A word on Randall O'Toole expert
I personally love this guy (please don’t stop reading yet!).
o First because he gives us in one convenient place the entire litany of reasons, logic and tone which are indeed true enemies of our cities and environment. I find him handy for that. A rogues’ gallery of unreason and irresponsibility. It’s nice to know where to go.
o Shoddy as he is, and others of that same cloth, I nonetheless try to check him out from time to time run down his points one by one and make sure that my own logic and work is O’Toole-proof.
o Moreover, there is inevitably a bit of truth in some of the points he makes, and these pose good tests of our own ability to deal with the inevitable contradictions that the real world sets for us.
o And because he is so very bad – even if superficially attractive to a certain train of thought and legitimate citizen concern – that it’s not very hard to deliver a knock out punch. The important thing is not to get excited, keep grinning, and take him on point by point. It also helps in cases like this to keep giving him plenty of rope; he will inventively put it to the use it’s best for.
o And finally, because if we can’t deal with the O’Toole’s of this world, then we are in real trouble.
I will copy this to the Idea Factory of the New Mobility Agenda (http://www.newmobility.org) and we will see what kind of reaction it will get there. I invite you to pop into the forum which is open to any and everyone to see what kind of further response this may get
With all good wishes
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Francis Eric Knight Britton
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From: DBurden@... [mailto:DBurden@...]
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 12:20 AM
Subject: Re: Help -- need anti-Randall O'Toole expert
Betty ... Randall O'Toole????
Never thought I would hear that name again. Randall is the somewhat eloquent stuck in the mud nemesis of walking, bicycling, Smart Growth, Active Living, traffic calming and Transit Oriented Communities, light rail and anything "lite-auto" focused kinda guy. Michael Ronkin has heard him speak, and provided me good background about this Portland area fanatic when I was invited to debate him on my home turf.
Freedom and land use isolation is everything to him, responsible community development means nothing to him. Although I have never met him I am told that Randall has the appearance of a rational person, but the logic of an idiot .... and he is extremely good at bad fact making. Almost everything appearing below in his diatribe is silly, and not worthy of challenging with fact. Yet it must.
Walter Kulash and I were contracted by the City of Gainesville, Florida to conduct a debate with O'Toole. As fate would have it the Great God Tlalock and his son and daughter gods in charge of major storms and fury sent one of the biggest storms of record during the winter of '04 to the Portland, Oregon airport to keep O'Toole at the airport on the ground all day. The end result, a very boring, but insistent, city commissioner read O'Toole's rambly essay. Walter and I presented the counter point, sans O'Toole.
I am sure that many on this reading list will be able to tell their own O'Toole stories and suggest an anti-venom to his dark, smelly underbelly poison.
I could also suggest that a combination that includes the wit and wisdom of Ian Lockwood and Troy Russ, and perhaps a real economist of Todd Littman could allow a community to focus on reality, pragmatism and a more optimistic future of city making and transportation performance.
In a message dated 10/7/2006 1:35:32 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, BettyDrake writes:
Help -- need anti-Randall O'Toole expert
10/7/2006 12:54:22 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Had lunch yesterday from an "economist" from Oregon name o' Randall O'Toole who's been brought to town with great fanfare to counter a groundswell of sentiment in favor of light rail.
Re: Light Rail, he says that::
1. Llight rail will fail...it has never worked ANYWHERE to reduce congestion.
2. Light rail increases crime. Postland Police Department cites light rail as a key factor in increased crime in neighborhoods around stations.
3. Light rail will not be used...in Portland, opening was accompanied by a spike in ridership and then greatly reduced usage. Intel bought 10,000 (?) transit passes for its employees to encourage non-driving and only 400 are used. Nobody wants it. People will always drive.
4. Light rail means that the bus system will fail. The types of people who HAVE TO use transit would rather take the bus. If funds are shifted to light rail the bus routes will be cut, frequency diminished and "those types of people" left without transportation.
5. People who can afford to drive will never use rail or other transit.
6. The only people who benefit are the pork-loving politicians.
7. Light rail has never worked anywhere in the world.
8. Maintenance costs run in the billions. At least every 30 years, everythying has to be replaced.
7. Light rail has the poorest safety record of any mode on the planet. Prepare to die.
8. Light rail just increases congestion due to the low-cost trashy development (including Section 8 housing) that typically grows around rail stations. If we want the entire character of our city to change for the worse, go with light rail.
On other transportation topics:
1. Claims to be an expert in bicycle transportation but didn't know Mike Ronkin or Pete Lagerwey.("Never heard of 'em")
2. Calls traffic-calming, "congestion manufacture"...says that it does nothing to improve safety or quality of life, it just slows down the traffic and is a safety hazard. I cited studies documenting the opposite, he just blew right by these.
3. Says that the only way to "solve" the congestion problem is to build toll lanes on freeways and to increase street capacity in general (more, wider lanes, various technological traffic management devices).
4. Says that, really, the whole congestion problem will solve itself in a few years with hi-tek vehicles that run themselves -- cruise control that also controls distances between vehicles will in and of itself keep freeways from backing up at rush hour.
5. The automobile is responsible for our nation's economic well-being and high standard of living. Anything that says otherwise is just itchi' for a fight.
6. In downtown areas it's silly to think that residents will walk, bike or take transit to get around. They will ALWAYS prefer driving. By building up density in central city areas, we're just asking for trouble.
He went on and on and on. He seems to take things way out of context, spout highly dubious statistics non-stop and talk and talk. The citizens who brought him in to lecture and the folks listening to him are not equipped to counter these arguments. It just makes me sick. They don't know any better and if you haven't got a clue, he can sound credible.
Is there anyone out there you could suggest that could help counter this guy??? HDR is doing a citywide Transportation Master Plan, which is what triggered the light rail discussion. Charlie Hales seems to be a reasonable person and doing a good idea at laying out and evaluating all options.
Suggestions, information, ammunition appreciated.