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Old 09-25-06, 01:26 PM   #1
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Conversation with County Commissioner

I had an interesting 2-hour conversation with our County Commissioner. The conversation seemed honest and open, and it was immediately apparent that he was pro-asphalt-solutions when it comes to the future of transportation. Some of his comments, along with my rebuttals:

1. Tax tires instead of Gasoline, so that cyclists also pay for road use.
Rebuttal: I mentioned that there are no County taxes on gasoline, and that Real Estate taxes pay for roads. He was surprised that I was aware of this. He brought out some paperwork that showed that, from their real estate taxes, an average household pays $75 / year to the county for roads. I thought it was more than this, so I learned something here. He also mentioned that the County receives both State and Federal money for road repair. At this point I mentioned that the State appropriated, from the General Fund (Sales Tax Revenue), $860 Million for 5 years for road repair. He was unaware of this, and said he was going to do some research. This is a huge subsidy, when one considers that this has been happening for many years, in every state in the US.
2. Historically, throughout the WORLD, nobody wants passenger rail, so don't invest in that.
Rebuttal: We discussed this, and after discussing many large cities and countries in the world, with efficient rail transit, he qualified this statement, and we ended up agreeing that there are many smaller communities where rail doesn't make economic sense. We also agreed that much of the US is indifferent or negative towards rail, and that cars are "the only transportation that they'd consider".
3. Supports the expansion of highways to include "Bus Only" lanes.
Rebuttal: My main argument here is that buses have all the same problems as auto traffic. Well designed rail is timely to the minute, whereas riders often have to wait for buses, in inclement weather, for long periods of time, due to traffic. I was a little perturbed at how he dismissed this topic, because to me, it's a key. Riders don't want to stand out in 0 deg F weather waiting for a bus. Given a choice, most would choose a car in this case.

The main positive I took away from our conversation was that he was going to look into State appropriations from the General Fund for road repair. We left agreeing to "talk some more later".
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Old 09-25-06, 01:47 PM   #2
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Obviously bus service in your county really sucks (is that Greyhound Bus Line?) Does your railway train in your aera do any better?

Other than a car, the other form of transportation that Amercians prefer is the airplane - until Mr. Bin Ladin comes.
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Old 09-25-06, 07:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
I had an interesting 2-hour conversation with our County Commissioner. The conversation seemed honest and open, and it was immediately apparent that he was pro-asphalt-solutions when it comes to the future of transportation. Some of his comments, along with my rebuttals:

1. Tax tires instead of Gasoline, so that cyclists also pay for road use.

2. Historically, throughout the WORLD, nobody wants passenger rail, so don't invest in that.

3. Supports the expansion of highways to include "Bus Only" lanes.

We left agreeing to "talk some more later".
1) Hmmm, I wonder how much my 18 pound bike and I tear up the roads compared to an 80,000 pound semi?? I'd be happy to pay proportionally.

2) I notice that you are in Fort Collins (sp?). Has this guy ever heard of Denver??

3) BTW, bus and bike lanes seem to work well in Paris. Some will view that as a negative,,,,,
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Old 09-25-06, 07:59 PM   #4
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People will take the trains and busses if there is frequent reliable service. A modern improvement to the bus service in Montreal, is the posting of a phone number on the bus stops, which will give you the time of the next bus. If you know the numbers for your regular bus stops, this avoids unnecessary waiting. The potential for commuter rail service depends on the existing infrastructure. Subsidies on bus and train are probably more effective at reducing traffic congestion than additional road contstruction.
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Old 09-25-06, 08:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by head_wind
1) Hmmm, I wonder how much my 18 pound bike and I tear up the roads compared to an 80,000 pound semi?? I'd be happy to pay proportionally.
Road wear/damage is proportional to the square of the weight of the vehicle. A two inch thick concrete MUP will last until erosion or plant roots do it in. A 16 inch thick concrete freeway will last about 18 - 24 years, and will usually fail due to fatigue.
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Old 09-25-06, 08:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by head_wind
1) Hmmm, I wonder how much my 18 pound bike and I tear up the roads compared to an 80,000 pound semi?? I'd be happy to pay proportionally.

2) I notice that you are in Fort Collins (sp?). Has this guy ever heard of Denver??

3) BTW, bus and bike lanes seem to work well in Paris. Some will view that as a negative,,,,,
I thought truck companies payed for this in the extra taxes that they pay
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Old 09-25-06, 08:31 PM   #7
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I thought truck companies payed for this in the extra taxes that they pay
They pay through their noses,
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Old 09-25-06, 08:38 PM   #8
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I think it's great that you got him thinking twice about the common and erroneous assumption that cyclists don't pay for roads.
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Old 09-25-06, 08:50 PM   #9
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Most urban/suburban counties in California have 0.5% (or so) tacked on to the sales tax that goes towards road and transit projects. Cyclists are clearly paying for their share, or even more, as some of this money goes to freeway projects.
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Old 09-25-06, 11:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by head_wind
2) I notice that you are in Fort Collins (sp?). Has this guy ever heard of Denver??
We actually had some discussion about Denver. The light rail in Denver is in its infancy, but Mayor Hickenlooper has done a great job in convincing all the municipalities that it is in their best interest, despite having to fight the Governor every step of the way.

