The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Twilight of the Car?

Car use is falling in Auckland, New Zealand, and city planners around the world should start paying attention: New Geography thinks this could be a sign of things to come:

The prospect of falling car use now needs to be firmly factored into planning for western cities.

That may come as a bit of a surprise in light of the preoccupation with city plans that aim to get people out of their cars, but it is already happening.  And it is highly likely to continue regardless of whether or not we promote urban consolidation and expensive transit systems. [...]

Decentralization, or sprawl as it is sometimes sneeringly called, makes it easier for people to shop, work, and play closer to where they live. NG doesn’t think this is such a terrible trend. A decentralized populace with decentralized shops and services means lower congestion and, yes, lower car use. Why fight that by cramming everyone back in to the city?

The 20th century was the age of the automobile; the 21st could well be something else. But there are more and more reasons to be skeptical about long term infrastructure programs, high speed rail above all, that are trying to alleviate a congestion problem that is probably not going to occur.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Published on February 10, 2013 12:00 pm