I live in L.A., a land of 20-lane interchanges, parking lots the size of football stadiums, and mind-bending, soul-crushing, life-altering traffic. Every day, I meet people who don't even know we have a public transit system and see places in my neighborhood without any sidewalks. This is because, a half-century ago, my city decided to redesign itself for cars, not humans.
L.A.'s seemingly brilliant plan to re-engineer its urban environment has become a global affliction. There are now 60 million new cars being added to the planet every year, and with those vehicles come more smog, toxic emissions and dependency on rapidly depleting resources. As we embrace the car, our cultures become more sedentary, and rates of obesity and heart disease increase. Cars not only make our cities unhealthy, they also make our cities dangerous: In some places, more people are killed by cars than infectious diseases like malaria.
To undo these decades of suburban propaganda is essentially to unravel a perversion of the American Dream, one that has since traveled around the world. But there is a new and better dream afoot, even right here in L.A.: One of a happier, healthier city engineered for walking.