In 2009, in the US, there were 14.9 million bicycles purchased  vs. just over 13 million passenger vehicles.
The response to higher gas taxes would have nothing to do with bikes. We'd buy cars with better fuel efficiency, explore alternative engines with lower costs-per-mile, and continue to pay the tax. Until the efficiency gains match the costs of the tax, the rest of the economy would suffer as most people would have less discretionary spending.
You HAVE to get to work, so you're going to eat the tax. And it's regressive, to boot.
Urban people in the U.S. complain a lot about the suburban nature of most of the country, but there is little that can be reasonably done eliminate the suburbs. Most people in this country simply prefer it, and will pay more for their transportation costs to get it. Raising taxes on these people is not going to change their behavior in any meaningful way. A few extra cents, or even an extra half dollar is gas taxes is going to be a lower cost to them than uprooting their life and moving within biking distance.
If people prefer it, why does the government have to mandate it by law?
Suburban zoning and -- even more importantly -- minimum parking requirements force property developers to build nothing but sprawl with isolated pods of single-use development. Wide, hostile roads are required (by law) to carry people between commercial, office, residential, and industrial sprawl zones.
If free markets were allowed to have any influence at all on land development, you would see at least some new urban style building. As it is, nothing but sprawl is permitted.
GP said EU levels, so it's not a few cents or "even" a half dollar. It's straight up doubling or tripling gas prices. This would no doubt impose a lot of hardship on people, and there might well be significant political upheaval in the process, but if you think it wouldn't change behavior and the suburban sprawl problem then you don't realize how inelastic people's income really is.
I think you mean "how inelastic the demand for gas is in the face of higher prices".
Of course people's income is fixed in this equation. Though I suppose you might try to earn more if gas prices go up.
What you're trying to say is that demand for gasoline is inelastic in the face of higher prices.
And here's a bit on gasoline...
That’s the same commute as I had during my time in high school. I did it on a bike, for 4 years, as did everyone else in my class. (I grew up in the Netherlands, where this is normal.)
> Raising gas taxes is going to cost people who have longer commutes
Which in turn will make people live closer to their work place and it will promote working from home. People might also start lobbying for more and better public transport.
The net speed of transit is driven by stop frequency and dwell time. Remember, you simply cannot make up for the time you're not moving -- driving half your trip at 15 mph and half at 30 mph doesn't give you an average speed of 22.5 mph ((15+30)/2), but of 20 mph -- it's the total time for the trip, divided by distance.
Acceleration (and braking) of LRV has to be limited on account of standees, which generally means limiting top speeds. The fact that most LRVs travel on shared roadways (with private vehicles, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians) means they have to be prepared for sudden stops. Exclusive RoW can avoid this problem, but it's expensive: you've either got to block off surface access, elevate, or tunnel.
Tracked vehicles cannot pass one another without sidings. A consistent issue with LRVs is that if there's a breakdown, or even a delay, of an up-track vehicle, the effects ripple back through the route. Sidings (or switches) are expensive. Trolley buses (which receive power from overhead electrical wires) have similar limitations.
Any transfers you need to make will also add considerable time to your trip, and again, dwell or stationary time _cannot_ be made up by speed.
In crowded or dense urban areas, priority signaling for transit, and the lack of need to find and pay for parking, can cut some time off of trips, but that's fairly limited.
I live in the Cleveland area, and even living in the downtown area, I could imagine it being a legitimate sacrifice to live without a car. While the downtown area is growing in residence and support services, such as grocery stores, are being built downtown, it's still tough. Also, while some businesses are moving their offices downtown, other companies, especially large ones like Eaton, have moved their substantial downtown presence to the suburbs, so the problem is happening in both the residential and commercial side of real-estate. I'd have to imagine many small and mid-size cities suffer from this.
I just don't see a solution that is going to get people to cluster more, given our culture. I think the long-term solution is electric cars and the possibilities that shared, highly convenient, self-driven cars present. So instead of changing behaviors drastically, we use technology to make the required changes much smaller.
