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Old 04-17-2015, 05:39 PM
 
9,361 posts, read 5,428,415 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
To my knowledge you can only truly live car free without any real problems in portions of Toronto, Chicago, New York City. Those are the only cities I know of that it is very common not to have a car and their is zero stigma for the rich to well off to ride public transpo (subway, bus etc..).
NYC is the only American city where the middle class and rich commonly don't drive.

Why is this a bad thing? Americans like to drive. So do Europeans. If you insist on not driving, there are plenty of options around the world.
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Florida
16,140 posts, read 6,235,601 times
Reputation: 12582
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
I'm curious what others think here... Why don't North American developers and city planners every try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America, such as with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets, etc..?

In my opinion, if I were to magically transport any half decent medium sized city from Italy, France or Spain for example into North America , it would instantly be consider one of the best cities in North America. I could choose a city most North Americans(or many W. Europeans) have never even heard of or only vaguely familiar with and it would be superior in lay out, walkability, public transportation and overall quality of life to nearly all US cities save maybe a few smaller gems and some of our major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, New York City, Montreal, etc.. I think Western European cities are by and large better than North American cities from a quality of life standpoint. Western European cities are much better for pedestrians, bikers, and mass transportation (lots of planning, history, and money/taxes there). Only a handful of North American cities are pedestrian friendly and offer decent public transportation like Chicago, New York City, and Toronto. By the way major cities in North America could use some serious makeovers as well in public transportation, more and better public spaces, improve bike friendliness, and housing development.

I'm not saying that Western European cities don't have problems, ugly ghettos, or no sprawl, many do. I lived in Italy for several years and traveled a great deal, I saw many very ugly suburbs, industrial holes, bombed out neighborhoods etc... However, most European cities and towns overall are simply superior to cities and towns in North America from quality of living and attractiveness standpoint. Part of the problem is certainly the obsession with building everything from a car centric point of view in North America. Also, North American cities not only suffer terrible planning, but are full of big box stores on the periphery. Perhaps, this is more of a political/economic issue that could be only addressed on a national level. Perhaps the United States and Canada would be better off if they made it more difficult for big box stores to operate. In my opinion they take away more from the community than they give back in taxes, wages, and to my point above they negatively impact the walkability and attractiveness of cities, especially newer sunbelt cities and small towns. They are often awful to walk in, and offer horrible public transportation. Small towns in the US have by and large seen their downtown cores completely hollowed out. 5 miles from the old dead town center there will be an ugly concentration of parking lots, fast food, and big box stores. Not only is it ugly, but you can basically get off any highway in the US and be in the same ugly parking lot and big box setting anywhere in North America. Even the best US cities suffer from too many chains and ugly box stores in my opinion.

So again, I ask... Why don't North American developers and city planners ever try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets etc..? Perhaps this would involve changes in politics and economics as well. Some things like 2000+ years of city evolution are clearly out of a city's control, but even many bombed out(literally) European cities or newer developments are typically superior to US sprawl. Any opinions provided or perspective are appreciated whether you disagree, agree or have some ideas. Also I mean no insult to anyone, I'm just curious why North American cities/towns overall are so undesirable compared to European cities/towns overall.
Personally, I agree with you. I think European towns have a much better quality of life. The reason that will not work in the US is that Americans (1) are much more materialistic and love suburbia and their malls (2) love their cars and cannot fathom why anyone would walk or use public transportation and (3) are not socially oriented as those in Europe are. They don't want to gather in squares or sit at cafes and pass the time. They see that as being lazy and unproductive. They want to go to work and park in their own personal parking space, work out in gyms, drag their kids to activity after activity and go shopping.
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Nassau County, NY
20 posts, read 23,609 times
Reputation: 63
Honestly, outside of NYC and other major cities in the US public transportation is looked down upon. It is something poor people or students use and considered low class. In NYC you will find, lawyers, doctors ,teachers, students, writers, and stockbrokers all riding the subways with the homeless.

Where I live the commuter rail is heavily used by people for travel to NYC. We even drive to the train station. However, we need more access into NYC since most people where I live work there, but the NIMBYS oppose any type of expansion of public transportation including buses. Mind you these are the same people who every morning complain about train delays. When my cousins visited from London last year, they disliked our suburban life. Although they rented a car they felt you had to drive almost everywhere. They ended up taking the train 45 minutes daily to Manhattan where it is pretty walkable, more entertaining and has the subway.
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:47 PM
SE9
 
Location: London | Atlanta
219 posts, read 215,978 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLA101 View Post
Why is this a bad thing? Americans like to drive. So do Europeans. If you insist on not driving, there are plenty of options around the world.
It's not about liking to drive, it's about having to.

