You’d Be Home By Now

Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

One of my favorite urbanist follows over on Twitter is Jonathan Berk. The director of Patronicity, a crowdfunding organization focused on placemaking, Berk lives in Boston and frequently posts about the city.

Last Thursday, he posted the little clip below. A lot of engagement followed, with several people much smarter than myself voicing their opinions.

As placemaking evangelist Fred Kent once wrote, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”

A couple of hours later, Berk followed up with another post:

The importance of true transportation alternatives to cars, adapting cities to be multimodal, and emphasizing robust public transit and pedestrian infrastructure is the only way forward. From both climate science and quality of life perspectives, we have reached a tipping point where automobiles must be dethroned from the top of transportation hierarchy.

I don’t mean to demonize cars, by the way. I own one, I drive places. The place I live is far from a pedestrian and transit utopia. But I recognize that my life would be better if I didn’t have to drive as often, and that our planet would be much better off as well.

Particularly in the large and midsize legacy cities of the Rust Belt, which were largely laid out prior to the dominance of the automobile, the bones exist to support a shift towards more human-scaled development and transportation options. There is an opportunity, one that those of us involved in city building must recognize and seize to make these places better for people now and into the future.