To some people, thinking about green transportation infrastructure in isolation is misguided. Instead, they insist that a better approach is to figure out how to configure entire communities in such a way that greener modes of transportation are simply the most obvious and easiest choices. Smart growth, which emphasizes putting homes near shops, jobs and public transportation, does just that by making zoning choices that promote density.
Author Ozzie Zehner says these choices are possible even in places that were originally designed to cater to the automobile. “Communities throughout the United States have successfully converted their big-box stores and parking lots into new community assets such as churches, schools, housing and mixed-use buildings featuring interconnected street grids and lushly planted pedestrian access,” he says. “Take, for instance, a densely built Atlanta neighborhood named Atlantic Station, where residents drive an average of just 8 miles (12.87 kilometers) per day in a region where the average employed individual drives 68 (109.4 kilometers).”