Im fairly sympathetic to the overall aims of this article. I think a transport system more similar to those in the Netherlands makes for better urban landscapes.
But... this habitual style of treating everything as a conspiracy, built around a personified enemy ("They gave legal force to a mind-set—let’s call it automobile supremacy—that kills 40,000 Americans a year)... this way of thinking isn't doing us any favours.
In day-to-day political conversations and articles, it's mostly just formulaic and lazy. Name the conspiracy, point to vested interests that have been influencing policy, find a link to established personifications of evil.. big oil and segregation, in this case.
I'm not saying we should never think in abstractions... but there is a formulaic pattern here that's old, paranoid and harmful.
Of course, GM really did conspire to put the trolleys out of business.
However, this is the kind of thing organizations (companies, government agencies, non profits) do when they get to a certain size or have accomplished initial goals and are looking to conquer that next frontier. Just look at the overreach of the SV titans, for example.
For better or worse, we have a car based society now, and pining for the good old days is backwards looking. The next thing should preserve the immense freedom and flexibility that cars brought. Prescribing a top down solution that gives even more power to the state at the expense of the people is a non starter.
> The next thing should preserve the immense freedom and flexibility that cars brought.
In addition to stimulating sprawl and it's enormous costs, this limits the actual freedom and choices of people who can't or won't drive.
Even ex-burb homeowners whose every trip begins and ends in a parking spot eventually get pissed as the only way for a city to grow is then to pave more and more highways, and spread out in distance making automobile commutes a daily misery literally spanning oceans of asphalt.
Did the car bring freedom? A car is expensive for people to purchase, maintain, and operate. In many regions individuals are also compelled to purchase insurance because they are dangerous. They also drive up the cost of living since the expensive infrastructure must be paid through taxation, construction is more expensive because a certain amount of space must be allocated to parking, land is more expensive since infrastructure reduces the supply. The cost of cars pretty much dictates a particular way of living, even before factors such as urban sprawl are even considered.
Perhaps there were elements of freedom and flexibility when the automobile first gained traction, but the social geography mutated. Workplaces became more centralized, then decentralized, as the automobile facilitated large and dedicated zoning regulations. The shifting of workplaces necessitated the shifting of shopping and recreation, typically following patterns of consolidation in a spatial and business sense. With cities no longer being walkable, there were fewer reasons for housing to stay put. It too drifted outwards, often with little consideration to schools and medical care. The end result is that people are often stuck owning a vehicle or making very serious compromises to live without one.
I didn't mean to paint such a bleak picture, and it is likely more harsh than it rightfully deserves to be, but the reality is that the family car (and, later, personal car) ended up being more of a trade-off than a liberator. It is difficult to deny that more is within reach because of it, yet it is also undeniable that less is within immediate reach.
In a certain (much softer) sense, I think this is an example of the type of thinking I was complaining about in the original comment.
I do it myself, most people do it.. especially us "rational" thinkers. But, it is taking a particular and instinctively fitting it into a story that we're used to. Maybe the story is regulatory capture, maybe it's corporatism, overeaching governments and unintended consequences, patriarchy, empire, globalism... Whatever story we're used to refering to.
In any case, I think the next transportation revolution will be related to autonomous vehicles, so this particular conversation is probably moot.. AVs might just dissolve lines between public and private transport. It will, however, probably remain very impacted by both consumer choice and government (generally municipal) choices.
Can you give me an example that doesn't involve driving to the middle of nowhere, that isn't solved by a good public transportation system, and doesn't involve bringing home large amounts of groceries, or furniture, etc?
It just so happens that most of the public transit in the states royally sucks -- even in the city centers.
The coaches have the benefit to be able to go anywhere and modify your routes as suits you, while the trolleys need a fixed infrastructure. Both have their own pros and cons, so i don't see the need for a conspiracy.
The only thing the city can do (and that's what they're working on) is to upgrade from bus to streetcar. Dresden has some of the longest trams in the world, at 45 meters (50 yards), and these carry 3-4 bus loads at once.
Probably related, I doubt we have a bus line with anywhere near that ridership.
People have been complaining about the 38 for years, but I don't want to criticize the SFMTA (local agency that runs buses/trolley buses and light rail) because it does seem to get the job done without much expensive investment (cost of most recent underground metro in SF was $1.6B for 1.7 miles ).
Except these conspiracies were (and are) generally real, and their effects are real. The pattern isn't journalistic, it's historical.
The problem is that I keep forgetting the secret handshakes. One of these days, I'm going to leave my thumb out rather than in and someone's going to shank me with a shiv. Or shiv me with a shank; I can't remember how that goes either.
Spending too many brain cycles in these abstractions makes us formulaic. We no longer see unique & specific examples, just uninteresting specific examples of a greater truth.