He wasn't impressed with Denver because of the lack of service to large Metro areas, such as Cherry Creek. I took it from Littleton to the CU/CSU game last week, and I thought it was great. As more areas are serviced, such as the Airport, Boulder, Longmont, etc., this system will be great.
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Old 09-26-06, 04:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by R-Wells
They pay through their noses,
Big rigs, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, will pay $6,000 to $9,000 a year in registration fees. A lot more than a car, but nowhere near to making up the difference in the wear & tear they put on the road in comparision to a car.
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Old 09-26-06, 06:39 AM   #12
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In regards to point 3 a lot of us have observed that since highway expansion fixes all the current problems there is no need to incur additional costs for a bus only lane. Bus Only and/or HOV lanes make sense RIGHT NOW before highway expansion projects.
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Old 09-26-06, 08:22 AM   #13
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The Human Car is right. Most transportation officials see MORE LANES as the answer to any and all traffic issues. Official: Why limit a new lane to buses when EVERYONE could go faster?

Passenger rail has an incredibly expensive start-up cost. Many cities don't have the pre-existing rail lines, or even any right of way, to make it happen.

Charlotte's been talking and planning their light rail for over a decade, and they're now just about ready to open the first three miles or so. For it to become a full-blown transportation/commuting alternative is going to take decades.

Atlanta's system, while 20 years old or so, hasn't been expanded in over a decade and the 'burbs have expanded hopelessly beyond the system's reach. It's a losing battle for the city. Miami's system is about the same as Atlanta's, also with little hope of becoming viable.
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Old 09-26-06, 08:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Tinker
Big rigs, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, will pay $6,000 to $9,000 a year in registration fees. A lot more than a car, but nowhere near to making up the difference in the wear & tear they put on the road in comparision to a car.
True. I live in SE michigan, and there are a lot of heavy trucks on the road here due to the auto industry. They absolutely destroy roads, requiring the roads to be built extremely heavily, with many-feet-deep beds and a whole lot of concrete and rebar.

A bike path could be 2 inches of asphalt on 4 inches of sand and it would last as long with 50 bikes a minute riding over it as it would just sitting there unused.

While WOLs are nice, and to be hoped for, even a wide shoulder is very helpful, and the amount of money it costs to put a 6 foot shoulder on a road is miniscule compared to the cost of building the road in the first place, and it adds to everyone's safety.
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Old 09-26-06, 08:33 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Da Tinker
Big rigs, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, will pay $6,000 to $9,000 a year in registration fees. A lot more than a car, but nowhere near to making up the difference in the wear & tear they put on the road in comparision to a car.
According to a NCDOT engineer a single 80,000# truck making a single pass over a given piece of road causes as much wear and damage as 500 cars making the same pass over the same piece of road. There is no way those trucks pay enough in taxes to come even close to compensating for the damage they cause to the roads. Read Ken Kifer's pages on true automobile costs as you will see we subsidize and pay for roads whether we want to or not. I think the US has more hidden taxes than any country on earth.

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Old 09-26-06, 08:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
2. Historically, throughout the WORLD, nobody wants passenger rail, so don't invest in that.
Rebuttal: We discussed this, and after discussing many large cities and countries in the world, with efficient rail transit, he qualified this statement, and we ended up agreeing that there are many smaller communities where rail doesn't make economic sense. We also agreed that much of the US is indifferent or negative towards rail, and that cars are "the only transportation that they'd consider".
This statement depends--does he also count trolleys as light rail?

Up until the mid-twentieth century, most major north american cities functioned exceptionally well with trolley systems, which ferried usually working-class folks to jobs in the cities and housing in the then-burbs. You can find trolley tracks and stations all over cities built before the 50's. Trolleys were clean, efficient, reliable, and popular.

Then, General Motors bought up trolley companies and disassembled them in order to sell buses, and there we have our diesel-chugging present state of affairs. This sounds like a bike nutter conspiracy theory, but it's not. They were convicted of conspiracy, but fined a piddling amount. But up until this moment, trolleys ('light rail') were the standard, and probably would still be around.
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Old 09-26-06, 09:11 AM   #17
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Wow,
Whats with the truck bashing?
How much should the trucks pay?
Who do you think pays the extra taxes?
Do you really think we should be hauling 80,000 pounds of lettuce to the grocery store on a bike?
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Old 09-26-06, 09:26 AM   #18
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Wow,
Whats with the truck bashing?
How much should the trucks pay?
Who do you think pays the extra taxes?
Do you really think we should be hauling 80,000 pounds of lettuce to the grocery store on a bike?
A lot more freight should and could be moved by rail if the trucking industry and lobby hadn't done their best to kill rail. There is no reason for any product to be moved more than 250 miles by truck. In the 1970s trucks were held to 40,000 pounds a shorter overall length, as part of a "deal" for reducing the national speed limit to 55mph they were allowed an increase in weight to 60,000 pounds, then somewhere along the way they managed to wrangle another increase in weight to the current 80,000 pounds and a greater over all length. Another part that has come into play is the consumer demand for various products, and the retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers reluctance to tie up working capital in inventory. So now we have "on time" delivery where a product is delivered just prior to its being sold, reducing overall inventory and associated costs, but increasing the number of trucks on the roads. Just as a side note, the average grocery store in the 1950's stocked approximately 2500-3,000 items...today that number has grown to around 10-15,000. It is a viscious circle that we have gotten ourselves into, and not too many people are willing to make changes until forced to.

