Selected quotes from each chapter in Charles Montgomery’s new book – Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.  happy-city

Today: Mobilities 1: How moving feels, and why it does not feel better.’

City life is as much about moving through landscapes as it is about being in them.  This is a critical point: not only does the city shape the way we move, but our movements shape the city in return.

The more we choose to drive, the more the urban system gets reconfigured to accommodate drivers, in an endless feedback loop of journeys and changing landscapes.

…every commute is a ritual that can alter our very sense of who we are and what is our place in the world.

… driving your own car embodies the psychological state known as mastery: drivers report feeling much more in charge of their lives than transit users or even their own passengers.  … the experience of driving a hot car triggered a hormonal response even when their were no hot babes to impress.  No wonder four in then Americans actually claim to love their cars.

… the problem is that cars fail to deliver the experience of freedom and speed that we all know they are capable of bestowing in a world of open roads.  The urban system neutralizes their power.  … The blood of people who drive in cities is a high-test stew of stress hormones.  The worse the traffic, the more your system is flooded (that) in the long term can make you ill.

One group of commuters reports enjoying themselves more than everyone else.  Their route to happy mobility is simple.  There are people who travel on their own steam.  They walk.  They run.  They ride bicycles.

We have evolved to get smarter and cheerier when we exercise provided we can do it someplace where we aren’t burning, freezing, terrified, or in other mortal danger.  …

… cyclists report feeling connected to the world around them in a way that is simply not possible in the sealed environment of an automobile or a bus or a subway car.  Their journeys are both sensual and kinesthetic. … Yet the travel mode rated the most fun, efficient, and joyful has been avoided by all but a tiny fraction of North American travelers, even in dense, connected communities.

… transit riders are the most miserable commuters of all.  American transit users – the bulk of whom rely on buses – are most likely to feel that their trips take too long and the most likely to be depressed by their journeys. … In cities where transit is meant only as a service for the poor, riding the typical urban bus can be hell on your self-esteem.

How do we build systems that truly make us free in cities?

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