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Ideology is boring, but there are lots of practical objections to cars, especially within cities, and even more practical objections to letting car-friendliness overrule all other considerations:

-Cars don't scale. Cities like LA, Houston, and Phoenix which are designed to be car friendly still have traffic jams.

-Car friendliness is necessarily opposed to pedestrian friendliness, bicycle friendliness, and possibly even mass transit friendliness. For any given street, you're going to have to make a direct design tradeoff between car-friendly and human-friendly.

-Cars are unsafe.

-Cars are energy-inefficient.

-Good urban development patterns--mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods and the like--are incompatible with car-friendliness.

It turns out you can either have car friendliness, or you can have almost everything else that makes for a good place to live. Of course, as you say, it would be better if SF had better public transit than it does--but there's only so much space and money to go around, and highways are pretty expensive, too. (Up in my state, we're spending billions of dollars to replace a damaged viaduct before it collapses and crushes lots of precious, sacred parking close to our sports stadiums. I'd love to say "fuck the viaduct" and improve public transit instead, but then carheads would complain.)




Cars don't scale. Cities like LA, Houston, and Phoenix which are designed to be car friendly still have traffic jams.

Actually I'd say cities don't scale, at least not beyond the ~5 million people mark. Despite traffic, LA is still reasonably navigable by car, and the LA metropolitan area is about as big as any city should ever be.

Car friendliness is necessarily opposed to pedestrian friendliness, bicycle friendliness, and possibly even mass transit friendliness. For any given street, you're going to have to make a direct design tradeoff between car-friendly and human-friendly

Perhaps, but pedestrian-friendliness, bicycle-friendliness and mass transit friendliness are directly opposed to another kind of human-friendliness: the kind that allows people, especially families, to live at a comfortable density. The only way to make a city navigable by non-car means is to cram people in at high density: okay for some (heck, I live in a thirty-storey building myself) but not for others.

Cars are unsafe.

Not especially so, compared to a lot of other things.

Cars are energy-inefficient

Caring if other people use energy efficiently sounds way too much like ideology to me.

Good urban development patterns--mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods and the like--are incompatible with car-friendliness

As I said, car-unfriendliness is incompatible with quarter-acre blocks and giving your children a yard to play in. Besides, there's no reason why mixed-use neighbourhoods can't be car-friendly.

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Actually I'd say cities don't scale, at least not beyond the ~5 million people mark.

So fucking false. Ever been to a city in Asia, like Tokyo? The fact that the city exists means that there is demand for things like retail stores and public transportation. There's pretty much a train line between any two points in the city. You can actually go to a retail store and buy something useful. (Never happened to me in the US, except IKEA.)

Cities like London and New York (well, Manhattan) do pretty well too. Once you hit a certain number of people, infrastructure becomes possible. Everything gets closer together, and everyone benefits from that.

Perhaps, but pedestrian-friendliness, bicycle-friendliness and mass transit friendliness are directly opposed to another kind of human-friendliness: the kind that allows people, especially families, to live at a comfortable density. The only way to make a city navigable by non-car means is to cram people in at high density: okay for some (heck, I live in a thirty-storey building myself) but not for others.

Ok, whatever, but why should I subsidize that lifestyle? The OP is about paying for parking. If you want to drive your car into the city from the suburbs, you should build the road and pay market price for the real estate that your car sits on while you're here. Too expensive? Now you know why cities exist -- infrastructure costs less because more people can share the same infrastructure. When we build a superhighway to from the city to your house in the middle of nowhere, the cost is high but the benefit is minimal. When we build a transit line from the city along a high-density corridor, the cost is high but the benefit is also high. That's the point of cities -- more for less.

As I said, car-unfriendliness is incompatible with quarter-acre blocks and giving your children a yard to play in. Besides, there's no reason why mixed-use neighbourhoods can't be car-friendly.

Not true. It's incompatible with pretending that there's nobody else in the world but you, however.

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"Cars are unsafe.

Not especially so, compared to a lot of other things."

Compared to other forms of intracity transportation they are horrifically unsafe. They are the leading cause of accidental death in America. They are safer than motorcycles but far, far, far more dangerous than other forms of transportation (which themselves are often dangerous only because of the risk of being hit by cars).

"Caring if other people use energy efficiently sounds way too much like ideology to me."

Highways are public infrastructure. Public infrastructure is by definition a public decision--you can't use public money to build freeways all over the place, fail to allow any other form of transportation, and then pretend it's a matter of individual choice whether people drive cars. And it's impossible to build car-friendly infrastructure without making unusable all other forms of transportation infrastructure as well.

Since public infrastructure is already a public choice, we have to consider all the consequences of that choice, which include safety and energy efficiency.

"Perhaps, but pedestrian-friendliness, bicycle-friendliness and mass transit friendliness are directly opposed to another kind of human-friendliness: the kind that allows people, especially families, to live at a comfortable density. The only way to make a city navigable by non-car means is to cram people in at high density: okay for some (heck, I live in a thirty-storey building myself) but not for others."

Research shows that human beings are not actually all that happy living in suburbs, especially if they have to commute two hours a day through traffic jams on freeways. People like towns just fine, but not suburbs. And a town doesn't have to be car friendly either.

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