The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

It seems appropriate that Americans are clogging up the roads on this Labor Day weekend, because all that driving around, considered part and parcel of living the American suburban dream, also contributes to the clogging of the American arteries. It's getting to look like a road to perpetual fat, aided by urban planning that enables an unhealthy lifestyle, according to a new study from University of Maryland's National Center for Smart Growth.

We've been well aware of this for years. Outside of older cities like New York and San Francisco, it's almost impossible to get around without a car in the United States. Suburbia is pretty much a synonym for "at least 20 minutes' drive to or from anywhere". And of course, everyone wants their sizable plots of land, with enough buffer zone from your neighbors, so residential developments will find it hard to reverse this 50+ year trend.

Personally, I've always felt that this far-flung existence is dehumanizing. You never really interact with people in your neighborhood, you're always stuck in traffic, you shuttle yourself from one air-conditioned cocoon to another. It's a pretty sterile living environment.