23 July 2009

Cars Dominate Public Space

A 1940's transit ad from Seattle:
The verbiage:
We asked our trick photographer to make a picture showing you an automobile in its true light – considering the number of people it usually carries and the amount of street space it occupies. Even though the result looks monstrous we assure you it’s very much on the conservative side.

Now we don’t propose to hinder progress. The fact that almost every American family can own an automobile is a fine thing. But when they use automobiles in the limited street space of a city to the extent of seldom or never using the public transit system, thus causing stagnation or traffic, then it is time for traffic engineers to go to the source of the trouble.

The way to reduce traffic congestion is to revitalize the MOST EFFICIENT USER OF STREET SPACE – THE PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM. Any city government can render the citizens a real service by co-operation with the transit company to modernize and promote increased use of its system.

People like to ride in modern electric coaches. They carry them swiftly, noiselessly, comfortably, and at low cost. Furthermore, this means of travel pays its own way. We think that when the facts are known they will appeal far more to the people than huge expenditure for street widening, express highways, and municipal parking lots which load them with unfairly proportioned taxes – and never provide more than a partial solution of the problem.

1 Trolley Coach will seat all the people who ordinarily ride in 24 automobiles requiring at least 10 times as much street space (based on the national average of 1.72 passengers per automobile).

60 years later, advocacy groups are fighting for the right to use the street for all types of transportation:


VisuaLingual said...

Heh, wow!

Jim Uber said...

Amazing how many times we can look to the wisdom of our grandparents for inspiration when tackling "modern" urban problems. I'm not sure whether to find this a reason for optimism (the solutions have been known and obvious for so long), pessimism (the solutions have been known and obvious for so long), or to simply be amused by it.

thanks for digging that up.

Unknown said...

I wish G/E, now a massive conglomerate, would reissue these posters! I'm sure it was in their interest at the time (making streetcars or something), but seriously... In an ideal world they'd run something on their network NBC.