Theses Master's

Cutting Back the Car - Lessons on Reducing Suburban Automobile Dependence from the US & Germany

Neill, Matthias

This thesis attempts to answer the research question: “How have suburbs reduced car dependence?” It looks specifically at two suburbs, one in the US and one in Germany, that have had success in reducing automobile dependence and creating new paradigms of suburban development and transportation planning. These case studies, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in Virginia and Rieselfeld and Vauban in Germany, are different but provide valuable lessons on how suburbs can reduce automobile dependence. Information on the case studies and their strategies to reduce car dependence was gathered primarily through secondary sources and through interviews with experts. Research looks at municipal planning systems in both case locations, and summarizes broad lessons that experts have identified as important to the reduction of car-dependence in both locations. Findings indicate that the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor has reduced car dependence by coordinating transportation and land use planning, incentivizing a shift away from driving, and by securing community consensus in favor of densification and transit provision. Planners have made Rieselfeld and Vauban less car dependent by focusing on environmental sustainability and planning for low-car lifestyles from both suburbs inception. Ultimately this thesis finds that a range of strategies can work to reduce car dependence in suburbs but that the success of both case locations in reducing car dependence is context dependent.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Wu, Weiping
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 25, 2017