Think about how much space we give to cars. There are parking spaces, of course, which can make up as much as a third of the land area of some cities. But the bigger category in many cities is streets, which, cabs and buses aside, mostly serve as a playground for privately owned cars. In New York City, streets take up 30 percent of land area. 30 percent! Between that and parking, many cities give a majority of their land over to cars.
That’s a shame, not just because of the health costs of commuting or the emissions cars produce, but because we could be using that space much, much more efficiently. The above GIF demonstrates this very well. If the same number of people travel in a bus or a trolley rather than a car, they take up a fraction of the space. If we were to commit to public transit more seriously, we could shrink roads to a fraction of the size, freeing up land to use for housing or businesses, while still allowing people to get around easily.
GIF via Derek Thompson. Click “Know More” to see cartoonist Andy Singer’s vision of how car-free cities would look and operate.