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Re: FW: Article from Atlanta

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  • Mike Lacey
    As Churchill once said, they use their statistics like a drunk uses a lampost, for support rather than illumination. Whatever the figures might suggest, one
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 3, 2001
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      As Churchill once said, they use their statistics like a drunk uses a
      lampost, for support rather than illumination.
      Whatever the figures might suggest, one only has to visit a European
      City to see how much smaller the role of the automobile is in the
      landscape, how much narrower the roadways, how many city centres are
      carfree, how many more people walk in the streets(surely the ultimate
      measure of the success of a city), how much more vital the city is,
      and of course how much more convenient the transit.
      Its not a case of how fast we can get there, its whether there is
      anywhere worth getting to.
      And then of course there's Japan....

      Mike

      --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "Ronald Dawson" <rdadddmd@t...>
      wrote:
      >
      >http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/epaper/editions/today/opini
      on_a31
      > 5
      > >98903421e10e00e5.html
      > >
      > >OPINION TODAY • January 2, 2001
      > >
      > >Journal: Europe's lessons on Atlanta traffic
      > >Staff
      > >Tuesday, January 2, 2001
      > >
      > >
      > >AS THE Atlanta region faces the monumental task of finding
      solutions to the
      > >burgeoning traffic problem, state and local officials often cite
      Europe as
      > a
      > >prototype of how to move people around more quickly.
      > >
      > >Officials such as members of the Georgia Regional Transportation
      Authority
      > >frequently point to European capitals such as London or Paris,
      where heavy
      > >investments have been made in public transportation and rail
      systems.
      > >
      > >But the belief that mass transit is the cure is a huge
      misconception.
      > >Europeans from the French to the Germans, the Norwegians and the
      Dutch have
      > >spent billions of dollars on public transport in the past quarter
      century
      > >but have weak market share response for the investment.
      > >
      > >Just as in America, Europeans increasingly choose to use their own
      vehicles
      > >to get around.
      > >
      > >In the groundbreaking book "Transport in Europe," published in
      1997, author
      > >Christian Gerondeau reveals the truth behind these commonly held
      ideas that
      > >Europeans widely embrace mass transit. Gerondeau, a transportation
      policy
      > >analyst, is a former transportation adviser to the French
      government and
      > >author of the Paris Area Railway Master Plan.
      > >
      > >"The numerous attempts at easing road traffic by creating high-
      speed
      > >railways, undergrounds, tramways, specialized railways, combined
      transport
      > >systems, waterways and so forth have all failed," he writes. "For
      the great
      > >majority of transport that take place on the European continent,
      there is
      > no
      > >alternative to individual transport."
      > >
      > >Transportation officials attempting to solve Atlanta's traffic
      woes could
      > >learn some lessons from Europe's experience with transportation.
      It busts
      > >many of the stereotypes public policymakers embrace too firmly.
      Among them:
      > >
      > >The perception that European governments still focus transportation
      > >investments on public transit. Gerondeau writes that insufficient
      > investment
      > >in roads over recent decades has hurt the European economy.
      Sensing that,
      > >Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Sweden and Eastern European
      nations have
      > >in recent years made roadway construction the highest priority.
      > >
      > >For example, France is in the middle of an ambitious extension of
      its road
      > >network, including tunnels under Paris and under the historic city
      of
      > >Versailles. In 1993, France decided to accelerate the completion
      of its
      > >national motorway system with a target of constructing more than
      150 miles
      > >of roads per year.
      > >
      > >The perception that rail systems are the transportation mode of
      choice in
      > >Europe and that they relieve road congestion.
      > >
      > >The facts, throughout Europe, contradict that idea. Nearly 80
      percent of
      > >working West Europeans commute every day by car. And where rail
      investments
      > >have been made, traffic has not eased.
      > >
      > >For example, the city of Toulouse, France, opened an underground
      railway in
      > >1993. As a result, road congestion declined by an imperceptible 1
      percent.
      > >Hardly a good return for a $500 million investment.
      > >
      > >When the high-speed train line from Lille to Paris opened that
      same year,
      > >projections were that it would take almost one-third the motorists
      off the
      > >A1 highway between the two cities. Despite a heavy promotional
      campaign,
      > >"The new TGV had practically no impact on the traffic on the
      motorway that
      > >runs parallel to it," Gerondeau wrote. The same happened in Zurich,
      > >Switzerland, after a massive investment in public transportation.
      > >
      > >The perception that mass transit saves time. "Thanks to the ease
      with which
      > >it transports its users from door to door without breaks, without
      waiting,
      > >and without too much walking, the car is an exceptional time-saver
      in most
      > >situations compared to walking or public transport," Gerondeau
      writes.
      > >
      > >In France, it takes an average of only 19 minutes to get to work,
      17
      > minutes
      > >in Italy and 25 minutes in Germany. Yet the average door-to-door
      work trip
      > >for those using public transportation in Europe is 38 minutes.
      > >
      > >Just as in America, affluence is driving more and more people to
      the
      > suburbs
      > >of major European cities. And as a result, the jobs are fleeing
      inner
      > cities
      > >as well.
      > >
      > >In France, a study of commutes in urban areas showed that only 16
      percent
      > >were to city centers. Sixty-four percent of commutes were from
      suburb to
      > >suburb. Sounds just like Atlanta. But unfortunately, public
      planners here
      > >are not responding accordingly.
      > >
      > >Gerondeau provides a wonderful road map for planners,
      transportation
      > >policymakers and political leaders attempting to tackle Atlanta's
      > congestion
      > >problems. If officials, including members of the Georgia Regional
      > >Transportation Authority, are serious about improving mobility,
      they should
      > >proceed cautiously before writing off much-needed road projects and
      > >overinvesting in mass transit.
      > >
    • philip@aal.cix.co.uk
      ... Bad examples; Britain (and I suspect, France) are amongst the most economically and culturally centralised nations in the western world. The whole of
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 4, 2001
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        > >OPINION TODAY � January 2, 2001
        > >
        > >Journal: Europe's lessons on Atlanta traffic
        > >Staff Tuesday, January 2, 2001
        > >
        > >
        > >Officials such as members of the Georgia Regional Transportation
        > Authority frequently point to European capitals such as London or Paris,
        > where heavy investments have been made in public transportation and rail
        > systems.

