Monday, October 12, 2009

Randal O'Toole: a bike guy who isn't anti-car

From Randal O'Toole's blog (http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=1938):

To them[anti-car people], the only problem with congestion is that it might waste a little fuel. What about the value of people’s time? What about the costs to businesses? What about the fact that a major reason for the sprawl they hate so much is that people are trying to get away from congestion? An unspoken but fundamental assumption of the anti-auto crowd is that automobility has no value. So what if automobiles made homeownership affordable to more than a quarter of American households that previously had to live in crowded tenements? Some people are better off renting anyway, they say. So what if automobiles force retailers to be competitive and keep prices low? People ought to buy local anyway. So what if automobiles lead to higher personal incomes? People probably just spend that extra money buying bigger cars. The truth is that mobility is valuable, there is no substitute for automobility, and we can find ways to solve environmental problems without taking that mobility away.

O'Toole is a bike guy, but he's not anti-car: "The Antiplanner is an active cyclist and avid rail fan who nonetheless recognizes that the automobile is the greatest invention of the last 200 years."

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3 Comments:

At 12:00 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Without discussing the rest of his stuff, there's no way the car is more important than the transistor.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

OK - this screed makes no sense.

"What about the fact that a major reason for the sprawl they hate so much is that people are trying to get away from congestion?"

The irony of course is that the sprawl is the cause of the congestion. Check I-80, 24, I-580, I-880, US-101 at rush hour.

"So what if automobiles made homeownership affordable to more than a quarter of American households that previously had to live in crowded tenements? Some people are better off renting anyway, they say."

A quick trip through Antioch, Solano County, Tracy in the Bay Area, Plainfield Illinois, Plano Texas, etc... pretty much proves "them" right.

"So what if automobiles lead to higher personal incomes? People probably just spend that extra money buying bigger cars."

and pay insurance, parking, registration, maintainance, interest on car loans...

Look, I'm not anti-car per se, certainly less cars typically means I'm less likely to get hit by a car (though one can argue that more cars means they are stopped in traffic and are less likely to hit me). The problem is that we keep pigeonholing people to a point where they don't have a *choice* - to notice that if they don't spend $30,000 on a new car, and 10,000 per year feeding and maintaining it, they can buy a place in Berkeley - and afford the payments - instead of an El Rancho in Suisun. Then they won't need that car to commute to that higher income job. Etc...

It's easy to choose the downward spiral. We need to make it easier to choose the upward one.

 
At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"An unspoken but fundamental assumption of the anti-auto crowd is that automobility has no value."

Utter and complete bullshit.

Recognizing that automobility has value and recognizing the problems with automobility are two different things.

 

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