We all do it. It's inevitable. It's how we think, especially politically. But, it is worth consiously avoiding, in my opinion.
but we sometimes collectively need to grind through the ruts a number of times before finding a good solution, especially if the solution involves a variable abstracted away by the model.
so why specifically does your noted pitfall need to be avoided? and what alternatives can you offer?
but more to the point, what's the model of car-centric cities you'd advocate?
Unfortuetly this area and "green" in general does I am afraid does tend to attract "hobbyist" / "crank" activists. (I am using these terms in the political sense and not dising peoples hobbys
Eg the green movement needs to concentrate on the present problem (runaway global heating) and not on pious things like banning plastic straws.
That's probably a consequence of both the overcrowding of our roads, and the density of our infrastructure -- I rarely have to drive more than 15 minutes to reach any kind of shop, and by bike I can take shortcuts that my car can't follow, especially in inner cities.
Ultimately, my car has been relegated to recreational purposes only -- everything else in my life (work, shopping, friends) I can do by bike or public transport. For me, it doesn't really feel like a conscious personal choice -- it feels more like the pragmatic consequence of our infrastructure design.
I am from Denmark who also have plenty of bikes and it's a thing. The reality is however that thats fine as long as you live in the cities, it's not way to get around if you live in the suburbs and have to drive 30 miles to work and take care of your picking up the kids and drive 20 miles to the nearest grocery store etc.
Biking is possible in small cities but you can't build infrastructure around a giant continent like the US on bikes and trucks.
The car is the perfect combination of flexibility, scale, speed, utility and so on.
Sprawls are a byproduct of what the car made possible, they where not created to promote the car they where created because the car made it possible and gave a number of benefits for the individual families.
Again even in Denmark and other places that are extremely pro-public-transportation and anti-car, cars are still used by the majority of people because its the base means of transportation which provides the most benefits when you boil it down.
Forcing people to live in big cities with public transportation makes no sense on a continent like America.
Public transportation is only good for very dense areas and becomes extremely expensive once you need to cover less dense areas. This is true even in countries like Denmark which are geographically pretty small.
Denser cities mean more expensive real-estate which means less money for yourself and your family.
The sprawls and laws came after the cars, not the other way around.
Based on what metrics?
Sure, the space is there, but there are real costs to using it the way we do. It is a choice we have made as a society. But, there's no natural law that required us to choose cars or stopping us from reconsidering.
As I see it:
- cars and the sprawl they allowed made sense at the time
- entrenched interested worked to codify the car-based lifestyle
- it is likely time to reconsider the path we took, given what we now know about pollution, the time wasted in traffic, and other factors.
- those entrenched interests have done such a good job of selling the car as a fundamental (and "free") part of the American Dream that many people are unwilling to consider anything else (see sibling comments about freedom and flexibility).
Edit - a few links that discuss the costs of maintaining suburban sprawl:
1 - https://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/03/05/sprawl-costs-the-publ...
2 - https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/05/quantifying-cost-spra...
3 - https://fee.org/articles/the-unbearable-truth-about-infrastr...
Plenty more to read through, if you want to spend the time.
The discussion is what allowed cars to take over i.e. in the past not what might happen in the future.
Urbanization is a reality ex. because of the way the job market evolves, but the claim that there was some big conspiracy to make the cars take over is simply unfounded and based on very sloppy thinking.
Cars took over because they allowed us to live further away from the big cities which was cheaper and gave us more room and allowed us to build sprawl because the land was plentiful.
It's a combination of things not just some single reason that obviously isn't true which you will see the second you look at other countries who also need cars but doesn't have a legal system that helps.
Urbanization is taking over because of the benefits it offers today. Just because cars might not make sense in the future it doesn't mean that it didn't make sense in the past.
And no matter what, it's not something anyone of us decide to do just because it'something that we do once it makes sense and the benefits outweigh the negatives.
That's a consequence of cars not the other way around. If cars were never invented, you wouldn't have the problem of traveling 30 miles to work and driving 20 miles to a store. Those things are possible because of cars and now it chains us to those kinds of design.
The reason why people choose to live further out is among other things to get more nature for their children, it is to get cheaper houses, it used to be safer etc.
The car took over because the car was the optimal vehicle compared to the alternatives not because of some law which is easy to show since it's the same in other countries like Denmark where the opposite was the case and yet cars are still hugely popular.
I do love Amsterdam, but there's no way I could live there.
Contrary to a slope the wind can also hinder you on the way there and on the way back (when you stayed long enough for the wind to turn). Yay.
But hills are always in the same place, so you just leave a little earlier and shift to a lower gear. It's slower, but no more difficult, and you have the downhill return journey to look forward to.
Biking is like running, playing soccer, playing tennis, swimming, many people don't do it because they don't do any sport.
Biking requires skills that normal people usually don't have, but that they believe they have.
It is in fact more dangerous than driving (compared to the driver, not pedestrians)
As soon as older people could not bike anymore, they started buying electric scooters and in Holland they have now more deaths caused by scooter accidents than cars.
France is going to ban them because they are too dangerous.
