I was thinking about this chicken or the egg problem: Americans sometimes HAVE to drive often because there is no safe way to bike, distances are too far, no public transit, etc. But because we drive, there is no demand for public transit or sidewalks etc. So do we drive because there is no choice, or is there no choice because we drive?
In Europe there is a choice. Was that system put in place despite everyone wanting to drive, or did the public not want to drive and demanded it. Maybe gov't regulations made driving inconvenient and then the they wanted public transit. If we were to put in a train system as comprehensive as Europe's, depite the costs, would it get used? Is this just an infrastructure and funding problem for the US, or are there inherent differences in the cultures of Europe and the US leading to the non-feasablility of public transit, ever.
It's a sad thought, but I think that outside of massive gas shortages, people will keep driving. Even sadder to cyclists (but great for air quality) is the idea of non-polluting, non-petroleum cars. Then there would be even less incentive to not drive. What little public transit we have would be scrapped, and no one would ever understand why anyone would want to bike or take the bus. But cars would still be expensive, sprawl would worsen along with traffic congestion, and there would be twice as many cars to run me over. I'll bet Europe will keep their train system, no matter what fuel cars run on. Sometimes it's as much an issue of what social environment one wants to live in, as what the vehilcle does to the natural environment.
European comments greatly appreciated on this.