By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director
This blog is a collaboration between the National Motorists Association and the Keep the US Moving (KUSM) group written and curated by NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn (with some guest authors as indicated). The KUSM weekly blog focuses on road diets, traffic calming, and programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.
The NMA and the KUSM believe that it is important to include stories that oppose our viewpoint. We try to indicate those as needed.
We would love to hear from you about the Keep the US Moving Blog. Please feel free to comment below the post and find additional resources to fight road diets below. If you are concerned about road diets in your area, please contact the NMA, [email protected] or connect with KUSM at [email protected] and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.
Keep the US Moving is not just a Cause, but a Necessity
During the current COVID-19 crisis, many city officials across the country are under pressure to ban cars from streets under programs called “Open Streets,” “Slow Streets,” and even “Active Streets.” No matter what they name it, these Big Bike folks have ramped up the anti-car pressure during the current crisis. In Seattle, the Mayor has already declared that 20 miles of streets that have been closed will never reopen to cars.
Closed streets directly affect those home and business owners who might need their vehicle for work, special needs, delivery, etc. A bigger issue, though, has to do with quick access for emergency vehicles. Every second counts when a person has a major medical emergency or accident.
New York Truck Stop.com Co-Publisher Zach Miller stated recently about the impact of closed streets for trucks:
“I’m extremely concerned that in a rush to cater to their twitter followers, city leaders are oblivious to what is happening in the real world. Certainly, more outdoor space, especially in summer months, is a decent idea, but that must be balanced with how Covid-19 has changed things.
For example, in trucking, we have seen the shipping model significantly shift from business-to-business to business-to-consumer. This was expected to happen gradually as e-Commerce gained a larger foothold, but that timeline accelerated almost overnight. With more Americans comfortable working from home, ordering everything they need to their home, and with small businesses facing an uncertain future, this trend will continue.
Cities failed to accommodate the rise in home deliveries on a much smaller scale, and discussion of this is completely missing from these street discussions.
City leaders should spend more time on plans to allow people to resume normal activities, from the workplace to shopping, dining out, and socializing, than acquiescing to the Big Bike agenda of allowing bicyclists free rein by closing streets to traffic that is essential to help a damaged economy recover.”
Since the pandemic began, Big Bike folks have been scared to death that this public crisis will change the landscape for their dreams of a bike utopia. In nearly every new post or article on this topic, Big Bike and other anti-car groups ask some variation of the same question, “What happens to traffic after the Pandemic crisis is over?”
Over 80 percent of adult Americans have a driver’s license, and many are multi-modal: driver/transit rider, driver/bicyclist, and driver/pedestrian. Many might indeed choose alternate ways to get where they are going, but many more will choose to continue to drive because that is the most practical mode of transportation. And in a post-coronavirus world, traveling by car can provide an extra buffer of social distancing lacking in public transit or groupings of bicyclists and pedestrians.
More than half of America does not live in urban cores but rather in the suburbs, small towns, and rural areas where vehicles remain the best way to travel, whether for work, school, visiting friends and relatives, or shopping.
Over the weekend, Bloomberg News posted the article The Car is Staging a Comeback, Spurring Oil’s Recovery. One quote is particularly telling, “…driving has emerged as the socially distant transportation mode of choice…” Rush hour has returned to world cities such as Berlin, Shanghai, Madrid, and Ottawa, and people are driving because that’s what makes them feel safe.
The problem is this: the Big Bike folks are loud and have no problem bullying others who don’t agree with them. For example, this writer was recently quoted in the New York Times on a story, and the Big Bike folks erupted on Twitter with untruths about the National Motorists Association and even bullied the newspaper into changing the story (The NYTimes did not).
Civil discourse is cast aside when one party must have its way at all costs. Issues of personal and commercial mobility require a degree of understanding and cooperation to reach an equitable solution. Those are missing ingredients from the anti-driving faction.
The only way for motorists to push back against the “only our way” attitude of Big Bike is to band together and create power in numbers. Mobility by car and truck remains a critical factor in our functioning society, both for personal and economic reasons.
Support of the National Motorists Association and the Keep the US Moving movement will continue to be vitally important to life after this once-in-a-century public health crisis.
The War on Cars has not stopped due to the COVID-19 crisis. Here are six Road Diet Watch headlines from the past two weeks:
- Los Angeles: Protected Bike Lanes Coming To Downtown’s 7th Street
- Santa Barbara, CA to Narrow Parts of De La Vina to One Lane, Add Bike Lane
- Massachusetts: City, State Collaborating on Safety Fixes for Massachusetts Ave. in Boston’s South End (Vision Zero Watch)
- Massachusetts: DOT Tries Out Traffic Calming on Reading’s Main Street
- Minnesota: St. Paul restaurants lose bike lane fight
- Philadelphia: Chestnut Street changes, aimed at reducing traffic congestion, made permanent
Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the War on Cars Watch! If you are interested in joining the closed group, follow the directions on the page. If you would like to know more about the National Motorists Association, check out our website at motorists.org. Also, if you would like to contact the NMA with a question or a link, feel free to contact us via email at [email protected].
Keep the US Moving is a grassroots organization dedicated to publicizing the detrimental effects of arterials road diets. We connect people who want to share experiences and information to help their communities craft truly safer roads. KUSM has a very active and closed Facebook group. Connect with them at [email protected] and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.
Here are a few NMA Blog Posts that might interest you:
Road Diets and Traffic Calming
- All Traffic is Local: A Look at Force-Fed Road Diets
- The Problem with Road Diets
- 10 Reasons to Fight against Road Diets in your Community
Vision Zero and Complete Streets
- Vision Zero Invasion of the Car Itself
- Do Vision Zero Programs equal more Traffic Accidents?: NMA E-Newsletter #559
- Level of Service: Measuring Traffic Congestion
- Transportation Engineers Debate Vision Zero, Part 1: NMA E-Newsletter #563
- Transportation Engineers Debate Vision Zero, Part 2: NMA E-Newsletter #564
- An Appropriate Balance for Whom?: NMA E-Newsletter #552
If you would like to keep track of the many issues currently involved with the War on Cars and road diets, take a daily peek at the NMA’s Driving News Feed or subscribe to Driving News Daily, a five times per week email.
If you would like to support the work of the National Motorists Association, please join today.
Thank you for reading the NMA’s Keep the US Moving Blog!