People than cannot drive anymore because of age or because they had their driving license revoked, started using less "law encumbered" vehicles and the number of accidents began to rise.
People on bikes are less controlled,they are not forced to use safety measures, they are not inside a "secured box", they don't have anti intrusion bars, air bags, safety belts, etc. etc.
Very few wear an helmet, many of them don't follow street rules, they bike on the sidewalk, very fast, they are very quiet and many pedestrian don't hear them coming.
They pay a lot less taxes (and fines), taxes used to implement mobility politics.
In Italy, for example, the money that cities earn from fines, cannot be used for anything else than mobility.
City planning is complicated, you don't solve problems just by changing few rules, you have to carefully plan for them
Changing a model that has been THE model for at least half a century and that have become so popular because freed people from the task of commuting or having to go somewhere, fast, without having to share the ride with other 150 people, just like the washing machine freed women from the task of washing clothes, it's not an easy task.
I don't want to give the idea that cities are doomed, but biking is not the solution, biking is just like cars but with different problems, THE solution is walkability.
Walkable cities are for everyone.
Bikeable cities are just for bikers.
This is trivially untrue. Cities with lots of steps or staircases are only accessible for pedestrians, but no one else.
I guess it depends a lot on what you consider "bikers". When you think of bikers, do you think of image  or ?
They are the same thing.
Bicycles have wheels, they should be on the streets.
> Cities with lots of steps or staircases are only accessible for pedestrians, but no one else.
And that's good!
BTW, you can walk the bike.
Just like you do when you have to jump on a train or take the subway.
If you're talking about accessibility in general, that's a whole other problem.
Bike lanes on sidewalks aren't accessible either, there are deaf pedestrian, blind pedestrians, handicapped pedestrians, that are put at risk by sharing the same space with bikes.
> I guess it depends a lot on what you consider "bikers"
 is very young
 is expert bikers, people that dresses for biking
the percentage of the population that can bike regularly in a large city is quite small and Copenhagen is a very small city.
The point is that you don't solve anything with bikes, just like you don't solve anything with skates, kick scooters and whatever you are thinking of
You're over optimizing for a small percentage of the population.
You solve a lot by removing cars from the streets (think about underground parking lots) and giving way more space to walking lanes, hardly separated from wheeled vehicles (cars, public transport, motorbikes, bycicles, whatever...)
If you improve the walkability, you also improve the mobility: people can easily switch from bike, walking the bike for a bit on a sidewalk, take the public transport, get off, walk a bit more, jump on the bike again.
If you cannot walk easily, safely and fast, you're packing pedestrian on very small areas, you're making their journey uncomfortable and leaving them at the mercy of wheeled vehicles, because they can be obviously faster and demand precedence.
And those who use a vehicle are encouraged to leave it very close to where they are going, because walking, even a little bit, is painful.
That's how we end up with cars parked in handicapped spots or on double lines or on the sidewalks or bikes chained to school gates or road signs or bus stops as you can see in cities like Milan  (where they use the bike a lot)
Ironically the road sign in the picture says "bikes chained here will be removed"
The majority of people in large cities walks, even if you don't notice it, even in cities terrible for walking like Rome, it's what people are good at.
But who is arguing that they shouldn't?
>  is very young
No it's not. Photo from 1926: http://www.rijwiel.net/fotos/foto001n.htm
> You're over optimizing for a small percentage of the population.
From the link  in my GP post: "Cycling accounts for 24 % of all commuter trips." That doesn't sound like a small percentage.
> You solve a lot by removing cars from the streets (think about underground parking lots) and giving way more space to walking lanes, hardly separated from wheeled vehicles (cars, public transport, motorbikes, bycicles, whatever...)
I'm unsure what you're arguing against. This is the bike-oriented city center of Den Haag: http://www.ditisdenhaag.nl/hofwegspui/
What would you change in that picture?
There are people in their 90s swimming in freezing water
Would you say it is ok for everybody?
What kind of discussion are you trying to have?
> That doesn't sound like a small percentage.
And what accounts for the remaining 76%?
You are trying to force Netherlands way as if it is the only one.
But Netherlands is a very _uncommon_ place.
> What would you change in that picture?
Why would I want to change anything?
Can you see that there are vast areas for walking in that picture?
Do you think there aren't other small cities in the World where bike is the preferred vehicle?
This is Ferrara, Italy  
This is Bologna, Italy    
Can you see the large pedestrian areas?
I think they're even more beautiful then Deen Haag.
I've lived in Bologna for 2 years, I never had to drive a car or ride a bike, because I could walk.
Because they're also also very small (the size of Deen Haag) and everything is close.
Now let's talk about big cities:
Large areas for walking means that other vehicles have their spaces as well
Small areas for walking means that ONLY vehicles have their own spaces (streets have to be big enough for cars, but sidewalks can be reduced to a bare minimum or eliminated completely  <- this is in Rome) which make moving painful for the majority of citizens, especially the low income ones that cannot afford to own a car or to live near the workplace or people with kids or people with reduce mobility, that's why they then switch to using cars, because streets are not safe for them and bike lanes wouldn't change a thing.