You already feel a mild version of this in rush-hour on NYC subways. Your body will move slightly as the train breaks, often causing people to lose balance (particularly if they never experienced this previously)
Also, the distances between cities in the US is far greater than what it is in EU nations like Germany or Italy. Plus the scenery is much better. Ever ridden across North Dakota?
Assuming you live in Europe. It's different in the US.
Some people do legitimately have a need for larger vehicles. The farmer I use to work for had 4 or 5 F-150s to be used on the farms (no way you are getting a regular car in and out of some of those waterlogged fields). Those were farm equipment, not something you use to drop off the kids at school. People who need vehicles like that to go grocery shopping are an extreme minority.
And I have never seen any of the roads around here closed, even when impassable by anything short of a snowmobile or a tractor.
2. Wasn't that image on a Photoshop hoax site?
3. That path is perfectly clear. Try driving a car with 4" of clearance through 8" of snow. It can be done with very good snow tires, but not nearly as quickly as a vehicle with more clearance.
2. I do not believe so.
3. This is true. You have to clear the roads for people to use smaller cars.
If U.S. cities had proper cycling infrastructure, I would expect many more adults would use bikes for local travel. But as it is, driving is certainly more reasonable for many people when the alternative is biking on a shoulderless road with deadly vehicles passing inches away from you.
Lucky for me, I live near the most bike friendly city in the country - and it's not on the left hand coast. ;)
If it was feasible and I lived within 10 miles of where I work, I would for sure bike. Right now, I commute almost 20 minutes in my car, so biking to and from work just isn't a great idea. If I lived and worked in the city, I would for sure bike every day. Even if I worked in the city, I would utilize the light rail for the majority of my commute. It sucks I would still have to drive 10-15 minutes to get to the light rail though.
A historical example comes to mind: the collapse of the slave industry in the American South in the 1800s. (Please note that I'm referring to very specific aspects of the trade; I'm not by any means equating slavery with the energy sector, morally or otherwise.)
If you were to consider abolition from a short-term point of view, as many Americans did, it seemed like a terrible idea. It had catastrophic effects on millions of working, poor Americans. After all, it meant crippling the nation's single largest industry.
And yet, when we reflect on the American slave trade and its eventual decline, those hardships are trumped by greater moral and economic imperatives. The moral imperatives go without saying. The economic ones had to do with recognizing the true cost of labor and finding new opportunities, some of which were outside of agriculture.
Some moral and economic imperatives exist in our current conversation about restructuring the energy industry, which are only visible from a long-term perspective. For example, we're morally bound to address the long-term environmental impact and dangerousness of car travel (although, again, I'm not suggesting this moral imperative is equal to that of abolishing slavery). From an economic standpoint, we're also bound to recognize that our current methods of producing and consuming energy are unsustainable.
TL;DR: Sometimes radically restructuring an industry is the smart - and right - thing to do, despite the relatively short-term economic hardships that it causes.
See, this is where I have to disagree - I think people who insist on driving their own cars should fund those who take public transport.
The government is trying to encourage public transportation - that puts less stress on roads and infrastructure, it causes less pollution and damage to the environment, and means roads are less congested.
Also, public transport is one of those funny things that actually gets better the more people use it.
Fares will go down, and you'd get more frequent services.
It's called negative externalities - the free-market unfortunately doesn't account for all costs.
If I smoke a cigarette - I only pay for the cigarette - but it's those around me that also get sick from the second-hand smoke. That's why the government taxes them.
Likewise, if I buy a gas-guzzling SUV, which churns out black smoke to all my neighbours around - I only pay for the gas - but it's those around me that also suffer.
Basically, if we apply your logic, then we would live in a every-man-for-himself society, where we'd do whatever we could to get ahead, and not care about the impact on those around us.
Paying for what you use and a little extra to offset the negatives is still just paying for what you use.
Further, who pays for the roads the public transportation uses? I have a guess: drivers.
I think people should pay for whatever they want to use.
