Car Haters Hate You

Car Haters Hate You

November 5, 1995

 

Domrzalski

 

 

“People left the crowded neighborhoods and moved to places like Albuquerque because they've wanted room, big, sunny yards and high, block walls to keep nosy neighbors out of their lives. And the car has helped them do it. The planners are now propagandizing that we yearn to live squeezed next to and on top of each other. Don't buy it.”

 

 

 

Remember!

 

 

 

Read About It!

 

Get it at:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

1stBooks Library

 

 

New Urbanists Want to Squish Us On Top of Each Other

 

     I used to think that cars offered me mobility, convenience and independence as well as a weapon in the war against societal menaces such as bicyclists and pedestrians.

     I also thought that cars were good things that stoked the economy, got adults to work, children to school, sick people to hospitals, adulterers to their mistresses and paramours, and dead people to their graves.

     What an idiot I've been. Cars aren't any of those.

     The car, for those who have never known it, has "disenfranchised children as human beings."

      This shocking revelation comes from Anne Watkins, director of Albuquerque’s Transit Department. But before you take a sledgehammer to the evil vehicle, wait. There's more.

     Cars have helped turn oldsters into ghetto dwellers, and commutes in Albuquerque are now "interminable," which means endless.

     If you're panicking because you never realized these things before, don't. They're not true.

     They're offensive overstatements put forth by a growing number of anti-sprawl, elitist planner/policy types who have bought into the latest development fad and who are out to demonize your car and change the way we live here.

     The fad is called The New Urbanism. It calls for us to live in urban villages, which resemble the crowded city neighborhoods that hordes of Americans have been fleeing from for the past fifty years.

     Consider the statement again: Cars have disenfranchised children as human beings. Then picture a ballroom full of people hearing it and nodding knowingly at each other while expressing eye-rolling contempt for you, your big yard and car, and you have the New Urbanists. That occurred here recently during a transportation/land-use conference.

     The smart people now abhor Albuquerque's sprawl, and scowl that it must stop.

     Don't trust the elitists or let them force their ideas on you.

The truth is, Albuquerque is nowhere near major sprawl. Look at figures for the square mileage of some major cities.

     New Orleans is 199 square miles. Chicago, 228. El Paso, 239. Kansas City, Mo., 316. San Antonio, 349. Indianapolis, 352. New York, 301. Phoenix, 324. Los Angeles, 465. Houston, 556.

     And Albuquerque? 161.

     How about density, or people per square mile?

     Chattanooga, 1,370. Kansas City, 1,377. Indianapolis, 2,108. El Paso, 2,156. New Orleans, 2,497. San Antonio, 2,681. Houston, 2,933. Atlanta, 3,008. Phoenix, 3,035. Austin, 4,014. Tucson, 4,095.

     And Albuquerque? 2,892. It was 3,492, until recently when undeveloped land was annexed.

      We're not packing them in like New York, which has 24,327 people per square mile. Or Chicago, with 12,209. Or San Francisco, where the guru of the New Urbanism lives, with 15,403. Who wants to?

      But we compare well with Denver, with 4,213 people per square mile. And when compared to Portland, that alleged model of urban perfection that planners here drool over, well, Portland has 4,246. Not many more than here.

     There are no endless commutes here, either. Except when it snows, which is hardly ever, it takes me about 12 minutes to get home from work. And I've never gone more than 25 minutes in trying to get anywhere in this town. It's a breeze.

     My hunch is that the elite planners and New Urbanists have never lived in the crowded, noisy neighborhoods they're now romanticizing.

     Have they ever lived downstairs from a couple that screams constantly at each other? Or upstairs from someone who blasts bad music all night? Or four feet across from the neighbor's bathroom window?

     Or have they ever had to lug groceries and children, or themselves after drinking too much, up two or three flights of stairs? Or smell five other peoples’ bad cooking?

     Have they ever tried to grow a garden in a small yard that gets three hours of sun because other buildings block it out?

     I doubt it.

     People left the crowded neighborhoods and moved to places like Albuquerque because they've wanted room, big, sunny yards and high, block walls to keep nosy neighbors out of their lives.

     And the car has helped them do it.

     The planners are now propagandizing that we yearn to live squeezed next to and on top of each other. Don't buy it.

     I could be wrong about all of this. Cars really might have disenfranchised children as human beings. If that's true, I have an observation:

     When they were kids, Watkins and the other New Urbanists must have spent a lot of time in cars.

           

           

            © Copyright 2003 Dennis Domrzalski All rights reserved