People vs. Cars: How Cities Are Becoming More Livable and Likeable

Forward-thinking city leaders and policymakers are listening to the changing priorities of their constituents and working together to transform their communities to become more sustainable, more walkable, more bikeable … in essence, more livable.

Across America, city leaders and planners are collaborating with local community groups to re-allocate public and private land away from cars so that people can better enjoy their common public spaces. They are spearheading creative ways to make their city streets safer and more accessible, including in their underserved neighborhoods. They’re prioritizing people over cars, focusing on things like green space, public plazas, parklets, pedestrian walkways, bike paths and corrals, re-use of car-park structures, and local business presence.

One success story has been unfolding in Los Angeles, where two-thirds of its downtown area had been dedicated to cars, streets, highways, and parking. Mayor Eric Garcetti is proud of what they’ve accomplished to date. “People St represents one of the many tools in our ‘Great Streets’ toolbox as we work to change the way Angelenos interact with the built environment, while using existing government resources to make City Hall work better for our residents and businesses. Fundamental to People St is its bottom-up, community-based approach.”

Read more about what cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Paul, and Miami are doing to strike a balance in the use of their cities’ precious space resources, as they plan to accommodate the sustainable cities of the future, yet to be imagined.

The Upcycled City

by Jes Howen McBride @jhowenmcbride | GOOD | January 26, 2015

It’s undeniable: cars are awesome. Press a pedal, go 90 miles an hour. Magic, right? It’s little wonder that when folks saw the incredible progress cars would bring, they put all their chips in. They paved the way, quite literally, for the car-centric urban forms we know and tolerate today.

Could they have imagined a day when cities willingly give up car space for people?

Early in my urban planning education, I remember reading that two-thirds of the land in Downtown Los Angeles was dedicated for automobile use: one third for parking lots and garages, and one third for streets and freeways. I didn’t know a lot about land use theory, but that struck me as a terrible waste of land, especially for an area that has the highest level of transit connection in the city.

Despite an admittedly strong preference for the automobile, Los Angeles and other forward-thinking cities are now re-allocating public (and private) land away from the car so that people can use the space for other purposes. 

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