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The End of the Affair: The Decline of Automobility?

January 15, 2012

More and more media are pointing toward a declining interest in automobility. Which would be good news. But I remain skeptical. First, it’s not like there has been some universal overhaul of urban public transit systems to replace single-owner vehicles as the primary mode of transportation. And nor have urban infrastructures begun to witness any kind of revision that would allow for this rethinking.

But then again. The world is going digital and the digital world has gone mobile. Car shares might not wildly alter the existing transportation infrastructure, but they do change the face of the transportation industry and system quite markedly. And the strip mall box store could very well be headed in the same direction as the neighborhood video rental store: obsolescence. If the entire globe is at our fingertips, does that mean that the bicycle might recover its relevance as a means of transportation? As our digital reach increases, our communities get smaller. Pedalable. The local café or restaurant—places to go, where we feel we belong—still resonates. And for people living in cities, towns, and villages, that’s typically a bike ride away.

And do we see an end to suburbanization? Why be attached to a city, if work doesn’t demand a commute in the same manner? Isolation might have an opposite effect, and stress the continued importance of the automobile for some. But no more so than people living in suburbs.


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