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Re: Urban Sprawl Makes Americans Fat, Study Finds

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  • turpin
    ... I disagree with your preference, for several reasons. In my view, the first priority should be pushing the costs of driving onto the choice to drive. While
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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      Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
      > First, you build transit infrastructure
      > in and between urban modules that have
      > high density. Then, you either charge
      > a "fare" for driving, or engineer
      > difficulty into the act. My preference
      > is the latter..

      I disagree with your preference, for
      several reasons. In my view, the first
      priority should be pushing the costs
      of driving onto the choice to drive.
      While this is difficult, politically,
      it is the only thing that will make
      all the alternatives economically more
      attractive ACROSS THE BOARD. As long
      as car use is massively subsidized, it
      will be massively overused. While you
      are getting the city to engineer some
      difficulties into a ten block area,
      the city is laying ten more miles of
      new roads optimized for automobile
      use. As long as automobile travel is
      subsidized, sprawl will continue.

      Second, I have mixed feelings about
      "engineered difficulties." Austin went
      the traffic calming route in many
      neighborhoods, including my own, and
      I don't think it has done anything to
      make areas more walkable or bikable,
      or encouraged more of these. The speed
      pillows in front of my house make it
      MORE difficult to cross the street,
      because they make car speed is less
      predicatble, and they encourage the
      buses to drive in the bike lane, since
      the buses are wide enough to straddle
      the pillows. The traffic rounds put at
      some intersections are a constant
      source of near accidents for bikes and
      pedestrians, and I walk out of my way
      to avoid them. When I bike, I hate the
      traffic channelers, speed bumps, and
      other devices that force cars to get
      ahead or stay behind me. A lot of the
      drivers seem to think the bicyclist
      there at the moment is personally
      responsible for this "engineered
      difficulty." If there is any mishap
      there, guess who loses. I will not be
      surprised when the city ends up on the
      wrong side of a massive lawsuit when
      some bicyclist is killed at a traffic
      device that was PURPOSELY engineered
      to be difficult, and force mixing of
      two travel modes!

      I believe that a lot of people who
      write about traffic calming do not
      walk much. (I routinely put in 30 miles
      a week, on foot.) They recommend
      two-way streets over one-way streets,
      but one-way streets, or streets with
      broad medians, are MUCH easier to
      cross, because the pedestrian only
      has to deal with one direction of
      traffic flow at a time. They recommend
      mechanisms that stagger traffic, but a
      pedestrian prefers traffic to be
      clumped and predictable. They recommend
      diagonal parking, but pedestrians and
      bicyclists are endangered by parking
      where drivers have to back out. Anyone
      who walks or bicycles much can recount
      plenty of instances where someone
      almost backed into them.

      Above, I'm talking about experienced,
      urban pedestrians. Most city planners
      think of pedestrians as the person who
      just parked, who isn't walking any
      distance, but just wants to get across
      the street to the store where they're
      shopping. Bicyclists are people out
      for Sunday recreation. These kinds of
      casual, irregular pedestrians and
      bicyclists behave quite differently
      from those who travel these modes
      routinely, as part of their regular
      daily business.
    • Richard Risemberg
      Reasonable points below, but you overinterpreted me. The engineered difficulty I spoke of was solely lane reduction, nothing else. I too walk dozens of miles
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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        Reasonable points below, but you overinterpreted me. The engineered
        difficulty I spoke of was solely lane reduction, nothing else. I too
        walk dozens of miles a week, as well as use transit, the bicycle, and
        (when I'm with my car-addicted girlfriend and can't drag her to the
        Metro stop) a Mini Cooper. I was speaking of replacing automobile lanes
        with something more productive and attractive, not of adding obstacles.
        The only obstacles cars would face in my plan would be each other.

        Second, you cannot make driving expensive and inconvenient without first
        providing the alternative, which in Los Angeles at least exists in only
        a few spots. Unless you want carfre development to take the blame for a
        local depression!

        Richard

        turpin wrote:

        > Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
        >
        >>First, you build transit infrastructure
        >>in and between urban modules that have
        >>high density. Then, you either charge
        >>a "fare" for driving, or engineer
        >>difficulty into the act. My preference
        >>is the latter..
        >
        >
        > I disagree with your preference, for
        > several reasons. In my view, the first
        > priority should be pushing the costs
        > of driving onto the choice to drive.
        > While this is difficult, politically,
        > it is the only thing that will make
        > all the alternatives economically more
        > attractive ACROSS THE BOARD. As long
        > as car use is massively subsidized, it
        > will be massively overused. While you
        > are getting the city to engineer some
        > difficulties into a ten block area,
        > the city is laying ten more miles of
        > new roads optimized for automobile
        > use. As long as automobile travel is
        > subsidized, sprawl will continue.
        >
        > Second, I have mixed feelings about
        > "engineered difficulties."
        --
        Richard Risemberg
        http://www.living-room.org
        http://www.newcolonist.com

        "I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity,
        an obligation; every possession, a duty."
        John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
      • turpin
        ... Ah. Sorry. ... I still think it is the other way around. Until driving carries its own costs, we won t get other alternatives to a significant degree, we
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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          Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
          > Reasonable points below, but you
          > overinterpreted me. ..