In London, I don't have to drive as my every transport need is catered for. In Atlanta, I have little choice but to drive.

I like driving, but the pedestrian/multi-mode public transport oriented city lifestyle offered in London is miles better than car dependent Atlanta.
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Florida
16,140 posts, read 6,235,601 times
Reputation: 12582
Quote:
Originally Posted by SE9 View Post
It's not about liking to drive, it's about having to.

In London, I don't have to drive as my every transport need is catered for. In Atlanta, I have little choice but to drive.

I like driving, but the pedestrian/multi-mode public transport oriented city lifestyle offered in London is miles better than car dependent Atlanta.
I think the point the OP is making is why have we created sprawling suburbs rather than develop smaller towns and village-type living. Developers keep spreading further and further out from urban centers, rather than creating satellite type towns with 'gathering' places and easy access to public transportation. I've seen some developers attempt to create that and actually make downtown centers. The problem is that these places that do not develop organically, fail. They appear to have plastic fake downtowns with expensive stores and restaurants that go out of business due to lack of business. Then a giant mall springs up down the street and everyone migrates to that. At least that appears to be the model in Florida.
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in Southern Italy
2,986 posts, read 1,670,553 times
Reputation: 1448
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
I'm curious what others think here... Why don't North American developers and city planners every try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America, such as with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets, etc..?

In my opinion, if I were to magically transport any half decent medium sized city from Italy, France or Spain for example into North America , it would instantly be consider one of the best cities in North America. I could choose a city most North Americans(or many W. Europeans) have never even heard of or only vaguely familiar with and it would be superior in lay out, walkability, public transportation and overall quality of life to nearly all US cities save maybe a few smaller gems and some of our major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, New York City, Montreal, etc.. I think Western European cities are by and large better than North American cities from a quality of life standpoint. Western European cities are much better for pedestrians, bikers, and mass transportation (lots of planning, history, and money/taxes there). Only a handful of North American cities are pedestrian friendly and offer decent public transportation like Chicago, New York City, and Toronto. By the way major cities in North America could use some serious makeovers as well in public transportation, more and better public spaces, improve bike friendliness, and housing development.

I'm not saying that Western European cities don't have problems, ugly ghettos, or no sprawl, many do. I lived in Italy for several years and traveled a great deal, I saw many very ugly suburbs, industrial holes, bombed out neighborhoods etc... However, most European cities and towns overall are simply superior to cities and towns in North America from quality of living and attractiveness standpoint. Part of the problem is certainly the obsession with building everything from a car centric point of view in North America. Also, North American cities not only suffer terrible planning, but are full of big box stores on the periphery. Perhaps, this is more of a political/economic issue that could be only addressed on a national level. Perhaps the United States and Canada would be better off if they made it more difficult for big box stores to operate. In my opinion they take away more from the community than they give back in taxes, wages, and to my point above they negatively impact the walkability and attractiveness of cities, especially newer sunbelt cities and small towns. They are often awful to walk in, and offer horrible public transportation. Small towns in the US have by and large seen their downtown cores completely hollowed out. 5 miles from the old dead town center there will be an ugly concentration of parking lots, fast food, and big box stores. Not only is it ugly, but you can basically get off any highway in the US and be in the same ugly parking lot and big box setting anywhere in North America. Even the best US cities suffer from too many chains and ugly box stores in my opinion.

So again, I ask... Why don't North American developers and city planners ever try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets etc..? Perhaps this would involve changes in politics and economics as well. Some things like 2000+ years of city evolution are clearly out of a city's control, but even many bombed out(literally) European cities or newer developments are typically superior to US sprawl. Any opinions provided or perspective are appreciated whether you disagree, agree or have some ideas. Also I mean no insult to anyone, I'm just curious why North American cities/towns overall are so undesirable compared to European cities/towns overall.
As an Italian, it's interesting to hear the opinion of someone who's been on both side of the ponds. We still have problems to fix, there are still to many areas that are completely run down here down south, there are definitely quite a few big box stores here especially on the outskirts of our bigger cities though but maybe when compared to the USA it's a low number

It must be said that there was a short shift to a car centric model between the 60s and the early 80s, you can easily notice how different those developments are from the rest. I think a more car centric model has succeeded because American tend to value personal space more than we do, but also because that way of life has been heavily marketed and pushed on Americans in the past, especially in the post war period, nowadays most Americans are comfortable with that kind of life and will stick to it, i'm not American so i can't really judge as one, but this is what i learned since i subscribed here. There's just a completely diffent way to look at things.

