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"Yes, but spreading out the urban core into strip cities would not help matters, I don't think. While browsing on this subject I found that though NYC has the longest commute in the country by travel time, more than 30% of the commuters use mass transit, as opposed to less than 5% nationally. "

Note that in a properly designed strip city, the mass transit is through the center of the strip. Walking to the mass transit is easily possible. At the same time, farmland and such are also in easy reach as you walk away from the transportation core of the strip. Given a breakdown in food transport, most node cities are a few days away from major problems. As for trash, look at what happened in the UK in the 70s when they had economic problems. Personally I prefer bicycles, weather permitting, but live too far away from work to use them for commuting. I do stick to buying good mileage cars - our latest gets 39MPG in highway driving. I would much rather use bus or train, but cannot, here.

Any changes are likely to be slow. People tend not to be aware of problems until they are smacked heavily by them.
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