Car Environment -Town Planning 1

Photo: Comstock- Fortworth.

- Urban Form -

"“The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city.” James Marston Fitch, New York Times, 1 May 1960

Soon, 80% of the world’s population, a staggering 5 billion people, will live in cities (1). It would be nice to believe that these cities are being created to enhance the quality of human life.  Today this is not what is happening.

Easily the most powerful impact of the automobile is the way it has redefined the human habitat. This is the one impact of the car that dominates all others.  The damage once done is so hard to undo. Rather than being created on a human scale and serving human needs, today’s cities are being constructed to serve the private automobile. Automobile engineers call this “transport planning”, as if the real purpose of our cities was to serve the car. Truly eyewatering sums of money are spent building a grid-locked automobile landscape.  Here, public transport ceases to be viable and walking, the most natural form of human movement, becomes impossible, sometimes even illegal.  So much for “transport planning”!

The automobile city has exploded into an unsustainable sprawl which devours land and resources at an alarming rate.  The human habitat, which should foster community and creativity, instead becomes an alienating landscape of exit ramps, freeway interchanges and crash barriers. A landscape of isolated automobile destinations that have no connection with the local community, either architecturally or culturally. Many have described the automobile city as essentially “anti-human”. It would be hard to imagine an environment less sustainable.