> And that's good!
Even for people with difficulty walking or in wheelchairs?
What part of "if we are talking about accessibility in general that a whole different problem"?
walkable means walkable, not staircaseable.
Are streets or bike lanes the right solution for wheelchairs?
I seriously doubt that...
The real problem though is what you do in less densly populated areas.
Rome, 1,285 km2
I'm from Rome
Rome is particularly bad regarding cars (we are probably the western city with the highest number of cars per capita, 73 every 100 inhabitants, if I remember correctly), but it is also a very complicated city for biking.
For two reasons
- hills: they are not a problem for the majority of expert bikers, they are if the average age of the citizens is 45 years, most of them are not expert bikers and there are hills everywhere.
Add to it the road surface which is less than optimal for biking in large areas of the city, including the city center (for many reasons, historical in primis, but also political, even more so lately that we have the worst major in the world).
- distances: many people live very far from where they work, 1.5 million people everyday come to Rome for working, but live outside of it, most likely in the range 30-50 kms from the city, not counting the distances you have to cover when in the city (it's easily around 10kms, or 20kms total in a day).
How many people can bike 100kms a day and make it alive?
How long would it take?
What freedom and flexibility? Being forced to drive everywhere is not flexibility. Being forced to subsidize massive parking lots and highways is not freedom.
I get what you are saying, but isn't it, in this case, a relatively accurate description of what happened? If not all over the US, at least in some big cities.
You can't ignore the politics of this.
Countries out of the first list, with policies favouring cars:
* In many US cities, businesses are required by law to have certain amounts of parking for employees and customers. This makes car use more convenient and takes up space, making walking less viable.
* German taxes on gasoline and diesel are over 100%.
* Most areas of larger German cities are zoned for high-density housing; it's typical for street-level businesses to have several floors of apartments above them.
* They may be high but motorists still pay less in taxes than the general public contributes to the upkeep of their infrastructure, even when excluding externalised costs (healthcare, climate change accommodation etc).
* The same is true for e.g. New York, whereas (e.g.) London has a fair amount of low-density housing. Not quite sure how this is an argument if the vast majority of space in cities is still reserved for cars (either parking or driving).
the one thing they have in common is no substantial domestic car industry
Context is important.
The population of cities has grown. For example, the Chicago metro area has 70% more people now than in 1950. Population growth has impacted car ownership and use. We shouldn't use today's context against the past. Things were different and that's worth considering.
Urban areas are about 3% of the US physical space. The design of transportation for dense cities (and they are getting denser) is different from that of suburban or rural spaces. There is no one size fits all.
Most of these are also laws passed by groups of people deciding to control others for a mix of perceived altruistic and selfish reasons. It's not secret but there's people conspiring.
(FWIW, Robert Anton Wilson once pointed out that, of regime changes in the 20th century, over half of them were the result of some sort of coup. In other words, conspiracy is normal. Make of that what you will.)
FWIW, you identified the reason(s) why I'm personally not concerned about general erosion of privacy, while bring very concerned about differential erosion of privacy.
- - - -
A though, can animals conspire? It's something that almost seems to require intelligence and "higher level" communication. Do chimpanzees conspire?
Would there be an adaptive advantage to conspiracy skepticism? Is that why conspiracy skepticism is so common? Most people are followers and a few are... tricky?... leaders?
Maybe rampant conspiracy is a phase between the moment of evolution of intelligence and the time when "fake news" forces fidelity to reality? It's trivial to show that conspiracy is only ever a local optimum. Multiple competing "truths" incur caloric cost to maintain, but honesty is maximally efficient.
Maybe we all get a clue, become scrupulously truthful, solve all our problems, and go on to live in a new Golden Age...
See LLNL's 2018 energy flow chart:
https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/assets/images/energy/us/... (PDF: https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/assets/docs/2018_United-...)
Of 101 quads, 28 go to transport. Industrial use. is dominated by relatively clean natural gas (methane), with a large chunk likely being ammonia and other chemical production (I'd like to see breakouts).
Dense and local-first construction enables public. transit, walking and cycling, localised services, shared facilities, and numerous other mechanisms of increased efficience
Denser residential spaces and more cimate-appropriate construction hugely reduces
Also, do you mean that places like Japan, or the central, older parts of European cities are more efficient?
I wonder what the biomass used for transportation is?
It is only this short sliver of time that is today that this land should be developed into their dream city. That will somehow miraculously withstand the test of time.
No, it won't, that's just greed and narcissism – thinking that we're so special today that we deserve to have that land unprotected for us but doing that for either future or past generations is a mistake.
If you make your comment at econlib, he's not unlikely to respond.
If "thinking that" are trigger words now, replace it with "acting as if" to same effect.
