With your pockets well protected at last And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass Who could they get to carry you? —Bob Dylan, Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands I hate cars. I hate driving them, I hate being driven in them, and I hate the anti-urban effect they have on cities that depend on them. Unfortunately I live in Indianapolis, which is, like most of North America, pretty car-addicted. It’s hard to live car-free here, but I try to be car-light, which is more doable in some neighborhoods than others.
I have, also, been thinking about the problem of transportation. I think you're write about this, "Destroyed for cars," statement. They just opened a fourth lane on the beltway in Madison. The fourth lane is only open during high volume times, but there you are. Instead of (and I believe there's a choice to be considered here) investing in public transportation, our leaders invested in perpetuating an obviously obsolete system of transportation. It's beyond frustrating to live in a "Progressive" city and watch, powerlessly, while city planners ignore the potential for making the city and surrounding towns more people friendly, as you suggest in your essay. Instead of creating more lanes for ever more cars, why not put in commuter rail on some of those traffic lanes that are used only during Rush Hour?
Your four criteria hit the mark as well. I was thinking that environmental concerns might have a spot in the top four, but that's just fantasy. Any person with the means to cut a 45 minute commute on a city bus down to a 10 minute drive is going to opt for saving time every time. On the way to the ball game last Sunday, my friend and I lamented over how we would enjoy the ride much more if we could take a train across town instead of having to drive.
In order to meet your four criteria, a city would have to go all in on public transportation. Instead of a Red Line, Indianapolis would need a whole rainbow of lines connecting all the parts of the city and the trains would have to run with such frequency that if you missed one train, you would not have to wait more than a few minutes for the next.