The Revolution will not be Motorized

Over a year ago we became a one car family. After a decade of owning and maintaining two cars, we made a conscious decision to simplify our lives.

We rely on bicycles, public transit, and walking for most of our local travel. We still use the car to get groceries and make trips throughout the region.

My home’s walkscore

This decision has helped us become richer, stronger, and more creative. We are confident that we can go where we need using a wide range of options.

Of course, this decision was only possible because of the location of our house. We live in a neighborhood that has good sidewalks, street lighting, and a wide range of stores nearby. It has a “WalkScore” of 90 – which is elite for the Southeast.

Unfortunately, not everybody can afford to live in neighborhoods that support walking, biking, and reliable public transit. The scarcity of these places in the housing market leads to higher prices. (In my neighborhood, pressure from tourism and student rentals also drive prices higher.)

But that can be changed. Cities have the tools to expand opportunity to enhance affordability in neighborhoods like mine. However, we have to address one substantial assumption first: families do not need two cars.

When regulations require homes to provide two parking spaces they make explicit an assumption of the automobile age – the idea that all trips should be made by private automobile. Furthermore, this requirement distorts the urban form by expanding distances between destinations artificially.

The revolution taking place in urban design is not technological. We have all the gadgets we need. The revolution taking place is merely a shift in perspective and the recognition that great cities should not rely on private automobiles.