For example, when the Embarcadero Freeway, a double-deck freeway, was torn down, a majority of the trips—according to a study by the city of San Francisco—got shorter and faster because of the increased connectivity. With the freeway, there were a lot of trips where you overshot your destination and had to come back. It also attracted trips that didn’t add any value to the neighborhood: People going from Oakland to Marin County were cutting through San Francisco. When the freeway was torn down and replaced by a boulevard, it suddenly didn’t look so attractive to go that way, and [drivers] found a different way to get to Marin Country or, in some cases, didn’t make the trip.
You could take care of congestion in New York in a similar way: If you eliminate the 700 miles of subway, eliminate the commuter trains, build the Cross-Manhattan Expressway, put the West Side Highway back in—build all the freeways that Robert Moses didn’t get around to building—you could probably solve the congestion problem in New York. Manhattan’s population would drop from 2 million down to half a million, and the city would become a really poor place instead of a rich place.
The wonderful thing about New York is that every couple of blocks is like a small town: an assortment of restaurants, a grocery store, a teeny post office, a transit stop, some office towers and local businesses, a bar, maybe a nightclub, drycleaners, retail stores, etc, and ten to twenty thousand people living in apartments. A self-contained little community. That kind of density would be impossible to achieve if you had to get in your car and enter/exit the local freeway in order to go somewhere half a mile away.
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