Welcome to the War on Cars Watch, a weekly blog to bring together all the stories that affect motorists with regards to street planning such as road diets, and traffic calming as well as programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.
This blog will give you highlights of the week’s stories and commentary from our NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker (is below). Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below!
Four articles on Mobility as a Service caught our eye this week.
Citylab.com posted an article suggesting that perhaps one city department should handles all transportation areas: infrastructure, cars, transit, and bike/car/ride/scooter share.
Governing.com posted an article from the Steven Pedigo, Director of the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab entitled: Making Electric Scooters Work for Cities. Curbed.com wrote a similar article on bikes: How electric bikes can make cities safer
The self-anointed Bike Snob from Outside Magazine wrote an editorial: Riding Bikes Because They’re Green Misses the Point – Here is how the article begins:
“We need to stop selling bicycles on environmentalism. We ride because it’s fun, healthy, cheap, and practical—and because it annoys people who drive.”
The French Yellow Jacket protests started out against the increase in gas tax and has no expanding to other areas. This week the French President Macron backed down on the gas tax but it still has not quelled the unrest. Yellow Jackets are now appearing for other protestors in Iran. Bloomberg News pundits say the yellow jacket protests may become a bigger economic problem than Brexit and the Italy crisis.
Citylab.com posted an article this week that the Spanish government plans to ban cars in a number of cities and the public is on board (Yellow Jackets anyone?).
- Assembly Representative Phil Ting (also sits on the Transportation Committee) has once again introduced a bill to gradually ban gas cars. The California legislature opened its new session this week.
- Keep LA Moving tried to get the LA Neighborhood Coalition to support a Ban on Road Diets: Decision tabled until January 5th—Need as many members to pack that meeting to support motorists!
- Los Angeles, CA: In America’s ‘Worst Bike City,’ Laws To Protect Cyclists Are Rarely Enforced
- An animated map of every Los Angeles commute (interesting to look but seems odd)
- San Francisco: Protected bike lanes approved for Valencia Street
Nice editorial from Denver: The Folly of Bike Lanes
Washington, D.C. Area
DC, Maryland and Virginia: Business Leaders want more mobility. The Greater Washington Partnership unveiled their Blueprint for Regional Mobility.
ProPublica and WBEZ have been investigating the duplicate mess and last week Chicago threw out 23,000 duplicate tickets issued since 1992 for motorists without vehicle stickers. The city has also been hit with a class action from two motorists.
The Montgomery County Council Adopts a Bicycle Master Plan that will take 50 years to complete.
War on Parking continues in Detroit.
The Charlotte City Council is pushing Vision Zero while the police department decreases its emphasis on writing speeding tickets. Hmmmm….
New York City
Citi Bike plans to triple its fleet size or 12,000 bikes and double its coverage area as part of a five-year, $100 million investment from new owner Lyft. This will be the largest bike share in North America and other bike share companies apparently are none too happy.
The City Council is working on some new E-Bike/E-Scooter share legislation. Mayor de Blasio believes E-bikes are unsafe. As a direct challenge to the mayor, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wants to break NYC’s car culture. The City Council’s Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriquez stated to the press that the Mayor should build 100 miles of protected bike lanes per year.
A complete streets story from San Antonio. According to the Department of Planning and Community Development the city had 2,310 miles of Complete Streets by 2016.
Seattle had three stories this week:
- Seattle kills parking spots, then charges you even more for relief
- Move Seattle relaunch: After a year of study, SDOT has new plan to deliver $930 million levy
- Seattle: Who will win the Road Diet Battle currently raging in NE Seattle? Will Mayor Jenny Durkan decide the issue soon?
Commentary from NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker
The Citylab.com story about handling all transportation areas under one agency has some merit WITH ONE KEY OBJECTION. Main road funding is often under a state agency whose mission is to provide adequate capacity to serve vehicle traffic. A local agency is likely to over-ride that requirement to satisfy the strong local demands for more bike/scooter/walk modes by strangling vehicle traffic.
In many areas cyclists are well organized and believe their small minority share of traffic flows overrides the needs of the vast majority of vehicle flow. They don’t care if their demands mean strangling commuter traffic in rush hours that hurts commerce.
The French riots are NOT the way we ever want to go. That said, if Americans were as militant as the French when the governments acted to hurt motorists – there would be no predatory for-profit speed and red-light camera rackets pilfering our wallets.
Moves to cleaner EVs will have MUCH greater success when EVs can: 1) have a range of at least 250 miles under adverse hot & cold weather that saps battery strength, 2) recharging on a trip takes a maximum of 15 minutes, 3) recharging stations are along almost every highway, and 4) the net ownership cost of a higher priced EV over an ownership of say seven years is about the same as that of a similar sized gas car.
Road diets and inappropriate bike lanes are getting some pushback in LA, Seattle, Denver and other places. We do NOT have and will NEVER have compact cities where most people live, work, shop, and entertain in areas what walking and biking are practical – especially on a 12-month basis. A very high percentage of commuters and shoppers WILL come from beyond distances that walking and biking make sense, again particularly in bad weather. People are not sheep that can be herded where they do not want to go.
Detroit in the 1950s was a very successful city of about 2 million black and white people, many of them in families with two good incomes. Racial tensions that culminated in the 1967 race riots drove most white people to the suburbs. The city has plenty of good, wide arterials & collectors, and the use of lots where buildings were torn down for parking near others buildings that have revived is quite appropriate. There are hundreds of blocks of burned out and vacant houses which could be developed for more housing as the city slowly revives as it is doing. Detroit does NOT need to make parking downtown more inconvenient than it already is.
Many cities are pushing hard on Vision Zero in ways that make it Zero Vi$ion for car drivers. We need to make our voices heard just as strongly as the pedestrian and cyclist lobbies.