As the Manhattanization of America rolls on — the urbanization of not just our cities but our suburbs — many of these efforts are taking place in the depths of car-dependent suburbia. So while developers tout walkability, sense of community, and access to an "exciting Main Street environment," a car may still be necessary to commute to work, or for any kind of substantial errand. The historian Kenneth T. Jackson, author of the masterful Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, once pointed out to me that in many of these new developments, you can buy milk, an ice cream cone, and a great cup of coffee, but you can't buy a mattress. The point is, most households in these communities will still need a car, sometimes two.
This enrages some transit purists. No matter how vibrant a newly developed downtown, if you're not removing the need for a car, you're not really urbanizing the suburbs and making them more livable. Right?