Density Diminishes Irene: Hurricane Reminds Us Why We Live in Big, Thriving Cities

the day after tomorrow cabs Density Diminishes Irene: Hurricane Reminds Us Why We Live in Big, Thriving Cities

When the storm clears, those cabs will still be there.

The Observer has cataloged 25 reasons why Hurricane Irene was good for New York City, and Streetsblog gives us another: burnishing our urban superiority complex. After all, a major storm or disaster like this reminds us of the value of living in dense, transit-rich communities, where you can walk, cab, bike, bus, train or—if you must, if you can—drive to work, to the store, to see friends.

Life without transit also highlighted the value of building places with multiple transportation options. In the streetcar suburb where I was during the storm, people ventured out on foot to see neighbors, survey damage and even head to the few open stores long before most felt safe driving or transit service had resumed. Taxis provided a backup transportation option for normally transit-dependent New Yorkers who really needed to get somewhere.

In contrast, those with only one means of travel — such as drivers in upstate New York, where floods rendered hundreds of roads and bridges impassable — are stuck at home. Irene helped us see the value of multiple transportation modes, or even multiple options within a single mode.

Sinatra was right. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere—so long as it’s in the metro area.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC