I think we should address the reasons people live far from their destinations, rather than the mechanisms which let them lead reasonable lives while doing so. "It's too easy" isn't the reason. "The alternatives are too hard" is the reason.
People live far from their destinations, because there are so many darn parking spots in the way.
It'd take a staggering amount of low-rise to compensate for just one 40-story high-rise killed over the neighbors' concerns about shadow.
We shouldn't underprovision public transit, we should make it better than driving is today.
I agree the NIMBY policies are pretty horrible. 8 story apartments should of been a by right development type ages ago. European cities who take up the parking lane with huge sidewalks are very nice, all of this space for outdoor seating.
Houston is either the worst place in the world to live, or the best depending on who you talk to. They have almost no zoning laws at all, which has resulted in endless sprawl. The place is literally where you go to study the effects of unbounded urban and suburban growth of a city.
Or, when your city is hit by a parking bomb:
you're thinking of dense urban centers, like midtown Manhattan. Think more about what horizontally sprawling cities look like. or suburbs, for that matter. in the suburb I grew up in there was a 3 to 1 ratio of parking lot to buildings in all of the major shopping centers and housing complexes.
in addition to that building was basically restricted only to areas that were suitable to construct huge parking lots on. i.e. it had to be very flat, and have easy access to the large highways nearby.
the way we build our cities has been utterly warped and distorted by cars being much too cheap.
It isn't either or.
Imagine how much parking would be needed for everyone in a 40-story high-rise to put their car there.
And using multi-level parking garages is often prohibitively expensive because the upper levels have to be built to support the weight of the cars.
Cars just aren't that heavy compared to people.
I think it would be hard to exceed that with people, without breaking the fire code.
You can pack a _lot_ of humans into a small space.
Cars are about half that, because they don't pack well.
Of course, libraries are even worse, sometimes you're looking at 300+ psf design loads there.
About as much as many 40-story high-rises already have underground.
It isn't about where you put it, it's about how much it costs.
High-rises aren't necessarily very dense, especially if they're surrounded by a lot of open land— for example, NYC's high-rise housing projects are often less dense than the low-rise apartment buildings they replaced.
As for that statistic about the use of parking lots, I think that also included road space and other forms of car storage; I do think parking lots are good candidates for construction, as doing so doesn't displace anyone, and I would also like to narrow lots of streets in San Francisco (SOMA is basically a giant freeway grid), but I also agree that densification of neighborhoods is potentially more impactful.
Portsmouth, NH has made their downtown completely unvisitable by allowing three or four lots on the edge of the old downtown to be developed into mostly unoccupied luxury condos and hotels. The one municipal parking garage is constantly filled, and on-street parking has gotten cutthroat.
If parking downtown is that in demand, has the city investigated things such a bus circulator, demand-based pricing to fund parking improvements, improving bike amenities and connections or negotiating public parking agreements with private lot owners? There's a lot of potential solutions here, but paving over business districts doesn't make sense.
I have strong anecdotal evidence against that. In Richmond, VA, nearly the entire neighborhood of Monroe Ward was leveled to provide parking for skyscrapers downtown.
No one is suggesting that. Make transit great. I'll pay more in tax if need be.
I just don't want to be told that I have a choice between shitty transit or a deliberately shitty driving experience.
Honestly, the only reason why this is an argument is because people know that taking the bus sucks. I took the bus to work one day to see how it was (this was when I was debating takign my car, right after I started). It was slow, hot, uncomfortable, cramped, a guy fell asleep on me, and I felt sick by the end (motion sickness). So the only option is make driving shittier.
Plus it completely ignores any non-highway driving subsidies, like tax revenue going to local roads and public parking areas, government regulations that mandate parking minimums, etc.
AND it ignores how valuable the land is that roads exist on, that could potentially be used for something else. Now obviously we do have to set aside some land for transportation purposes, but with cars, you have to set aside a lot MORE land, so you have to factor in that subsidy as well. E.g. if the city could, by switching to denser transportation modes, lease out a bunch of land to private companies and earn a million dollars a year, then that's a million dollar a year subsidy.
Must also factor in the untold billions used by the military to ensure cheap oil.
That's the point: It's artificially cheap to do so, because driving is heavily subsidized in the US. What you interpret as the deliberate sabotage of the time/money cost to driving is, in fact, an attempt to make driving reflect more of its true cost. As things stand, those costs -- in terms of poorer physical and mental health, environmental degradation, maintenance, material, space, etc -- are socialized, borne disproportionately by people who would, in fact, benefit from more density and fewer cars.
In places where people have to pay even a fraction of the true costs of rural/suburban living, they overwhelmingly vote with their feet.
That's part of it. But it's also just cheaper to live outside of cities. If you live in a place where land is plentiful, you can have a big house, a garage and a big box store a few miles away. You can get to places on interstate highways (which are not going away because of their economic necessity). This is, for many people, an appealing way to live and a way that requires a car. Where I live it wasn't until mandatory parking in the city that people started to drift back downtown to live.
But it goes beyond just subsidizing roads and fuel and SUVs. The federal and state governments subsidize rural and suburban power networks, water distribution, waste disposal, schools, police, firefighters, doctors, telecommunications... a whole host of things that drive down living costs in rural and suburban areas.
Yes, it's cheap to live outside of cities (in the US). Nobody's debating that. Nobody's saying it's not an appealing lifestyle for lots of people. We're saying that the reason it's cheap is because it's subsidized. It's basic economics. There are precious few places in the world where "it's just cheaper to live outside of cities" without strenuous government intervention.
Power generation, water distribution, waste disposal and the like are typically done outside of urban centers because the denizens would cry NIMBY about the effects.
Those supply networks exist to service the urban centers, it would be wasteful to not use them for the suburbs that they necessarily have to pass.
Additionally, cities pull in food, power, water and other things from rural and suburban areas that exist to support cities.
I do not support commuter culture, but this is a far more complicated issue that car subsidies. There's a huge interconnected web of incentives at play. Any disassembly needs to be done carefully.
I'm sensing an implicit assumption that cutting out driving would result in building more density. But suburban commuters don't write land use policy for urban cores - their existing residents do, and they don't want it, because of noise, shadow, undesireables, etc. They already don't need to drive. Turning the screws on suburban commuters won't change urban NIMBYs minds on what they want their neighborhoods to look like.
And so because transit and cycling both suck in unavoidable ways compared to driving, these anti-car advocates end up creating a world that's worse overall just so that people who drive cars can't have some comfort. This kind of conspicuous self-flagellation is not how to advance as a society.
Western European cities have the enviable advantage of decent weather year-round, just like the US west coast. The central US does not have this; it's more like Moscow: bitterly cold in the winter. And the east coast has a lot of extreme weather too.
Now this doesn't excuse not having good public transit like Tokyo either; it's certainly possible to build that in places like Minneapolis and DC, but they don't (or they simply can't, because the US culturally is unable to).
Cycling is most popular in Northern Europe, which has far worse weather than southern Europe.
And as a cyclist myself, I seriously question how you can claim it to be feasible to bike all winter, in -40 temperatures no less, no matter how you're dressed. I get serious wind-chill problems on my face, head, and hands as soon as the temperature drops below freezing, and that's with a skull-cap covering my ears and some cycling gloves. I do have heavy winter gear I can wear when the weather's cold, but there's no way in hell I can shift the gears on my bike with heavy ski gloves on, and ski pants would probably cause me to wreck. Furthermore, I'm still young enough to not have circulation problems; try telling some 70-year-old to go cycling in -40 temperatures with wind blowing.
It's definitely harder to ride a bike in cold winter weather— but the same is true of walking and driving. One mostly needs cleared roads/paths (as drivers and pedestrians do) and warm, windproof gear (as a pedestrian and skier does). The right bike for city cycling year-round isn't a road bike designed for warm weather high-speed recreation, either.
