America’s Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing – Emily Badger – The Atlantic Cities

It’s the relative attractiveness of different modes of transportation that shapes our choices, and American cities are still terrified of making driving less attractive.  This really puts a cap on what fraction of trips we can get over to biking, walking and mass transit.  Partly because driving is such an ingrained cultural norm (even if it’s just as easy to drive as to bike, the default behavior amongst most people will be to drive), and partly because accommodating cars well means degrading the walking, biking and transit amenities.  In a place like Boulder where people actually have alternatives to driving — no, not everyone, and not for every trip, but many people for many trips — we have to start putting some downward pressure on driving, or we’re never going to get much past our current bike/ped/transit shares.  And it’s not like this has to be punitive — a lot of it is just removing historical crutches that have been provided to cars, like free parking.  Cities like Bern and Freiburg and Zürich have 70% or more of their trips being done outside of personal motorized vehicles.  It’s doable (in the fullness of time).  Let’s do it!

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