        Bad examples; Britain (and I suspect, France) are amongst the most
        economically and culturally centralised nations in the western world. The
        whole of British life is dictated by what is good for London. The city's
        transport problems are a direct result of an overheated economy, a virtual
        monopoly of the Media industry, cultural & sports events and an Air
        Transport industry that begs, cajoles & even forces people from the rest
        of the UK to fly from or via London Airports.
        > >
        > >But the belief that mass transit is the cure is a huge misconception.
        > >Europeans from the French to the Germans, the Norwegians and the Dutch
        > have spent billions of dollars on public transport in the past quarter
        > century but have weak market share response for the investment.

        > >Just as in America, Europeans increasingly choose to use their own
        > vehicles to get around.
        > >
        Whilst this criticism of (mainland) European policy is surprising, it only
        goes to re-enforce British folly in its obsession for Rail.

        Great Britain* differs from mainland Europe in a number of relevant ways:

        1. UK car ownership is currently lower than in mainland Europe. In other
        words, the potential increase in car ownership (and therefore usage) is
        much greater in the UK.

        2. Public Transport fares (particularly Rail) form a much higher
        proportion of income in the UK than in most European countries.

        3. Different public transport modes compete with each other in the UK,
        especially in the local urban/suburban context.

        *As with many aspects of British life, London differs from the rest of the
        UK; whilst car ownership in London is slightly lower than the UK average,
        its public transport is more co-ordinated/integrated, and particularly in
        the suburbs (LT Zones 2-6 for those familiar with the city) is
        considerably more affordable when average wages are taken into account.

