Steven Peguero

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Do we really want to be a car-dependent society?


I don’t think most Americans consciously understand why they love vacationing in structually dense places such as Boston or other popular destinations within New England that predate cars. It’s the walkable, vibrant, human-scaled streets and neighborhoods that they feature, where one can accomplish errands and delve into surrounding culture, community and entertainment on foot, or via bicycle or transit. Some of these points apply to Walt Disney World as well, particularly the Magic Kingdom, which, in my opinion, is not a coincidence.

Compare this with the living situation within much of the United States today, where I must concern myself with driving for even the smallest of errands; the stress of other motorists and exercising defensive driving practices in response to them; poorly-designed, collision-prone thoroughfares; higher risk of injury or death; gas prices and availability; maintenance; inspections; insurance; and availability of parking.

This is not to say that I wish to abolish cars altogether, as it would be dishonest to claim that they are without redeeming qualities. However, I wish not to be a slave to my car and instead have alternative, but practical, ways of getting around. This begins by rescinding stringent municipal laws that mandate car-promoting policies such as single-family zoning, setbacks and parking minimums, and enacting pedestrian-first laws that enable policies such as multi-use zoning, the installation of road-separated bicycle lanes, and the narrowing of thoroughfares. Consider watching Not Just Bikes on YouTube for a detailed explanation behind this idea.

Considering these points, do most Americans truly wish to be totally dependent upon cars for even the simplest of tasks and leisures? Some of their vacation destinations have me believing otherwise.