If A German Town Can Go Car-Free, Why Not America?

An article in the New York Times this week profiled Vauban, Germany, a town without cars. NYTime's Room for Debate Blog asked planners and developers to envision a car-free town in America.
May 13, 2009, 2pm PDT | franny.ritchie
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Witold Rybczynski writes, "There are only six American downtown districts that are dense enough to support mass transit, which you need if you're going to be carless: New York City (Midtown and Downtown), Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco. That's it. The breaking-point for density and mass transit feasibility seems to be about 50 persons per acre, which means families living in flats and apartments, rather than single-family houses, even row houses. Not necessarily high-rise apartments, but at least walk-ups.

"Since most Americans still prefer living in houses, this is a problem - at least as far as carlessness is concerned."

Dolores Hayden, environmental and urban historian, writes "Can the majority of Americans, who live in suburban places, begin to imagine life without cars? The answer lies in imagining new suburbs with better land use as well as better public transportation. Existing American suburbs often isolate single-family houses built by private developers from other types of activities. Land uses are separated rather than integrated around daily neighborhood needs. Public transportation is minimal or missing."

D.J. Waldie, author of "Holy Land", Christopher B. Leinberger, real estate developer and author, J.H. Crawford, author of "Carfree Cities," and Marc Schlossberg, professor of public policy also weigh in.

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

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Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 in The New York Times
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