Re: [carfree_cities] Re: NYT's Friedman: "take the Subway"
- Hello everyone
The racism explanation doesn't get to the core of the problem of
people wanting to maintain their separation from people they see as
different than themselves.
My experience with most people in the US, and the vast majority of
people who consider themselves conservatives, is that they don't read
too much recent history, virtually no economics or social sciences,
and barely even know anything about the US history of legal
segregation. So they believe what they hear about the US being a
meritocracy, about how it is the land of opportunity, about how in the
US markets function very well, how do-gooder governments only make
things worse by coddling lazy people, etc.
So, since the market is not to blame and everyone has an equal chance,
the explanation must lie elsewhere. That explanation then has to be
either cultural or genetic, that is, that certain subsections of the
population have only themselves to blame. Thus, it is racism by
default, not the overt segregation and overt teaching of racist ideas
like 50+ years ago.
That might explain a lot of the conservative attitude towards public
transport, but what is the excuse of so many liberals? They talk the
talk, but don't walk the walk (or ride the ride).
Quoting Steve Atlas <steveatlas45@...>:
> I've lived in Baltimore County, MD for 8 years (and in Columbia, MD
> for 20 years before that). One big benefit is that I can walk to a
> local bus that operates 20 hours most days. Neither my wife nor I
> have had problems (except once when there was construction and the
> bus was detoured) People are usually friendly, regardless of their
> race or ethnicity. We appreciate the convenience and frequency of
> service. I've found that the fear of doing something new is often
> worse than the reality. As I research more U.S. cities and vacation
> spots, I am encouraged that so many of them make it possible for
> visits to enjoy a weekend without ever having to drive or rent a car.
> Steve Atlas
> Resources for Individuals and Families who are concerned about
> America's continued dependence on automobiles
> e-mail: steveatlas45@...;
> (410) 663-0217
> From: Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...>
> To: email@example.com
> Sent: Monday, March 5, 2012 11:24 AM
> Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] Re: NYT's Friedman: "take the Subway"
> On Mar 5, 2012, at 8:10 AM, Karen Sandness wrote:
>> Richard, you may recall that when I was in Los Angeles for a
>> conference in 2001 and we met for dinner, you put me on the bus
>> back to my hotel. When I mentioned this to one of the local
>> attendees the next day, he was horrified that I had taken the bus
>> at night and even seemed surprised that I had survived the
>> adventure. But in fact, the experience was not frightening at all,
>> unless one considers the presence of dark-skinned people to be
>> inherently frightening.
>> The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that racism lies behind
>> much of both the suburbanization and the auto-centricity of America.
> I myself don't doubt it for a second. I once took a bus home from a
> party at a friend's house in hyper-liberal Silverlake. I had my arm
> in a sling, and my friend offered to drive me home to "keep me safe'--
> though he'd had a good bit of booze during the party. he was worried
> about predatory Latino immigrants--apparently forgetting that I am
> one myself, just a pale one.
> Needless to say, the bus ride was convivial, pleasant, and safe.
> I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum, and I hear
> racist crap from all of then. Especially as regards travel of public
> transport--which is actually far safer than driving.
> The trains in LA do, however, attract riders from higher economic
> classes. And I have even sat next to a Beverly Hills matron dripping
> with diamonds on the rapid bus through that glittery city. So there's
> some hope.
> Bicycles are really starting to take off here, including with Martha
> Stewart types, another odd but very real reason for hope.
> After all, it's the middle and upper classes who drive the most and
> keep pushing freeways through poor folks' neighborhoods.
> Richard Risemberg
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I've noticed this myself too. If you're white and middle-class and dare to use mass transit, even to get between the car repair shop and your office, your friends and family will be amazed that you made it out alive and with your wallet, and they'll ask you how the ride went, as if you had just visited a war zone. Also expect to be asked how smelly it was, or if any riders vomited.
In Tallahassee, US 90 goes right through the middle of the city as Tennessee St., three lanes each direction for 2.2 miles. There is a plan being floated around to turn the outside lanes into bus and bike lanes, making it only two "regular" lanes each direction. Of course, all the businesses on the street are screaming bloody murder, and comments on the local news website are thinly veiled attacks at the only beneficiaries being bike-riding, freeloading hippies who need to take a bath, get a job, get a car, and start paying taxes. Attacks are also directed at mass transit, which one commenter decried as a massive burden on the City budget (it's 2%).
Regarding racism/classism, I feel that the same attitudes are also what make so many people opposed to universal health care. A lot of people (even liberals) insist we "already have" universal health care, since poor people can go to the emergency room or the "free clinic".
The reality is that they do not want to be sitting in their dentist's waiting room and watch a woman wearing a McDonald's uniform come in and take a seat. She needs to be at the "free clinic" with her type, not at "my" dentist.
Just like mass transit--they don't want to be riding the metro and find themselves face-to-face with a woman wearing a McDonald's uniform.
> >The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that racism lies behind much of both the suburbanization and the auto-centricity of America.
> I'm more and more of the opinion that this is true. The only good news here is that it appears that most people in the younger generations have gone beyond racism, at least if the behavior of school kids in NJ is any barometer. I often see them in mixed-race groups.
> The decimation of black neighborhoods in the 50's and 60's by "urban renewal" (i.e., the demolition of black neighborhoods) and the construction of urban "interstates" against the will of their leading promoter, Dwight Eisenhower, were acts that were effectively and probably intentionally racist.
> I wish I were not so often ashamed of my nation.