This sort of round table-type discussion in the New York Times was stimulated by the recent development of Vauban, a carless community outside of Freiburg, Germany. The main focus of the discussion is, “Is this a realistic goal in a car culture like ours?” The points they bring up in the argument are that there are very few places in America that could support a car-free lifestyle, that good design and not just outlawing cars is necessary, that cars take up a quarter of the average American’s budget, And that there are benefits to a car-free society, but that there are certain things that cars do very well.
As I’ve quoted a few times from John Norquist, “Congestion is like cholesterol: there’s good and bad.” Even though I don’t want to drive myself, I know that there are many people who would still prefer cars for many trips and I don’t have the right to tell them not to. I think we just need to design with the pedestrian in mind. The pedestrian should be the highest priority, followed by the bike, then transit, then the car. In most cities, the car is the only option. We need greater density, we need to eliminate minimum parking standards, and adopt some of the other issues discussed in this article.