        In the UK, barely 10% of the population live within "walking distance" of
        a Rail station/halt, although the proportion is higher in South-East
        England. All the investment in the world in such an inflexible form of
        transport is going to increase this proportion by much. The rest of the
        population would always depend on buses for their transport needs, unless
        of course, they drive (or if they are fit, and thrive on everyday danger;
        Cycle). Unfortunately, whilst billions are being invested in Rail to give
        motorists a choice, very little is being invested in the more affordable
        (for regular users, anyway) & flexible mode of Buses, and subsidies to
        keep "socially necessary" bus journeys running for shift workers etc. are
        being cut.
      • Guy Berliner
        The most interesting thing about this article is the unexamined assumption revealed ever so briefly in passing in the very last paragraph. There, the writer
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 4, 2001
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          The most interesting thing about this article is the
          unexamined assumption revealed ever so briefly in passing
          in the very last paragraph. There, the writer warns officials
          to proceed cautiously before "writing off much-needed road
          projects" if "[they] are serious about improving mobility."

          The unstated assumption, of course, is that "improving
          mobility" should be the watchword, the only true goal of all
          transportation. This is the logic that brought us the SST,
          the automobile, leaded gasoline, Bhopal, and every other
          disastrous innovation of modern times. Absent from this
          unstated assumption is any notion that "improved mobility"
          might be incompatible with other goals, like livable cities.

          It's really pretty hopeless to even attempt to have an intelligent
          dialogue with people like the writer of this piece whose thinking
          is so sclerotic. The only faint hope I detect is that, at least
          he does consider time spent in transit as a worthy measure of
          transport effectiveness, as indicated by his statistics on commute
          times. But unfortunately, like so many inept commentators on the
          subject, the thought has never crossed his mind that any other factor
          than mode of transport might interact with the latter. Like the
          invasion of exclusively auto-centered development models, such as the
          Walmartization of retail sales, now spreading its blight into Europe
          and elsewhere, remarked on in other posts to this list.

          Just the same, we might as well just admit right now that, yes,
          if mobility u"ber alles is your watchword, then the automobile is
          your machine. With ever increasing investments in motorized transport
          infrastructure, we can continue to enjoy the greatest mobility in
          history, as measured in miles per hour per year per citizen (per
          dollar!), for every man, woman, and child. At least in America. And
          at least as long as we are prepared to suffer any outrage against
          humanity and nature as the real cost for this way of life.


