why did we allow our cities to get car centric?

Before WWII, very few Americans owned cars. Cities were dense, walkable, and well-connected with electric trolleys. MUCH less energy was spent on the simple act of getting around. Our national train system was the envy of the world, so people could travel to most destinations without a car and businesses could ship merchandise without the need for trucks. Once again, MUCH less energy was spent for travel and shipping.

We now live in a society where you almost HAVE to own a car to function. Car companies dumped the cost of road building and maintenance on us to keep this system running. Retailers have dumped the cost of shipping/delivery on us as consumers. We have to buy a car, maintain it, insure it and fuel it just to go to work, school, church and the grocery store. It makes no sense. We could do all of these things without cars, save ourselves the money, and enjoy better health and air quality.

Sprawling suburbs are directly correlated with growing rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Kids can't walk to school or any other civic function anymore. I've heard it said that corporations such as Wal-Mart require this living arrangement, calling it an "economy of scale". Well, cities can be scaled up as well as out, and logically, why should we foot the bill to keep Wal-Mart in business?

Why do we need cars? Why not highly-efficient mass-transit, biking and walking (like many international cities)? If you feel it's because of "the market", please explain why most American cities have zoning laws that prevent walkable, car-free neighborhoods from being built. Please explain why car-free environments such as Disneyland or Venice are so popular. I want to know why we really NEED cars (not WANT them).

3 Answers

  • Mike S
    Lv 6
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well I need a car, so as not to have to listen to the little kid crying next to me on a bus or train,

    So that sick guy who blows his nose and never washes his hands stays away from me,

    So I can decide when and where I want to go without being at the mercy of scheduled pickups,

    So I can leave for work and get there in 20 minutes, vs taking 1 hour and a half on public transportation.

    So I can take an alternate route to get to where I am going

    So I can go off the beaten path.

    So I can live in the country and smell the fresh air, and work in the city where the higher paying jobs are.

    Those are just a few reasons. While public transportation is nice to get around on a budget, or for simplicity for people who live in big cities, Heck even high speed rails between major cities would be nice. It is much nicer to have your own means of transportation at your beckoning call.

    Instead of trying to get public transportation, why not try to get every individual to get a small one person car with a lawn mower engine of sorts and put a clown horn on it so we can all giggle in traffic.

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  • ME
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    I don't know. I grew up in Boston and never owned a car until I moved to Europe. I just used buses and the subway(usually the subway) to get around. When I moved to Spain I needed a car to get everywhere, there public transportation sucks. in France I needed a car until I moved to Paris. Then I moved to the Netherlands and no longer needed a car. But then I moved to belgium and the subway is so violent and crime ridden and the cops are a complete joke, so I have a car again.

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  • 9 years ago

    Several years study of railway history casts serious doubt on your claim that America's national rail system was the envy of the world. There are even several important cities - Las Vegas is one - with no rail link at all

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