Yes yes yes yes!! This article by yahoo news (I know! wow.) enumerates a number of issues I’ve been meaning to gather into a thoughtful, drawn-out post. Basically the public subsidy of cars is destroying any possibility for modern American cities to develop more walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods.
Even though there is tremendous support for transit and ridership has been improving in most states (especially the west) in the last decade development patterns simply haven’t kept up. Easements on parking requirements definitely make sense especially in neighborhoods well serviced by transit. Rather than hurting property values I believe it will be a boon to development as more and more odd-lots are able to be built upon.
Think of the car issue as a running fountain. Basically the more spots you have in a neighborhood the more cars therefore the greater necessity for streets to pipe them further down the line necessitating vast freeways and on and on. The net result is a loss of usable space, robbed from people and given to traffic.
Don’t just listen to me though. Check out this video:
The City is not a Problem It’s a Solution from urbanplanningblog.com.
Basically all I’m saying is that the city is like a turtle and we don’t want to break his back.
There are also implications for suburban development as well. One of the most marked characteristics predominating the suburban landscape is the bountiful presence of cars, yet so few pedestrians; such that seeing someone walk down the street is a sight strange enough to warrant casual rubbernecking. Not to mention the relative lack of trees in new developments. It makes for a strangely bleak manifestation of American wealth.
Speaking of which, the whole “car culture” obsession will likely linger in spite of an major changes to land-use policy; Americans are too attached to its inherent materialism, insofar as it communicates the owner’s successfulness to the public at large. Though, I believe this is more of a systemic issue in American culture, rather than something purely intrinsic to “car culture”; we are a nation of propriety, where ownership is nine-tenths of the law, rights and privileges are recognized on the basis of property ownership. If anything, the fundamental tenets of our system of government and human rights encourages phenomena such as this parking-lot malaise.
As much as I know I would certainly appreciate and utilize public transit in favor of personal automotive means, I am highly skeptical that it would catch on beyond an urbane demographic. I mean, can you imagine a nouveau-riche suburbanite giving up their Escalade?