When I lived in Columbus, Ohio for two months, I was frankly appalled by the city's transportation infrastructure - public transportation didn't cover large swathes of the city, footpaths only covered single neighborhoods with no connection to the rest of the city, and the only bicycle path I discovered was primarily recreational and didn't actually lead anywhere useful where you needed to go for your commute or shopping. This approach to transportation infrastructure which is utterly dependent on private cars is obviously hugely wasteful - in both energy consumption and space requirements.
Of course, changing this is not something can be done overnight - it is, in fact, the work of decades. But it can be changed, as the Dutch experience shows. And it can be done in small, incremental steps. Focus on relatively small aspects you can do within a few years - a new bus route, a bicycle path that actually has non-recreational uses, and involve yourself in the planning stages for new neighborhoods to make sure they are walkable and their paths lead to other parts of the city. Every small step helps.