The Sacramento Bee ran an interesting article this past Sunday entitled "The Conversation: How do we become less dependent?" a rumination on California's escape from auto-dependency.
The author, Daniel Lerch, who lives here in Portland writes: "Trying to make our communities less car-dependent simply by adding more buses, streetcars and light rail is like trying to make a bowl of chicken soup vegan simply by picking the chicken out. It's just not that simple," he explains. The way our communities are built plays a vital role, too.
Lerch then points to Portland as a model for other cities:
Portland, Ore., remains the best American example of this fundamental rethinking, with its vibrant downtown, pioneering light-rail system and strict constraints on suburban sprawl. Portland achieved its successes not by executive fiat, but through decades of work by countless elected officials, planners and community members to forge regional agreement on land use and transportation issues. Car independence has been a central part of the Portland vision, and today the city boasts some of the nation's highest rates of walking and bicycling, despite miserable weather half the year.
Portland wasn't always the walkable, bikeable place it is today. Lerch alludes to the long-term process the city continues to work through to change the built environment and our transportation system. The most iconic milepost might be our waterfront's transformation in the 1970s, as this photo depicts.