Such an open-ended perspective allows for both new architectural and urban typologies to evolve and adapt, to solve certain conceptual and functional flaws and to generate new unintended problems. There is little doubt that automobile use has been the biggest instigator in the generation of new typologies, especially in regards to parking. The need to park our cars has transformed the way buildings relate to the street and in turn how they relate to people in terms of scale and speed. From retail storefronts lining sidewalks directly adjacent to the street to expansive gulfs of concrete and asphalt prefacing big boxes with eye-catching signage to catch the driver's eye while traveling at 60 miles per hour, new building types have been invented and new ways of approaching them have resulted. To many, auto-centric urban development has yielded dismal changes that have prompted a call for a return to pedestrian-centric development, with little interest to more skillfully integrate parking infrasture as part of a desired solution. They do not intend to improve the experience or the practicality of parking, they wish rather to eliminate it entirely. For them, the best cities are those that marginalize parking to the extremes, that promote lots of walking, and concentrate long-distance trips to linear mass transit systems.
Thanks to the new-found use of reinforced concrete after the turn of the twentieth century, ramps were perceived at the time as an innovative device in the design of vertical circulation and became instrumental in portraying a new architecture that unified motion, space and time. Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright were enchanted by them as ramps could provide creative solutions to age-old as well completely new design problems. For Kennicot, though, the parking ramp helped sever the connection of a person to the ground and to the building being entered. By measuring its merits based on sound principles of pedestrian-friendly buildings, the author unfairly, in my view, indicts a building intended for the efficient storage of cars. While parking garages could be designed to enhance the experience of the pedestrian a little bit, the car-based life requires that this building type may not be able to function well if it were it designed with the kind of standards that apply to the walkable lifestyle. With this reasoning, Kennicot argues that since traditional standards don't apply, parking garages are doomed to be ugly and harmful to cities and he thus entertains the thought of simply eliminating the car-based lifestyle for good, especially since he questions whether cars are even that "fundamental to the American right to mobility in an urbanized world." He goes on to argue for the end of the parking garage and forcing people to walk or used a shared mass transit:
...Or should we work toward their obsolescence and elimination (retained only for shared cars, buses, electric vehicles, etc.)? That is a trenchant, hard-nosed but ultimately more rational choice than the blithe acceptance of them as necessary evils that just need a little tweaking. Banishing the garage would force some social engineering on a population that desperately needs to wean itself from a planet-killing addiction to the automobile. When a neighborhood becomes a parking nightmare, one of two things must happen: People stop going there, or they get there on foot, bicycle, train or bus. Residents of crowded Georgetown might well consider both options entirely positive.
Denying people the freedom to drive where they would like to go on their own terms doesn't appear to me to be the rational choice. Such freedom has been the foundation of our contemporary economy and has empowered us in ways unimaginable to those living in urban areas before the car. Something had to replace the horse and cart of not too long ago, and linear mass transit systems were the premier way of getting around until a new kind of personal vehicle could operate faster with less restrictions.
Kennicot also reveals the latent tendency by those who admonish cars to abridge the precious freedoms afforded by the automobile. Practicing such freedom like that of self-movement by technological means is now supposedly harmful to the planet (even though modern cities have never been cleaner and would be more so once cars run on eletric or fue cells), and forcing society to give up driving so much will make life better for all us, even while each individual is disempowered. For all of its drawbacks, the car is a symbolic enabler of self-reliance that provides an independence from collective life. It ensures that a city's citizenry will balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community, and that one can leave an undesirable situation if it arises to go elsewhere, an undefined other place beyond the reach of walkers and mass transit passengers. Like the above author, there are many urban thinkers who believe in a city devoid of the unlimited mobility afforded by cars, who think there is little real benefit to car use. Somehow it is better to rely on a public transit system run by unions that are prone to strike, that cannot guarantee adequate personal security, or runs on an impractical daily schedule wasting lots of one's time (yes, even more than the occasional traffic jam).
The zero-sum mantra influences much of the thinking when it comes to how a city should develop in the future. It provides a pretext for planners and city governments to aquire more control over the lives of citizens by championing the needs of the so-called "community" over the needs of individuals. Restrictive zoning policies and ordinances follow which champion the will of a the majority (or the local city power elite) and punishes the minority, who then move out of the city and leave behing a place a bit less diverse than it once was.
A city that encourages all forms of urestricted mobility is one where everthing seems to possible with something for everyone. It suggests solutions that are not confined to 'either/or' but instead to 'both/and'.