Kaid Benfield Archive


Cities: a smart alternative to cars?

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 29, 2008 at 10:42PM

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Vancouver, BC Vancouver's West End neighborhood

You have to know that smart growth is making more and more sense to more and more of the right people when it shows up in Business Week.  And on the website of that venerable and most mainstream of publications, Alex Steffen writes:

The answer to the problem of the American car is not under its hood . . . The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car [although Steffen supports that, too] but to eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go. In the US, we need to stop sprawl and build well-designed compact communities. The land-use patterns in our communities dictate not only how much we drive, but how sustainable we can be on all sorts of fronts . . .

We know we're capable of building dense new neighborhoods with plenty of open space, welcoming public places, thriving neighborhood retail, and a tangible sense of place. Just look at Vancouver, which has redeveloped its downtown core into a dense mix of retail, jobs, and housing. Not only is the result one of the most livable cities in North America, but 40% of all downtown Vancouver households are car-free . . . 

He hits many of the right pragmatic points, citing the Growing Cooler report, which my NRDC colleague Deron Lovaas had a hand in.  You can read the article in its entirety here.

Steffen is executive editor of WorldChanging, a provocative publication on sustainability and more.  There is a longer version of his discourse on cars, community and the environment on the WorldChanging site.