How did we make such a mess of our cities and the pristine land around it? The history of Northeast Ohio, its outward migration and loss of tight-knit communities as we become what James Howard Kunstler calls a “Geography of Nowhere,” follows the story of America’s love affair with the car. We invested more in automotive ease of travel than in places that inspire affection.
GreenCityBlueLake Director David Beach writes cogently about how we planned an unsustainable transportation system and then systematically carried out the dismantling of a way of life with it. Before the car, transportation was used to support the building of places. Since the 1950s, the way we’ve built cities has mirrored a transportation system used less to build memorable places than speed people from place to place.
In this special section, Beach explains how we got here and how we can use transportation to shape the places we want again. Here's how to think about the process:
- In The Great Highway Transformation, Beach argues that we haven't come to grips with the massive and swift change in our lives that came from a focus on one form of mobility.
- In The five eras of transportation in Northeast Ohio, he explains how transportation, scaled to the technology available at the time, fundamentally changed Cleveland in a short period of time.
- Transportation as opportunity space takes a step back and defines transportation and what it means to us.
- In Planning an unsustainable transportation system he shows how sprawl and the era of highway building didn’t happen by accident. It wouldn’t be easy within the current system, but included is an example of how Northeast Ohio could change direction.
- When we’re ready to get serious about sustainable transportation, a set of principles will guide us to how we use transportation to create more livable places.
- The Changing the fundamentals of transportation offer all the reasons why we need to do this now.
- Finally, Action agenda for moving into the future tells us how, offering the top three metrics that would 'green' transportation and return it to a placemaker role.
Although the section was written in 2008, it is still relevant in light of a 2013 report on the nation's "Driving Boom," which lasted six decades, but is considered over, largely because Millenials are driving less. "Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent," wrote Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.