Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Carfree Cities (Book Review)

Carfree Cities by Joel Crawford is an excellent book imagining the city without the automobile.

He starts out by expounding on the problem: why cars in cities are bad. He covers environmental, social, and aesthetic problems, as well as an analysis of the danger of cars. He contrasts automobile-dependent cities such as Los Angeles with pedestrian cities such as Venice. The sprawling automotive cities offer a lack of safety (large number of traffic deaths & injury), incredible levels of environmental pollution, a weak social community, and an ugly landscape.

Then he offers a theoretical solution with a reference design for a carfree city. His suggested topology incorporates a large amount of public space and green space with moderately dense development.

The city is based around small, pedestrian districts connected to each other by a rail-based metro (subway) or tram (streetcar) system. His public transportation system is cheaper and faster than car transportation, and at least as convenient and comfortable (even suggesting first class luxury train cars). He also offers a detailed solution to freight transportation, using standardized shipping containers.

The last portion of the book offers some more practical suggestions for transforming existing cities, creating new ones, and variations, such as a bicycle-based city.

You can order the book, join the discussion on Yahoo Groups, and get more information at

Topic: Environment - Urban Issues, Book Reviews

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