"At the sprawling edge of the city, and further in if the sprawl tendency has been ongoing for the last 50 or 60 years, traffic seems to become ever more severe.  So one of the effects of urban sprawl is that the road transportation system has to be lengthy, miles driven and traffic congestion are high, transit becomes cost-ineffective because overall density is low, and walking is nearly impossible in some suburban locations.

Partly this is because of family patterns, where children are frequently delivered to school by automobile and where two adults now are working. Parents often decide to enroll children in every lesson and after-school activity that seems remotely feasible, so those trips add to the traffic also.

But beyond that, the fact is that there are few true town centers where multiple errands can be accomplished during one trip. The downtowns of large cities usually don't afford convenient grocery shopping and the dry cleaner adjacent to the major department store.

If big box stores (large discount stores) are more your price range, you may be able to take care of a few needs nearby, but adjoining restaurants and services tend to be set up for you to drive to them, rather than walk.

If you don't drive, you're in for a tough time in most areas. Each metropolitan area offers a few pedestrian-friendly walkable communities where you can find shops, restaurants, banks, and some services, but often keeping a grocery store in these locations is a hard sell.

There's a need for complete streets where sidewalks and bicycle accommodations are ample.

Many people experience ugliness in the road dominance, incessant traffic, and excessive accommodation for automobiles through protruding garages and huge mostly vacant parking lots. It's a scene that mostly auto dealers and road building contractors love."

- An excerpt from the Useful Community Development blog.