Wednesday, 30 January 2008

What's Wrong with the World Department: Most Long Islanders Would Rather Drive Than Walk

The suburbs are dead, say government officials on Long Island, according to The New York Times. Lawrence Downes reports this week that two county officials from the archetypal New York suburb have been brandishing figures from a survey which show that Long Island residents are ready for more city-like life. Apparently, 38 per cent said they could see themselves living “someday” in a downtown apartment, condo or townhouse, while nearly half “said they would favor taller downtown buildings — up to four stories, from two.”

Right now I’m in the home stretch of the next book The Walkable City: From Haussmann’s Boulevards to Jane Jacobs Streets and Beyond, and if I sound a little fatigued, it’s because I am. My desk is piled high with books and papers and my computer’s desktop is cluttered with pdf files of reports I’ve downloaded too fast to put away in the proper folder. What I’m writing isn’t all that encouraging for someone who thinks that we made a great mistake collectively when we started driving around instead of walking. In order to keep my spirits up, I find myself looking for any indicator that people may want to try something other than an automobile-based society. So I found myself perking up when I read Downes’s column.

But then came the downside: “Fifty-nine percent of Long Islanders could never imagine themselves living in an apartment,” Downes reports. “Asked which type of neighborhood they preferred — one where you could walk to stores or one that required driving — 56 percent said they would rather drive.”

No wonder there's an obesity epidemic. No wonder foreign policy is oil-driven.

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