Re: Catching a bite
- From: "Mike Andrews" <mikea@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:49:05 +0000 (UTC)
On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:13:48 GMT,
Olivier Galibert <galibert@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in
On 2008-03-28, J.D. Baldwin <INVALID_SEE_SIG@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I hear a lot of whining and ridicule about how "addicted" Americans
are to their private autos. I have yet to hear an alternative to
private auto ownership that doesn't take away some measure of my
freedom to travel. (That's "freedom" as in "flexibility," not
"freedom" as in "still legal," BTW.)
It's ridiculous how Americans don't have a choice. I remember not
being able to go by feet to a mall less that a kilometer or two away
simply because the only reasonable way went through a 50m-or-so long
tunnel with no sidewalk and a highway running over it. In the US, if
you're not in the middle of something like Manhattan, you just can't
live without a car. I would have loved to have the freedom *not* to
have a car when I was there.
As would I.
The reality of the situation, however, is that even in the most
densely populated areas of, say, Oklahoma, it still is necessary to
have a car to get much of anyplace useful. I can't get to a grocery,
a bank, or my doctor on foot *OR* by p*bl*c tr*nsp*rt*t**n without a
walk of a mile or so in each case; the same holds true for most any
other good or service I need to purchase, other than the booze store
right down the street.
This is due in major part to the decision, way back when, to do urban
zoning in strange ways, so that commercial shops and offices aren't
allowed in residential areas. That is being rethought, and new
subdivisions frequently have an area set aside for shops and offices
in roughly the middle. That generates complaints about the danger to
children, the elderly, and pedestrians in general from people who
live in those subdivisions and drive damn near everywhere.
But the situation here, as has been discussed in numerous articles in
the p*bl*c tr*nsp*rt*t**n froup, is that we're damn well dispersed,
outside the East Coast and West Coast megalopolitan areas, and the
support for p*bl*c tr*nsp*rt*t**n is proving to be very much a chicken
and egg problem. Here the buses don't have routes or schedules that
would serve me or most other working folks where I live, and much less
so the non-working folks, and the bus service won't expand routes or
schedules because there's no demonstrated demand. There won't be,
either, until they start providing services that meet people's needs.
Light rail, here, is a pipe dream -- a pipe full of recreational
pharmaceuticals. It's available in Houston, 600 miles south, but the
PTB here just don't have the guts to bite that bullet. Again, it's a
chicken-and-egg problem, and they aren't willing to acknowledge that
there is a latent and unfulfilled demand.
I suspect that, as fuel costs increase, the wide-dispersal model, with
a significant number of folks working 20 or 30 miles from where they
live, will turn out to be impracticable. Whether this means that folks
will have to move, with the attendant anguish and shift in (or loss
of) property tax, remains to be seen. I expect a great upheaval.
And none of this covers the problem of covering larger distances in a
convenient, comfortable, and affordable manner. There's no railroad
service between home and Dallas: I'd have to go to Oklahoma City, even
though Norman has a railroad station right on the OKC-FTW line. Once I
got to Fort Worth, I'd have to find transportation to a hub in Dallas,
and _then_ find a way to get to the particular part of that *HUGE*,
It's all Too Big A Problem, and so we're going to find governments and
companies avoiding it by encouraging individual transportation: The
Status Quo Ante. Eventually, and not all that far from now, the petro
resources will be unaffordable or exhausted, and things will go Bump!
 Which aren't all that densely populated, compared to Stockholm or
 As if there were a significant number.
 It would cause me and Melody significant anguish: we own the
house, it's full of books, we have pets, the back yard's full of
ham radio antennas, I've been there 31 years, we both have a lot
of friends and major support systems close by, and the house is a
Dear Thing left me by my late wife when she died. Similar housing
near my workplace is in a high-crime area, and might not be near
whatever school Melody ends up teaching at as a permanent job. I
_work_ in a high crime area, even discounting the state capitol
just west of me and the state offices all around me. I'm talking
about gangs, drive-by shootings, and high burglary, robbery, auto
theft, and assault rates.
 If we sold the house, the new owner would pay the property tax.
If we couldn't sell it -- which might turn out to be the case in
a recession -- and had to move, then we might (reluctantly) have
to abandon it, in which case the taxes would go unpaid and it
eventually would escheat to the government. That is happening in
our area already, and government activities funded by property
taxes are taking a hit.
Every parliament or congress worldwide should be equipped with a
hundred-pound chunk of sodium in the entrance foyer, such that any
politician who really really wants to make his mark can lift his
leg and do so. -- Anthony de Boer
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