"With gas as high as it is, I read once that even Detroiters are using public transit. Quite a feat since our 2-system "public transit" is so woefully inadequate."
It gets worse in the suburbs of Detroit, where a car is really the only option for getting around. Walking is for exercize; bicycles are for kids who are too young to drive. There are a couple of bus stops, but nobody has ever had the courage to deal with all the OAPs on the bus.
In NYC, there are so many different options. So far, I walked to get groceries, took a taxi to SoHo and a subway back, rode my bike 10 blocks to Kinko's to print out resumes for SW, and hopped on a crosstown bus to get across central park at night before running the rest of the way home in pouring rain.
The trips are all short as well--it is laid out on a very human scale. The hardware store is 2 doors away, the Food Emporium, Best Buy, and Barnes and Noble are 2-4 blocks away, and there are 5 Chase ATM's within .25 miles.
A welcome side effect of public transport is that you needn't drag a bike or car around. If you take a subway because it is raining, then the weather clears up, you aren't stuck in a car. If you meet up with people, you don't have to continue the night in a caravan, and the concepts of getting "dropped off" and "DUI's" vanish.
The apt. I'm in is on a human scale too- I can reach the oven, stove, sink, refrigerator, and every cupboard without having to take a step, everything is half a spin away when I'm standing on the lazy susan mounted in the middle of the kitchen floor.