City and suburb

An interesting article in the Financial Times reports the revival of urban centres in the USA, with the suburbs becoming new homes for the poor. The revival of downtown Detroit is reported in detail, with  young graduates postponing their move to the suburbs and starting families. The city is a less lonely place for singles. Density can be reassuring: ‘In suburbia no one can hear your scream.’ Of Tampa, one of the most suburban multi-lane cities in the US: ‘No encounters ever happen by accident in Tampa. Or if they do, they’re traumatic.’

City living without a car is feasible, but not suburban living. This can be costly for people on low incomes where it can cost as much to fill petrol tanks as to pay rent. Personal financial crisis resulting in loss of the car can be catastrophic. The suburbs were created to house the new middle-class of the 20th century, but the economy they were built around is vanishing,it is argued, with the good jobs increasingly in the cities.

These city and suburban trends are contributing to the cessation of per capita growth of car travel in the US and elsewhere.

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