pay their own way for a change (congestion/toll fees and much higher gas taxes, pay-by-the-mile car insurance, etc.).
In a healthy city, because of the excessive size and speed of cars, the motorist should feel like an inconvenienced intruder. The pedestrian should feel like a welcomed guest.
Currently and tragically, the reverse is almost always the case. Driving a motor vehicle should be a privilege rather than a (subsidized), God-given right.
Peter Norton, author of the magnificent and important Fighting Traffic, recommends that community and transportation choice advocates take the approach that “motordom” took 100 years ago: There must be an organized, united front promoting a consistent message in defense of designing cities for people, not cars. For transportation choice, not forced car dependency. As our Founding Fathers urged in 1776, Unite or Die…
Note, by the way, that it took America about 100 years to get us into this transportation & quality of life mess we are in. Therefore, there are no overnight, silver-bullet solutions.
We need to move on several fronts.
And expect a long-term campaign.