Via Wired, a transportation planner makes an impassioned plea for overhauling our car-centric mindset. Our cities have become places where “cars have a right to housing and people don’t,” lamented Timothy Papandreau at a recent symposium called Expanding the Vision of Sustainable Mobility.

Just think of the space required to support our car habit, he said: “You have to have a place to park at home, a place to park at work, and a place to park at retail establishments.” Not to mention how inefficiently our freeways use space — the 200 people that are carried (on average) by 177 cars could be carried by just three buses instead. “All that road space could become something else,” he said, advocating for a comprehensive government initiative to disincentivize driving.

There’s a lively debate raging in the Wired comments section over that conclusion. It’s inspired plenty of fervent “hear, hear!”s, but also some skepticism over the wisdom of disincentivizing driving without first improving people’s alternatives. And improving those alternatives will be especially problematic outside of dense urban areas. “I have lived [in the Twin Cities] all of my life,” one commenter says, “and more than half of the work force drives in from over 30 miles away. You would need so many public depots… it would be insane.”

A world where “cars have a right to housing and people don’t” was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by jgalef