[Edit] The Williamson Act? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williamson_Act) "The Williamson Act of the US state of California (officially, the California Land Conservation Act of 1965) is a California law that provides relief of property tax to owners of farmland and open-space land in exchange for a ten-year agreement that the land will not be developed or otherwise converted to another use."
"The property is under the Williamson Act, meaning the land will not be developed or otherwise converted to another use for a number of years." (https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article23239941...)
Archives online at the link or its parent.
But focusing the blame on car companies and the wealthy one-percenters is historical revisionism. It undercuts the fact that these policies were eagerly supported by lower-middle class and middle class people like my family, as well as by many working class people from the countryside. It expanded our agency. It allowed us to vacation to beaches and parks. It allowed us to visit faraway families and pursue work in faraway places. In short, it provided us physical and economic mobility.
We didn't know the damage we were doing. And even if we did know, we probably would have done the same thing. But passing the blame doesn't solve anything.
Car support was pretty ubiquitous in rural areas where you really needed a horse to get around anyway and it really did radically improve life to get a car.
But car support in cities was quite tepid before the late 20’s, and a significant concerted effort of government and industry together ramrodded them in and sold it through a long propaganda campaign that eventually was accepted.
There’s a book about this early history called Fighting Traffic, by Peter Norton. The US came fairly close to banning cars in a number of cities, and to requiring mechanical governors to a 20mph limit in many others. A bunch of places installed memorials and monuments to “all the children slain by drivers” and so on.
It’s really interesting history that the auto lobby has worked hard to obscure.
Now, having lived in the U.S. for many years, I still hate driving, but I’m basically crippled if I don’t drive.
Also society shifted, cars meant larger but further shopping centers, and job areas.
If you want systemic change you need to approach systemic levers. Focusing on individual action is much less effective than focusing on the people who have power to change laws and reach the minds of consumers.
BUT, i managed to get an apartment 10 minutes walking from the office. this was in san diego, of all places, a city which is very spread out. a few months later i moved in with friends and we found a place far north. most of my roommates had a car, but i took care that i had a bus going directly to work. it ran only once in 30 minutes, so missing it occasionally was a pain, but it was fine otherwise. it also provided for some memorable displays of humanity. another few months later the company moved to los angeles, and again i found a place with a direct bus to work.
i figured that if i can manage to live in sandiego and LA without a car, then i can do that anywhere. sure enough, a few years later i achieved the same in auckland. another city that is quite spread out and has a lackluster public transport system that rivals the US in lack of options.
not everyone is going to be able to achieve this. as a young programmer i could afford the higher rent in the areas close to the office. (i was a stone throw from hollywood boulevard, and crossed it every day on my way to the office :-)
What surprised me though is how overall passable public transport in San Francisco was. MUNI and BART are pretty okay for getting around even if locals don't believe so. Unsurprisingly whenever I was in trams, they were full of other European tourists.
Moving around the most urban cores outside of rush hour, you typically won't see the worst of the warts.
i don't remember ever to having had to take a taxi. i got a few rides, but then it was friends who went to the same place anyways (like a linux user group meetup)
i can't think of any places like that in europe. european cities are simply not that spread out. so unless you live on a farm far from everywhere, you should be fine.
Imagine if every city was San Francisco, especially in realtion to income.
In the end, I can live somewhat comfortably if I commute, essentially trading my time for lower crime rates and nicer surroundings.
Also consider that if you are reading HN, you are likely to work in IT, which gives you a skewed idea on average income levels.
berlin is indeed interesting, one would think that with it being the capital city, the demand would rise, but i guess that east berlin is less popular, and that berlin also suffers from the overall reputation of east germany.
Iceland has 824 cars/1000, Finland, 494 and Norway, 616.) The US overall has 811. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_vehicles_...)
The vast majority of drivers seem to be ignorant of this law, or they just don't care. Enforcement is nonexistent. When I step out into the road, I'm sure most of the drivers think I'm "jaywalking". More often than not they do not stop. I am not "jumping" into the road, nor am I generally walking about in low-visibility conditions.
Maybe fancy urban planning can help, but it's a band-aid on a deeper problem, at least where I live: drivers are ignorant and have bad attitudes not suited for the responsibility of operating motor vehicles. I guess it makes sense that enforcement is nonexistent, because "ignorant and have bad attitudes" is also an apt descriptor of police in America in general. Of course, I have been stopped for jaywalking... because obviously that is so much worse!
Which is more likely?
a) everyone is irresponsible
b) your definition of "responsible" is not in line with everyone else's
I'm not interested in hearing the word "anecdotal", either. Check out DUI statistics if you want bite-size proof that vast swaths of the population are fundamentally unfit to be driving, or show me data to back up your own point that the roads are not full of irresponsible drivers.
Oh, here's another good one: "In 2017 alone, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers." (from NHTSA: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving)
Average people can drive in an average manner and go years or often decade, sometimes entire lifetimes without screwing up badly enough to attract law enforcement attention or get in a crash. We as a society have determined that is mostly good enough. Most people are satisfied with the current level of risk/reward of driving and unless improvements come with minimal trade-offs people are for the most part not interested. Society at large does not demand the same religious adherence to traffic rules as you do.
