Automobile Isolation

Growing up in Los Angeles while the rest of my family lived on the East Coast, I always looked forward to our trips back east. Every time I visited, I made sure to ride the train into Philadelphia with my grandfather from the suburbs where they lived. It wasn't until years later, after I started driving, that I understood their significance: they represented an option unavailable in LA, where the cityscape was dominated by cars. For decades in the past, freeways and toll roads fragmented communities, not only hindering pedestrian connections beyond central areas, but inherently separating families, friends, and people from one another. A few months ago, I tried a new gym. It seemed perfect: just a 10-minute walk away. But as I finished my workout and began my walk home, I found myself alongside a 4-lane road with no sidewalk. Dodging cars and navigating without a crosswalk, I realized the stark reality of transportation in America: without a car, it's unreasonably dangerous and difficult to get where you need to be.

Politicians’ and Americans’ love for automobiles seem to surpass the need for actual successful transportation, which fosters increased isolation and loneliness, especially for those who don’t own a car. Because it is so difficult to get to different places, it becomes increasingly easy and convenient to stay isolated from one another. In addition, the brutalist architecture of freeways and roads compounds the issue due to their physical separation of communities and their stark contrast from the places they exist in.