          --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "Ronald Dawson" <rdadddmd@t...>
          wrote:
          >
          >http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/epaper/editions/today/opini
          on_a31
          > 5
          > >98903421e10e00e5.html
          > >
          > >OPINION TODAY • January 2, 2001
          > >
          > >Journal: Europe's lessons on Atlanta traffic
          > >Staff
          > >Tuesday, January 2, 2001
          > >
          > >
          > >AS THE Atlanta region faces the monumental task of finding
          solutions to the
          > >burgeoning traffic problem, state and local officials often cite
          Europe as
          > a
          > >prototype of how to move people around more quickly.
          > >
          > >Officials such as members of the Georgia Regional Transportation
          Authority
          > >frequently point to European capitals such as London or Paris,
          where heavy
          > >investments have been made in public transportation and rail
          systems.
          > >
          > >But the belief that mass transit is the cure is a huge
          misconception.
          > >Europeans from the French to the Germans, the Norwegians and the
          Dutch have
          > >spent billions of dollars on public transport in the past quarter
          century
          > >but have weak market share response for the investment.
          > >
          > >Just as in America, Europeans increasingly choose to use their own
          vehicles
          > >to get around.
          > >
          > >In the groundbreaking book "Transport in Europe," published in
          1997, author
          > >Christian Gerondeau reveals the truth behind these commonly held
          ideas that
          > >Europeans widely embrace mass transit. Gerondeau, a transportation
          policy
          > >analyst, is a former transportation adviser to the French
          government and
          > >author of the Paris Area Railway Master Plan.
          > >
          > >"The numerous attempts at easing road traffic by creating high-
          speed
          > >railways, undergrounds, tramways, specialized railways, combined
          transport
          > >systems, waterways and so forth have all failed," he writes. "For
          the great
          > >majority of transport that take place on the European continent,
          there is
          > no
          > >alternative to individual transport."
          > >
          > >Transportation officials attempting to solve Atlanta's traffic
          woes could
          > >learn some lessons from Europe's experience with transportation.
          It busts
          > >many of the stereotypes public policymakers embrace too firmly.
          Among them:
          > >
          > >The perception that European governments still focus transportation
          > >investments on public transit. Gerondeau writes that insufficient
          > investment
          > >in roads over recent decades has hurt the European economy.
          Sensing that,
          > >Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Sweden and Eastern European
          nations have
          > >in recent years made roadway construction the highest priority.
          > >
          > >For example, France is in the middle of an ambitious extension of
          its road
          > >network, including tunnels under Paris and under the historic city
          of
          > >Versailles. In 1993, France decided to accelerate the completion
          of its
          > >national motorway system with a target of constructing more than
          150 miles
          > >of roads per year.
          > >
          > >The perception that rail systems are the transportation mode of
          choice in
          > >Europe and that they relieve road congestion.
          > >
          > >The facts, throughout Europe, contradict that idea. Nearly 80
          percent of
          > >working West Europeans commute every day by car. And where rail
          investments
          > >have been made, traffic has not eased.
          > >
          > >For example, the city of Toulouse, France, opened an underground
          railway in
          > >1993. As a result, road congestion declined by an imperceptible 1
          percent.
          > >Hardly a good return for a $500 million investment.
          > >
          > >When the high-speed train line from Lille to Paris opened that
          same year,
          > >projections were that it would take almost one-third the motorists
          off the
          > >A1 highway between the two cities. Despite a heavy promotional
          campaign,
          > >"The new TGV had practically no impact on the traffic on the
          motorway that
          > >runs parallel to it," Gerondeau wrote. The same happened in Zurich,
          > >Switzerland, after a massive investment in public transportation.
          > >
          > >The perception that mass transit saves time. "Thanks to the ease
          with which
          > >it transports its users from door to door without breaks, without
          waiting,
          > >and without too much walking, the car is an exceptional time-saver
          in most
          > >situations compared to walking or public transport," Gerondeau
          writes.
          > >
          > >In France, it takes an average of only 19 minutes to get to work,
          17
          > minutes
          > >in Italy and 25 minutes in Germany. Yet the average door-to-door
          work trip
          > >for those using public transportation in Europe is 38 minutes.
          > >
          > >Just as in America, affluence is driving more and more people to
          the
          > suburbs
          > >of major European cities. And as a result, the jobs are fleeing
          inner
          > cities
          > >as well.
          > >
          > >In France, a study of commutes in urban areas showed that only 16
          percent
          > >were to city centers. Sixty-four percent of commutes were from
          suburb to
          > >suburb. Sounds just like Atlanta. But unfortunately, public
          planners here
          > >are not responding accordingly.
          > >
          > >Gerondeau provides a wonderful road map for planners,
          transportation
          > >policymakers and political leaders attempting to tackle Atlanta's
          > congestion
          > >problems. If officials, including members of the Georgia Regional
          > >Transportation Authority, are serious about improving mobility,
          they should
          > >proceed cautiously before writing off much-needed road projects and
          > >overinvesting in mass transit.
          > >
        • Mike Lacey
          Great commentary Guy. As I was reading it, the rationale behind Wal- mart s Eastward invasion struck home. I think we are reaching a turning point in the way
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 4, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            Great commentary Guy. As I was reading it, the rationale behind Wal-
            mart's Eastward invasion struck home.

            I think we are reaching a turning point in the way we in America
            think about our built environment. The growing trend towards re-
            energizing our downtowns is symptomatic of the fact that so many of
            us are sick-to-death (figuratively and literally) of the
            homogonization of our landscape. We are yearning once more for that
            sense of place that has been destroyed as urban and rural have fused
            into "ubural".

            So like a tobacco company fearing for the inevitable backlash from
            the home market, Wallmart are pre-emptively moving to exploit
            the "virgin" markets of Europe and Japan, where folks are not yet
            jaded by the open-all-hours, park-all-day, bargains-uber-alles, big
            box mentality.




            --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "Guy Berliner" <guy@s...> wrote:
            > The most interesting thing about this article is the
            > unexamined assumption revealed ever so briefly in passing
            > in the very last paragraph. There, the writer warns officials
            > to proceed cautiously before "writing off much-needed road
            > projects" if "[they] are serious about improving mobility."
            >
            > The unstated assumption, of course, is that "improving
            > mobility" should be the watchword, the only true goal of all
            > transportation. This is the logic that brought us the SST,
            > the automobile, leaded gasoline, Bhopal, and every other
            > disastrous innovation of modern times. Absent from this
            > unstated assumption is any notion that "improved mobility"
            > might be incompatible with other goals, like livable cities.
            >
            > It's really pretty hopeless to even attempt to have an intelligent
            > dialogue with people like the writer of this piece whose thinking
            > is so sclerotic. The only faint hope I detect is that, at least
            > he does consider time spent in transit as a worthy measure of
            > transport effectiveness, as indicated by his statistics on commute
            > times. But unfortunately, like so many inept commentators on the
            > subject, the thought has never crossed his mind that any other
            factor
            > than mode of transport might interact with the latter. Like the
            > invasion of exclusively auto-centered development models, such as
            the
            > Walmartization of retail sales, now spreading its blight into Europe
            > and elsewhere, remarked on in other posts to this list.
            >
            > Just the same, we might as well just admit right now that, yes,
            > if mobility u"ber alles is your watchword, then the automobile is
            > your machine. With ever increasing investments in motorized
            transport
            > infrastructure, we can continue to enjoy the greatest mobility in
            > history, as measured in miles per hour per year per citizen (per
            > dollar!), for every man, woman, and child. At least in America. And
            > at least as long as we are prepared to suffer any outrage against
            > humanity and nature as the real cost for this way of life.
            >
          • Richard Risemberg
            Let me immodestly mention my editorial in this month s new Colonist, which addresses this matter: http://www.newcolonist.com/rr6.html Richard ... -- Richard
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 4, 2001
            • 0 Attachment
              Let me immodestly mention my editorial in this month's new Colonist,
              which addresses this matter:

              http://www.newcolonist.com/rr6.html

              Richard

              Guy Berliner wrote:
              >
              > The most interesting thing about this article is the
              > unexamined assumption revealed ever so briefly in passing
              > in the very last paragraph. There, the writer warns officials
              > to proceed cautiously before "writing off much-needed road
              > projects" if "[they] are serious about improving mobility."
              >
              > The unstated assumption, of course, is that "improving
              > mobility" should be the watchword, the only true goal of all
              > transportation. This is the logic that brought us the SST,
              > the automobile, leaded gasoline, Bhopal, and every other
              > disastrous innovation of modern times. Absent from this
              > unstated assumption is any notion that "improved mobility"
              > might be incompatible with other goals, like livable cities.
              >

              --
              Richard Risemberg
              rickrise@...
              Living Room Urban Ecology webzine: http://www.living-room.org
              "There is more to life than increasing its speed." (Gandhi)
            • J.H. Crawford
              ... Actually, that s the real irony of all this. In large cities, the car is NOT the best way to provide increased mobility. Because of the space it requires
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 5, 2001
              • 0 Attachment
                Guy Berliner said:

                >Just the same, we might as well just admit right now that, yes,
                >if mobility u"ber alles is your watchword, then the automobile is
                >your machine. With ever increasing investments in motorized transport
                >infrastructure, we can continue to enjoy the greatest mobility in
                >history, as measured in miles per hour per year per citizen (per
                >dollar!), for every man, woman, and child. At least in America. And
                >at least as long as we are prepared to suffer any outrage against
                >humanity and nature as the real cost for this way of life.

