People look at picturesque images of European cities with families walking together on pedestrian shopping streets, businessmen stepping aboard sleek electric trams, and well-dressed women biking to work in heels. They say, "It's just completely different there. There must be some good reason why we can't have that. We're too spread out, our cities were made for cars. We can't afford great public transit."
Strasbourg has one-tenth our population and less density. In 1994 they fixed their urban congestion problem and boosted their economy by replacing cars and buses on many downtown streets with modern streetcars that also connect commuter suburbs to the core. These light-rail vehicles rocket through the countryside like wind-powered bullet trains, then glide slowly and safely through the city's residential and shopping streets.