Monday, March 17, 2014

Taken for a ride - part two

As a follow up to my post about the demise of public transportation in United States, here is an article about the history of our cities - how we lost the streets for cars and how crossing freely anywhere we wished became illegal jaywalking. Worth reading and worth remembering how
"At some point, we decided that somebody on a bike or on foot is not traffic, but an obstruction to traffic." 
Sixth Ave in 1903, New York City. People ruled the streets and public transport was a dominant way of travel. (Source:

Most countries followed U.S. example and opened their cities for cars, pushing people off the way, onto sidewalks. Few tried to fix the problem. Obviously the best example of one of those few is Holland, where some time in the 70's the Dutch realized that the best way to avoid having their cities plugged permanently with a slow moving car traffic is to take the streets away from the drivers and give them back to pedestrians and cyclists. It worked! Dutch cities are often quoted as the most walkable in the world.

Meanwhile in the U.S. traffic congestion is growing three times as fast as U.S. economy but we are still too afraid to make driving unappealing and stimulate drivers to to switch their cars for other means of transportations. On the other hand, we demolished our streetcar lines back in the 40's so there are few alternatives left. Are we just destined to be car-dependant forever?

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