Last edited by improb; 04-17-2015 at 06:26 PM..
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:14 PM
 
9,361 posts, read 5,428,415 times
Reputation: 9003
Quote:
Originally Posted by SE9 View Post
It's not about liking to drive, it's about having to.
Again, if you don't want to drive, there are options. Just move somewhere more transit-oriented.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SE9 View Post
In London, I don't have to drive as my every transport need is catered for. In Atlanta, I have little choice but to drive.
OK, but Atlanta is dirt cheap and booming and London is expensive as hell and basically an expat enclave. So obviously people are OK living somewhere where cars dominate. The average Atlantan lives very well for global standards, probably better than the average Londoner.

And most of the UK is dominated by cars anyways. Only in central London does transit really dominate, and there, you pay very, very dearly for the privilege.
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:19 PM
SE9
 
Location: London | Atlanta
219 posts, read 215,978 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma777 View Post
I think the point the OP is making is why have we created sprawling suburbs rather than develop smaller towns and village-type living. Developers keep spreading further and further out from urban centers, rather than creating satellite type towns with 'gathering' places and easy access to public transportation. I've seen some developers attempt to create that and actually make downtown centers. The problem is that these places that do not develop organically, fail. They appear to have plastic fake downtowns with expensive stores and restaurants that go out of business due to lack of business. Then a giant mall springs up down the street and everyone migrates to that. At least that appears to be the model in Florida.
In Atlanta, residential planners and developers have been ditching the traditional car-first approach and adopting more 'Western European' style spatial planning. Pedestrian-oriented quarters, townhomes, squares, al-fresco joints and all, very unlike the rest of the city.

If the people living in Glenwood Park (below) just had decent, multi-mode public transport links to downtown, midtown and Buckhead, then that's a triumph of pedestrianism and urbanity over car dependency:


Bartram & Garrett Sts. in Glenwood Park, Atlanta by aaron.davidson, on Flickr


Multifamily Street Glenwood park by Brett VA, on Flickr
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:29 PM
SE9
 
Location: London | Atlanta
219 posts, read 215,978 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLA101 View Post
Again, if you don't want to drive, there are options. Just move somewhere more transit-oriented.

OK, but Atlanta is dirt cheap and booming and London is expensive as hell and basically an expat enclave. So obviously people are OK living somewhere where cars dominate. The average Atlantan lives very well for global standards, probably better than the average Londoner.

And most of the UK is dominated by cars anyways. Only in central London does transit really dominate, and there, you pay very, very dearly for the privilege.
London's an extremely cosmopolitan, vibrant city. Booming to a far greater extent than Atlanta. It's vibrancy is directly linked to its pedestrianism and public transport provision which dominates the entire city, not just the center. The best American cities tend to be the ones cited with these attributes (Boston, New York etc), and cities with the worst rep tend to be the car-oriented highway cities (Atlanta, Houston etc).

If you like to drive and live in a city that oriented towards car ownership (criss-crossed by highways, strip malls, poor PT provision, lesser vibrancy etc) that's great for you, but that's trumped by cities oriented towards pedestrianism (public transport, vibrant streets, street shopping etc). In Atlanta, if I run out of milk and bread, I have to drive to the nearest strip mall to stock-up. In London, if I run out of milk and bread, I walk a minute to the nearest streetside corner store to stock-up.

The UK isn't dominated by cars either. A significant number of households in UK cities are car-free, such as Manchester (44.5%), Liverpool (46.1%) and Newcastle (41.7%).
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in Southern Italy
2,986 posts, read 1,670,553 times
Reputation: 1448
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma777 View Post
I think the point the OP is making is why have we created sprawling suburbs rather than develop smaller towns and village-type living. Developers keep spreading further and further out from urban centers, rather than creating satellite type towns with 'gathering' places and easy access to public transportation. I've seen some developers attempt to create that and actually make downtown centers. The problem is that these places that do not develop organically, fail. They appear to have plastic fake downtowns with expensive stores and restaurants that go out of business due to lack of business. Then a giant mall springs up down the street and everyone migrates to that. At least that appears to be the model in Florida.
The system you are describing would work if there was a decent public transportation in place, that's the most ideal system, Sydney an be looked at as a modern example, many of its suburbs are developing downtown areas with decent urbanity. They are successful because they're developing around pre existing railway stations. I think this system can be implemented but only in a specific way.
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