DY, your model may work for big cities. In fact, many people in big cities already follow a similar model. However, it is utterly ineffective at combating suburban sprawl. There is no way to get around the fact that, short of walking everywhere, a car is infinitely more convenient than relying on public transportation. Cheaper too.
I do not want to be forced to take a train or bus or walk everywhere. I do not want to live next to my neighbor with only a wall separating us. I want to have a house with a garage and home theater and yard and space. I do not want to live in super close proximity to other people. I want my space, my privacy. I am not the only one who wants this. This is the American dream, and I take offense that you think I must conform to a european big city model. I do not want to nor will I ever conform to that. I've tried it, and now that I'm not on a keylogged computer at work, I hate it.
I've done the urban thing. I've done the walking everywhere and using subways and buses. It is only convenient when you're coming back from the bar drunk, and that issue can be solved by taxis.
There is plenty of space for "sprawl" here in the west; sustainability is not an issue.
Finally, your point on open space. Munich has one of, if not the, biggest and largest city parks in the world, the English Garden. It is beyond congested, with little room for a few people to toss a frisbee around. Americans, especially out west, pride ourselves on our vast empty spaces. You will never get us to agree to your idea. There is a huge difference in mindset between westerners and country folk and people from big cities: we want our space, and we do not do well in apartment buildings.
As for not using cars as main transportation, go right ahead and make mass transit appealing to use for big cities. It will do the most good there. Mass transit will do absolutely nothing for suburban sprawl. If the light rail here in Denver that goes to the suburbs is any indication, it takes so long and is so inconvenient that the only people who ride it that far are those who cannot afford cars. Do not be so naive as to think all big cities are gridlocked like LA. I have lived in the Denver area most of my life and have rarely experienced LA or NY or SF-style traffic. Most of the US population does not live in the biggest cities, so mass transit is useless for most of the population. Is it useful? Yes. Will it replace my car? Only if I'm in a big city, in which I hate living.
What your argument comes down to exposes a great irony. You claim that the best way to stop suburban sprawl is to have more people live in big cities or areas of high population densities. To have apartment buildings for everyone, mass transit cheap and available, everything within walking distance, low energy living, etc etc. You're evidently unaware that most people living in the suburbs moved out of the big city to get away from all of that. How can you possibly expect people to want to go back to that? Americans want their space, and the suburbs are absolutely cheaper to live in when compared to the big city, even including costs of driving.
I will gladly spend more money driving if I save moeny on rent/mortgage, save money on insurance, save money on utilities, save money on food, save money on drinks, save money on just about everything. Being where you and your family are happy and comfortable is priceless, regardless of any other economic consideration.
A racing addiction makes a crack addiction look like a vague desire for something salty.
Fear disturbs your concentration.
- Sabine Schmitz