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.
Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below! Check out the NMA’s War on Cars Watch Facebook Page where we feature a story a day!
Italicized comments throughout the Watch come from NMA Member Michael Jabbra (marked with an MJ) and please read the final comment from James C. Walker, NMA Foundation Executive Director.
Here are the national stories from February 13-19, 2019
Even though is not a direct War on Cars, the news or even the bubble bursting could certainly hurt motorists:
- Record 7 million Americans are 3 months behind on car payments, a red flag for the economy
- Viewpoint: Is Subprime Auto Lending the Next Housing Bubble?
Believe it or Not, Trump put a Huge Tax on Parking Lots – Maybe by Mistake –This means that you may be taxed for your parking perk at your office.
(MJ) Go comment on this – save our parking from the tax-mad anti-car crowd!
Here is a another screed from Streetsblog USA: We Don’t Need More Infrastructure — We Need Congestion Pricing (War on Cars Watch)
(MJ) Naturally, none of the money raised from congestion pricing will be given back to people, including the poor that the politicians claim to be concerned about. It will just be another tax.
Here are some studies from the folks that want to get you out of your car:
- New Study finds that Road Closures can Alleviate Congestion in Dense Urban Areas (War on Cars Watch)
(MJ) Wonderful! Let’s get rid of all roads entirely, because then there will be no more congestion! Getting around might be harder, but who cares?
- Research will help urban planners prioritize bike lanes (War on Cars Watch)
- You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class (War on Cars Watch)
- Making cities more walkable by understanding how other people influence our journeys (War on Cars Watch)
- Study Finds Bike-Share Hurts Buses, but Might Help Trains
And here is a reminder of All the Major Kinds of Bike Lanes, in Three Minutes (War on Cars Watch)
General Motors starts taking orders for its first e-bike – we thought they were a car company?
Sidewalk Toronto faces growing opposition, calls to cancel project (War on Cars Watch) –this project seems like a gas light and know folks are getting wise!
Two more countries proclaim the ending year for the internal combustion engine:
- A speed trap city has been uncovered and now has to pay drivers back: El Mirage could owe you a reimbursement for that speeding ticket. Here’s what to know
- California May Do Away With Speed Limits For Certain Lanes Of I-5 And Hwy. 99 (SB319) – is this the beginning of the American Autobahn?
(MJ) Wow, this would be great! When will it happen in Los Angeles County? I won’t hold my breath. Think of all the speeding ticket money that state and local governments would lose!
- New Report: Road pricing can be used to make LA’s transportation system more equitable (War on Cars Watch)
(MJ) Everyone of any background gets to suffer in Los Angeles traffic jams and drive on ill-maintained roads. In other words, it’s very equitable already, even if it’s not much fun.
- Los Angeles: Metro Board on Congestion Pricing: Trying to Count the Votes
- Lyft donates $700,000 to Oakland, CA after quietly battling city taxes
- Polling show San Francisco residents reject congestion pricing proposal
(MJ) Gee, what a surprise. Politicians are so determined to drag people out of their cars that they forget that people just want to be left alone to make their own transportation decisions, which might include mass transit, Uber/Lyft, or – God forbid – driving by themselves in a personally owned internal-combustion car.
- Congestion pricing: San Francisco considering a fee to drive downtown
- Planning for a Post-Parking Future in San Francisco (War on Cars Watch)
- Workshops on new Santa Maria Active Transportation Plan Scheduled for March
- Santa Rosa, CA bike path plan has big ideas, fewer funding guarantees: Plan up before City Council in March
The horrors of the mile high state!
- Report: Denver Transit Riders Switch to Cars as RTD Fails to Get the Basics Right
- More people are dying on Denver’s roads as cops write far fewer traffic tickets (Vision Zero Watch)
- Cyclists Can Roll Through Stop Signs in Thornton, a First in Denver Metro (War on Cars Watch)
District of Columbia
- Washington, DC, improves parking and traffic with “asset-lite” pricing program (War on Cars Watch) –asset lite parking—what kind of nonsense is this?
(MJ) At least Washington D.C. is compact and has a good mass transit system. One can live in D.C. without a car; I did so when I was an intern there many years ago.
- SunPass was ‘completely overwhelmed’ last year, but most problems are fixed, Florida DOT says –Then why are motorists still have trouble with their accounts Florida DOT?
- Miami-Dade County, Florida Editorial: Lower neighborhood speed limits require tougher policing –Good luck finding the money for more police patrols
(MJ) Perhaps Miami-Dade County hopes to make more money by lowering the speed limit to play “gotcha”. “Gotcha” is a time-honored way for governments to make money.
- Atlanta, GA: Not enough funding for all the stated Complete Streets Projects – this whole project in Atlanta seems like a complete mess and on purpose…to confuse all those who want input into the process without them understanding it is already a done deal!
- Cambridge, Massachusetts wanted a big drop in car ownership by 2020. That hasn’t exactly happened Yep—just because you want it doesn’t mean everyone else does!
- To fix Greater Boston’s traffic woes, go big or stay home –Does Boston really have the worse traffic congestion and if so, maybe it’s because the speed limits are set artificially too low.
Lawmakers have certainly been busy…
- ND House puts brakes on raising highway speed limits
- Editorial: North Dakota still needs appropriate speeding fines
- North Dakota House votes to outlaw sobriety checkpoints
- New Mexico Legislation would impose harsher punishment for distracted drivers (HB109)
- City council to consider lowering downtown Albuquerque speed limit
- Albuquerque’s $133-million electric bus system is going nowhere fast; Road Diet still in place even though no buses use it!
- From the NY Times: Is 2019 the Year When New York Passes Congestion Pricing for NYC?
- Ohio is considering a gas-tax increase. Will public transit, bicyclists and pedestrians get a cut? (War on Cars Watch) 36 groups in a letter asked for $150M, anything left over for actual streets that need funding?
- A ‘historic event’: Thanking TAKEN Newspaper 2-Year Investigation series, 71 South Carolina legislators unveil bipartisan push to reform civil forfeiture –Journalism can and still does make a difference!
- Marlin, TX citizens claim city leaders ordered more tickets to bolster city budget—Let’s hope they don’t insist on Ticket Quotas in the guise of road safety!
Weekly Commentary from NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker
Congestion pricing is a regressive tax AND a double-dip tax on roads we have already paid for. NMA members need to fight such proposals in their local areas. Note that San Francisco residents reject the idea.
There would indeed be many advantages for society if more people walked and biked to work. The problem is that solution is not realistic for the vast majority of Americans because of distances, weather, and personal preferences that the people will not change. When 70+% of people will commute by car and less than 10% will do so by bicycle, then stealing 2 of 4 travel lanes on main collectors and arterials to make bike lanes is an outrageous demand. NMA members need to fight such proposals in their local areas.
Several countries and many cities in Europe seek to totally ban vehicles with internal combustion engines. Such bans prior to solving the range issue on EVs are nonsense.
Miami and Nashville officials obviously didn’t see the IIHS study in Boston where the reduction in speed limits from 30 to 25 mph caused a MASSIVE reduction in the mean and 85th percentile speeds of …. TAH – DAH …. 0.0 mph. They will pay a fortune for new signs that accomplish absolutely nothing.
North Dakota dropped a bill to raise freeway and major rural highway speed limits. It is likely that the for-profit speeding ticket industry officials “got to” enough legislators to kill a good bill that would have improved safety and traffic flow.