I just saw an awesome graphic entitled "city contrast"over at Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth and I had to share.
It describes the Lively City Vs. the Empty City. Think about big cities (or even small ones) you've visited and compare what you've seen.
Cities are inherently dense places, and dense places are not appropriate for low density (SOV) transportation. There is a reason cities experience traffic congestion: cars are everywhere! You can fit far more pedestrians within the CBD than you can fit (and park) automobiles.
But let's step outside the city for a moment. Does this make sense in a small town? In a town of say, 3,000 souls, does it make sense to incorporate transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to offset motor vehicle use?
Of course! In a town of 3,000 there should be no reason for a human being to get into a car for any reason other than to leave the town. Even in the lowest densities, 3,000 people won't occupy a huge amount of real estate. In fact, I'd wager a bunch of beans (literally) that any town in the US with a population in the neighborhood of 3,000 could be walked end to end in less than an hour.
But then I would also wager some beans that in many of them you'd be taking your life in your hands to do so because the other 2,999 people would be bombing past in their cars and the pedestrian infrastructure no longer exists as it did prior to WWII.
Think about movies that take place in small towns. What do the filmmakers typically portray? Pre-1950s architecture, sidewalks, street level shops with permeable walls facing the street, few parking lots, few cars, people walking, people interacting...a lively city.
Did you know that location scouts have a difficult time finding small towns in which to film?
Anyway, I wanted to share the graphic. Check out the original article if you have a chance.