Can't reply because of HN time restrictions on long threads, but I think the reduction on driving is more due to cities and housing centers within cities getting denser - even Houston is doing that, and we've traditionally been very spread out. We still are, but it's improving.
Cape Coral, for instance, is just a huge, sprawling (mostly-vacant) city. You could probably manage to situate yourself with most of the things you need nearby, but you would still find the vast majority of the city inaccessible without a long ride.
Your yearly commute in micromorts is 311 versus 12 by car.
But then I do often use my bike to go 50 m, since it's faster and I can carry stuff on it.
I know what you're saying, so I'm sorry for being a little pedantic, but I just have to jump in and point out that there are MANY bike commuters in suburban and rural areas. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana for two years and biked 3 miles into town every day. It was incredible for my health and the countryside is just gorgeous. In many ways it was vastly preferable to my various urban commutes since then.
You're right that the infrastructure is often lacking, but you learn the tricks you need to get your errands done, and there are many of us out there every day building the critical mass to change that.
From the second result in Google: "The average commute in miles for Americans is 16 miles and 26 minutes for one way"
In reality of course, these commute times are all of your own making. Just because politics in the 20th century designed cities a particular way doesn't mean it is now forever set in stone in the 21th.
There are plenty of times when it is too expensive to live near work.
There are plenty of times when housing near work is low income or unsafe.
Until recently I lived about 20km away from my work, and my commute took about 25-30min: 10min walking and 15min on the train. I found this a very nice and relaxing commute; being on public-transport means you can read / browse the web / zone out, and indeed it's a valuable unwind time for me (the walking time is also hugely beneficial in this respect). [The same trip by car takes about 30min with no traffic, or an indeterminate amount of time in typical rush-hour traffic...]
In all honesty Calgary is a hopeless city.
Consider Tokyo: https://maps.google.ca/?ll=35.637209,139.744034&spn=0.502803...
Now compare it to Calgary: https://maps.google.ca/maps?ll=50.988692,-113.841705&spn=0.3...
Keep in mind Tokyo is only the center of that metro area. Tokyo itself is 13M people. The full metro area is 35M! Meanwhile calgary is a mere 1M!
Calgary is just not scaling. If we tried to fit 35M people in Calgary the city limits would start hitting the Rockies! Just as CPUs are hitting limits on the speed of light Calgary is hitting limits on safe highway speeds. Mass transit could be improved but it cannot shrink the city.
The best part was actually looking forward to my commute -- even though I only cycled about once or twice a week. Now I'm so far out of shape, it will take a few months of working out in the gym to get back to what I was doing (and hopefully my knees won't go out again).
You can make of that what you will. I would call it rural.
Your average noncollege town isn't like Bloomington.
(40 km is not a particularly long ride for a recreational biker...)
That's a shockingly low number of miles ridden per year. I will no longer think of myself as an underachiever on Strava :)
(at least, if the graph is correct)
Apparently "In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars, Just as Usual in the United States" was too long for a headline.
The difference between northern and southern Europe, or between different countries in Europe, can be pretty big at times. Netherland has had more bikes than people for as long as I can remember. In Spain, the few rare bikers would tend to get killed by cars.
Edit (in response to jgreen10)
>Are you suggesting no one has a car?
No, I am suggesting that the logic "cheaper stuff outsell more expensive stuff" is wrong.
The thing almost every user expects it that saving the file just saves over the old file in the format it was originally in. IIRC, it used to work that way, and then one day it changed for the worse.
Mind you, I've never contributed the tiniest bit of code or funding to Gimp, so I can't really complain.
That's utterly silly. If you take yourself seriously as a graphics editing program, then inevitably you have to move to one format that you can then convert into others. Otherwise you have to implement every single operation on every single file format you support. With the One True Format, (.otf) you can convert your .jpgs to the .otf and then do the operation there.
This then presents a problem. Tech-savvy users know that there will be a loss of data when you save to a consumption format. But the rest of us don't. If you allowed open and save in the same format, people will make the intuitive leap, that they're actually editing the files in that format, when they're not. They'll think all the layers they made will carry over into the PNG and that they'll be there when they re-open the file, when in fact they won't.