I wear normal clothes and just add a nice wool 'Buff' scarf for face/neck coverage and good gloves for cycling around NYC in winter weather. I also use snow tires for safety, just because the city doesn't do a great job clearing snow from all the bike lanes, and the bike lane network isn't yet extensive enough that I can avoid mixing with car traffic.
And when it's really cold— even Minnesota closes schools and businesses, anyways:
So— cycling in cold weather is perfectly possible, and, in any case, most people don't live in places where it regularly gets cold enough for cycling to be truly difficult.
That's the entire point of the linked article, less demonization, more letting those who take pay the just price for what they take.
Roads have to be in better condition to take the buses and coaches. Increased transit usage reduces numbers of vehicles on the roads, decreasing congestion and improving travel times. Pollution is decreased.
If you like driving you should heavily push for more public transit, and persuade everyone to use it, while you continue to drive your car.
There is zero transit where I (and many other people) live. The nearest bus is over a hundred miles away. Street cars? Been on a couple in my life. As far as I can tell, tax dollars ear-marked for transit go into a black hole.
I don't mind contributing to "the greater good" or "global society", but don't expect me to both subsidize transit and pay a premium for my only mode of transportation. Local problems need local solutions, but there's so much NIMBYism.
Or if this happens on a national scale a civil war erupts.
You propose to degrade people's lives by eroding their access to something they depend on.
I propose to erode the reasons people depend on it, so that demand falls naturally and an eventual lack of access will not hurt.
Are you going to bury your head in the sand on the problems of crowded housing markets?
There are many roads overbuilt for the kind of traffic they face. Cutting them down to size is an excellent idea. Providing light and heavy rail is also great. Buses have limitations and still require expensive infrastructure for high level of service.
The main reason other modes of transportation suck is bad development patterns, centered all around driving. Unless you fix that, other modes won't be able to effectively compete. So discouraging driving is part of the multi-approach strategy to slowly change mode share and development patterns.
Your attitude is reinforcing the broken status quo.
Are they centered around driving?
First, the development pattern of suburbia was centered around white resistance to racial desegregation . Suburbia wasn't "about" the car, it was about opting out of certain societal changes and rejecting the premise that humans could or should figure out how to live in close proximity in units larger than the nuclear family.
Now that that's fallen out of fashion among many, we're still stuck with it because:
a) Wealthy urban residents have gotten used to things being uncrowded, wish to protect their property values, light, and air, and see preventing dense development in the neighborhoods as critical to doing so.
b) Poor urban residents and their liberal allies across the income spectrum wish to keep rents affordable for the people left behind in cities during white flight, so they pursue policies to keep these people in their homes (rent control, requiring a percentage of units to be below-market-rate and allocated by lottery to those below an income threshold, blocking luxury construction on the belief that it will keep neighborhoods from gentrifying, etc) with the side-effect of slowing down middle-class reurbanization. (If you're a professional but not oligarchical white dude with particularly leftist friends, expect to be called out as a gentrifier if you move to any dense neighborhood you can afford).
The car is just the mechanism that lets us cope with low density. You might think that if the coping mechanism is gone, we'll be forced to find a real solution, but the people who rely on driving are, far as I can tell, a different cohort from the people who control the planning commissions that block construction in major cities.
>Your attitude seems to be that it's up to others to somehow 'fix' modes of transportation until the somehow compete with driving in terms of convenience, because your convenience is apparently much more important than considerations like the planet.
Yeah, basically. We need to fix driving too - public policy kicks towards smaller, more fuel efficient, hybrid, and now fully electric vehicles are critical. Getting people to step down to the minimal motor vehicles that work for them is also great - for example, California got me out of my 28mpg car and onto a 150mpg motorcycle for most trips through the composition of the BART parking lots.
It's always a balance. If we valued the planet above our own lives without limit, the only rational action would be suicide. We would certainly not be having this discussion with manufactured computers sipping generated electricity. It's good that people are pushing the balance further towards the planet's favor, but there are always going to be tradeoffs we're not willing to make.