More people were killed by fires (a hazard that most people would not consider to be a Big Problem(TM)) in 2016 than in crashes related to distracted drivers.
Your point has regressed from "most drivers aren't irresponsible" to "most drivers are irresponsible but it's fine". If you can support the former with hard data, great, let's see it. The latter is an opinion; it's one I do not share, and it's not something I'm interested in discussing because there is zero chance of that discussion bearing any sort of fruit.
I am telling you, your definition of "responsible" (and by implication irresponsible) is not shared by society at large. I have told you this in several ways. Since apparently my last way of phrasing it wasn't easy to deflect now you're trying to straw-man me.
What sort of citation do you want? You said ~3k people are killed by distracted drivers and implied that it's a regular occurrence and a Problem(TM). I pointed out (with citation) that that's about the same number killed in fires, something infrequent enough that it's generally considered Not A Problem(TM).
Make no mistake, preventable deaths are tragic but preventable deaths as a result of motor vehicles are not the epidemic you portray them to be.
Of course further discussion will bear no fruit. Your mind is made up and will not be changed.
It is my sincere recommendation that you work on the latter three, or possibly on your ability to simulate them when you aren't arguing in good faith.
And while the legal system may have been of some help, I rather suspect the main reason cars took over is because they give the user a tremendous amount of freedom and agency.
And that doesn’t account for the deaths and health costs caused by road pollution, by inactive lifestyles forced on communities due to car-centered infrastructure, etc...
Given the car-oriented status quo, perhaps it’s true that cars give owners tremendous freedom and agency (at the costs outlined above, plus tremendous financial cost). But it’s also true that many of the most desirable and productive parts of our cities are that way despite cars and not because of them.
True. But for comparison, if we live in this small town of 100k people, then 192 people will die from Heart Disease, 178 people will die of Cancer, 47 people will die of Respiratory diseases, 43 people will die of Stroke, and 16 will die from the flu (influenza or pneumonia) every single year, according to the CDC. "Motor vehicle accidents" are not even in the top 10 causes of death (they're 13th, using 2016's data).
> the most desirable and productive parts of our cities are that way despite cars and not because of them.
Which is a strong argument for cars. Cars make things drastically more affordable for people. If you remove them, you increase the costs for everything (food, transportation, housing, healthcare, education, etc), to heights no regular person could ever afford. That also carries tremendous costs and even carries it's own death toll.
Paradoxically, making things "more desirable and productive" makes them worst for real people (because that value will be captured in a pricetag, and real people will never be able to afford it). Paradoxically, too much safety can actually be less safe overall (that safety will be captured in a pricetag, and real people will never be able to afford it, and will be forced into less safe alternatives) - https://local.theonion.com/neighborhood-starting-to-get-too-...
More people died from suicide (45k in 2016) in the US, than died from all automobile accidents nationwide (37k in 2016). The tradeoff here is not as simple as people often imagine it to be.
To your point of bringing up suicide, there is "accidental" death; where it's 1. Opioid overdoses 2. Suicide 3. Car Accidents
In "Energy and Civilization A History" by Vaclav Smil he points out that, once you factor in the time spent earning money to pay for the costs of car transport, you are doing no better than if you walked.
The time that the car seems to save is spent working to pay for the car.
If you look at the population-wide stats, things are dominated by diseases of aging because more old folks are dying overall.
Every death at age 25 has robbed us of more than double the number of years of life than a death at 50.
As for the rumination about productivity, desirability and cost - I really don’t understand your argument.
How do cars make life more affordable in communities that are well-equipped to live a car-free life? (Well-equipped meaning with density of services, walkability and transit.)
The paradox you describe is just a function of how rare these dense, people-friendly communities are in our landscape of endless exurban development crisscrossed by 6-lane expressways where you have to wait 5 minutes to cross the street while walking your dog. If we built more of these high-demand, people-centered communities, the price differential would not be so great.
So why is it that the US has the most expensive healthcare costs in the world, and also extremely high food and housing costs?
No. If someone invented cars today, he'd be considered a hero. We'd talk about him in history books.
I doubt your groceries would be more than 10 minutes away even if no cars had been invented. Zoning practices would change to allow more shops distributed across residential areas. That would make more sense than requiring people to ride an hour on horseback.
But yes, the supermarket would be much less 'super' with a much smaller selection of goods.
or would you prefer to live in a city where the job and housing market develops near a handful main connected roads and everywhere else you travel more than you work?
> [safety concerns]
on a side note, imagine the amount of deaths from not having ambulances or fire trucks and the price gouging of transit company to reach major productivity center.
if someone invented car today those would still be great selling points for them
What could possibly go wrong?
It's nearly forgotten how much anger and resentment that Americans had against the railroad companies back in the day. Back then, railroads could decide if they would build a stop at your town, or even decide to build a new town on land that they owned somewhere along the line. Railroads were perceived as a vast private taking from the commons.
