From Publishers Weekly
In this informative but scattered survey of transportation issues in America, ecologist Motavalli presents a legion of reasons why automobiles are the wrong choice for metropolises. They range from the global (ozone layer depletion) to the personal (long commutes) to the social (isolation and urban sprawl) to the near-farcical (increasing numbers of women giving birth on the way to the hospital because highways are too congested). Despite all this, of course, Americans are still addicted to their cars so much so that they'll even use dummies to fake their way into HOV lanes. Partly, Motavalli believes, this is because cars seem to fulfill Americans' desires for individualism. But it's also because of the historic narrow-mindedness of city planners like Robert Moses, who had such distaste for mass transit that he purposely built highway bridges around Long Island and upstate New York that were too low for buses. Unfortunately, Moses's modern counterparts aren't much better. For every Portland, Ore., which has committed to light rail and refused to spend money on highways, there is a Boston, which has thrown billions of dollars into its Big Dig program to extend highways underground. While Motavalli is a proven expert at diagnosing these problems, he is less adept at prescribing solutions. He believes in an interconnected hodge-podge of transit systems subway, light rail, buses, ferries, bicycles along with (most importantly) a total readjustment in American sensibilities based on the European model. Readers will undoubtedly have their own opinions; after finishing Motavalli's earnest and well-researched book, however, they will have no doubt as to its necessity. Agent, Sabine Hrechdakian.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
If the eternal cycle of more cars/more roads/more cars causes angst in your community, library patrons may be interested in the range of options explored here. Motavalli--editor of E: The Environmental Magazine and author of Forward Drive: The Race to Build "Clean" Cars for the Future (2000)--recognizes that "for transportation to change, the nature of home, work, and family has to change." Even without this sort of fundamental change, however, he sees possibilities. Breaking Gridlock surveys past science-fiction scenarios and current transit struggles in five U.S. "transit cities" (New York, Boston, L.A., Portland, OR, and Arcata, CA) and regionally planned European cities such as Zurich and Copenhagen. It examines smart cars and smart tolls as responses to sprawl, and telecommuting and e-commerce as a reaction to burgeoning "edge cities." And Motavalli's study considers both the auto industry's and environmentalists' visions of cleaner cars, as well as potential improvements in bus technology and opportunities for improved water and air transportation. A lively exploration of a broad range of potentially valuable transportation improvements. Mary Carroll
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