Automobile Dependency

Blog post
June 2, 2015, 6am PDT
Common planning practices create automobile-dependent communities where driving is convenient and other forms of travel are inefficient. It's time to recognize the value of transportation diversity.
Todd Litman
April 28, 2015, 6am PDT
For the Charlotte Observer, Ely Portillo reports on a forum calling for urbanist reforms and doubts whether auto-loving residents will be receptive.
The Charlotte Observer
March 2, 2015, 5am PST
Increased awareness of sprawl’s negative effects has not led to a drop-off in its construction. Developers say they only build what the market demands.
The Atlantic
June 6, 2014, 2pm PDT
Data show that cars are more effective than transit in providing poor people to jobs and economic opportunity. But does that mean transit systems are fundamentally inadequate or just currently inadequate?
The Daily Beast
April 3, 2014, 8am PDT
Many advocates for new ways of thinking about places and streets argue for reduced use of cars as the dominant mode of transportation. A new study finds, however that poverty is improved when the poor have access to a car for transportation.
The Washington Post - Wonkblog
Blog post
August 23, 2012, 12pm PDT

Last week the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report, In Search of the Global Middle Class: A New Index, by researcher Uri Dadush, which uses car ownership rates as an indication of the size of a country's middle class, defined as a household that can purchase non-essential goods. The results are summarized in the figure below, which were reported in an Atlantic Monthly column, It's Official: Western Europeans Have More Cars Per Person Than Americans by Max Fisher, and

Todd Litman
June 26, 2012, 12pm PDT
Matthew Stevenson anticipates the end of the bicycle in China's major cities, now overrun with scooters and scrambling for Western status symbols – in spite of ever-worsening traffic.
New Geography
Blog post
April 8, 2012, 6pm PDT

Planners strive to anticipate future needs, which sometimes creates self-fulfilling prophecies: by preparing for a situation we help cause it. This is particularly true of automobile dependency. Planning decisions intended to accommodate automobile travel can create a cycle of increased vehicle travel, more automobile-oriented planning, and reduced alternatives. This concept is conveyed brilliantly in the cartoon below, drawn by transportation engineer Ian Lockwood and published in the March 2012 ITE Journal.

Todd Litman
Blog post
March 24, 2011, 8am PDT

Our job as planners is ultimately to manage change, which is often fun but occasionally ugly. A good example is a current debate over a supposed “war against the car.”

Todd Litman
Blog post
October 25, 2010, 12am PDT

Why are otherwise generous and smart people sometimes selfish and irrational? 

Todd Litman
Blog post
February 1, 2010, 6am PST

Let me wade into an ongoing debate among fellow Planetizen bloggers Samuel Staley and Michael Lewyn concerning the meanings of accessibility and mobility, and their implications for transportation and land use policy.

Todd Litman