The car on the other hand involves public ownership of the roads and distributed ownership of the vehicles. That leaves a strong majority of the population feeling that the status quo benefits them and encourages them to keep it that way.
We have designed our living spaces to be ideal for cars, not humans. It is hard to acknowledge because it has been that way all our lives but it is a trade-off we are making.
It’s really sad. Kids nature is to want to run around and burn off energy, and right outside our door it’s safe for adults to do that, but it’s still not safe for young children because you still have to stay in the limited pedestrian zone and carefully cross streets.
I’ve wondered a lot about trying to build a car-free neighborhood with a commuter bus to downtown. I wish that existed, I’d move there.
Its all about incentives. And the government is in the driver's seat. I would love to get paid to bike around - that is a brilliant idea. Not to mention the health benefits of having a population exercise to get to work.
I live in NYC where the city was designed for cars. I find it a travesty that prime waterfront property on both sides of Manhattan - really all around the island - is a highway. If Robert Moses had prioritized non-car means of transport, we would have a very different city.
This statement causes me to question the veracity of the rest of the article.
Practically every municipality bends over backward to slow traffic near places where children, the elderly, the blind, or even just where too many accidents occur.
"Operating-speed method" is only really used for high-speed, high-throughput, limited access roadways.
This is sufficiently common that I could use road humps as a proxy for "Am I going the correct direction?" back before nav systems. Maybe you weren't going the completely right direction, but a road hump (or traffic circle) meant you were on a road sufficiently useful that it needed a traffic calming measure.
Cities with winter have extra considerations, though.
...Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources,...
So electric cars will mitigate only 10-15% of the environmental problems of the ICE cars?
If you follow the link to the actual research paper you find that it's 90% of PM10 and 85% of PM2.5
That is, not "emissions" in general but particle matter specifically.
This makes sense because modern cars have efficient engines and particle filters so that few particles are emitted from the combustion engine itself. The remaining sources are the tyres and the brakes.
But doesn't the point still stays that contrary to the popular belief electric cars would not bring about much change?
Research paper: ..it could be concluded that the increased popularity of electric vehicles will likely not have a great effect on PM levels.
As said, and as your quote highlights, this focusses on particles. But the main emission of internal combustion engines is CO2, and other nasty stuff like CO, NOx, hydrocarbons, etc. These are eliminated by electric vehicles.
Claiming that electric vehicles only move emissions to the electric plant is unfair at best.
Are there any emissions associated with that additional 125kWh of consumed electricity? If so, where? If not, why not?
PM2.5 emissions were only 1-3% lower for EVs compared to modern ICEVs. Therefore, it could be concluded that the increased popularity of electric vehicles will likely not have a great effect on PM levels. Non-exhaust emissions already account for over 90% of PM10 and 85% of PM2.5 emissions from traffic. These proportions will continue to increase as exhaust standards improve and average vehicle weight increases. Future policy should consequently focus on setting standards for non-exhaust emissions and encouraging weight reduction of all vehicles to significantly reduce PM emissions from traffic.
It's said that cars "produce" PMs this way even though they don't per se.
What I'm getting at is that if we reduced the amount of particulates added to the system, then surely there would be less to resuspend?
Unless there's some other, non-car related source of these. If so, why not address it instead?
First of all, this person meant to say "particulates"  and so we are not talking about CO2 at all. Secondly, the source that he links to has this table in it for PM10 (the table for PM2.5 would be analogous) . Almost all of this argument is based on "resuspension". Basically, the car's slip stream. Seriously?
By the way, these values are (virtually) calculated all on acount of EVs being heavier. Well done I guess for assuming that braking in EVs won't have PM emissions <nod to regenerative breaking>.
It's a pity that an argument based on traffic accidents and cars has to reference such a random and irrelevant article. I agree that Americans like cars too much.
 Table 5
Comparison between expected PM 10 emissions of EVs, gasoline and diesel ICEVs (mg/vkm)
(Vehicle technology) (Exhaust) (Tyre wear) (Brake wear) (Road wear) (Resuspension) (Total)
EV 0 7.2 0 8.9 49.6 65.7
Gasoline ICEV 3.1 6.1 9.3 7.5 40 66.0
Diesel ICEV 2.4 6.1 9.3 7.5 40 65.3
Figuring out whether it's sub 1% or >= 2% probably doesn't.
That's a huge cost.
The legal and political and taxation system in Denmark is anti car and pro public transportation and have been for decades.
We are talking 200% taxes on the cars and constant reduction of roads in the big cities, constant expanision of public transportation.
Yet cars for most people in Denmark is very important.
Cars are the perfect balance between flexibility, scaleability, speed, utility etc.
This is why cars win, not because of some conspiracy.
It was written in 1975 so doesn't speculate on the future of self driving vehicles but part of what made that book interesting is it took an oil shock to really get some attention on the problems.
