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Old 03-03-05, 12:18 PM   #1
jagged
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New New York Times columnist a bike commuter

The New York Times has chosen John Tierney as its new columnist. Tierney lives in the Washington, DC, area, and wrote last September about his commuting habits:

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I don't like even my own car. For most of my adult life I didn't even own one. I lived in Manhattan and pitied the suburbanites driving to the mall. When I moved to Washington and joined their ranks, I picked a home in smart-growth heaven, near a bike path and a subway station. Most days I skate or bike downtown, filled with righteous Schadenfreude as I roll past drivers stuck in traffic. The rest of the time I usually take the subway, and on the rare day I go by car, I hate the drive.
Don't expect a lot of bike commuter advocacy on the Times' op-ed page, though. Tierney goes on to praise urban planning efforts that accomodate cars.
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Old 03-03-05, 12:27 PM   #2
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I think he USED to be a bike commuter, but has more recently become what he calls an "autonomist" - ie a person who believes in the primacy of the auto. My understanding of his entire career is that he was once a decent fellow, but has become an anti-humanist and an extremist libertarian. But I guess we'll see what we get when he actually starts writing!
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Old 03-03-05, 01:00 PM   #3
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Righteous Schadenfreude is one of the many pleasures of commuting in DC. It's hard to imagine anyone giving that up. Auto commuter traffic in DC makes me think of a medieval flagellants procession. Whatever his politics, I have no reason to think him masochistic enough to drive.

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Old 03-03-05, 01:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenrobot
I think he USED to be a bike commuter, but has more recently become what he calls an "autonomist" - ie a person who believes in the primacy of the auto. My understanding of his entire career is that he was once a decent fellow, but has become an anti-humanist and an extremist libertarian. But I guess we'll see what we get when he actually starts writing!

Reading the rest of his article, its pretty clear the guy is on crack.

His idea that cars create autonomy is a cruel hallucination-- they do the opposite.

All I can say is that I really really hope that virtual workspaces (working virtually from home) becomes a reality before we need friggin' 32 lane highways and computer-controlled cars.
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Old 03-03-05, 02:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by H23
All I can say is that I really really hope that virtual workspaces (working virtually from home) becomes a reality before we need friggin' 32 lane highways and computer-controlled cars.
Ever entered New York City from the South on the Jersey Turnpike? I haven't done it since the seventies, but as I recall, there were 48 lanes total on several parallel highways.
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Old 03-03-05, 02:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by H23
Reading the rest of his article, its pretty clear the guy is on crack.

His idea that cars create autonomy is a cruel hallucination-- they do the opposite.

All I can say is that I really really hope that virtual workspaces (working virtually from home) becomes a reality before we need friggin' 32 lane highways and computer-controlled cars.
He is on crack half the time. During a rush hour in a crowded city, I have to agree that cars don't do much good, everybody is stuck in one place.

But during non rush hours, and in less congested suburban and rural areas, the car is a godsend and definitely creates not only autonomy but vast quantities of wealth as goods, services, and ideas are moved along. If your idea was valid, than the fewer cars an economy had, the more productive their citizens would be.

We need a multi-use transportation network. I think a very good case can be made for better mass transit in many urban areas. But the limitations of mass transit are so manifest that they only succeed when they are massively subsidized and auto use punitively singled out. The end result in such regions--Europe comes to mind--is economic stagnation and high unemployment.

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Old 03-03-05, 03:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roughstuff
...
But during non rush hours, and in less congested suburban and rural areas, the car is a godsend and definitely creates not only autonomy but vast quantities of wealth as goods, services, and ideas are moved along. If your idea was valid, than the fewer cars an economy had, the more productive their citizens would be.

We need a multi-use transportation network. I think a very good case can be made for better mass transit in many urban areas. But the limitations of mass transit are so manifest that they only succeed when they are massively subsidized and auto use punitively singled out. The end result in such regions--Europe comes to mind--is economic stagnation and high unemployment.

roughstuff

For folks that live and work in low-density rural areas, of course, a car is necessary.

