Lousy World We Built

Here are some thoughts I had from a recent blog post by Russell Preston. He recently posted after a lecture by David Byrne where he spoke on his book Bicycle Diaries.

“Most U.S. cities are not very bike friendly. They’re not pedestrian-friendly either. They’re car-friendly-or at least they try very hard to be. In most of these cities one could say that the machine won. Lives, city planning, budgets, and time are all focused around the automobile. It’s long term unsustainable and short-term lousy living.”

These introductory words of Byrne’s book express my very feelings at this moment. I feel that we do live in a lousy world. What makes me feel even worse about this situation is that we spent a lot of time and money building this lousy place. Planners had to go out of their way to manipulate basic human needs that have brought us to this lousy place.

When are we going to stop forcing people to live in a place designed not for them, but their cars? Take a look at how we measure our cities. We have gone from human based measurements to the measure of the car. Parcels need corner clips and sight lines so the car can get onto the street. Streets need to be 60 feet wide so there is enough room for the car to drive, park, and pass. Block need to be big enough so that a parking garage can be place in the middle and wrapped with active uses. Development must be stopped because there is not enough parking, roads, or highways.

At what point did we switch from prioritizing the human and focused on the machine? When did we put up the white flag and handed the keys to the city to the car?

2 thoughts on “Lousy World We Built”

  1. Thanks for the link. I share your pain. It seems the time is now though. People are starting to wake up to the fact that the car has played a big role in the mess that is the country right now. Even better is that the people who are buying the cars, the market, are starting to get it too. Why drive when you can walk? In the new economy all of the answers to your questions need to change. It can not be business as usual.

  2. We are seeing a very scary thing happening with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). They are increasing traffic projections on roadways. These changes in the numbers are requiring FDOT to hire private consultants to plan for larger roads. In my County, FDOT is planning for a billion dollar by-pass around a town of less then 8,000 people. For a billion dollars, I could move the town away from the roadway, build everyone a new house that meets all sustainable and hardened building practices, and construct all new infrastructure such as sewer and electrical. Now where is the priority?

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