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Comments

Josh

Well said, completely agree. It does not have to be one or the other!

Contrarian

A few points, Barb.

First, the absence of sidewalks in some subdivisions is not due to any decision by government. The subdivision was designed by its developer, and the amenities offered were his decision. He may have concluded that 3-car garages would make the subdivision more marketable than sidewalks. If he sells out the subdivision at a profit, he is proved right.

Some cities (I believe Spokane is one) require sidewalks. In that case, of course, the developer will be compelled to include them.

Your observations on the motivations of the Good Roads movement are correct, but incomplete. Bicyclists were certainly early supporters of paved roads, but the movement's momentum derived from the rapid growth of motor vehicles. The first paved highway in the PNW was the historic Columbia River Highway (dedicated in 1916 but not completed until 1922), built expressly to make Portland accessible from Eastern Oregon by auto and truck. No one was expecting many travelers to peddle bicycles from The Dalles to Portland. Sam Hill, the NW's most vocal Good Roads advocate, was the prime mover behind that highway.

The advantages of motor- over horse-drawn vehicles, in terms of speed and capacity, were obvious from the advent of the former; their role in both passenger and freight transport expanded constantly, year-by-year. Anyone designing highways in the early decades of the 20th century designed primarily for that mode.

Bicycles and streetcars were superior to horse-drawn carriages in many situations at the turn of the century, but not to the motorcar. They were also replaced in due course by the automobile, right along with the horse-and-buggy.

As for your survey, I notice that it was sponsored *and designed* by anti-auto interest groups. That doesn't necessarily render it invalid, but it requires that the methodology be examined carefully before much credibility is granted it.

More importantly, it is always more informative to observe what people do, rather than what they say. Many people verbally support public transit systems because they expect (or hope) someone else will use it. Of course, most of those "someone else's" are thinking the same thing. As a result you get a well-funded transit system which operates at <10% of capacity, like Spokane's.

As I've said before, I have no objection to bike lanes. They are a fairly low-cost investment. It is when they are implemented on roadways where they impede flow of motor vehicles, and thus reduce net throughtput of traffic, that ideology has replaced common sense.

Paul

The interstate highway system; state, city, and county roads; and other versions of the highly evolved motorized transit system were, contrary to the idealistic notions of this post, entirely driven by market demand for reliable access to the marketplace. Whether that be for people commuting, transportation of goods & services, or establishment of commercial and industrial corridors, the evolution of roads were driven (pun intended) by the facilitation of commerce, not by the Government favoring one system over another. A reliable, all-weather, economical, and long-lasting solution was needed and to date, none better has evolved.

While I understand that profit and 'market forces' can sometimes be bad words in the world today, it is those two motivating factors that will drive the resolution of this debate. Riding a bike does not add measurable value to an economy, to the market, or facilitate efficient transport of goods and services in comparison to its cost. When it comes time to fund a bike transit proposal, the voters will ask, 'What's in it for me (besides yet another tax increase of course)?'. As an avid cyclist myself who traverses the city streets, I would much much much much, can I add more emphasis, MUCH prefer just basic, well maintained roads without massive holes that bend my wheels and pop my tubes, roads that are properly and regularly swept so I don't skid and slid on dirt and gravel, roads that connect to "park-and-rides" so I can have easy access to our excellent trail system (although many non-bike trail users need better education about needing to walk on the correct side of the trail... but thats another rant). Anyway, fix our roads first and then, maybe, we can ride safer and more efficiently without the massive cost in land and dollars that dedicated lanes and routes will cost.

S

Oh Contrarian, How you live up to your name.

Josh

I think it would be very interesting to experiment with the free market approach in Spokane. It would be difficult for people to sign on to it in our community due to the "legislation or government money is the solution to all problems" mentality. I think the results of such an experiment would be very enlightening. I think our bus system would be out of business or have a much narrower service area than it does now. Would anyone support an idea like that?

