In other words: "OK, you're right, you do need these cars. But is it right that you should need them?"
Don't our suburban families deserve transportation choice?
People equate the car with individual freedom. Turn this idea on its head. Is it freedom to have to use this bulky, costly vehicle to get anywhere you might want to go? Isn't real freedom the ability to choose which mode of transportation is most suitable for a given task -- say, car for shopping, public transportation for commuting, bicycle and walking for recreation and social calls? The ability to choose a cheaper mode when money is tight, a less polluting one when temperatures are rising, one that provides moderate exercise when the waistline is getting too expansive for comfort, one that doesn't require a licensed driver when the under-16 kids want to go somewhere?
Why must this choice be preemptively, presumptively made for you by your built environment, in total ignorance of your personal values or circumstances?
Don't you deserve to be able to make up your own mind?
Once upon a time the car was a luxury; later, a comfort. We made the decision as a society to turn it into a necessity, to reconfigure our entire environment (aside from a few big cities and forward-thinking small towns) to make it nigh-impossible to live without one. We did this on the assumption that, well, everybody wants a car, so everyone will have one, at least everybody who's anybody, so there's no problem! People who don't want them, well, they're just deviant kooks; and people who can't afford them, are we supposed to care? Just keep them in the inner-city housing projects, out of sight of everyone else. They can take buses -- buses are good enough for them. Not for us.
This mind-set "worked," about as well as any conformist, elitist mind-set can work, until the mathematics of the lifestyle came home to roost in the 21st century, telling us that this way of life has an expiration date -- that the dollar is weakening and the oil is finite and our dependence grows as things get farther and farther apart and the people with all the real quantities of money in this country aren't going to share it to make anyone else's lives easier. So we can either march blithely toward suburban apocalypse, the logical conclusion of this self-created necessity, or we can demand choices. More precisely, we can demand that the people who build our environment -- the developers, the planners, the bankers, the lawmakers -- to start creating the kinds of places that allow us to have choices, multimodal communities that allow the car to remain one transportation mode among a number of equally attractive alternatives. The open-minded among us can move to these places and insulate ourselves from the shocks that will befall those who insist on keeping all their eggs in one internal-combustion basket.