CityFixer

More Ways Neighborhoods Can Decrease Car Use

Your responses from this week's The Big Fix

On Monday, Nate Berg's piece on "Cutting Car Use at the Neighborhood Level" focused on eight relatively new European housing developments that have seen varied success in reducing automobile use among residents. But there are as many approaches to this planning problem as there are neighborhoods in the world, so we asked you: How can individual neighborhoods discourage car use? The best responses of the week are below:

Commenter celeidth writes:

Making less parking available and the alternatives more appealing is great up to a point but if your job is a long way away and there is no housing or transit near it, you are going to need a car. Double that if your partner also is in the same boat. So much of this discussion always seems to deal with a world in which people live in suburbs because they want to drive cars to work in the city. It also deals with a world in which grocery stores are found on every corner. I've seen that in San Francisco; in Denver, not so much! We not only need to think in a visionary way; we also have to deal with what already exists and with how people want to live--not just how a twenty-something planner thinks we should live. Are there ways to work with what already exists and improve it rather than just imagine all the single family homes in the US crumbling around us? That may be happening in Detroit and Vegas but it's not happening in most of the US.

Look around at modern American cities sometime. Start by learning what the current patterns are, not what you think they are. Many people, if not most people who live in the suburbs also work in the suburbs. Transit needs to deal with that. If all the transit is focused on the central city, it won't work for those people who need to get from suburb to suburb. Here's my thought: make public transport economical and convenient and functional in the burbs as well as the city. Consider it a public good like roads. Then watch people use it. People scoffed at light rail when it was first proposed in Denver; it's exceeding all expectations for usage. In my smaller city, making sure that buses ran up and down the main drags at 10 minute intervals and adding things like business and neighborhood bus passes increased usage tremendously.

Alan Wolk:

Don't you think climate has a lot to do with car use?

I lived in London. It rarely snows there and temperatures in winter are not extreme. Result was I walked a lot.

I lived in Boston. It snowed a lot and was bitterly cold in the winter. Result was I often drove to places that were two or three blocks away to avoid the freezing weather and potential slips on icy sidewalks.

Weather is a huge factor in transportation decisions, as anyone who has ever waited at a bus stop in 15 degree weather can attest, yet I rarely see it mentioned in these sort of discussions.

Stay tuned for Monday's Big Fix, which examines ways that neighborhoods centered around sports stadiums can avoid becoming ghost towns in the off-season.

About the Author

  • Sommer Mathis is editor of CityLab. Previously she spent five years editing and reporting on the D.C. metro area at DCist.com and TBD.com.