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Old 09-26-06, 09:44 AM   #19
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If it were not for the trucks (and the trains, despite what you say) you might end up having to drive 50 miles to get groceries.
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Old 09-26-06, 09:55 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
A lot more freight should and could be moved by rail if the trucking industry and lobby hadn't done their best to kill rail. There is no reason for any product to be moved more than 250 miles by truck. In the 1970s trucks were held to 40,000 pounds a shorter overall length, as part of a "deal" for reducing the national speed limit to 55mph they were allowed an increase in weight to 60,000 pounds, then somewhere along the way they managed to wrangle another increase in weight to the current 80,000 pounds and a greater over all length. Another part that has come into play is the consumer demand for various products, and the retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers reluctance to tie up working capital in inventory. So now we have "on time" delivery where a product is delivered just prior to its being sold, reducing overall inventory and associated costs, but increasing the number of trucks on the roads. Just as a side note, the average grocery store in the 1950's stocked approximately 2500-3,000 items...today that number has grown to around 10-15,000. It is a viscious circle that we have gotten ourselves into, and not too many people are willing to make changes until forced to.

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All freight has to be deliverd to the stores, which means we still have trucks.

Who would pay for the billions of dollars of rail?
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Old 09-26-06, 09:57 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by tomcryar
If it were not for the trucks (and the trains, despite what you say) you might end up having to drive 50 miles to get groceries.
I am already driving 80 miles round trip to get most grocerys.
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Old 09-26-06, 10:16 AM   #22
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Where do you live? Must be way out in the country.
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Old 09-26-06, 10:22 AM   #23
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Where do you live? Must be way out in the country.
I am in West Texas,every thing is a long ways away in Texas.
I can buy all of my grocerys locally, but it is more economical to to drive 40 miles to the next town.
But I have some really good places to ride
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Old 09-26-06, 11:25 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
A lot more freight should and could be moved by rail if the trucking industry and lobby hadn't done their best to kill rail. There is no reason for any product to be moved more than 250 miles by truck. In the 1970s trucks were held to 40,000 pounds a shorter overall length, as part of a "deal" for reducing the national speed limit to 55mph they were allowed an increase in weight to 60,000 pounds, then somewhere along the way they managed to wrangle another increase in weight to the current 80,000 pounds and a greater over all length. Another part that has come into play is the consumer demand for various products, and the retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers reluctance to tie up working capital in inventory. So now we have "on time" delivery where a product is delivered just prior to its being sold, reducing overall inventory and associated costs, but increasing the number of trucks on the roads. Just as a side note, the average grocery store in the 1950's stocked approximately 2500-3,000 items...today that number has grown to around 10-15,000. It is a viscious circle that we have gotten ourselves into, and not too many people are willing to make changes until forced to.

Aaron

Yeah... reading a book right now called Affluenza (Wiki) it really hits home about the issues of consumerism and the "viscious circle."
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Old 09-26-06, 11:30 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
A lot more freight should and could be moved by rail if the trucking industry and lobby hadn't done their best to kill rail. There is no reason for any product to be moved more than 250 miles by truck. In the 1970s trucks were held to 40,000 pounds a shorter overall length, as part of a "deal" for reducing the national speed limit to 55mph they were allowed an increase in weight to 60,000 pounds, then somewhere along the way they managed to wrangle another increase in weight to the current 80,000 pounds and a greater over all length. Another part that has come into play is the consumer demand for various products, and the retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers reluctance to tie up working capital in inventory. So now we have "on time" delivery where a product is delivered just prior to its being sold, reducing overall inventory and associated costs, but increasing the number of trucks on the roads. Just as a side note, the average grocery store in the 1950's stocked approximately 2500-3,000 items...today that number has grown to around 10-15,000. It is a viscious circle that we have gotten ourselves into, and not too many people are willing to make changes until forced to.

Aaron
Everyone on my father's side of the family was involved in making parts for heavy trucks. A big part of the advantage of trucks vs rail is labor. Trucks often involve less labor than rail. You load a truck at the manufacturer and send it off to the retailer where it is unloaded. A large part of the expense is in loading and unloading. If the item is sent by rail, it has to be loaded onto a truck, then taken to the train, unloaded from the truck and loaded onto the train (many manufacturers have their own siding which eliminates the first truck trip. After the train gets to its destination, the goods are picked up by truck (which is about 100% for retailers) and delivered to the retail location by truck. So the shipment has to be unloaded from the train, loaded onto the truck and unloaded from the truck.

In large shipments going from one industrial site to another, trains make sense. But the extra labor in all that loading and unloading often makes it cheaper to skip the train and just ship the whole distance by truck.

Personally, I have no economic interest in trucks or trains vis a vis one another. This is just a matter of economics.
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