This chapter assesses the role of transportation and street environments in people's lives and how reliance on the automobile has shaped the United States and other parts of the world. The century-long evolution into a car-dependent culture has had its benefits in terms of commerce and regional mobility, but has also had devastating effects on people's health and safety. Rather than discuss the negative impacts of cars on air pollution, the chapter focuses on the place-based health impacts of reducing people's reliance on the automobile by increasing the walkability of areas and expanding access to public transit. Younger adults are increasingly ambivalent about whether they should even own a car and are moving to cities in search of more efficient and human-scale mobility options. These options include having access to a street network with safe and efficient pedestrian and bike infrastructures as well as public-transit options. Meanwhile, public officials in numerous cities are talking about the benefits of expanded transit systems and walkable street grids to encourage more active lifestyles and attract tourists, families, and entrepreneurs who are tired of traffic congestion and car commuting and interested in a lively street experience that is not simply seen from behind a windshield. The chapter then highlights case studies showing how new place-based transportation and streetscape changes can be a tool for improving health and safety.
Keywords: transportation, street environments, automobile reliance, car-dependent culture, walkable street grids, public transit, pedestrian infrastructures, bike infrastructures, transit systems, mobility options
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