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Urban planning’s future: people, not cars

History suggests gas-powered transport cannot last

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What's an architect doing writing about cars, anyway? I always get indignant e-mails asking me this whenever I criticize some aspect of our autocentric society -- whether it's our parking-obsessed city planning, our mania for fruitless road widening and freeway building, or our laughably primitive traffic control systems. The answer is simple. We inhabit an era -- a very fleeting one, in historical terms -- that's all but predicated on the automobile. Hence, architecture and cars are as inextricably linked for modern builders as architecture and defense were for the castle builders of the Middle Ages. You simply can't design on an urban scale without cars being an integral and often overriding element of what you're planning. To see how inseparable the automobile is from contemporary design, stroll down most any suburban street, where the most prominent design feature will be a phalanx of garage doors in all shapes and sizes. Or take a look at your typical shopping mall --...