One of the questions we struggle with at RTH is: why do city governments keep getting it so badly wrong when they launch revitalization plans?
Part of it is undoubtedly due to conflicting allegiances. Many suburban residents really don't want intensification. They moved out of the city precisely because they want privacy and space (or at least the perception of such qualities).
However, I'm convinced that much of it is also due to an upside-down, looking-glass view of revitalization itself.
To create healthy, vibrant neighbourhoods that provide a high quality of life:
A neighbourhood that brings many people into contact and groups a variety of destinations in close proximity is a neighbourhood that a) feeds the human psychological need for social contact, and b) provides a sense of safety, comfort and accessibility.
The segregation and exclusion of sprawl almost completely fail to meet these fundamental needs, and only superficially meet the equivalent human need for space and privacy.
Note: it's possible for suburbs to be dense and diverse enough to function as neighbourhoods. The hundred-year-old residential areas of the older city were built as suburbs, but were created on the model of a relatively self-contained community. That's why they're still so desirable today.
Likewise, congestion slows automotive traffic and gives pedestrians and cyclists a chance to integrate with the cars. It removes some of the incentive to drive - especially to drive short distances - and improves the civic realm even as it increases the incentive to get out and walk.
Done right, congestion tames our machines so they are less of a threat to the actual people who constitute a local economy and society.
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