America's Addiction to Automobiles
Why Cities Need to Kick the Habit and How
by Chad Frederick
September 2017, 234pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5280-0
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5281-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Do cars give us more freedom, or do they instead dictate how and where we live? Do they really allow us to see the world, or do they actually encourage us to disengage from it?

A provocative look at our nation's dependency on the automobile and how its potential impact on urban design will either make or break our health, economy, and quality of life.

In this thought-provoking work, author and urban planning expert Chad Frederick scrutinizes the use of automobiles in cities, investigating its role in exacerbating urban inequalities and thwarting sustainability of modern society. Through a comprehensive, thoughtful discussion, Frederick illustrates how the automobile is fundamentally at odds with the very nature of cities. He shows how cars impose huge burdens on our health, equity, environment, local and national economy, and quality of life. Most of all, he shows how automobile dependency has put our entire society at risk.

The book delves into the monumental role of automobiles in the development of cities after the Great Depression, impacting the American identity and affecting the way we produce and manage urban spaces. Frederick provides compelling evidence that cities with more diverse modes of transportation are greener, healthier, more prosperous, and even more enjoyable places to live than automobile-dependent cities. He identifies one institution responsible for our inability to improve our cities: the social sciences, and examines the root cause of our inability to make progress toward more multi-modal cities. In conclusion, the author offers a radical solution for moving beyond the underlying logic that forces us to create automobile-dependent cities.


  • Shows how automobiles in urban areas harm health, economy, and society overall
  • Explains why some are opposing the movement toward more multi-modal cities and why 40 years of research in this area has not resulted in better cities
  • Explores how automobile dependency exerts enormous power over our daily lives by shaping the kind and quality of our social interactions, and by influencing our civic attitudes and worldviews
  • Illustrates the broad impacts of automobile use that reach into every aspect of modern life: from public health and income inequality, to environmental quality and quality of life
Chad Frederick, PhD, is an assistant professor of geography and sustainable planning at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the senior research associate at the Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods at the University of Louisville. His research can be found in academic journals such as the Journal of Urbanism, Local Environment, and the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. Frederick received his master's degree in urban and environmental planning at Arizona State University and his doctorate in urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville.


"This is a well-reasoned, clearly organized text that makes its points with scholarly passion. Frederick's point that 'knowing what to do is not enough' sounds like a clear call to action."—Choice, February 1, 2018
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