In “An Appropriate Balance for Whom?” (NMA E-Newsletter #552), we discussed HB 3663, a recently introduced bill to Congress that would require each state to fund its own program to prioritize walking and bicycle riding over vehicular traffic when designing new or upgrading existing roads.
Data from the 2016 U.S. Census showed that more than 86 percent of commuters travel by motorized vehicle. By contrast, the same data indicated that the combined total of pedestrian and bicycle traffic topped out at 3.3 percent. HB 3663 would require some serious social engineering by government edict.
Not surprisingly, several NMA e-newsletter readers spoke out:
This simply follows today’s destructive trend of channeling the resources of the many to benefit the select few. Next, we’ll be hearing about how motorists enjoy “driver’s privilege” and that society has been unfairly “rigged” to benefit drivers. Finally, we’ll have to curtail driving altogether to accommodate the rights of “native pedestrians.”
– James T.
“In an appropriate balance?” Is that any different than “In the eye of the beholder?”
– Ken W.
I just finished reading Thomas Sowell book “the vision of the anointed.“ What you called out here is a perfect example of what he discusses. If you have time, it’s a great read.
– Jim D.
It simply isn’t feasible for most things these days to be done on bicycles or on foot. How do you carry a week’s worth of groceries either way? Especially if you live 10 miles from the nearest grocery store like I do (and the one I shop at is 15 miles away). Or you have to buy and transport anything else that is bulky? Heck, I sometimes have to engage in extreme measures just to carry my mail from the post office to my car parked outside!
Stopping the ticket quotas is necessary, but that shouldn’t be thrown into the same bag with something totally disruptive like Complete Streets. Washington needs to stop meddling in the traffic issues best left to the states.
– Pat G.
“Unintended negative consequences???” I think not. They are very much intended. They want to make freedom of individual mobility a thing of the past and make those same folks pay for it. It is like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum if they don’t get their way no matter how it affects anyone else. If the changes make traveling more expensive and time-consuming for most of the public, they could not care less because they doing the “good things” for society and we are the bad guys that have to be reined in. Not all at once, of course, but slowly, like a frog in a pot of increasingly warm/hot water. By the time you realize the problem, you’re cooked!
They must be defeated.
– Mike M.
We agree with Mike that the goals of movements like Vision Zero and Complete Streets are very clear, perhaps most starkly asserted by University of Iowa College of Law Associate Professor Gregory H. Shill , who writes, “Decades of public and private investment . . . have created a car-centric landscape with Dickenisan consequences. . . The appeal of cars’ convenience and the lack of meaningful alternatives has created a public health catastrophe.”
By ‘unintended consequences,’ we refer to the obvious lack of reflection ─ perhaps just willful ignorance ─ by Vision Zero/Complete Streets proponents to consider the overall impact of the anti-car programs they espouse.
Last year a pro-motorist group, 40 Million Motorists, reacted to France’s plan to lower speed limits across the country by 6 mph to save what it projected as 400 lives. 40MM analyzed government data and determined that the speed reduction would cost the equivalent productivity of 200,000 workers annually at a net cost of US $4.4 billion. Again, that is per year.
It’s going to take much more of that type of analysis to stop the momentum created by anti-car, anti-driving groups amongst lawmakers and government agencies.
Graham Kozak wrote a beautiful piece for the August 12, 2019 issue of AutoWeek, “It’s Time to Make the Case for the Car.” Some of his observations provide an excellent counterpoint to Professor Shill’s dystopian outlook, and illustrate just what is at stake in this battle:
“It’s only once you strip all that away and take a step back that you start to recognize a rock upon which we can build a really strong argument for the car’s vitality. It’s so simple, and obvious, that it’s no wonder we missed it. You and I were probably too close to the subject, after all.
“Cars matter because they help us fulfill our nature as curious, restless beings. They embody our hardwired need to go, to move from where we are to where we think we want to be. They let us do this at any given moment with near total disregard for timetables . . .
“Cars lock us into certain ways of living as they promise freedom.”
Individual and societal freedoms. Once sacrificed, they are exceedingly difficult to get back.