Cities are the key to global sustainability. The book, America’s Addiction to Automobiles, is an ambitious attempt to establish this idea in the general public. The book takes a provocative look at America’s dependency on the automobile and how its potential impact on urban design will either make or break our economy, health, and quality of life. Indeed, the car is a central player in an approach to modern life that threatens our very survival.
But it is not enough to say “cities will save us.” They have to be built correctly. That means building cities that are designed in accordance with the human scale, and that cities are governed at the community scale. We know how to build good cities, and we even know how to govern them democratically. We just don’t.
So why do we still build automobile dependent cities, and why do we let private interests govern us? These are great questions, and the book provides a unique and compelling answer to both.
For now, let’s admit that it is not enough to know how to build better cities: we’ve been trying for 50 years, and we have failed to turn things around. What our brilliant designers have largely ignored is that producing the city is a fundamentally political concern.
If the body politic is to choose better cities, then people will need to be equipped to evaluate their choices. The ability to accurately evaluate the social world requires certain skills. The book is written to support the development of these skills. One thing is certain, if you read this book, you will know exactly what the city is and does, and you will know exactly how the automobile interacts with cities.
My belief is that when people have the tools to objectively evaluate the social and urban world, they will choose multimodal and democratically-governed cities.