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!
Since the Watch was on vacation the Holiday Season the dates for this blog are from January 23 – 29, 2019.
Here are some National News Headlines concerning the War on Cars:
- Vision Zero, a ‘Road Diet’ Fad, Is Proving to Be Deadly—This story first appeared in the Washington Post and moved to other papers. Finally, some real criticism leveled at Vision Zero. The National Motorists Association feels that Vision Zero is a lofty goal but is financially unsustainable.
- Missouri Rep. (and Transportation Chair) Sam Graves Consistent in Support of VMT Funding Approach—This will be an interesting national battle—the sides are being drawn as we speak. The VMT Tax is a quagmire for all drivers and government everywhere! They could even try to put this on top of the gas tax everyone already pays in order to push us out of our gas-powered cars.
- Study: Uber and Lyft Caused U.S. Transit Decline—do we need a study to tell us this?
- The Great Divide in How Americans Commute to Work (War on Cars Watch) —Americans need to get to work and if driving a car is the only option—makes sense right!
- US Supremes To Decide Whether Passed Out Drunks Have Given Implied Consent – This just seems wrong…when a person is incapacitated, he or she cannot give consent…this decision could have far reaching implications either way.
- NADA: Ending Traffic Deaths: ‘So Let’s Do This’ (Vision Zero Watch) –This is NADA attempt at a teenage driving safety campaign disguised as a Vision Zero campaign…doesn’t the dealers association understand that Vision Zero wants to eliminate cars?
Police DUI Enforcement
Yellow Vest Protests Continue
Editor’s Note: The NMA does not condone violence of any kind to protest traffic issues.
- Yellow Vests: French riot police will now wear body cameras
- Spain: Madrid Uber protests: Riot police deployed as taxi drivers in yellow vests light fires and block traffic
- Zimbabwe Forces Accused Of ‘Systematic Torture’ After Protests Over Fuel Prices
So many stories this past week concerning the War on Cars in California, in particular Los Angeles. Comments in the California Section by Los Angeles based NMA Member Michael Jabbra.
Bike Lanes and Road Diets
- Los Angeles area: Mar Vista Council hears from city DOT that the Venice Road Diet Permanent
- San Rafael, California: Cyclists Dismiss Idea For Cars Using Bike Lane On Richmond-San Rafael Bridge during rush hour
Congestion Pricing and Other Toll Issues
- Los Angeles proposal: Raise carpool threshold to five people— In other words, kick drivers out of those lanes, because very few of us carpool with five people. Way to show how out of touch with reality you are, Los Angeles Metro Board.
- Los Angeles, CA: Metro directors question fairness of congestion pricing–It looks like the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is starting to figure out that cars are utterly necessary for most of us in Los Angeles. Let’s hope they have the backbone to stand up to the carbon-pawprints-bicycles-only crowd.
- Los Angeles County: 10 Freeway Express Lanes riders might soon have to pay more
- San Francisco Mulls Imposing Fee To Drive Down Congested Lombard St.
Mobility as a Service or MAs
- Los Angeles is using ride-hailing startup Via to shuttle people to public transit— Seems to me that Uber and Lyft can take care of some of the last-mile traffic. Why not just let them do it, instead of arbitrarily choosing a company to give tax money to?
Racial Profiling and Police Transparency
- Elite Los Angeles PD unit disproportionately stopped black drivers, data show
- Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti calls for audit of elite LAPD unit over stops of black drivers–Regardless of the race of the driver involved, law enforcement officers should not pull people over without a cause – either they witnessed the driver commit a crime or infraction, or there is a warrant out for the driver. The same goes for DUI checkpoints: If a law enforcement sees someone driving in a way that leads them to conclude that the driver is under the influence, by all means arrest that driver
- Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee sue for records of law enforcement discipline, force in Sacramento
- Illinois Collects Data on Traffic Stops, But the Law Is Set to Expire This Year—this would be a good thing to extend. Police transparency is an important step in promoting better police-community relations.
- Evanston, Illinois: A Man Will Take $1.25 Million Home After Police Tackled Him for Allegedly Stealing His Own Car—When police step out of bounds, the rest of us have to pay and this sort of behavior does not help the community’s confidence in police. Unfortunately, this is the only way that normal citizens can have redress when they have been wronged by needless police brutality.
- Everybody in Chicago’s Mayor’s Race Says They Want Ticket Reform—Whoever wins, let’s make sure he or she sticks to this pledge.
- Ashland, Kentucky Editorial: Stay away from tolls—Nice local paper opinion on not using tolls to fund road construction.
- Massachusetts: Saugus Police Chief says Department needs funding to Enforce New, Lower Speed Limit Passed by City Council Last Week—if you want more enforcement, cities need to pay for more police.
- Why Don’t the Boston Police Report Traffic Crash Data? (Vision Zero Watch) —This is a department that needs to have a transparency wake up call in order to improve community relationships.
