A less auto dependent California?

Sacromento Bee – September 21, 2008

A very good article that revisits what many of us know already – we need to be less car dependent.  I live in Vancouver proper and I find I need a car to run certain errands and get to certain stores still.  Our cities are not set up the way we need them to be.

There’s a problem, though. We’re stuck with the landscape we’ve built over the past 60 years, much of which is literally uninhabitable without a car. Trying to make our communities less car-dependent simply by adding more buses, streetcars and light rail is like trying to make a bowl of chicken soup vegan simply by picking the chicken out. It’s just not that simple: like the chicken broth in my chicken soup, car dependence is an inherent property of nearly every city, town and suburb in this country and especially so in car-loving California.

I think the writer makes a very good point.  We need to look at land use planning in conjunction with transportation planning.  We like to often compartmentalize the two into different categories, but one has a profound effect on the other.  They can’t be separated.

We can see that in different cities throughout North America.  Parts of our cities are quite livable and very walkable.  Downtown Toronto can be a very enjoyable walk, if not downright cold in the winter.  It’s an older city set up around the idea of walking or taking the streetcar.  New Yorkers in Manhattan mostly walk, bus, taxi, or subway to wherever they want to go.  Vancouver’s metropolitan core is one of the more walkable places in the continent.  We have done it right before in the past and we are having some successes now in the present.

California is a state with a population almost equivalent to that of Canada.  It’s typically been a leader in new enviro-friendly legislation.  So we should keep a close eye on how things transpire.  California has some of the stricter laws regarding the environment and pollution.  At one time, they were going to legislate that all vehicles be zero emissions by a certain year (I’d have to sleuth around to find a number).  So it will be interesting to see how things turn out in the Golden State because it can have a ripple effect across the continent.  At least, I hope it will if change is good in LALA land.

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