Conscientious Objectors: Long Beach Shuns ‘Motordom’, Strives To Become America’s Most Bike-Friendly City

While America demonstrates incredible geographic and social diversity, its cities have become far too similar. This found homogeneity is the bi-product of many layered public and private policies reinforcing what author Peter Norton calls Motordom, and it’s adversely affecting not just suburbs, but cities too. Without breaking the inertia of 100 years of applied Motordom, the demands of the future–one that will be decidedly less auto-oriented–can only be addressed timidly, if at all.

While the business as usual approach threatens to harm the economic viability of the nation, it can be measured most accurately at the scale of the region where clusters of interdependent municipalities will win or lose the future by outcompeting each other for finite capital resources. To do this effectively requires one to differentiate itself beyond offering corporate tax breaks and the crown jewel school system, which only meet increasingly limited market segments.  Indeed, this country’s most desirable, and therefore sustainable, places have always created new paradigms rather then reinforcing old ones. In doing so, they often inspire change at a regional, national, or even international scale– they become Pattern Cities. If there is one city in America seeking to accomplish this, it’s Long Beach, California.

While we recently profiled the city’s new parklets, Nate Berg over at Atlantic Cities bring us this fantastic article about Long Beach, California’s conscientious effort to become America’s most bike-friendly city. While there is no need to re-hash the article (really, read the whole thing), it’s important to underscore the symbolism and substance of this bold decision.