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  • Ronald Dawson
    A friend sent me this and I thought you would want to see it as well. Dawson
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 26, 2001
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      A friend sent me this and I thought you would want to see it as well. Dawson

      >A recent oped from Atl Journal...
      >
      > > By James A. Dunn Jr.
      > > America's suburbs are a success. More people live and work on the
      > > suburban fringe than in the central core of nearly all U.S. metropolitan
      > > regions. The auto is the perfect for servingvehicle to serve the
      > > suburb-to-suburb trips that are the fastest-growing part of today's
      >travel
      > > demand.
      > > The automobile provides 97 percent of the total surface passenger
      >miles
      > > in urban and suburban areas. About 91 percent of American families own
      >at
      > > least one automobile. The auto-highway system and the accessible suburb
      >are
      > > unsurpassed as solutions for personal mobility.
      > > But nothing is perfect. Affluent suburbanites are increasingly
      >concerned
      > > about long commutes, traffic congestion, loss of open space and the
      >bland
      > > sameness of many tract developments. These perceptions have given
      > > encouragement to the growing number of social critics and opinion
      >leaders
      > > who argue that autos and suburbs are problems, not solutions.
      > > The critics would declare a "war on sprawl" and push for new
      >government
      > > programs to improve the sustainability of communities by mandating
      >"smart
      > > growth" planned on models developed by the "new urbanists." Their aim is
      >to
      > > encourage greater density of settlement, smaller lots, more multifamily
      > > dwellings, and much more reliance on public transportation, particularly
      > > rail transit, for getting around.
      > > Although we can always do a better job of designing the new
      >settlements
      > > we build each year, there are some real dangers and costs hidden in the
      > > anti-sprawl agenda. Perhaps the two most important are the demonization
      >of
      > > the automobile and the costly overselling of public transit's capability
      >to
      > > replace a significant portion of auto travel in our suburbs.
      > > The most vehement of the automobile's critics blame it for everything
      > > from global warming to the social decay of our inner cities. Because
      >they
      > > see the auto as the source of so many problems, they recommend strong
      > > policy measures to reduce its depredations. They call for dramatic
      > > increases in gasoline taxes, congestion pricing of highways,
      > > government-mandated ride sharing during peak hours, even banning autos
      > > outright from large parts of "car-free cities." The very fact that they
      >are
      > > mentioned in the policy dialogue makes other anti-auto measures seem
      > > moderate and reasonable by comparison.
      > > On Such policy involves pushing for greater reliance on mass transit.
      >But
      > > an extensive rail system has little impact on highway congestion. If it
      > > did, the roads in New York, Washington, and Boston would be models of
      > > free-flowing traffic.
      > > Even building a rail line next to an expressway does not relieve
      >highway
      > > congestion for long. The drivers lured out of their cars onto the train
      >are
      > > quickly replaced by others who perceive that traffic is moving a bit
      > > faster. Soon congestion returns to its previous level.
      > > Besides congestion, the auto has other problems such as air pollution
      > > and energy consumption, say the critics. Unfortunately, major
      >investments
      > > in new rail transit will not do much to reduce auto emissions or energy
      > > use, either.
      > > Transit's share of the travel market has been steadily declining for
      >50
      > > years, despite nearly $400 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation) in
      > > federal, state and local subsidies since 1964. It would cost untold
      > > additional billions to double transit's current 3 percent market share
      >of
      > > U.S. surface passenger miles. And 94 percent of the miles would still be
      > > traveled in automobiles!
      > > The inescapable conclusion is that more pollution reduction can be
      >had
      > > for much less money by improving automobile engines and emissions
      > > technology than by trying to force people onto trains and buses. It is
      > > easier to get the pollution out of cars than to get the people out of
      >cars.
      > > Blaming the automobile for the current outbreak of suburban angst, and
      > > spending large amounts of public moneylarge amounts of public dollars to
      > > re-create the passenger rail system of the pre-auto era are bad ideas.
      >They
      > > are especially damaging if they lead public officials to stop in-
      > > vesting in improving highways on the erroneous assumption that transit
      >can
      > > make up the mobility deficit that crowded and crumbling roads will
      >produce.
      > > Communities can do a better job of making local neighborhoods more
      > > accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. But for access to the wider
      > > resources of our rich and varied metropolitan areas, the car remains an
      > > unbeatable tool of personal empowerment. If we are feeling guilty about
      >our
      > > affluent and comfortable suburban lifestyles, the fault, dear Brutus,
      >lies
      > > not in our cars, but in ourselves.
      > >
      > > James Dunn is a professor of political science and public administration
      >at
      > > Rutgers University's Camden, N.J., campus. His most recent book is
      >"Driving
      > > Forces: The Automobile, Its Enemies and the Politics of Mobility"
      > > (Brookings Institution Press, 1998).
      >
    • Doug Salzmann
      ... Hmmm -- an ode to the automobile, written by a resident of Camden and published in the Atlanta newspaper. It is clear that the programming has been very
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 27, 2001
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        Ron Dawson shared with us:

        > > America's suburbs are a success. More people live and work on the
        > >suburban fringe than in the central core of nearly all U.S. metropolitan
        > >regions. The auto is the perfect for servingvehicle to serve the
        > >suburb-to-suburb trips that are the fastest-growing part of today's
        > >travel demand.

        Hmmm -- an ode to the automobile, written by a resident of Camden and
        published in the Atlanta newspaper. It is clear that the programming has
        been very effective.

        The American infatuation with the auto persists despite overwhelming
        evidence of the disasters it has created. It may not change even when the
        roads are permanently clogged and the last drops of fuel burned, as the
        national auto fleet idles to a halt in the final traffic jam. One can
        imagine armies of suburban workers walking, each morning, to their cars
        (all waiting in their permanent resting places on the silent roadways) and
        spending the workday behind their now-useless steering wheels, talking on
        their cellphones and typing away on their laptops.

        More and more, I am convinced that the most effective strategy available to
        us is one of selective action. We need to identify those (relatively few)
        places that are especially amenable to carfree initiatives and development
        and focus our efforts there. Why bother arguing when we could be
        collaborating with like-minded friends?

        -Doug
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