Ebb tide for Auto

The wave of automobiles that washed over the American landscape in the 20th Century has crested and is in retreat. None too soon. Automobiles promised quick, personal ease of access to all the fine locations in our great nation, and then they promptly destroyed most of them and replaced them with something between insipid and hideous.

The first victim of the first wave-wash was American cities. Highways were built INTO cities, but mostly served to drain them OUT. Residents were trying to flee the ‘congestion’ of cities, but merely transferred the congestion to the roadways. ‘Congestion’ in cities ended up being replaced with ‘parking’ which only served to educate us to the fact that cities need density to work like cities. Just like a campfire won’t burn if the logs are too far apart. And the idyllic suburbs? Plenty of room to spread out. And out. And out. And out. And out. And OCEANS of parking at the shopping mall. And the result? We discovered we wanted our campfire back. And now we’re getting it, twig by branch by log.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/the-search-for-a-parking-spot/2013/09/13/8f69ee14-05bf-11e3-88d6-d5795fab4637_story.html

Cities are interesting. Town and village centers too. Complex, varied, dense, walkable and fun. Arts thrive in density. Human interaction and contact and mixing thrive there too. Healthy cities are the foundation stones for a civilization, if we are still allowed to use the word civilization without irony. The stones around the campfire! If nothing else, there’s a metaphor for you, even if mixed. Cities are good for mixing!

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.

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