Friday, July 05, 2019

The anti-car fantasy deconstructed

In a report that will not surprise any Antiplanner reader, a Washington Post survey reveals that “the car is still king in the Washington area.” 

The survey of 1,507 DC-area residents found that 85 percent frequently drive for their travel needs, a number that ranges from 64 percent in DC itself to 92 percent in Virginia suburbs. The article notes that these numbers are confirmed by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, adding that the survey’s results haven’t changed much in the past decade.

Unfortunately, the writers have been infected with anti-auto planner rhetoric, referring to people’s preferences for auto driving as “car dependency.” 

Are the writers themselves computer-dependent because they no longer use manual typewriters (or ink and quill)? Are they Starbucks-dependent if they no longer brew their own coffee each morning? What’s so bad about being “dependent” on something that is faster, cheaper, and more convenient than the alternatives?

The Post observes that “the region hasn’t kept up with the growing transportation needs.” Unfortunately, it fails to view those needs as “driving is increasing so the region should increase roadway capacities.” 

Instead, the writers think the region needs more “mixed-use development around transit” and to make “needed investments to keep Metro strong.”

As the Antiplanner has noted before, there are two ways of planning transportation systems. One is to look at people’s actual transportation habits and needs and plan to meet those needs. The other is to fantasize how you want people to travel and plan to meet those needs. 

As long as places like Washington are locked into the second method of planning, they are not going to solve their transportation problems.

Rob's comment:
Like the people of San Francisco, Washington-area residents are opposed to congestion pricing.

See also Of course Scott Wiener supports Congestion Pricing and Aaron Peskin, the Bicycle Coalition, and congestion pricing.

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