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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-21-14, 04:28 PM   #1
TransitBiker
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Two charts.

Tell me how these two charts make you feel. Use as much space as the site coding allows.

I can tell you how it makes me feel: trapped, frustrated, exasperated, and sometimes defeated. It also makes me feel determined to live out the rest of my life car free.







- Andy
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Old 08-21-14, 11:53 PM   #2
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What a nice example of American Exceptionalism. Just kidding. To tell the truth, I'm relieved that we seem to finally be getting past peak car. It's been a long time coming and I never imagined I would have to wait this long. It'll take a while for our landscape/airscape to return to anything remotely pleasant, but I still have hope to live to see it, albeit with synthetic lenses in my eyes.
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Old 08-22-14, 01:43 AM   #3
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What is there to say about these graphs? There are many explanations about why they are this way. Surely the people in the USA drive more than others because we have more wealth than most of the other parts of the world. Look at Canada. I can't believe that most of them would want to wait outside at bus stops in winter. Australia is a very spread out country. Their big cities are just like the ones in the USA.

Who knows what to say about large Chinese cities? Cars have taken over so much that they can't breathe the air at times. Los Angeles never had it that bad. I've seen photos of LA smog in the 1970s. The Chinese cities are so bad that the sky can't be seen at times.

Once the developing nations are developed and the USA has become more environmentally friendly it won't matter what we do in the USA. The other parts of the world will be filling our skies with more pollution than we ever did. All we can do is plant more trees and let them enjoy the added Carbon dioxide so they can thrive. They will help clean the air for us.

We need to become a nation of trees from the Midwest eastward. The Northwest can also add trillions of trees to help the situation. Long ago I read that it was once theoretically possible for a squirrel to cross the entire continent without touching the ground at the time the first European settlers came here. I would like for that to be possible again.
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Old 08-22-14, 02:45 AM   #4
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There are many explanations about why they are this way. Surely the people in the USA drive more than others because we have more wealth than most of the other parts of the world. Look at Canada. I can't believe that most of them would want to wait outside at bus stops in winter. Australia is a very spread out country. Their big cities are just like the ones in the USA.



I take it you've never been to Canada or Australia then?

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Old 08-22-14, 02:56 AM   #5
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The key is kg/person/year.

Multiply by the populations of China and other "low emission" countries and you might get a better picture by country.

More emotive junk (just what qualifies as a city, and no cite whatsoever) designed to make people feel guilty about living their lives.
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Old 08-22-14, 03:48 AM   #6
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The key is kg/person/year.

Multiply by the populations of China and other "low emission" countries and you might get a better picture by country.

More emotive junk (just what qualifies as a city, and no cite whatsoever) designed to make people feel guilty about living their lives.
No, come on, Rowan, you can't quite dismiss it as easily as that. Yes, I agree that the value of the data is compromised by lack of definition. But the contrast is pretty stark, nonetheless, and kg/person/year has to be the right measure, otherwise relatively low-emission countries with large populations would look more wasteful than high-emission, smaller countries.

"make people feel guilty about living their lives" ? Maybe. But "make people think about whether driving everywhere is a good thing" would be an equally accurate characterisation.
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Old 08-22-14, 05:49 AM   #7
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Experience showed me that a lot of Chinese workers live much closer to their work than American workers do. Many employers provide, or arrange, housing and they want their employees to be able to be on time. Employer run buses are also common and it makes it easier to pick people up if they live in centralized locations. Yes, there are always exceptions.

Further, people do not normally drive as far. However, like Americans, they will also make a lot of short distance trips. As far as the lower number for public transportation. First, Air travel, while heavily used, is not as common. There are a lot meore restrictions on Civil avatation in China then there are in the US, this has held back its growth in all but the major market areas. Further, the public ground transportation is run much more crowded. While their buses and trains are a lot dirtier, they are carrying significantly more people.

The reason is not bicycle advocacy. In the last ten years I have seen bicycle use whither away. At this point, yes, with a few exceptions, bicycle use is limited to the very poor and to fitness riders, much like one sees in the US. However, the chaos of the roads makes bicycling much more dangerous. Further, because of th ecultural assocation of bicycles with poverty, bicycles do not ever have any right of way. Confucian ethics, as practiced, say than an unimportant person must always give way, in all ways, to important people. Further, ones importance is determined by personal, or family, wealth. As such, bicyclists, engaged in an activity of the poor, are in error if they fail to give way.

This makes the cities very unfriendly to cycling and create a large social incentive to not allow ones family members to ride a bicycle for transportation; both for reasons of safety and the social signaling effect it has on the family. Further, one has to suspect all official numbers coming out of China. The people do not respect official reports, and for good reason. Remember, the purpose of social research in China is to make ones leader look good, not to reflect actual conditions. Going back to Confucian ethics, truth is significantly less important than appearances.


