Don’t be fooled by the clickbait title of his video; not everything in America is poorly designed in the eyes of Oliver Bahl Franke. All it boils down to are problems in transportation.

YouTube video

To be more precise, Oliver has an issue with how American infrastructure focuses more on cars than any other mode of transportation. Ever since cars became more affordable and widespread in the 1930s, the country has slowly but surely evolved into a place where cars reign supreme. Overabundant highways, wide roads, and way too many parking lots are just some of the instances where you can see just how much personal vehicles are given priority in America.

america poorly designed

It’s not entirely without reason, either. I mean, take a look at the other modes of transportation in the country. The quality of public transportation, more specifically trains and buses, hasn’t improved in years. From shoddy architecture and poor upkeep to the inefficient ways it transports people to and from their destinations, it’s no wonder why no one wants to use public transport.

america poorly designed

As an example, Oliver pulls up a map of the Chicago train system. It was designed to funnel people from all over the city to the downtown area. Even if you aren’t headed that way, you still need to pass this particular location if you want to get anywhere else via train. This choice may have been a product of capitalism at the time (that might still well be the case), but any railway engineer today could tell you that this system is highly inefficient as a way of getting people to different parts of the city.

america poorly designed

Buses are another problem. According to Oliver, 75% of bus costs are subsidized by the local state and federal government, while ticket costs cover the remaining 25%. Since most Americans have their cars, this creates a loop where the state puts less emphasis on funding public transportation, leading to the poor quality of buses and fewer people using them.

america poorly designed

Believe it or not, just walking or biking from place to place is becoming harder to do as well. The lack of proper sidewalks and guardrails makes it not only difficult but dangerous. And when you see that almost 80% of the road is dedicated to cars, it isn’t hard to see why people would rather drive a short distance in safety than risk being hit by a moving vehicle.

Oliver Bahl Franke’s video dives deeper into other aspects of American infrastructure, from institutional parking lot minimums to breaking down other countries’ attempts to make their locales more accessible for different modes of transportation. You can find this video and more design-oriented content on his YouTube channel, OBF.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.