If we want to have cities we love, the key is to remember who we’re designing them for: People. In the 20th century, we lost sight of that. Back then a different technological revolution was upon us—automobiles. We fell so hard for them that we redesigned our cities around them. Especially in the United States, we created a sprawl of highways and parking lots, strip malls and cul-de-sacs, a landscape that is accessible only by car. The problem with sprawl, other than the environmental problems, is that it keeps us so far away from each other that we retreat in our private bubbles rather than get together at a local café or public park, and that’s not what a city is all about. Cities are meant to get us out of our bubbles and bring us together, and fortunately, a few cities are starting to get the memo. Just look at Los Angeles, which used to be home to one of the most extensive urban rail networks in the world. The car-congested city is going all in on public transit, investing billions to create a new network of metro and light-rail that will finally connect the city. Another American city fighting the sprawl is Atlanta. The Southern city is not known for being walkable, but that’s starting to change with projects like the BeltLine—a 22-mile loop of abandoned rail lines around central Atlanta which is being transformed into a lush, green trail for citizens to walk through. To see how other cities around the world are battling the sprawl, have a look here.

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