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MOOCs 23rd September Back to Learning Library Next Article. Still more die from the poor physical health that cars promote, like obesity and asthma, making us less resilient to disease.
Cars cost consumers tens of millions more in tickets, insurance, repairs, registration, taxes, fuel, and other expenses. In many ways, we work in order to drive our cars. Cars are expensive to own, but hard to live without, so they contribute to poverty. Cars produce sprawl, which lengthens work commutes and scatters urban amenities, making them used less often.
In fact, the cities we produce today hardly function in the way cities should; they produce few of the benefits of urbanism, the very reason why humans originally chose cities thousands of years ago.
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So why do we still build automobile dependent cities? Such an increase is necessary to overcome dependency, but it is not sufficient. Indeed, increasing multimodality is easy; we do it every day in cities across the world. Nevertheless, the United States has never seen a single example of a city going from automobile dependent to functionally multimodal. Why is that?
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To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. Indeed, entire towns have been built from scratch based on these strategies and employing all of the available tactics and yet they are still automobile dependent.
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These strategies and tactics show how to make cities less automobile dependent, but they have not—indeed, they cannot— make cities functionally multimodal. The short answer is because none of these dominant alternative approaches to city-building e.
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New Urbanism, Smart Growth, etc. Others have a mistaken idea of what the logic is. Many of the people whose jobs and training are focused on the physical enactments of cities — that is, the forms of the buildings, the characteristics of the streets, the amenities within the parks, etc.
The logic is why we do things; the logic is our motivation for designing cities around the car, our rationale, the justification, the reasons. The design of cities for the use of cars is merely incidental; building our cities around cars instead of people is a symptom, not the disease. Thus, design will not reverse the paradigm that creates automobile-centered cities: You cannot design your way out of a problem that has little to do with design, or that is not a result of poor design.
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Whatever the case, whether they misdiagnose the problem as an issue of design, or they think the disease is part of the cure, none of the current approaches make the old model obsolete. That model, the current underlying logic of modern city-building, is the economic growth paradigm. Cars, and our penchant for designing cities around them, are merely the symptom.