A seismic shift appears to be underway with regards to how experts view transportation. The new vocabulary includes words like multimodal and person-level transportation. Transportation experts want to move “people” instead of cars because most cars on the road today are single occupant vehicles or SOVs—not an efficient enough form of transportation apparently. Aren’t motorists though people too? We are not just our cars. We, the people must drive because there are no realistic alternatives and because of the inherent freedom of being able to go where we want, when we want, and how we want.
Congress of the New Urbanism (CNU) website recently issued an article called THE MORBID AND MORTAL TOLL OF SPRAWL which declared that for the past 50+ years U.S. transportation engineers have designed and built thoroughfares that allow drivers to feel comfortable driving carelessly. Wide streets and enormous intersections encouraged urban sprawl, suburbia, and complete automobile dependence. The CNU also had another short and fascinating historical article on how streets turned out this way. Experts continue to complain about congestion and sprawl but no one twisted anyone’s arm to move out to suburbia. Americans made choices and luckily we can still make those choices today.
Currently over 80% of all American adults drive a car wherever they might happen to live. Even though more people are driving more miles now than ever before, roads are safer than at any time in history based on the number of miles driven. Americans drive around 2.18 trillion miles in the current rolling 12-month period. That is 9,800 miles for every person in the country. This correlates to about 26.8 miles per day per person, about 15% more miles driven than a quarter of century ago. If Americans had multimodal transportation choices would they actually use them?
Historically, departments of transportation (local, state and federal) have made decisions based on population. More people driving meant building more roads to move people in cars more quickly. Public transportation was generally factored in as well.
Ironically, even though DOTs have always promoted the car as the primary mode of transportation, the transportation agencies have continuously implemented measures that disrupt and discourage the efficient movement of traffic. Our gas tax money continues to be used to promulgate multimodal transportation agendas which should mean less road and street congestion since less people are supposedly using the roads. This should not mean though the impediment of driving due to lack of road maintenance or the application of traffic calming measures that ultimately worsen the driving experience.
In August, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), a trade group representing 13,000 professionals in 90 different countries, announced that departments of transportation (local, state and federal) should not focus so heavily on cars. The ITE comments were in response to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) proposed rulemaking on “National Performance Management Measures; Assessing the Performance of the National Highway System, Freight Movement on the Interstate System, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program”. See this Streetsblog USA article about the topic. Find halfway down a PDF link that gives the ITE full letter and comments.
The ITE has particular concerns about the measure for congestion management. ITE’s International President Paula Flores Benway wrote in her letter to the Federal Highway Administration that the implementation of the delay-based measure for congestion management should be postponed until such time that a measure be based on a multimodal and person-level delay can be developed. If the FHWA would take these suggestions from the ITE to develop these additional measures what kind of impact will that really have on most of us? Very little. What a waste of time and dollars, money that could be used for improving roads now.
The Truth about Cars website recently ran a blog post on THIS IS HOW THEY’LL TAKE YOUR CAR FROM YOU. The author states that we’ll be shamed into giving up our cars. In 10 to 15 years, it might even be difficult to buy a new car that we can drive ourselves. The big automakers no longer call themselves automakers. They are now mobility companies and have invested heavily in carsharing and ridesharing startups.
The media and transportation experts keep harping on the coming carsharing/ridesharing future but doesn’t that put more cars on our streets? Los Angeles currently has a proposal to take 100,000 cars (two percent of all cars in LA) off the street in five years with the idea that they would need to increase the number of cars that are used for carsharing and ridesharing. This is of course a multimodal plan but the question remains: Will that many Angeleno motorists want to give up their cars for good?
Driverless cars have also spurred the idea that more cars will be on the streets than ever before. In some cities, driverless cars will be the de facto public transportation since buses, trams, trolleys, subways and trains are so 20th century. But how would connected and driverless cars work if we cannot even maintain the basic infrastructure that we have right now? This leap of faith that we can improve our infrastructure for the Car of the Future may be misguided.
For the here and now, driving a car will continue to be the primary transportation form that Americans use on a daily basis. Trying to change those dynamics with new vocabulary and social engineering will not change this paradigm anytime soon. The current transportation system is the one we have for better or worse.
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Interstates are some of the safest roads. It makes no sense to put the police on the safest roads, while ignoring the most dangerous roads, unless the goal is revenue. It’s a FINE time to travel through Tennessee. Buckle up, drive safely and watch out of the ticket writers.
Great propaganda piece WKRN.
Is modern traffic enforcement all about dollars instead of safety? An author says a strong yes.
Gary Megge, a lwho works in the Michigan State Police traffic services section says that speed limits need to be set based on the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic.
If speed limits are not set properly, this could pose safety issues for those drivers who are within the 85th percentile, Megge said.
“If we don’t match normal and safe driving behavior, if we try to post a speed limit that doesn’t match, we have a problem,” he said. “We make a large portion of the driving public illegal. That’s not the way we should be doing business.”
The Michigan State Police offers two publications on setting realistic speed limits.
2006 US Death rate per mile 1.42 Total Deaths 42,708 Miles Driven 3.014 Trillion
2007 US Death rate per mile 1.36 Total Deaths 41,259 Miles Driven 3.031 Trillion
2008 US Death rate per mile 1.26 Total deaths 37,423 Miles Driven 2.977 Trillion
2009 US Death rate per mile 1.15 Total deaths 33,883 Miles Driven 2.957 Trillion
2010 US Death rate per mile 1.11 Total deaths 32,999 Miles Driven 2.967 Trillion
2011 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,479 Miles Driven 2.950 Trillion
2012 US Death rate per mile 1.14 Total deaths 33,782 Miles Driven 2.969 Trillion
2013 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,894. Miles Driven 2.988 Trillion
2014 US Death rate per mile 1.08 Total deaths 32,675 Miles Driven 3.026 Trillion
Fatality rate is per 100 million miles traveled
by Ron Paul
Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.
In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!
The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.
The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA’s failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.
If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.
The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.
For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.
If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.
Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS’s persecution of conservative organizations.
Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.
The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.