Thoughts on an Aspect of Smart Cities

Here’s a startling proposal: At a minimum, a Smart City is one in which we recognize urban systems that hurt, maim or kill citizens and that city changes those systems to reduce or eliminate that harm.

Farhad Manjoo, tech columnist for the NY Times recently published a piece, I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing, an exceptional piece on urban planning,

I’ll go out on a limb and call it a manifesto on what such a city might look like if we banned private cars. This is not a utopian vision of an urban elitist who wants to bike relatively short distances to office. This is a detailed plan and plea to make New York City a safer, more livable, more equitable city for all of its citizens.

Startling facts:

Vehicles’ Health impact

In California, under lockdown, vehicle injuries or death fell 50% or about 6,000 per month. Extended over a year, that would be 72,000 people who weren’t injured or killed by vehicles. That’s 24 times the deaths on 9/11. Why are these vehicle injury/death rates acceptable? Why aren’t we spending trillions of dollars on prevention?

According to sources quoted in the NY Times story, cars kill approximately 90,000 people per year. Roughly 40,000 in car accidents and the rest from long-term exposure to car exhaust.

Land Use

The streetscape of American cities is optimized for car use.
LA’s parking takes up a land area equal to the size of Manhattan
Eliminating private cars from Manhattan would free up land for improved surface mass transit, bike super-highways, more parkland, and pedestrian promenades.

Read this piece. It’s been deeply researched, and the beautiful design wordlessly paints a future we can all aspire to.

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