                Actually, that's the real irony of all this. In large cities,
                the car is NOT the best way to provide increased mobility.
                Because of the space it requires and the resultant spreading
                of destinations, the car actually provides lousy mobility
                while also bringing with it all those costs of which we have
                become so aware. Try to imagine New York or Tokyo as auto-centric
                cities--the traffic would be so bad that nobody could get anywhere.
                Cars only work well in dispersed low-density areas with populations
                that don't exceed a couple of million. Even LA is starting to
                understand this.


                I did take the trouble to send the following letter to the editor:


                The Opinion piece, "Europe's lessons on Atlanta traffic" of January 2, 2001, requires rebuttal.

                The purpose of building rail systems is not to reduce road trafficbut to improve access. While few rail systems have actually reduced road traffic, most of them have gained high ridership. Even in Los Angeles, the Red Line metro has exceeded ridership expectations.

                While it is true that not every European rail investment has resulted in large ridership gains, many have. The Dutch railways, for example, are having a hard time coping with traffic increases that have coincided with on-going large-scale capital investments. British rail systems are staggering under increased ridership; insufficient investment led to a system that could not cope with demand.

                Large cities cannot survive without rail systems, and the larger the metropolitan area, the more pressing this need. Cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo simply would not function without their rail systems.

                It was claimed that the (relatively modest) investments made in Zurich were a failure, yet today 90% of commuters to downtown are on public transportation, primarily streetcars.

                The real culprit here is the on-going construction of sprawling suburbs, especially given that these are invariably single-use areas that prevent simply walking to local services. No transportation system can cope with dispersed destinations such as those so typical of sprawl development, except in small cities, where the automobile provides a workable solution.

                We now have heaps of sound research documenting the failure of road construction to relieve congestion. Further road construction projects in Atlanta will only spur additional sprawl, increased traffic, worse air pollution, and continued congestion. The only real solution to the problem is in revised land use planning based on increased density, fewer cars, mixed-use areas, and infill development near existing urban centers. Rail systems are an essential component of this kind of development if it is undertaken on a large scale.


                ###

                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                postmaster@... Carfree.com
              • Randall Hunt
                ... Arguments against autos should stress ACCESS as a goal over MOBILITY.
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 5, 2001
                • 0 Attachment
                  >Just the same, we might as well just admit right now that, yes,
                  >if mobility u"ber alles is your watchword, then the automobile is
                  >your machine.

                  Arguments against autos should stress ACCESS as a goal over MOBILITY.
                • Ronald Dawson
                  ... When you think about it, L.A. was first built along the lines of the Pacific Electric and the Los Angeles Railways. Then they were destroyed and now a lot
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 5, 2001
                  • 0 Attachment
                    J.H. Crawford wrote:
                    >Actually, that's the real irony of all this. In large cities,
                    >the car is NOT the best way to provide increased mobility.
                    >Because of the space it requires and the resultant spreading
                    >of destinations, the car actually provides lousy mobility
                    >while also bringing with it all those costs of which we have
                    >become so aware. Try to imagine New York or Tokyo as auto-centric
                    >cities--the traffic would be so bad that nobody could get anywhere.
                    >Cars only work well in dispersed low-density areas with populations
                    >that don't exceed a couple of million. Even LA is starting to
                    >understand this.

                    When you think about it, L.A. was first built along the lines of the Pacific
                    Electric and the Los Angeles Railways. Then they were destroyed and now a
                    lot of money is being spent to repair the damage. Dawson
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