Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not Trying To Take Your Car Away

Reading comments about mass transit issues is always a bit fascinating. It's a useful reminder that most Americans literally have no experience living or spending significant time in a place which has a relatively decent public transit system, and they therefore have no way to comprehend it.

Shifting the emphasis to transit isn't simply about building more light rail systems, though it's that too. It's also about shifting the general emphasis in planning away from cars first, everything else second. That doesn't mean that cars aren't important at all, it just means that, for example, number of parking spots isn't necessarily the most important issue. Again, parking is an issue for any development, it just shouldn't be the primary issue.

Establishing more transit-focused cities isn't simply about setting up alternative methods of travel, it's about redefining how people interact with their their location. And, no, of course this isn't feasible or practical in many places in the US. But there are places, like much of Los Angeles, where the degree of existing population density means that more transit-focused development and planning (and more transit!) would likely improve life for many people. It would also change the way that some people live. But don't worry, there will still be plenty of places to drive your car!