...this is what I'd do: I'd make its cities car-free.
In my last post I wrote about wanting to move close to downtown to a pedestrian neighborhood. Then a few days ago, the results of a California study were published which showed that kids growing up near congested urban corridors ended up having compromised lung capacity for the rest of their lives, causing asthma, other respiratory illnesses, and low resistance to pneumonia.
Of course this revelation stopped me in my tracks, and I've been spending a lot of time researching this topic on the internet. That's how I found J.H. Crawford, author of the book "Carfree."
Crawford loves to describe Venice, Italy- a busy, thriving example of a car-free city. Italians call it "Il Serenissima", the serene one. It is an amazingly stress-free urban environment.
Vancouver, B.C. is a city well-appreciated by visitors from all over the world. Its Director of Central Area Planning, Larry Beasley, offers this famous observation, "If you design an environment for children, it will work for everyone." If we in the U.S. had measured cars against this yardstick before adopting them as the default method of transportation in urban areas, we would have decided to avoid cars at any cost.
Accidents involving cars is the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. It is unsafe for children to walk, bike, or ride in cars. The pollution resulting from cars has resulted in rampant respiratory disease and cancer. (The cancer rates from car exhaust is increased sixfold in high traffic areas.)
Areas that have been cleared to make endless roadways for cars have resulted in obvious blight. The car culture has taken people off the streets, changing the social landscape. We fight wars to protect our oil supplies. Global warming is a now undeniable phenomenon.
Cities really could be designed around public transit, biking and walking, with ALL cars parked in large garages at the city's edge. Subways and streetcars could efficiently shuttle people around. For freight transportation, standard sea containers along with small, low impact freight bikes and battery-powered carts are perfect.
I am frustrated. I wish I could DO something to bring about carfree cities, and I feel powerless. How many people really care about this? Am I alone? Any suggestions?