The logic is so simple that it sometimes seems this doesn’t need to be said, but growing up with a dysfunctional sense of what a “normal city” looks like can make something logical invisible, so here’s the key point: A city, practically by definition, is a lot of people living in a relatively small area. If you try to move all of those people around in big vehicles of their own, you get a city full of highways and parking lots, not one that is nice for people walking on the street. To make it even simpler: this is a great way to create a bad city.
Manhattan is very well known for its pedestrian friendliness and touristic streets. It hosted over 54 million tourists in 2013. It is far from perfect, but it is much better than the majority of North American cities. A highway design engineer, Matt Taylor, recently created a little map to show how much different the doorways into Manhattan would be if everyone commuted by car. Have a look:
If that’s the number of bridges Manhattan would need, imagine the roads and the traffic. Needless to say, Manhattan would not be Manhattan.
No matter how you feel about the climate and air quality, you have to consider how much freedom and access cars have if you want cities that are enjoyable for people walking and biking. Thanks to Matt Taylor for the reminder.