- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chrysler is Going Down ?

Oh man. This is pretty impressive. Thanks to freep for this. Chrysler Chairman Bob Nardelli is quoted here as saying that this is "the lowest sales level in 16 years" and "indicates a significant and continued softening of the U.S. automotive market." No s##t Sherlock! And IRN Inc., ("The Source for Automotive and Industrial Intelligence") is quoted as saying that if the annualized rate of 12.5 million sales continues for long, it would be "Armageddon. Doomsday." Hyperbole to be sure, but a fundamental shift in attitudes is already running hot and the economy will follow - probably down for the time being as inventories run up of things people no longer want (cars) and industry frantically retools to provide the things that they do want - the tools and infrastructure of "New Urbanism" - so much more than just switching to selling hybrid or even electric cars, this is all about trains, transit, smaller more efficient homes in convenient, walkable towns that are safe and mostly free of speeding, stinking, dangerous vehicles and instead serviced by safe, efficient, cheap and convenient transit, where they can get to know the neighbors better because the kids play together in the park out the front where the highway used to be etc etc - what has been dubbed "New Urbanism" this newfound love of urbanity comes as much out of growing respect for the surrounding natural environment as it does out of desire for convenience and society.

As you may have noticed, I abhor car culture and everything it does to ruin our cities, communities and environment, and yet even still, I find this graph catching me quite shocked. Don't get me wrong. It is nothing to get too excited about yet. This isn't Armageddon or doomsday - hell, they are still selling over 10 MILLION NEW VEHICLES A YEAR and that's just in the USA, so Americans still have not yet kicked old habits of cars and sprawl, not by a long shot. But mark my words, attitudes are changing fast, and if this does continue it really will show that American society as a whole has finally woken up to the reality of the necessity for substantive change NOW to the way people's lifestyles there are designed.

It will be interesting to see if the Canadians and Australians (buoyed by mining) will follow suit. America could actually really get a leg up on other such new world countries by using the current crisis as the impetus to really rewire their cities for better efficiency PPS style, while these other countries power on with coal and oil, and sprawl and waste just because they can afford it...for now...

Yours Rambling,

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