Of course walkability is more space-efficient and appealing to walkers than traffic. Of course Manhattan is many times more livable and expensive than Fairfax. The fact remains that the majority of the country (90-95%) is trackless agriculture and wilderness, and 90-95% of the rest is entirely served by traffic. People can get anywhere they want while expending about as much energy as I am sitting in this chair typing this. We have made a great and extensive network, the 2.5 million miles of well graded routes in the US, up from 1 million mud, gravel and stone routes just a century ago.
Traffic is lifeblood, and you’d be a fool to turn it away.
More specifically, people are lifeblood, and you’d be a fool to turn them away, but in much of America, the only way people want to go any place is by traffic. The other thing about walkability and having things to walk to is that lots of things have to be within walking distance. You can’t have the wondrous walkability of Manhattan without first building Manhattan. Assuming that is not suitable for America or even metro New York City, why isn’t traffic the logical and free market choice for getting around?
First, we deserve more choice than this. If the only way to get around is by paying a 13 thousand dollar upfront fee with an 8 thousand dollar annual cost, are we truly expressing free travel, or are we paying a hidden tax for low density land use and high required energy use?
Second, If the land of the free requires so much of its land to be strait-jacketed in parking and right of way owned by the state or federal government, how free is it?
Third, it is not the end of history. Just as my great-great-great-grandparents could not imagine life without the reliable, powerful, hungry, shitting, biting, kicking and dying horse, many cannot imagine life without the private, convenient, expensive, paved, polluting, heavy, and needy car.
All it takes is a better way to get lifeblood (people) to where they want to go and where they are welcome. The internet is doing some of this. I’m interested in how the sidewalk, bicycle and transit can do the rest for less money, energy and materials, delivering more value to all of us.