The lower numbers for China (and I do suspect that graph is inaccurate) reflect denser living, not cleaner living and the "Chinese" way of living is not easily exportable to anyone who can avoid it.
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Old 08-22-14, 06:30 AM   #8
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I don't think the chart means much because their is no definition of what is a city. Does the definition of city in the US mean metropolitan area including suburbs, or simply the city?
City dwellers who work in the same city produce a lot less CO2 from their private vehicles than a suburbanite who drives to another city to work or shop.
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Old 08-22-14, 09:22 AM   #9
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Just a couple of links here.

Sustainable transportation article that contains both charts in question. I'll let you guys go fishing around on the UITP website to figure out how they collected data about cities worldwide.

Traffic trends courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration. Figure 1 is an updated version of the second graph above.

Last edited by wipekitty; 08-22-14 at 11:05 AM. Reason: wrong link
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Old 08-22-14, 10:17 AM   #10
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I don't think the chart means much because their is no definition of what is a city. Does the definition of city in the US mean metropolitan area including suburbs, or simply the city?
Also, is passenger transport the ONLY source of CO˛ emissions? Is passenger transport even the most significant source of CO˛ emissions in any country?
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Old 08-22-14, 10:20 AM   #11
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Apathy.
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Old 08-22-14, 10:26 AM   #12
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The second chart indicates people world-wide move about farther from home. So what?

What does the OP suggest, a ball and chain, walls around each city to keep people close to home, or what?
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Old 08-22-14, 11:32 AM   #13
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The second chart indicates people world-wide move about farther from home.
The second chart, as far as I can tell, only tracks miles driven on US highways. (I fixed the link above, which reports the same information, but through 2013.)

Using population figures from the 1990 and 2010 Census, a better statistic might be that between 1990 and 2010, the average freeway miles per person in the US increased from 8,645 to 9,555.

One can only speculate on the reason for the increase. Maybe a larger percentage of Americans are now old enough to drive. Maybe people are commuting on freeways more...maybe it's just the case that more people are moving further away from their hometowns, and end up driving to visit family because regional public transit is unreliable, overpriced, or nonexistent.
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Old 08-22-14, 01:29 PM   #14
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The second chart, as far as I can tell, only tracks miles driven on US highways. (I fixed the link above, which reports the same information, but through 2013.)

Using population figures from the 1990 and 2010 Census, a better statistic might be that between 1990 and 2010, the average freeway miles per person in the US increased from 8,645 to 9,555.

One can only speculate on the reason for the increase. Maybe a larger percentage of Americans are now old enough to drive. Maybe people are commuting on freeways more...maybe it's just the case that more people are moving further away from their hometowns, and end up driving to visit family because regional public transit is unreliable, overpriced, or nonexistent.
One can also only speculate why anyone would be shocked, shocked (i.e. trapped, frustrated, exasperated, and sometimes defeated) that more people, among other demographic reasons, would result in more miles traveled to take care of their personal or professional requirements.
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Old 08-22-14, 02:43 PM   #15
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I take it you've never been to Canada or Australia then?
What do you mean? I've worked with people who live in these countries. I've seen photos of their sprawling suburbs. I've seen photos and videos of their big cities. They have the same problems as the USA.

For now I live in Montana. It gets almost as cold here as it does in many parts of Canada. The bus system doesn't get many riders in winter. I never see people waiting for buses on the streets on the coldest days.

There are very few cyclists in the winter. Most people use cars here just like everywhere in the state. Many people live in far away suburbs and drive many miles to come into the cities. It is common for people to drive thirty miles one way to go to work. Many people here just want their big plot of land and are willing to drive long distances to get to their jobs.
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Old 08-22-14, 04:24 PM   #16
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What do you mean? I've worked with people who live in these countries. I've seen photos of their sprawling suburbs. I've seen photos and videos of their big cities. They have the same problems as the USA.

For now I live in Montana. It gets almost as cold here as it does in many parts of Canada. The bus system doesn't get many riders in winter. I never see people waiting for buses on the streets on the coldest days.

There are very few cyclists in the winter. Most people use cars here just like everywhere in the state. Many people live in far away suburbs and drive many miles to come into the cities. It is common for people to drive thirty miles one way to go to work. Many people here just want their big plot of land and are willing to drive long distances to get to their jobs.
What a convoluted way to say no.
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Old 08-22-14, 04:33 PM   #17
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No, come on, Rowan, you can't quite dismiss it as easily as that. Yes, I agree that the value of the data is compromised by lack of definition. But the contrast is pretty stark, nonetheless, and kg/person/year has to be the right measure, otherwise relatively low-emission countries with large populations would look more wasteful than high-emission, smaller countries.

"make people feel guilty about living their lives" ? Maybe. But "make people think about whether driving everywhere is a good thing" would be an equally accurate characterisation.
It's very unusual for you to take information with no sourcing, no indication of date or period when drafted, or explanation of methodology at face value.

Australia is already being accused internally and externally of being a huge contributor to global CO2 emissions (when patently we aren't) and we have been constantly been made to feel guilty about even breathing and eating. The voters got so sick of it, and they have voted out green members of parliament at various elections in the past 12 months.