(let's not forget that one enormous benefit of automobiles was that they cleaned up the cities which used to be full of horse manure. Of course we know now that they pollute in other, destructive, ways).
Let's just take the two examples in the article. First single family zoning. I would argue that before cars (and cities) people lived on farms and ranches. Cars were not to blame. The trend has been towards smaller living areas, not larger. Second, parking requirements. I think parking requirements came after cars, not the other way around.
False. It’s possible to pay for mass transit with pretax dollars.
> automobile supremacy
The language of this article just makes me cringe.
Other than that, it's really quite reasonable though.
For example if you wear lycra, you will probably find that a percentage of people will regularly try to "punish" you because they think you "look funny".
The mildest form of punishment will be them driving as close to you as they dare. That could be 50mph 12"s away. That's like standing on the other side of the do not cross line in the subway as a train comes past.
That's my anecdotal experience but a quick search Youtube will turn up many examples of this. Action camera manufacturers specifically design products to document this.
Worse though, you'll probably eventually have someone be more directly aggressive to you. Maybe throwing something at you or trying to drive you off the road.
In that context I think that the phrase traffic violence is fitting. If someone is using a vehicle as a weapon what else would you call it?
> Aster Ryan, 25, of Wingate, said “this summer has felt especially dangerous.” In addition to the three cycling deaths that took place within a week, Ryan said she was hit while riding her bike a little more than a week ago on Dean Street, and also watched another rider get hit by an opening car door recently.
Is it just location? Is it the type of bike or the clothes we wear?
There was this study https://helmets.org/walkerstudy.htm which has some interesting conclusions but the sample size is a bit small to be statistically valid IMHO.
Oh and I'd add, if it's not clear already, that most drivers seem to be very nice and considerate people. It's just that there are percentage of aggressive people and when they're in cars they drive aggressively.
I had two drivers within the last 12 hours taking my right of way by illegally driving onto a cycle path when turning from a side street into a main street.
Both claimed that they couldn't see into the main street if they didn't drive over the cycle path first, but somehow while both of them were perfectly happy taking cyclists right of way, they did not want to take other motorists right of way by driving directly onto the main street.
Southern Germany too, although at least they usually don't put hedges/fences right up to the edge of the road.
I would hate to walk or bike on those roads, despite the beautiful landscapes on display.
Initially I thought there was a pressing need to widen the roads, but then I realized that the real problem is the size of modern cars and how fast most people drive.
While car ownership and driving is currently vital to a lot of rural communities, we need to reclaim the roads for shared usage, and break the imagined car/driver ownership and privilege over them.
Judge Doom: Several months ago I had the good providence to stumble upon this plan of the city council's. A construction plan of epic proportions. They're calling it a freeway.
Eddie Valiant: Freeway? What the hell's a freeway?
Judge Doom: Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.
Eddie Valiant: So that's why you killed Acme and Maroon? For this freeway? I don't get it.
Judge Doom: Of course not. You lack vision. I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night. Soon, where Toontown once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful.
Eddie Valiant: Come on! Nobody's going to drive this lousy freeway when they can take the Red Car for a nickel.
Judge Doom: Oh, they'll drive. They'll have to. You see, I bought the Red Car so I could dismantle it.
> ...as SF's rail network was removed or replaced with bus lines in the mid-century, it went from 16 rail lines to five...
The reason we still have the trains we do is because they were the lines that used tunnels, so they couldn't easily be replaced by buses.
The World's Fair, which also brought us the Palace of Fine Arts, spurred the construction of many of those train routes. You used to be able to get to the Presidio by train! Imagine if, instead of spending effort digging up the tracks to replace them with buses, they buried the tracks and built an actual metro system: you could get around the city without a vehicle.
Today, San Francisco only has trains along Market Street
> along Market Street, fingering out into a half dozen neighborhoods
In my country (India), there is hardly any planning -- empty land == lets buy and build a building. No regulation even on buying cars, keep on piling and spend an hour or two for a 8 KM ride home from your office.
There is no incentive to use public transport. There is no special lanes for public transport. No one follows the "lane rules" either. They(us) got enough money to buy a car but no sense on how to use them properly.
And note that cars much costlier in India if you consider PPP. Its horrible.
Public transportation is the backbone of India. I can only agree to the point is that it’s uncomfortable and overcrowded to use.
There isn't a single person in India who will not buy a car if they have the money to. How many of these 'rich' people really use the Mumbai local and Delhi Metros?
The vast majority of people get there by public transport, not driving.
At least that's what I've worked out from Cities: Skylines.
Skyways are significantly cheaper than bridges. It would still be cheaper to make the ground level of your city a building, but not having to support the mass of cars and trucks means skyways can be significantly cheaper.
In the modern world trucks and buses are far too useful to ban completely from cities where people live. People need their stuff delivered, and need to get longer distances once in a while. Thus I'm saying reserve the ground for those uses and get humans away from them. It is a compromise, but I think it is a good one.