Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Retrofit" the suburbs?

The anti-car folks---especially the bike people---are so gleeful about the spike in gas prices they are ready to dismantle and reorganize American society on the assumption that cars are becoming obsolete.

Reality check: The end of the age of oil is just beginning, and American society is already beginning to adapt. The auto industry will make a relatively quick adjustment, since their very survival depends on their doing so. If cars can be designed to run on the grease from deep-fat fryers, why does anyone think the automobile itself will become obsolete?

The bike people are nevertheless ready to abandon the suburbs and crowd us into highrises in cities---along "transit corridors," of course---in anticipation of that great day when people will no longer drive cars and will turn to---guess what?---bicycles!

Bike guy Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the anti-car SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association): "We built the Bay Area in a car-oriented, suburban pattern so that almost everyone is forced to drive...Now we have to go back and retrofit it." No we don't, since engines that run only on oil will be replaced with electric, hybrid and other technologies. In fact, it's already happening.

Like all progressives, SPUR thinks government action is what will save us, but for once we should count on the free market rather than heavy-handed government programs or mandates, as the price of gas will by itself do more to replace the old technology than any government mandate.

SPUR's transportation director, by the way, is former SF Bicycle Coalition director, Dave Snyder. Readers of this blog will recall that Snyder formulated the city's devious---and, fortunately, unsuccessful---strategy to sneak the Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review.

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