"Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile"

Aug 27, 2012

The automobile thrived, of course --- in fact, it flourished --- in the 20th century. Especially in America, where entire cities were developed around the car. People bought houses, planned vacations, and chose their schools and supermarkets (and so forth) around their autos --- and we still do so today, obviously. But it seems highly unlikely that cars will have quite so great an influence on our lives (and on cities) in the 21st century. So, what's next? On this edition of ST, we speak by phone with Taras Grescoe, an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. Grescoe's new book is called "Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile." Partly a travelogue, partly a work of urban and socio-economic history, and partly an informed endorsement of the world's leading mass-transit systems, "Straphanger" is, as one critic for Library Journal has noted, "entertaining and illuminating.... Grescoe's adventurous, first-person inspection of the world's latest high-tech transit systems keeps readers engaged while underscoring the importance of developing greener forms of transportation." And as a reviewer for Kirkus, moreover, has noted: "[This book] is rife with bits of interesting trivia, and it almost reads like a travelogue as the author revels in the wonders of his diverse destinations. With a smooth, accessible narrative style...each chapter is packed with important information.... [The author makes] a captivating, convincing case for car-free --- or at least car-reduced --- cities."