          Ah. Sorry.

          > Second, you cannot make driving
          > expensive and inconvenient without
          > first providing the alternative..

          I still think it is the other way
          around. Until driving carries its
          own costs, we won't get other
          alternatives to a significant degree,
          we won't know the right mix of other
          alternatives, and we won't be able to
          figure out the way from "here" to
          "there."

          Partly, I think this is an issue of
          planning vs. spontaneous development.
          Like Jacobs, I fall more on the side
          that the best cities are largely
          spontaneous. Imagine a city where
          food had long been provided free
          from municipal cafeterias, and because
          of this, there were few other choices
          available. How do you get from that to
          a situation where residents exercise a
          multitude of eating choices, from a
          plethora of large and small groceries,
          street vendors, restaurants, order-out
          services, etc.? The wrong answer is:
          let's first plan where to put new
          restaurants and groceries, and what
          kind of food they should serve. That's
          the hardest problem in the world. Most
          of those businesses fail, and you need
          thousands of entrepeneurs figuring that
          out, by trial and error. The right
          answer is: put the cafeterias on a pay
          basis that covers their costs, and watch
          what businesses are then able to develop
          on their own.

          That may not be the entire the answer
          for city transportation, for well-known
          reasons. But it can go a long way. It
          is, after all, how many street car
          systems evolved.

          We keep thinking of transportation as a
          problem the city or state must solve.
          Keep in mind that is exactly what brought
          about the current system of subsidized
          automobile transportation. If you want
          big change, more than anything, we need
          to make that subsidy visible, and fight
          to end it. Subsidizing other alternatives
          will not do as much. Waiting for other
          alternatives will take forever. Ending the
          current subsidy has to come first, or
          people will continue to drive "cheap."
        • Simon Baddeley
          In UK - I sense that after the widely acknowledged success of Ken Livingstone s congestion charge in London the direction now in one form or another is going
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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            In UK - I sense that after the widely acknowledged success of Ken
            Livingstone's congestion charge in London the direction now in one form or
            another is going to be rationing or demand management. This seems to suit
            the right and the left - for different reasons. The right like it because
            it's market oriented (and keeps the poor off space they can afford) and the
            left see it as "hypothecating" cash (instead of sending tax by the normal
            route straight back to the Treasury) to public transport (e.g better
            services for the less well off) and better urban fabric for walkers and
            cyclists.

            But I still have to have rebuttal letters ready for motorists who send
            poignant and even reasonable letters about the need for this that still
            include sentences like "but the poor old motorist is going to end up paying
            far more than his fair share for all this". I have to run through all those
            collateral costs/subsidies - legal, insurance, sprawl infrastructure,
            health, cheap fuel and... and....

            Regards

            S

            Simon Baddeley
            Birmingham B20 3TG
            UK

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "turpin" <turpin@...>
            To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 5:21 PM
            Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Urban Sprawl Makes Americans Fat, Study Finds


            > Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
            > > Reasonable points below, but you
            > > overinterpreted me. ..
            >
            > Ah. Sorry.
            >
            > > Second, you cannot make driving
            > > expensive and inconvenient without
            > > first providing the alternative..
            >
            > I still think it is the other way
            > around. Until driving carries its
            > own costs, we won't get other
            > alternatives to a significant degree,
            > we won't know the right mix of other
            > alternatives, and we won't be able to
            > figure out the way from "here" to
            > "there."
            >
            >
          • Richard Risemberg
            Your idea would be fine, but the trolley systems evolved in an environment less skewed by subsidy. In fact, I believe there was little for the trolley systems
            Message 5 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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              Your idea would be fine, but the trolley systems evolved in an environment less skewed by subsidy. In fact, I believe there was little for the trolley systems at the time, though they were permitted to lay tracks on public streets. Most NYC subways were also originally private entities, though they run better an dcheaper now as public works.

              But today, it will be much easier to build a subway as a public-works project than to de-subsidize auto use. Even the hard right wing privateers and the libertarians wouldn't support fair-pricing car use. But you can get subway and light rail built: after all, in spite of a hard ecomnomy, it has already been happening.

              And once the alternative is in place, then you can justify depaving to a limited extent. And once a few projects--ten blocks though they may be (I foresee the Santa Monica line being much longer, but my project for West Holllywood would encompass about ten blocks, as you noted), you have samples to help you pitch it to less-obvious areas where the American lack of imagination and endemic meanness toward the public realm would engender more resistance.

