5 myths about suburbia and our car cultureI'm a little crunched for time tonight, so a quick pass along from Reason. This overview is inadequate, and I wanted to do some more excerpts, but they would have added up to most of the article, so just read the whole thing (permalink). And don't miss the link at the bottom too.
In a column for the The Washington Post, excerpted from their new book The Road More Traveled, Reason's Ted Balaker and Sam Staley examine many of the myths about our love for cars and the evil suburbs, including:
"How much of the United States is developed? Twenty-five percent? Fifty? Seventy-five? How about 5.4 percent? That's the Census Bureau's figure. And even much of that is not exactly crowded: The bureau says that an area is 'developed' when it has 30 or more people per square mile. But most people do live in developed areas, so it's easy to get the impression that humans have trampled nature."
"Some claim that Europeans have developed an enlightened alternative. Americans return from London and Paris and tell their friends that everyone gets around by transit. But tourists tend to confine themselves to the central cities. Europeans may enjoy top-notch transit and endure gasoline that costs $5 per gallon, but in fact they don't drive much less than we do. In the United States, automobiles account for about 88 percent of travel. In Europe, the figure is about 78 percent. And Europeans are gaining on us."
"Since 1970, driving -- total vehicle miles traveled -- has increased 155 percent, and yet the EPA reports a dramatic decrease in every major pollutant it measures. Although driving is increasing by 1 to 3 percent each year, average vehicle emissions are dropping about 10 percent annually. Pollution will wane even more as motorists continue to replace older, dirtier cars with newer, cleaner models."
The 5 myths debunked:
1. Americans are addicted to driving.
2. Public transit can reduce traffic congestion.
3. We can cut air pollution only if we stop driving.
4. We're paving over America.
5. We can't deal with global warming unless we stop driving.