The sociologist Richard Sennet describes cities as “places where strangers meet.”
This defines the city both as larger than a village or neighborhood (where you might know or recognize everyone), but it excludes many of the areas that Americans label “cities.” Even if these “cities” have the mass of people necessary for there to be strangers, there are precious few places where one can encounter someone you don’t already know.
In a car-centric city, a worker can go straight to her car from her home’s connected garage and have no contact with any other city dweller until she arrives at the office. Of course, the streets are teeming with people, but everyone is insulated and separated from one another within their own vehicle.
This is often touted as a virtue of the personal car. You can play your own music, control your own temperature, and decide your own destination and the speed with which you get there. Public transportation, on the other hand, is often described as “packed like sardines” and is rife with complaints of unsavory, annoying, or downright dangerous people. This was one of Elon Musk’s primary problems with public transportation.
But the proximity to others is one of public transportation’s greatest strengths, not a weakness. It is precisely the ability to encounter strangers that is one of the greatest benefits of living in a city.
Click here to read the full article: https://mobilitylab.org/2018/09/18/yes-being-surrounded-by-other-people-is-a-strength-of-public-transportation/