By Owen Fugit
Europe and America are not the same. It seems obvious, but many people both online and off seem to think that Europe is a Utopian society that the US should strive to be. The problem with this point of view is that from the beginning, Europe and America have been different from each other. I am not here to talk about nationalism or politics; rather, I want to talk about the biggest difference between Europe and the US, which is city and town design. We need to stop comparing European city infrastructure and design to that of America, and instead develop our own style and design.
Many in the Europe camp like to say that the US is “less than” Europe because American cities are not as pedestrian friendly. However, it is not a bad thing that many American cities are not pedestrian friendly. American cities have grown at alarming rates and building infrastructure solely for cars is cheaper than building a slew of infrastructure. America does have its fair share of pedestrian-friendly cities, with one notable one being Washington DC, which boasts an impressive metro line.
We can never have public transport networks like those in Europe because American cities are much larger than the cities that Europe-lovers use as public transport examples, such as Amsterdam or Paris. In 2018, the EU public transport systems serviced over 9 billion passengers. Public transport in America came close to that number one year later. However, American cities are too big and dependent on cars to expand roads and metro lines to match European standards. This is good, as the need for cars drives innovation in the automobile sector. Instead of rebuilding all the city infrastructure, which would be an economic burden and more destructive to the environment, we could fund more clean electricity research and electric cars. This would allow people to continue utilizing the existing car infrastructure, while also helping reduce harmful CO2 emissions.
While pedestrian transport and city design may not be a huge problem today, European designs could become more prevalent as cities expand across America. We need to start forming a more inclusive and open American city culture, different from European city culture. I do not mean that we need political changes; instead, we need to distance our culture from that of Europe.
Sources: (APTA, Eurostat)
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