Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza recently saw the opening of a retail store for the worst invention ever, the Segway.

The Plaza, the nation’s first planned shopping center and essentially an outdoor mall, is a mess of winding streets and tastefully disguised parking garages. Aesthetically free of stoplights or stop signs, drivers are expected to slow down as pedestrians dash across four lanes (or saunter and chat across four lanes, as the wealthier visitors are apt to do). The Plaza is a good example of our irrational dependence on cars. People have to walk to get to the stores anyway, so why let cars in at all? They could more than double the building space if they made people park on the periphery and walk in. Around 20,000 people live within walking distance of The Plaza, yet it has not one grocery store, not one pharmacy. This is a strong symptom of the lack of community in the area. People don’t want to gather in The Plaza because it is a dangerous, uncomfortable place for pedestrians.

Cars make distance travel, from the supermarket twenty miles away to a cross-country move, trivial, but that ease of mobility severs the ties that a person has with his area. Who cares if the corner market goes out of business when the supermarket is only ten minutes away. From this loss of local investment to streets scarring the landscape, cars are toxic to community. The Segway has been touted as the cure for our ailing communities, but it is, in fact, the worst invention ever.

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