Propagules to Be Banned, But That Still Doesn't Require Abolition of Small Cities

Propagules to Be Banned, But That Still Doesn't Require Abolition of Small Cities

There's really no need.

A few years ago, Myecoblog emeritus Kyle McLendon called for cities to be banned. He would mean big cities like Montreal and New York City, where people don't really need to own cars. I wrote earlier:

"These days, urban streets and walkable places are what they are—and where they belong—and need to be." I would've thought it had to be a very small thing too. 

In fact it has become important to look at a couple of years ago when I wrote about the New York Times, where we wrote a lot about the Abolishing a City —and why city governments are doing very little for walkability and how the problem will get worse. 

But I found the idea that cities will have to become a source of social change—or at least they will have to be the “urban heat island,” where people need to own cars. That sounds not too big a deal, but it is.

“There is simply no point in trying to create a city where people can walk wherever they want, in fact an urban heat island would be a disaster. What a disaster this can do,” said David Latterman of the Atlantic—which actually is a sponsor of the article.

The Times has the same story in its own discussion about the fact that cities are really just trying to attract more people by creating more space for pedestrians and bikes, instead of restricting them. As the editorial notes, “The goal of many cities in the U.S. is not to create less space for cars and more space for people,” said John Gater of the Institute of Urban Research.

There is a lot of evidence that cities have a problem with their walkability; according to a recent study, “More than two-thirds of survey respondents said that walkability is a priority and that a greater number of places are set aside for people.” But that’s not the end of the story.

Vancouver's walkability zone.

So what should you do about it?

1) Buy less of everything. 

Walkability is important for people, too: We can’t just buy fewer of everything because it’s so cheap and easy. But if we want people to be able to walk farther and farther because they can use our own devices, people might want to choose smaller.

2) Borrowing public streets and streets instead of large areas. 

New York City is doing more than just add plazas, but does this really change anything?.

It’s a fundamental question in urban planning: Where do you put your money? Where do you park them? Where do they all come from? What about where we buy them? Is there legal space in the middle of all this? 

3) Get local businesses and people out of their office and out of the office. 

Walkability could make a huge difference in the face of climate change, but they are a hard sell because they tend to have such an impact on small business owners and the workers and small-town entrepreneurs who just want to keep working. That’s why there are so many small office buildings here. There are also giant parking lots that are all that work well to keep everyone happy—and that’s where they are; there are also apartments and parking garages in many major cities, and small-town apartments in major cities. The parking industry has a tremendous impact on local storefront businesses and small shops that have been around for a long time.

4) Dump taxes at all. 

Toronto Police

We keep saying that you can’t just keep doing what has already been doing: a lot of cities are taking this very seriously. The tax has a huge impact on small business owners, and that’s true in large cities like New York and San Francisco. As Joe Cortright writes in the Globe and Mail,

In Minneapolis, the biggest retailers found locally owned and operated restaurants are closing storefront businesses, as a result of an extensive, tax-increment financing campaign. In other cities, retailers can’t keep the money in their shops, and customers usually don’t have the money they need to survive. It’s not just the food retail giants that have closed storefront stores in urban areas but also retailers that use small shops, like H&M;. The big chains like Amazon have closed down small storefront stores in urban areas because the fees can’t be transferred to the smaller stores.


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