Note to Planners: Think Twice Before Banishing My Porsche

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rick Harrison's extremely rapid personal transport. (Courtesy newgeography)

Last week we brought you the news that your commute might not be as bad as you thought it was. Which is good, considering how much Americans love their cars. Now, the good folks at newgeography explore what might happen if we tax suburbanites for owning and driving vehicles. In this witty piece, author and neighborhood designer Rick Harrison explores the outcome if a majority of Americans are forced to quit their “addiction” to cars.

Harrison was inspired by a meeting with city officials where he was chastised for a proposal involving homes with attached garages, which, in wintry Minnesota, doesn’t seem like a bad idea:

Here is what I’m experiencing as a planner. When I met with a city official a few weeks ago I was admonished for a proposal that included attached garages. I explained that attaching the garage reduces 40 feet of exterior wall to be built, and here in Minnesota, an attached garage means you do not have to shovel snow between the home and the garage, nor slip on the ice. Why would I detach a garage, I asked? The city official explained that according to his planning staff, the space between the garage and the home is a social gathering spot where neighbors can stop and talk about their day. I had thought that’s what that large front porch we are proposing on the homes was for.

And thus, he writes, Americans have embarked on an unprecedented and perhaps self-destructive path of cold-turkey car-avoidance: “We have a severe drug problem, we’ve been told, that mostly affects suburbanites. The dangerous drug is not taken by mouth, nor by injection, yet it is used daily by every family member and must be stopped before we, as a nation, are utterly destroyed.”

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