Why Did We Stop Walking & How Do We Start Again?

How did we go from believing that “the pedestrian is entitled to the full use of the street anywhere, anytime,” at the turn of the 20th century to viewing pedestrians as a public nuisance? Peter Norton, author of the book Fighting Traffic, gave this lecture at the last Congress for the New Urbanism. He chronicles the history of how our streets went from being public spaces where children played and people could walk freely, to being the domain of motorists alone, and dissects our “love affair” with our cars. He also explores some of the psychological tactics used by auto clubs and manufacturers to pass laws and stigmatize the pedestrian as a nuisance and a “jaywalker” in the 1920’s-30’s. How can we reclaim the streets as the public spaces that they were for thousands of years?



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