J

Contrarian, please keep posting. Your posts are an amusing way to spend 2 minutes in the morning. :)

Just have to say. Josh is right on. And by the way, Spokane just voted for to permanently keep STA funding at its current level. Sure, people vote for things that they dont use all of the time. They see that the benefits reach beyond their own use. The effects are far reaching. In July ridership on STA buses was up 30% compared to ridership the same time last year. Nearly 10 million trips were made on STA last year and that number will climb even higher this year. How do you say that there is not enough demand to make it worthwhile? Put 30,000 more trips on the roads per day in Spokane and see if it was worth your 6/10 of a penny per dollar spent. I bet it saves you at least that much in gas money from not having to deal with the increase in traffic...and in the economy by keeping people employed by providing workers with a reliable means of transportation to and from their jobs, and in the your savings of health care costs from the cleaner air. Contrarian, your name is comepletely true on this blog because the majority opinion here recognizes logic. :) Have a nice day!


Contrarian

J,

You can expect an uptick in use of transit and other alternative modes after a doubling of fuel prices. Eventually the market will respond to that with more efficient engines, alternative fuels, lighter vehicles, or new technologies. When it does, those new transit patrons will be right back on the road in their POVs, because the inherent advantages of the latter over the former are insurmountable. They are the reason the private auto displaced mass transit systems in the first place, and they remain as compelling as ever.

Don't buy any stock in transit systems as a long-term investment (of course, if you are a taxpayer, you may not have a choice).

bradley

I guess if we are going to a "pay to play" system, it's not so much the transit system or others that will have to worry. Once every road users pays their share according to such things as the wear they inflict, those car drivers, of which I'm one, are going to be in for a sticker shock. Any driver who thinks he or she is paying her way via property and gasoline taxes has another thing coming, especially in the rural areas where tax dollars from more populated areas are diverted to take care of the roads, clear the snow and so on. Try to put together and LID to get your road repaved or your sewer replaced and then you'll see how you like having to pay your own way.

According to one Texas DOT calculation, gas taxes would have to be $2.22 a gallon one one of their projects. (The TDOT has since taken down the information, but it can be found here and other links if you want to search). http://theoverheadwire.blogspot.com/2008/07/replay-truth-about-roads-6107.html. And this is just to build roads, not maintain them.

And, you know, the opening quote-- that the role of government isn't to do encourage modes of transportation--is bunk. The role of government is what the people decide the role of government is. There is no ordained role for government. To state otherwise is simply an assertion or claim, nothing more. Me, I'd rather pay for transit than SOVs and that government encourage people to take better care of the world. This is what the phrase "pursuit of happiness" means in the Declaration. Jefferson was, in essence, a Benthamite Utilitarian, as was just about every founding father. They weren't hedonistic in the sense that people view the phrase today. Instead, happiness is what is produced for the greater good, not the selfish individual. According to the founders, we are supposed to be doing what is best for everyone as we make our individual decisions. Continuing to do nothing but drive and promote the driving of cars hither and yon subverts the founding fathers and their view of what it means to be an American.

Contrarian

Sorry, bradley, but your methodology is flawed. Some segments of an intercity roadway will be high-cost, low-traffic. Others will be low-cost, high-traffic. But you need all segments if you want a complete, as a opposed to a partial, road system. The fact is that the US highway system, including the interstate system, and the state highway systems in most states, were financed almost entirely via various highway trust funds, which were in turn financed by motor fuel taxes and vehicle taxes. Only in recent years have "earmarks" --- pork --- come to play an appreciable role (as they have in every other project some politician has decided will win him some votes).

Needless to say, nothing binds politicians to maintain a pay-as-you-go road system. So in some cases you will no doubt find that they have diverted general revenues to road maintenance, because sales taxpayers are less well organized and less likely to squawk than the trucking industry and auto clubs.

The only segment of the national road system not paid for primarily (if not entirely) by auto user fees are city streets, which serve all kinds of traffic, not only autos. For state and national highways, drivers are net subsidy providers, not net subsidy consumers (for example, 13% of the federal highway trust fund --- revenue raised from autos and trucks --- is allocated to mass transit subsidies).

http://www.tfhrc.gov/pubrds/janpr/cost.htm

Your comments reveal a number of other popular misconceptions --- "the role of government is what the people decide it will be," "taking care of the world," "the greater good vs. the good of individuals," etc. Unfortunately, they are mostly philosophical, and Metro frowns on philosophical discussions. But since you mentioned the Declaration, you might read it again to determine what is the role of government: "Governments are instituted among men to preserve and protect these rights" (to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). There is no mention of telling them how to get from place to place. That is, indeed, one of the liberties the government is created to protect.


J

Contrarian,

You are getting ahead of yourself. First things first. http://www.pennfoster.edu/diploma/index.html

Then come back and we can talk.

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