Steve Berg compliments conservative politicians success at simplifying and demonizing the car-hating left to their political advantage. He makes his position clear (which I’m sure he shares with many urbanists):
In fact, I love to drive. The family road trip was a staple when the kids were small. I can easily recite the roads and distances between Washington, D.C., and Boston or the scenic detours between Minneapolis and San Francisco, then down the Coast Highway to San Diego. There’s nothing like the freedom of the open road.
But for me driving is a little like chocolate. It’s a wonderful indulgence that is easily overdone. When everyone drives a lot, things get out of hand: traffic congestion, air pollution, storm-water runoff, oil spills, greenhouse-gas emissions, oil dependence, foreign-policy complications that sometimes lead to wars, sprawled development, redundant infrastructure, drive-through lifestyles that lead to bad nutrition and obesity — all of these things can be laid, at least partially, on our need and desire to drive excessively.
The position us urbanists should all adopt:
Urbanists are accused of wanting to take away people’s cars and force them to live in tight quarters, but that’s absurd. Urban-style living isn’t for everyone. People should live where and how they want. What urbanists do favor, however, is a system of rules and prices that fairly reflect the costs of people’s decisions. Those who prefer to drive long distances and occupy large footprints should pay a fair cost. Those who choose smaller footprints shouldn’t be penalized by cumbersome rules or burdened by price systems that continue to reward inefficiency and heighten risks to the environment and to national security.
These don’t seem like elitist or radical positions to me. They seem reasonable and downright conservative, even patriotic. They pose no threat to personal liberty so far as I can see. Most important, they are proactive. I’d rather anticipate the future than try to recapture a past that’s already behind us.