I just read an interesting article on Npr.org titled- Motorists to Urban Planners: Stay in your lane. For me, the most interesting part is about cities waging war on cars-
Cities and cars share a conflicted relationship these days. Environmental concerns, growing traffic congestion and an urban design philosophy that favors foot traffic are driving many cities to try to reduce the number of cars on the road. In cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Toronto and Boston, some people go so far as to claim there is a "war on cars."
My commentary is thus: These people are correct. In urban settings, it is increasingly apparent that automobile use must evolve. Transportation is cyclical. In Portland, we are reviving the streetcar and slowly removing cars from strategic streets. We are giving half of some streets to bicycles with large buffer zones on either side. Bike rack areas are jutting out into streets and Bioswales are installed which make strategic streets narrower.
In dense urban areas around the country, planners, residents, workers and recreational visitors, are sensing that cars do not fit in as well as we once thought they did. Suburbs are a great example of culture adapting to the use of cars, where most destinations are so far apart that you need to drive if you don't want simple trips to take up your whole day. This design is not present in downtown areas though, where street layout and major institutions have been in place since well before the rise of the automobile.
I am a daily cyclist, but we also own a couple of cars. One older economy car that only gets out once a week or so, and a newer, modern SUV that fits our family which my wife drives daily. We live far enough outside of the urban center that there isn't much that is within walking or biking distance in less than 20 minutes.
I think it's clear from paying attention to the news for the past couple of years, that the automobile is and should be in decline. That doesn't mean I hate cars, or there isn't a place for them, only that we have constructed much of our culture economy and infrastructure around them. More and more people are noticing that there is an increasing cost to relying on the internal combustion engine for so much of our transportation. I'm not a big fan of those costs.
I wonder how long it will be until owning a car becomes prohibitively expensive in the metropolitan areas for most people. For me, it already has. I work in downtown and I am saving $400+ a month when you count up the insurance, gas, car payment for a more reliable vehicle and parking. The total cost of alternatives is less than $100 a month using public transportation. If you ride a bike it can be a much cheaper monthly once you buy the initial equipment.