Patrick "Car-Free" Kennedy Talks to Texas Observer About His Idealized Dallas

Texas Freeway
Ask Patrick how he feels about the highways around downtown, like the Mixmaster, seen here under construction in 1963
Texas Observer Forrest Wilder has been doing an occasional chat-with series featuring homegrowns "involved in issues of the environment and energy," and for his latest installment he's chatting up none other than our old pal Patrick "Car-Free in Big D" Kennedy. Not surprisingly, Patrick's got plenty to say: Wilder sent him five questions to answer via e-mail, and Patrick responded with novella-like answers regarding everything from the latest bike plan to Oak Cliff's Build a Better Block to the clusterfudge that is downtown parking. In other words, an Unfair Park best-of.

An excerpt from his answer to Wilder's question concerning what in the hell happened to "walkable Dallas," anyhow?:
I see one of my goals or missions is to fight against the mindless tautological response of "Oh, we're Texans. We love our cars and that's just our preference." Then why then are Atlanta, Phoenix, Houston, even Denver, all essentially the same city? Are they all Texans as well? Why was Dallas walkable and a streetcar mecca before? Why is land in uptown and around DART stations valued more by that same market? It's Stockholm Syndrome, except towards the cars and the policy that shackled us to them.

And the real answer is due to local, state, and federal policies, largely paternalistic, ideological, occasionally corrupt and with very little grounding in how cities actually work. They were also very sterile, one-dimensional and same from place to place, creating a boring homogeny of place. Slowly but surely we are revisiting all of those policies out of necessity and abject failure. We have to rewrite the underlying codes and policies to allow the city to reveal its various personalities, its diversity, its true authenticity. This city produces a ton of creative energy, but mostly exports it. Perhaps, in the 21st century we can keep more local creative talent around and empower it to focus on improving Dallas.

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