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Facing the Dilemma of Cars in Cities

posted Dec 20, 2013, 9:59 AM by Chris McCahill   [ updated Dec 20, 2013, 10:02 AM ]

This article was co-authored by Norman Garrick and originally appeared in The Atlantic Cities.

Big roads and parking garages are so common in American cities that it's easy to forget these places once functioned exceptionally well without them. However, in their persistent battle to satisfy the demands of motorists, many urban areas are losing out.

In the early 1960s – when highway construction was at its peak and cars were just beginning to leave their mark – a handful of critics predicted there would be irreconcilable tensions between vibrant cities and their motorized inhabitants. Nearly 50 years later, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published research validating this idea.

Their conceptual model was based on a straightforward premise: cars take up a lot of space, especially when it comes to storing them all day while their owners work. In dense cities where land is scarce, according to the model, more cars meant there would be fewer people, unless those people could be stacked in taller buildings with smaller footprints.

For many cities, this seems to be what happened. Cities were gutted to make room for cars and buildings got taller. But what happened to the people? Our research team at the University of Connecticut set out to answer this question.

Read the full article at The Atlantic Cities.

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