By Dom Nozzi
Several decades ago, as cars were first emerging in America, there was a large backlash against the growing car menace, and there was a very strong and nearly successful push to require all new cars to be built with a governor that would keep the maximum speed of cars down to an extremely modest speed.
To improve the quality of life in neighborhoods and cities, I love the idea of designing cars so that they can only be driven at a very low maximum speed. High speed car travel is extremely toxic to cities and neighborhoods, partly because they powerfully induce community dispersal, isolation of people from others, promote non-local Big Box retail, and catastrophically degrade community and neighborhood quality of life.
My core message in my writings and speeches is that we must return to the tradition of slow(er) speed travel. An essential companion to the crucial need for slower speed travel, however, is something we should not lose sight of:
We need substantially smaller vehicles.
A golf cart would be a good start…
The gargantuan space consumption of motor vehicles destroys the intimate, human-scaled, charming, romantic, walkable dimensions and spacing that nearly all humans find lovable (as shown, partly, by the places we most love to visit as tourists). The huge space consumption by cars (a person in a car takes up 19 times more space than a person in a chair) inevitably causes cities to become afflicted by the gigantism disease.
Tragically, it is nearly impossible for designers to build quaint, lovable places when the enormously-sized cars of today are a part of our world. And that explains why, over the past several decades, Americans seem to have completely lost the capability of creating such places. It is only the historic places built long ago that demonstrate these much-desired community and neighborhood traits.
Massive parking lots. Massive building setbacks. Massive highways. Massive distance from Point A to Point B. Result: A dangerous, unsustainable world that no one can love.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
My Adventures blog
Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog
My Town & Transportation Planning website
My Plan B blog
My Facebook profile
My YouTube video library
My Picasa Photo library
My Author spotlight