The Scandinavians, even in the midst of the global assault on human living standards by Capital, still represent the highest standards of social well-being. It is glaringly obvious that cars and trucks need to be brought under severe control in large areas of cities worldwide. This would benefit both residents of inner city neighborhoods and much of the commercial districts, particularly retail trade areas, where foot traffic often brings increased business. This is now more likely to happen, after the gentrification of many of the surviving older neighborhoods in cities, as the “stakeholders” have changed from the powerless poor and working class to real estate moguls and upper middle class professionals.
Many struggles have already taken place over cars and urban areas. When pedestrianized business streets were first established in European cities the merchants were opposed thinking they would lose business if they lost on street traffic and parking; in contrast business greatly increased and storefronts on pedestrianized streets became prime locations. Of course European cities all have significant mass transit systems and shoppers and strollers can easily get to those pedestrianized streets. In the U.S., in contrast, an abortive movement to limit traffic on Main Streets largely failed because there was little or no public transportation.
Cars are unbeatable in rural areas, but get worse and worse as density increases. American cities tend to be relatively low density, though older cities in the East have large high density areas. Unfortunately, the approach in many American cities is to mix cars, cyclists, and pedestrians and depend on courtesy and “share the road” campaign. U.S. and Canadian cities usually have extensive side street networks that could serve as the basis of viable bike route systems (local cyclists always know how to use such networks). But the general trend remains to paint lines on different types of more heavily traveled streets and mix vehicles and bikes.