The real problem is when you have massive housing developments built further and further away from cities and industrial centers. More and more people then try to commute absurd distances from all different directions. This creates an insatiable need for more highways.

This is basically a hyper version of what happened in the 50's through the 80's. Except back then, the pattern was that households moved out of the city, had a home constructed and moved into the new home-- a one household at a time steady trickle. Now the pattern is for a developer to buy a trememendous amount of land, build housing for 2000 people in mcmansion and luxury condo form, and then cash in as a flood of buyers come in and become exburbites. These are the people that then complain loudly about 2 hour commutes, too much traffic, and too much stress-- as if more lanes will solve their problems.
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Old 03-03-05, 03:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H23
For folks that live and work in low-density rural areas, of course, a car is necessary.

The real problem is when you have massive housing developments built further and further away from cities and industrial centers. More and more people then try to commute absurd distances from all different directions. This creates an insatiable need for more highways.

This is basically a hyper version of what happened in the 50's through the 80's. Except back then, the pattern was that households moved out of the city, had a home constructed and moved into the new home-- a one household at a time steady trickle. Now the pattern is for a developer to buy a trememendous amount of land, build housing for 2000 people in mcmansion and luxury condo form, and then cash in as a flood of buyers come in and become exburbites. These are the people that then complain loudly about 2 hour commutes, too much traffic, and too much stress-- as if more lanes will solve their problems.
I live ~7 miles from work, and wish I were closer(10-15 minute commute). I used to live ~13 miles from work and I hated it(20-25 min). Some of my co-workers drive up to 3 hours(one way). Frankly, I'd rather be at home than on the road--what's the point of having time off if you can't enjoy it? Might not be feasible for some people to move closer to their workplace, but I think I'd be getting another job if I had too much travel time.
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Old 03-03-05, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roughstuff
He is on crack half the time. During a rush hour in a crowded city, I have to agree that cars don't do much good, everybody is stuck in one place.

But during non rush hours, and in less congested suburban and rural areas, the car is a godsend and definitely creates not only autonomy but vast quantities of wealth as goods, services, and ideas are moved along. If your idea was valid, than the fewer cars an economy had, the more productive their citizens would be.

We need a multi-use transportation network. I think a very good case can be made for better mass transit in many urban areas. But the limitations of mass transit are so manifest that they only succeed when they are massively subsidized and auto use punitively singled out. The end result in such regions--Europe comes to mind--is economic stagnation and high unemployment.

roughstuff
Hmm, auto transportaion is much more heavily subsidized that public transit. The problem is they don't call it subsidize. Estimates on the percenatage of true cost paid by the commuter is something like 26% auto and 85% mass transit user.
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Old 03-03-05, 09:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by peterm5365
Hmm, auto transportaion is much more heavily subsidized that public transit. The problem is they don't call it subsidize. Estimates on the percenatage of true cost paid by the commuter is something like 26% auto and 85% mass transit user.
- - Whoa, run that by me again. I have heard about hidden subsidies for auto transportation but I have never seen those figures before. Please tell me your sources of that expose', I want to explore this further.
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Old 03-03-05, 10:41 PM   #11
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There was a newspaper columnist in NYC who used to cover "City Hall". He would ride from the newspaper to city hall on his bike. Rival reporters were still looking for cabs when he arrived and began his interviews.
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Old 03-04-05, 04:06 AM   #12
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I was born in Montclair, NJ, about five crow flies miles from NYC. New Jersey gets a bad rap from people entering the state via the NJ Turnpike. The turnpike is not representative of NJ, which is quite beautiful in many areas. Have you heard the lyrics to NJ's official state song:

"When I die, bury me low, where I can hear the petroleum flow. The sweetest sound I ever did know! God bless the bums of New Joisey!" ;-)
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