Thanks wipekitty for the links, but seeing even you are having apparent difficulty in interpreting the data, I might just keep living my life without much concern. The increase in freeway usage may well have come about from an increase in freeway construction...
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Old 08-22-14, 05:28 PM   #18
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Ah, well, if what Australian voters are tired of becomes the touchstone for debate on the environment, or on other contentious issues, we're all in some trouble.
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Old 08-22-14, 06:46 PM   #19
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Ah, well, if what Australian voters are tired of becomes the touchstone for debate on the environment, or on other contentious issues, we're all in some trouble.
Australia is useful to Americans on environmental issues in the same way Mississippi is useful to us. No matter how badly things are done in any other state, it's always done worse in Mississippi. I wonder if Canadians feel the same way about the U.S.
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Old 08-22-14, 06:51 PM   #20
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Thank you all for your input this far. I've found it to be refreshing, insightful, eye opening, and informative.

The main reason i feel the way i do, (in my own little world) is that transit has been, year to year, plundered to fund other things, like pay raises for people in state government, automobile centric projects that leave less and less room for pedestrians & cyclists, and other more eye twitch inducing things like tax breaks for hydraulic fracturing gas wells. As an aside, education funding has been hurt too. Not getting P&R, just explaining in simple blunt terms why i feel how i feel.

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Old 08-22-14, 07:05 PM   #21
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What do you mean? I've worked with people who live in these countries. I've seen photos of their sprawling suburbs. I've seen photos and videos of their big cities. They have the same problems as the USA.

For now I live in Montana. It gets almost as cold here as it does in many parts of Canada. The bus system doesn't get many riders in winter. I never see people waiting for buses on the streets on the coldest days.

There are very few cyclists in the winter. Most people use cars here just like everywhere in the state. Many people live in far away suburbs and drive many miles to come into the cities. It is common for people to drive thirty miles one way to go to work. Many people here just want their big plot of land and are willing to drive long distances to get to their jobs.

I knew it ... you've never been to those countries. Let's just say that the reality is quite different from your imagination.
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Old 08-22-14, 09:04 PM   #22
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Thank you all for your input this far. I've found it to be refreshing, insightful, eye opening, and informative.

The main reason i feel the way i do, (in my own little world) is that transit has been, year to year, plundered to fund other things, like pay raises for people in state government, automobile centric projects that leave less and less room for pedestrians & cyclists, and other more eye twitch inducing things like tax breaks for hydraulic fracturing gas wells. As an aside, education funding has been hurt too. Not getting P&R, just explaining in simple blunt terms why i feel how i feel.

- Andy
I find eye opening your contention that "transit" [whatever that means to you] has been "plundered" [whatever that means to you] to fund all these other purposes that you find less worthy.

Presumably "plundered" is how you describe resources, including cash, investment, tax dollars being allocated/spent for purposes that you do not care about instead of your preferred projects.
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Old 08-22-14, 09:40 PM   #23
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I find eye opening your contention that "transit" [whatever that means to you] has been "plundered" [whatever that means to you] to fund all these other purposes that you find less worthy.

Presumably "plundered" is how you describe resources, including cash, investment, tax dollars being allocated/spent for purposes that you do not care about instead of your preferred projects.
Please. There are structures in danger of falling down (bridges), electric traction power supply is on the verge of failure and often is a cause of issue in hot and very cold weather, new railcars we have to live with for at least 20 years are of horrifically poor design that is more hindrance than improvement due to low balling the contract, and in the past 5 years fares have gone up while service has been cut. There are talks of shutting many rail stations, curtailing bus routes translating into any trip made now needs at least one transfer if it even goes where it used to...... Plundered, to the point of liability. I actually plan to file a suit myself when i get a case organized, lawyer, etc. Obviously many, many, numerous countless complaints and vocal protests are not enough and legal action is required. Clearly stated in every post under my username is my location (newtown, pa) which is clearly within the regional operating locale of SEPTA (transit). Hope that helps you understand vs assume.

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Old 08-22-14, 09:56 PM   #24
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The second chart indicates people world-wide move about farther from home. So what?

What does the OP suggest, a ball and chain, walls around each city to keep people close to home, or what?
How about strict limits on carbon emissions in order to prevent a worse disaster than the one that's already occurred. That's what I suggest.
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Old 08-22-14, 10:51 PM   #25
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Please. There are structures in danger of falling down (bridges), electric traction power supply is on the verge of failure and often is a cause of issue in hot and very cold weather, new railcars we have to live with for at least 20 years are of horrifically poor design that is more hindrance than improvement due to low balling the contract, and in the past 5 years fares have gone up while service has been cut. There are talks of shutting many rail stations, curtailing bus routes translating into any trip made now needs at least one transfer if it even goes where it used to...... Plundered, to the point of liability. I actually plan to file a suit myself when i get a case organized, lawyer, etc. Obviously many, many, numerous countless complaints and vocal protests are not enough and legal action is required. Clearly stated in every post under my username is my location (newtown, pa) which is clearly within the regional operating locale of SEPTA (transit). Hope that helps you understand vs assume.

- Andy
Even more eye opening than your previous post with the transit plundering allegation. Who or what government organization do you plan to sue? Are the two charts supposed to be evidence of this plundering for your proposed lawsuit?
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