Auto Manifesto

January 5, 2008

Why Drive In Cities?

The American landscape is primarily based on automobile travel. Everything from roads and interstates to home garages, driveways, parking lots, drive-through lanes, tollbooths, parking garages, rest areas, gas stations, and shopping malls cater to a lifestyle that centers around using automobiles.

That’s a problem now that, in many areas, it’s reached the point of diminishing returns once congestion, pollution, safety, and parking costs are accounted for. It’s a royal pain to drive through Manhattan or any number of other cities.

Following up on electric propulsion, here are some more potential contributing factors. With many states and localities already restricting idling of vehicles (primarily trucks, click here for more info) it’s going to become more and more difficult to operate a vehicle that emits anything. Combined with efforts to reduce gridlock, we need better ways to get around.

Different areas are going to require different modes of transportation to enable the most efficient, environmentally-friendly, and cost effective form for particular conditions (e.g. urban, suburban, rural, etc). In order to accomplish this, one size does not fit all.

My point is this. If more and more cities decide to adopt congestion pricing for automobiles, restrict vehicle emissions, and parking steadily becomes more difficult there’s going to be a point where we may as well not have any cars in the cities.

But in order to do so there have to be some better alternatives, holistic systems that enable people and goods to go from Point A to Point B within a city in a way that is faster, cheaper and better for the environment than we’re doing today.

Whatever system(s) supplants automobile traffic as we know it is likely to require 2 things: Some combination of electric and human propulsion and extensive changes to the landscape. If you don’t have cars any more the roads would naturally be used for something else.

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