How U.S. Infrastructure Perpetuates Car Dependence

The assumption that it’s “impossible” to live without a car in many American cities perpetuates infrastructure projects that privilege and induce driving.

May 12, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Pedestrians

Mircea Iancu / Pexels

In light of the many harmful effects of an overreliance on automobiles, “Why can’t we ask people to drive less and use transit or walk or bike?” asks Rachael Ludwick in The Urbanist. “Because, as implied in a recent New York Times article and claimed commonly elsewhere, it’s supposedly ‘infeasible’ in much of the United States to live without a car.”

This is largely because, Ludwick argues, “Our system has for more than eighty years subsidized driving in myriad ways that people don’t even notice.” Yet “People who can’t or don’t drive learn to get around wherever they live: and they live everywhere including places that are ‘impossible’ or ‘infeasible’ without a car.”

For Ludwick, walking is often a joyful experience. “But it’s not always a joy for everyone because many places do lack safe and convenient ways to walk, bike or bus. Our lives – and frankly everyone’s lives – could be immensely improved if only more people were driving less and were less committed to protecting driving and space for it.”

Ludwick also points out the environmental impact of driving. “In the United States, 29% of our carbon emissions come from transportation, mostly private vehicles,” calling on more people to try new transportation modes and pressure policymakers to fund safe walking and biking infrastructure and public transit. “Millions of Americans trying to get around without their cars will build support for the myriad of fixes we need to create a transportation system that works for everyone.”

Monday, May 9, 2022 in The Urbanist

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