War on Cars Watch for August 28, 2019


Special Announcement:

Our friend and guiding light for the War on Cars Watch, James C. Walker, the NMA Foundation Executive Director, and staunch advocate of motorists everywhere has died. He will be sorely missed with his always unique angle in his commentary on this very blog. To learn more about his life, click HERE.


The War on Cars Watch is a weekly feature of the NMA blog. The War on Cars Watch focuses on road diets, traffic calming and programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets as well as studies, court cases and other news that affect motorists. Special commentary from NMA California Member Michael Jabbra is notated with an MJ: designation. 

We love to hear from you about the War on Cars Watch. Please feel free to comment below the post.


A number of important report came out this week that affect motorists. The first comes from Governing.com, an important resource that will soon be defunct: Addicted to Fines–Small towns in much of the country are dangerously dependent on punitive fines and fees.

The second study is more disturbing: Unsettling Study Names American Police as 6th Leading Cause of Death for Young Men.

A nationwide study came out this week focused on towns who have problems if they need to evacuate residents quickly. Many of the issues are due to road diets. California’s East Bay Times focused on the area’s towns who have the most prominent issues during evacuations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issued a report on the safety of bike lanes. Leading US Bicycle Safety Academics have already started questioned IIHS’ conclusion that protected cycleways are risky. The NMA challenges many of their safety studies, and we are not surprised by the controversy.

China is mulling over whether or not to ban gasoline cars in some regions, while a UK Parliament Committee wants to ban all private cars and trucks by 2050. A British official even floated the idea of banning SUVs due to their safety record with other road users.

MJ: Even China isn’t going as far as the United Kingdom. Wow. The idea that a Communist dictatorship won’t ban all cars, but some people in a supposedly democratic country want to do that – and might just get away with it. We live in a crazy world!

It looks like the myth of a bike paradise has been busted with this blog post: The Netherlands is a great country to live in if you’re car-free, but it’s a very long way from being a car-free country. Dutch car ownership and use are at an all time high.

Outside.com posted this tortured look at vanlife. And WGBH Boston asked this question last week: What Will Become of America’s Car Culture as We Move to Electric and Driverless Cars?

This is one of the worst opinion pieces we have read about the war on cars: The ‘War on Cars’ Is a Bad Joke

These days, motorists’ news from both California and New York City seems to permeate with war on car stories, and are highlighted in today’s edition.


In California, the Complete Streets Bill SB127 was in the news again with lawmakers questioning the budget estimates of the costs of the bill from the professional transportation and traffic engineers at Caltrans.

Los Angeles County is considering more protected bike/rollways which means even more road diets.

A new Valley councilmember is 100 percent opposed to the Metro bus-rapid line on Nordhoff.

MJ: In the abstract, a bus-only rapid transit lane is the cheapest way to put in rapid mass transit. No need to build a rail or subway; the road is already there. Without the rapid transit lane, the bus will be stuck in traffic like everyone else, which will make taking the bus unattractive. That said, taking away a lane that is already used by drivers will, at least in the short term, will cause more traffic jams and more shortcuts through residential areas.

This headline made us gasp: Los Angeles Residents push for protected bike lanes on Sunset Boulevard

MJ: Sheesh. Sunset Boulevard is a major commuting artery, both the trendy area that the article describes or the part of it closer to I-405 and the ocean. Taking lanes away will lead to another revolt, much the same as the pushback against Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin when he tried to screw over his constituents with a road died. When will they ever learn?

LA Streetsblog reported this story gleamed from a recent transportation presentation: Fun Facts on How Much People Drive in Different Parts of Southern California and Los Angeles

Road diet construction is snarling traffic in Montebello—just wait, motorists when the road diet is complete.

Pasadena police plan to implement the gathering of racial and identity traffic stop data ahead of the state’s required start date.

Another story about how Vision Zero needs help in San Francisco.

New York

The War on Cars continues in NYC at such a break neck speed, and we can barely keep up with all the news:

Two different posts this week on the NYC Vision Zero Program. The first from CurbedNY. Jalopnik also chimed in with this piece: Vision Zero is the Wrong Goal.

Now, activists plan to go after street parking to force folks out of their cars by pushing for residential parking permits. Residents of Central Park West are fighting back against the loss of street parking. Another Break the Car Culture editorial from the Gothamist to read. Transit advocates don’t want to wait on the city DOT, so they plan to produce their master plan for NYC bike lanes. City’s DOT chief declared at a press conference this week, “We are not backing down on Residential Loading Zones.” Even though the experiment was nixed in Fort Greene, the city plans to attempt a delivery zone in 180 other residential streets and will only work with neighborhood groups who are willing.

Streetsblog NYC had this report (title changed to reflect the real issues): NYC’s Westside Highway plan for traffic calming and lower speed limits revealed

Citylimits.org ran an excellent post this past week on the nuances of bringing freight into the city. One of the big stats that stood out to me: a 68 percent increase in cargo tonnage over the next 25 years, according to the city DOT. Assemblyman Joe Lentol from Brooklyn has also apparently introduced a bill that would establish a pilot program for truck cams at various intersections to monitor and catch trucking scofflaws. This article states a great many issues and the people involved in NYC trucking and freight issues.

The War on Cars and Drivers in other States


District of Columbia











MJ: The odometer reading is the least invasive way to report miles traveled for a vehicle mileage tax. No GPS or other spying gadgets. It just tells how many miles you traveled – not where, or when, or how often. This goes along with the idea that the more people drive, the more they are using the roads, and therefore the more they should contribute. In addition, it hits the gasoline drivers, the diesel drivers, the hybrid drivers, and the electric drivers equally. I could go along with this if it was accompanied by a repeal of all gasoline taxes so that everyone is treated equally.

New Mexico




That’s this week’s War on Car Watch post. If you find a story online about the War on Cars, please feel free to email the URL to me at nma@motorists.org.

Be Safe Out There,

Shelia Dunn

NMA Communications Director 

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