It would be a nightmare, because nobody will know what will save and what won't. You'd have to then educate users that to get everything to save properly, you have to save to .otf. Or you could just bake that logic directly into the app.
I know users don't read, etc, but the trade you're making is that the simple process of editing a file and saving it is now much more annoying. I just want to make changes to my PNG, not deal with the One True anything.
The stated goal was to make it harder (still? I guess people clicked through the warning without reading) to accidentally save in .png or .jpg and lose the layers. But the result, for someone whose usual workflow is to open a .png/.jpg, edit, and save back to .png/.jpg, could not be more user-hostile and obnoxious.
In response to a complaint, someone on the forums wrote:
> This is the way Gimp now works. Of course you can consider this a PITA. But for other folks, losing work because they saved as JPG instead of XCF is also a PITA. The philosophy is that people that are impacted negatively by this change are people with very simple work-flows who would be better off using simpler software (XnView, Digikam, Lighttable...)
In other words, all of you people with simple workflows, that worked just fine in Gimp for years? Now you have to go off and learn some new software, because Gimp is for Serious Graphic Design™ only. Ugh.
I got excited researching this because I found a changelog for Gimp 2.8.4 that mentions patching the behavior to be sane, but then I realized that's only a patch in the unofficial OS X build. On Linux, the same nonsense in the latest version.
Every program I use saves to the original format by default, most warning you if there will be data loss. Whether you like it or not, this is how software works and how users expect it to work. If you want to automatically backup a different format that's fine.
GIMP should have option "also save as native format in image repository" that is on by default, if the developers care so much about the conversion losses.
If you want to save the full format of the file, including layers and whatever other GIMP magic you've created, you'd best save it in GIMP-native format.
If you're just doing some quick tweaks, you'll get used to the export option and ignore the prompt to save on quit.
Since most of what I do are quick edits of screenshots, the latter works fine for me. If I were a graphic artist, I'd probably get more than slightly peeved if my afternoon's work were lost due to an incompatible file format save w/o prompt.
Not prompting the user leads to massive loss of user work and state. Prompting the user is a minimal overhead to avoid this risk.
From a technical point of view I can certainly approve the change. Back in my time I've had couple of my images ruined by badly timed save (user error [tm]), so the non-destructive approach certainly has its merits. However, the new behaviour breaks a lot of ingrained casual use flows. So maybe the best approach would for Gimp to remember the original filename when it's opened and if the filetype is anything except XCF, simply do two saves: create a new $filename.xcf automatically with all the changes the user has made, and also auto-export with the old name.
That way the more casual users could still just do "open, edit, save" for their quick edits. As a bonus, since the XCF file is non-destructive, the original file would still be in there. This might give the best of both worlds: it wouldn't break existing workflows, and it would automatically prevent accidentally changing the original image. Plus it would make the save/export split less of a headache for new users.
Just an idea.
It's virtually every time; I just request JPG exports to go along with the PSD, because otherwise I won't know it's missing.
(To be fair, some of that last bit is due to Adobe patents)
So my point is: The same goes for cars vs. bikes. Most people wouldn't mind using a bike to go to work, but it feels weird to pay only a couple of bucks for a bike, when you've learn that the price to go to work is the price for a car.
The reasons for this could probably be rightly chalked up to obfuscation and other below-board shenanigans on the part of certain companies, but the end result is still that you don't use the FOSS version if you're serious.
>I was more referring to compatibility, here.I was more referring to compatibility, here.
Yeah I know, but I got carried away :)
i mean, really, i love GIMP, but, it'll take some time ...
Anyway, Android (Linux) dominates the mobile space, and Linux dominates the server and a lot of the embedded space. So yes, cheap stuff outsells expensive stuff.
And I think it is an interesting question, someone knows some statistics regarding that?
Something like the EU as a whole vs. the US as a whole has a lot more meaning, IMO.