              Richard
              -------Original Message-------
              From: turpin <turpin@...>
              Sent: 09/02/03 09:21 AM
              To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Urban Sprawl Makes Americans Fat, Study Finds

              >
              > Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
              > Reasonable points below, but you
              > overinterpreted me. ..

              Ah. Sorry.

              > Second, you cannot make driving
              > expensive and inconvenient without
              > first providing the alternative..

              I still think it is the other way
              around. Until driving carries its
              own costs, we won't get other
              alternatives to a significant degree,
              we won't know the right mix of other
              alternatives, and we won't be able to
              figure out the way from "here" to
              "there."

              Partly, I think this is an issue of
              planning vs. spontaneous development.
              Like Jacobs, I fall more on the side
              that the best cities are largely
              spontaneous. Imagine a city where
              food had long been provided free
              from municipal cafeterias
            • turpin
              ... Exactly! ... Yep. That s been going on for decades. But in how many cities has this changed development patterns? Where has sprawl declined? In what states
              Message 6 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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                Richard Risemberg <rickrise@e...> wrote:
                > Your idea would be fine, but the trolley
                > systems evolved in an environment less
                > skewed by subsidy.

                Exactly!

                > But today, it will be much easier to build
                > a subway as a public-works project than to
                > de-subsidize auto use. .. And once the
                > alternative is in place, then you can
                > justify depaving to a limited extent.

                Yep. That's been going on for decades. But
                in how many cities has this changed
                development patterns? Where has sprawl
                declined? In what states is driving now less
                subsidized?

                More of the same policies will bring more of
                the same results. As long as you're fighting
                over the same public transportation dollar,
                roads will mostly win. Yes, some other
                projects will be built. But you won't see
                less sprawl, because politicians are compelled
                to build roads to suit demand, and developers,
                knowing this, will always build further out,
                generating demand.

                > Even the hard right wing privateers and the
                > libertarians wouldn't support fair-pricing
                > car use. ..

                Au contraire. Privatized roads and elimination
                of tax support for public transportation have
                long been part of libertarian politics. Now
                whether they really mean what they say .. who
                knows? But massive transportation subsidy is
                NOT consistent with libertarian philosophy,
                however much you slice it and distort it.

                I'm always boggled that this is the one subsidy
                no one wants to discuss as a subsidy. The right
                doesn't want to discuss it, because they favor
                it, and they don't like to be seen in favor of
                subsidies. The left doesn't want to discuss it,
                because they're against it, and they're in favor
                of transportation subsidies. The right is happy
                as long as more roads are built. The left is
                happy as long as some other transportation
                projects are thrown their way. And nothing much
                changes. Isn't it time to call a spade a spade?
              • Michael A Ohene
                ... It reminds me of going to New orleans this weekend and hearing a man come into a gas station and tell the clerk Im gonna kill your muthaf***** a@@ , They
                Message 7 of 10 , Sep 2, 2003
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                  > Partly, I think this is an issue of
                  > planning vs. spontaneous development.
                  > Like Jacobs, I fall more on the side
                  > that the best cities are largely
                  > spontaneous. Imagine a city where
                  > food had long been provided free
                  > from municipal cafeterias, and because
                  > of this, there were few other choices
                  > available. The wrong answer is:
                  > let's first plan where to put new
                  > restaurants and groceries, and what
                  > kind of food they should serve.

                  It reminds me of going to New orleans this weekend and hearing a man
                  come into a gas station and tell the clerk "Im gonna kill your
                  muthaf***** a@@", They going down MLK to St.Charles less than a mile
                  away to an estate sale near Tulane University where there were stools
                  selling for close to $1000.
                  I couldnt imagine anyone coming up with the city plan for New Orleans
                  from scratch. Noone would ever encourage music (jazz)which was
                  associated with drug use and thuggery, poor people living in the
                  proximity of well-to-do people, noone would ever promote Mardi Gras's
                  nudity and public intoxication, but its what gave New Orleans it
                  style.
                  Also much of the food in South Louisiana never existed until people
                  created it. If you head down Highway 61 between Baton Rouge and New
                  Orleans you will still find people fishing on the bayou so they can
                  cook their own food from scratch eventhough there are Mcdonalds and
                  the like.

                  When do people draw the line of when they can no longer tolerate
                  developments in society?

                  I ask this because of gentrification and the attempt to plan entire
                  cities (master plans) based on what one group likes while eliminating
                  everything we dont like (.ie this 3 parts arts, 2 parts mass transit,
                  4 parts organic food, 1 part parks and recreation formula). My point
                  is that even "negative" things can bring about positive change.
                  Maybe people are giving things too much thought.

                  Michael
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