Actually, suburbs were built by rail, not automobiles. For several decades
the only way to get to and from from any suburban town in the US was by
interurban trolley or railroad. Just about every suburban town around Los
Angeles up to and including Riverside was originally developed by suburban
trolley, years before there was any highway system there. You see that in
suburban Dallas. Richardson and Plano, seen from the expressway, look like
today's typical sprawling suburbs. But if you get a mile away from the
freeway, you'll find that they still have viable little urban cores
surrounded by single-family residences built mostly before the 1950's. Fast
rail service has actually restored the importance of those old suburban town
centers, inspiring both building restoration and new traditional,
pedestrian-oriented construction in the vicinty of the rail stations. By
traditional I mean appartments on city streets with walk-in businesses on
the first floor.
Carfree Cities is a concept that is naturally extensible to suburbs. Things
aren't necessarily "broken" if you have to travel twenty miles. What if my
daughter wants to go see her aunt in the suburbs? Nowadays, I'd have to
drive her, but in the 1940's she could have ridden there herself by train or
trolley. We're actually much, much worse off than then.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 03, 2003 11:56 AM
Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Personal transport (was Homer)
> "Mike Harrington" <mike@p...> wrote:
> > Walking, too, will remain pretty
> > cheap, for that matter.
> Cheap, healthy, pleasant, and versatile.
> Cities should support walking as the
> primary mode of transportation. It's
> biology. It's how we evolved to move.
> > What if you need to travel twenty
> > miles? How many people go on a twenty-
> > mile radius with their bicycle?
> With respect to cities, some would argue
> that if you ever have to travel twenty
> miles between two destinations, things
> are already broken. Cities sprawl to
> that extent only when the government
> builds a car infrastructure and
> implements development policies that
> encourage it.
> As an aside, and marking myself as a
> heretic here, I enjoy car travel BETWEEN
> cities. The big problem with highways is
> not their use to get from one city to
> another, but their use for transport
> WITHIN a city, and how that shapes the
> urban environment. Of course, one can
> get into all sorts of discussion about
> how the highway system warped cross-
> country transportation, and the various
> effects of that. For cities, I think the
> primary and most harmful effect came
> from building highways through cities,
> and allowing highway use for local
> transportation. Cities then grew along
> the highways. There are modest-sized
> towns in Arkansas that are ten miles
> long and three blocks wide. These cities
> are broken. It's hard to see how they
> will ever accomodate any mode of
> transportation that isn't centered on
> the highway that serves as their
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