American cities fight imaginary 'beast': heavy traffic

American streets: So big, so little traffic.

During a visit to Kansas City, Charles Marohn made a good observation about the way American cities, particularly in the Midwest, build transportation infrastructure.

Despite the fact that Kansas City has wide streets with plenty of lanes and minimal street parking, this city of roughly 500,000 has very little traffic.

As his argument goes: In an attempt to prevent this:

Cities, like Kansas City, build streets that end up looking more like this:

"We're fighting a beast that does not exist," Marohn said.

The result is that cities and taxpayers spend big money to build, expand, and maintain roads; drivers speed more with wider lanes and fewer cars; and development space (that could otherwise be used for housing, office, or retail space) is wasted to build parking lots and structures because of limited street parking.

Marohn is no city planning amateur. He's a professional engineer and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He also runs a fantastic blog, Strong Towns. And he has a few ideas for what he would change about Kansas City today if he could. Read more here.

Streets with no cars [Strong Towns]

Top image: Wikimedia Commons/Jugni

Bottom image: Flickr/Theresa L Wysocki

This post was originally published on


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