- Baltimore’s Master Bicycle Plan lacks both Vision and Funding: Shifting Funding into Complete Streets Program – Now, this is an interesting fix, change one War on Cars program for another. Complete Streets though is in partnership with Vision Zero.
- Beyond a reasonable doubt in Michigan? Not when it comes to property – Civil Asset Forfeiture needs to reform now in Michigan and at the national level.
- Disproportionate traffic stops hit minorities hard, panelists in Minneapolis stress – this seems to be an ongoing theme around the country.
- What is the justification to seize and keep property in Mississippi? —Civil Asset Forfeiture needs to reform now in Mississippi and at the national level.
- Racial disparity found in resisting arrest charges in North Carolina, other parts of U.S. – This seems to be an ongoing theme around the country!
- NY Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says NYC congestion pricing is this year’s toughest issue—You bet it will!
- NYC Mayor: There’s Not Enough People Biking to Warrant Dedicated Bike Lane Enforcement – Not surprised by this news but of course the bike folks are not taking this well.
- Pennsylvania Supremes Side with Motorcyclist Over Geico—Good news for all auto insurance holders.
- Trail of targets shows breadth of lives changed by forfeiture in South Carolina—important read on the way to reform of civil asset forfeiture.
- Ticket quotas — are they real? An investigation in Tennessee finds they could be in at least one small city. Ticket quotas are against the law but is a practice police departments use all over the country to grade the police force. Officers don’t like it either…#BANTicketQuotasNOW!
- Virginia Considers Cameras to Issue Tickets on Alternate Routes Around Toll Road—This is an absolutely horrendous breach of public trust by not allowing motorists to drive on any road they choose.
- Washington State Bill (HB 1269) Would Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Take First Step to Close Federal Loophole—Support this bill!
- Seattle Times poll finds strong support for more transit — but not bike lanes—Not really surprised by this considering that one mile of bike lane in Seattle cost $12M dollars.
- Is Seattle planning to tax Uber, Lyft rides to pay for transit and homeless? Wait and See on this one!
- Seattle: ‘The cars just disappeared’: What happened to the 90,000 cars a day the viaduct carried before it closed? Not to worry—this is a temporary situation whenever the tunnel comes online…the hysteria!
Commentary from National Motorists Association Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker
It is not at all unusual for “Road Diets” and other anti-car-freedom measures to create serious problems.
A VMT road funding system will create a massive, expensive, hackable privacy-killing database of everyone’s travels. Fuel taxes, including a fair way to tax EVs, are the best. They are proportional to use, encourage the use of fuel-efficient vehicles, and cost only about 1% of revenues to collect. Only stupidity and cowardice on the part of legislators prevent correctly-calculated fuel taxes at the levels to support our roads.
More than 50% and an average of more like 75% of commuters drive to work. In a democracy, shouldn’t they have priority?
Canada is more draconian than most states with traffic laws and enforcement. Members need extra care driving in Canada.
LA’s proposal for a carpool threshold of 5 occupants is utter nonsense. There will be almost no qualifying vehicles, but perhaps that is the intended for-profit racket to drastically increase toll revenues.
Congestion pricing will be a continuing battle for us. It is HIGHLY regressive to lower income workers who have fixed working hours that mandate many travel in the rush hours. Members should oppose such plans by contacting their elected officials.
Sometimes discrimination in traffic stops is due to overly-strict traffic laws that make violators of far too many safe drivers. If the 85th percentile speed for the safest posted limit is 45 mph, but the street is posted at 35, 30, or 25 – police can stop the vast majority of drivers on the pretense it is for speeding. Improper traffic laws facilitate profiling for officers who act improperly.
Giving Denver’s Vision Zero program a “passing grade” with increased fatalities is the sort of utter nonsense that is common with zealots who care nothing for the facts.
Email I sent to the Saugus police chief and the reporter about new 25 limits:
I wonder if Saugus officials know about the speed studies done in Boston by the IIHS when the posted limit was reduced from 30 to 25 mph.
The mean speeds were 24.8 mph before the change and 24.8 after, for a net change of 0.0 mph.
The 85th percentile speeds (speed at or below which you find 85% of the drivers) were 31.0 mph before the change and 31.0 after, for another net change of 0.0 mph.
Without engineering changes to the actual roadways, posted limits have almost no effect on the actual travel speeds. And no city ever has enough officers to enforce lower limits 24/7/365 that drivers do not find necessary for safety. People drive at the speeds they find to be safe and comfortable – and which ARE safe and comfortable almost all the time. 85% of the drivers will instinctively choose the best and safest speed limit to post more accurately than any number chosen arbitrarily.
See our website for a lot more information.
Whenever governments like Boston withhold accident data – smell a rat.
Civil forfeiture issues will be in the news until the for-profit robberies end.
Ticket or traffic stop quotas should be illegal in every state and those instituting or enforcing them should lose their jobs and be barred from similar future employment.