Taking Transit 'Out' Of The City

<p>While more work needs to be done to make transit work for urban dwellers, thought should also be given to how transit can let those car-free city residents reach the great outdoors.</p>
August 23, 2007, 2pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Many of us would love to get rid of our cars (or at least cut down on the number of cars our family owns), if we could find a sensible alternative. That time may not be far off; increasingly a combination of good urban planning, new technology and more flexible models of ownership is making car-free life not only possible, but alluring. And add on well-built density, walkshed technologies and car sharing, and we already have a pretty good model for not only getting access to things we want, but saving money and protecting the environment while we're at it... as long as we stay in the parts of your city which are similarly served.

And there's the rub, because what the automobile most represents in our psyches is freedom. The freedom of the open road. The freedom to go anywhere you want, whenever you want (even though most of us rarely or never exercise that privilage). And that definition of freedom is a hard thing go give up.

Of course we don't actually give up our freedom of movement when we give up our cars, but it can seem that way. That's part of the reason why we geek over tools that reveal unexpected methods of mobility, like Google Transit. We're even more excited by the fact that citizens are increasingly manufacturing such tools for themselves and their communities, often doing a better job of it than the public agencies and corporations that are supposed to supply us with transportation choices.

Worldchanging ally Julia Steinberger turned us on to an absolutely marvelous example of this: Hike Metro!. It's a Seattle-based online guide to getting out into nature without a car."

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Published on Thursday, August 23, 2007 in World Changing
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