2.10.19

THE STATE IS THAT GRAND FICTION.

When a recipient of road socialism gripes about inconvenient roads, it might rate an Instalanche.  "Is the answer to more cars really less pavement? Can Denver really solve the congestion problem by making congestion even worse, through road rationing, parking restrictions or other tactics designed to make motorists miserable?"

The answer is not less pavement, it is treating the existing pavement like the income-earning asset it can be, and rationing the capacity by price rather than by traffic jams and construction delays.

The author, whose social media handle is @FreedomtoDrive1, continues, "Cars, trucks and other personal transport aren’t going away any time soon. Such an impractical and punitive approach to dealing with the issue is taking us down a potential dead end, from my perspective." Read on, though, and discover that she, like any other recipient of government largesse, is arguing that people made their decisions to do things on the basis of the government largesse, and now that largesse becomes an entitlement. (Friends of the national endowments and public radio also view defunding of their gravy trains as impractical and punitive. Part of seeking rents is defending those rents.)

That is, the current city government is currently in the build-it stage of building roads that will subsequently become congested, and if there's a change in administration, that might change.
The City of Denver under Mayor Hancock’s stewardship has worked to improve streets and roads to make the commute easier and faster. These efforts, which have markedly improved traffic flows and as a result reduced pollution, would be stopped dead in their tracks by [Streetsblog Denver editor Andy] Bosselman’s proposal.

His piece does not consider the reality of folks having to shuttle kids to and from school twice a day, or juggle two jobs, neither of which is located on a light rail line.

Or the flexibility they need to rush home from the office on a moment’s notice to meet a plumber or take grandma to a doctor appointment.
Perhaps that sort of flexibility, or that sort of hectic life, is being subsidized by others, which is sort of Mr Bosselman's point, although neither his column nor the one in question, by Sara Almerri from something called the Freedom to Drive Coalition, are case studies in clear thinking.  [There is nothing in Mr Bosselman's column about recognizing that the roads are assets, or that location and land use are connected by a rent gradient.  That would get us off topic.  Back to the defense of the motorists.]
Few people have to time to walk two or three miles to and from work, assuming they’re young and fit enough to do so. Emergencies arise that can make personal mobility a life-saver. Buses don’t often run on time.

How do you carry seven bags of groceries home on a bicycle? Life is just a lot more complicated and crazy than the column takes into account. There’s no point in shaming and belittling people for choosing the convenience and independence a personal vehicle provides.

Plus, dependable and affordable mass transit is available to only a fraction of Coloradans, even in Denver, where low-income communities are not well served by mass transit.

I’m a young professional in the state’s crown jewel of a city; why do I have to walk 25 minutes to get to light rail? Ridership on those systems in some cases appears to be falling, not growing, which is why many operate in the red and need to be heavily subsidized with public funds.

I’m an avid user of public transportation in cities like New York, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco, so I’m not anti-transit. Such systems simply work better, and make more practical sense, in densely-packed places. Stations are convenient, buses operate regularly and cover all urban areas.

One day such systems may work as well in Denver. But we’re not there yet, and we probably won’t be there for a while, so why not deal with reality, make more practical plan, accept the fact that personal transport is still preferred by the vast majority of Coloradans, and stop trying to hassle and punish commuters for making perfectly reasonable choices, in light of the lifestyles they live?

Most Coloradans are not going to abandon so-called car culture for another reason. This is a recreation-oriented state.

Even if commuting via bike or bus and solar-powered rickshaw actually works for some subset of Coloradans, they still will want and need individual mobility on the weekend, or during off-work hours, if they are going to fully enjoy all the natural and recreational amenities this state has to offer. In simple words, your car can take you on an adventure that no form of mass transportation can.

What Bosselman and other anti-mobility activists deride as “car culture” is the ticket to freedom, fun and personal independence for millions of Coloradans. Good luck persuading them to sacrifice all that, and their Colorado way of life.

The automobile has been a part of world culture for over 100 years and it will continue to be. Car culture is more than sales numbers and usage.

It’s family trips to historic drive-ins, the legend of Route 66, experiences like driving the Tail of the Dragon, going rock crawling with buddies in 4x4s, traveling the Pacific Coast Highway, exploring the Rockies — it’s the “American dream,” in a phrase. It’s cross generational, cross gender, and across all socio-economic demographics. As long as there is an open road and a nice Colorado breeze, I will be driving country roads.
Perhaps we start by contemplating the fiscal drain that those open roads represent, and asking the beneficiaries to bear the burdens.

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