What is the relationship between car culture, urban sprawl, and climate change? What would it take to shift from private car culture to spending on public transportation infrastructure?
The account links to articles about the history of urban freeway design, the legacies of inequality and gentrification, and the destruction and walling off of communities. From clogged drive-thru lanes, parking-lot freeways, and side-by-side photos of cities and towns 50 years apart, to other design consequences of urban renewal/sprawl. These images of the impact of a society saturated with cars highlight the economic and social expenses of the pubic infrastructure necessary to maintain privatized transportation.
The images from cities that have organized weekly "pedestrians day" or redesigned traffic configurations offer ideas for how to be future-oriented in designing urban spaces that do not reproduce centering the automobile as the primary mode of transportation.
The gist of this account is that we first consider that car culture is the consequence of a uniquely situated, post-WWII, suburbanized capitalist imagination. Next, consider learning about the politics of privatizing transportation – from cars and toll roads to the transformation of the electric trolley system, as this Wired article investigates. Finally, from bike lanes to increased investment in public transportation, contemplate what to do to reduce reliance on cars, the "largest net contributor to climate change pollution," according to this NASA study.
For a deeper dive into these topics, check out these two books on capitalism, automobiles, inequality, and urban planning. How to Kill a City, by P.E. Moskowitz, focuses on gentrification in Detroit, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York. Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay, by Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi, offers a scathing critique of cars, economic policy, and social decay.
This video, "The Real Cost of Freeways in LA," along with the coalition, Destruction for Nada, offers up-to-date information on the people's movement to have a say in urban design and "stop all road widening in LA County." What is the history of urban design, gentrification, and geographic inequality in your area?