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Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing (from AtlanticCities blog)

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Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing (from AtlanticCities blog)

Old 05-20-14, 03:01 PM
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Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing (from AtlanticCities blog)

I ran across this interesting article on the Atlantic Cities blog. Here's a quote:

"...[T]here are two ways to shift more commuters out of single-occupancy vehicles and into other modes of transportation, whether that's biking, carpooling, walking, or transit. We can incentivize transit by making all of those other options more attractive. Or we can disincentivize driving by making it less so. What's become increasingly apparent in the United States is that we'll only get so far playing to the first strategy without incorporating the second..."

From America's Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing - CityLab
What do you think? Do we need more of the stick along with the carrot?
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Old 05-20-14, 03:09 PM
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This is what some people would consider a "political" thread. If that's not your cup of tea, please go ahead and open a different thread.

If you are interested, please focus your opinions on issues that are related to carfree living. Also, please try to make comments that are relevant to the topic described in the thread title, "Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing".
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Old 05-20-14, 03:21 PM
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It's not the job of government (cities) to make driving unappealing! Many are though, by under-funding roads and bridges and dumping millions (billions in some cases) into other forms of transit. So, I disagree with the premise of the article.
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Old 05-20-14, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
It's not the job of government (cities) to make driving unappealing! Many are though, by under-funding roads and bridges and dumping millions (billions in some cases) into other forms of transit. So, I disagree with the premise of the article.
Is it the job of government to make driving more appealing, by subsidizing it?

"But in this context, the disincentives are really about removing subsidies and distortions from the market. Parking isn't really free. Gas taxes don't actually cover the costs of maintaining our roads." -- from the article.

From my point of view, it would be hard for them to make driving in the cities any more awful. Neither my wife nor I will drive in Portland, and I hate driving in Salem, too. Too much traffic.
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Old 05-20-14, 03:33 PM
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We have a big symbolic change in our city. Last fall a large public plaza opened. It straddles Main Street and actually cuts it off (that is, you cannot drive down Main between 3rd and 4th because that's part of the plaza now - no traffic allowed. It has a very small impact on the overall traffic pattern really, but it does signal a change in the role of walking, driving and cycling in the downtown area. South of downtown, Main street will soon be completely re-done on a Complete Streets model. Another major thoroughfare on the southside was reduced from 6 lanes to 4 and a bike lane added each way. None of these is blatantly anti-car, but they do favor cycling over driving.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 05-20-14, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
Is it the job of government to make driving more appealing, by subsidizing it?

"But in this context, the disincentives are really about removing subsidies and distortions from the market. Parking isn't really free. Gas taxes don't actually cover the costs of maintaining our roads." -- from the article.
Agree. The disincentive could simply be to remove some of the subsidies (gas, parking, etc).
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Old 05-20-14, 03:41 PM
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I don't think I can participate in this discussion without it getting political. Sorry. Actually, I don't think anyone can, but so long as no one voices a dissenting opinion this won't get pushed into P&R so I'll leave you all to it.
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Old 05-20-14, 04:23 PM
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To my mind, those who insist on driving in city centers when there are other more civilized options, like using mass transit, walking and cycling, are engaging in anti-social behavior, so I agree with those who would reduce or remove the subsidies that encourage this. I must admit, however, that those of us who think this way probably make up a small minority, so any such moves should be imposed slowly and with great care in order to avoid a backlash by drivers that might set us back even further than we are now.
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Old 05-20-14, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
It's not the job of government (cities) to make driving unappealing! Many are though, by under-funding roads and bridges and dumping millions (billions in some cases) into other forms of transit. So, I disagree with the premise of the article.
Actually, it is.

One of the roles of government is to reduce demerit behavior in order to correct the market failure brought about by the presence of externalities.
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Old 05-20-14, 05:31 PM
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I'm not at all sure that either incentives or disincentives can work, without the town/city having been planned-for and built with an eye towards initial or eventual car-free/car-light transportation. Politics? Business is Politics, Politics is Business. The recent thread on Groningen, NL clearly (to this reader/rider) showed how much more successful incentives are, than disincentives. Our American culture seems to prefer the latter... mostly with regard to other countries, but also with other Americans... just not with ourselves.

Sure, we could convert much of the under/above-ground parking facilities to bicycle use, but not with free use... nuh-uh. There's got to be a healthy profit in it.

Disclaimer: I'm car-free for the past two years (this Thursday).
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Old 05-20-14, 05:42 PM
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It would be wonderful if city mayors would announce that tax dollars would not be used for parking maintenance, and that the full cost of paving parking spaces would be included into meter costs over a specific amount of time. Such a move might be the impetus of the creation of more parking structures. That would totally depend on the real estate values of each city.

I wonder how this would affect the Shoup parking system from the book "The High Cost Of Free Parking"?

Video of Donald Shoup explaining his system: http://www.flow-n.eu/2013/06/donal-shoup-interview/

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Old 05-20-14, 07:21 PM
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In the US the relatively lax policing of drinking and driving creates the impression that you can visit a bar or restaurant, have a few drinks and drive home.

This doesn't seem to be a prevalent notion in, for example, Canada, where taking a cab is considered the safest way to have a night out.

PS @Smallwheels, that interview with Shoup was pretty interesting. Thanks for posting.
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Old 05-20-14, 07:31 PM
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The entire "City Structure" is an antiquated idea from previous centuries. The whole idea of trying to preserve worn-out old paradigms.... has worn thin with everyone..... save some of our elderly. Why cities? Why alternate? This is all 1970.... revisited... relived. I think I prefer living in the now.

If Detroit was to ether ban automobiles... or [alternately] plaster the city with world class free public parking... would ether make a difference?
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Old 05-21-14, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by JBHoren View Post
I'm not at all sure that either incentives or disincentives can work, without the town/city having been planned-for and built with an eye towards initial or eventual car-free/car-light transportation. Politics? Business is Politics, Politics is Business. The recent thread on Groningen, NL clearly (to this reader/rider) showed how much more successful incentives are, than disincentives. Our American culture seems to prefer the latter... mostly with regard to other countries, but also with other Americans... just not with ourselves.

Sure, we could convert much of the under/above-ground parking facilities to bicycle use, but not with free use... nuh-uh. There's got to be a healthy profit in it.

Disclaimer: I'm car-free for the past two years (this Thursday).
My understanding is that Groningen did introduce disincentives for driving. I believe they closed off to cars a number of streets through the city center, while leaving them open to bikes, buses, and peds. I believe they also limited car access to other very popular destinations. I think Groningen is also one of several cities where traffic signals favor other users over cars.

These are all examples of disincentives that I would like American cities to try on a case by case basis.
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Old 05-21-14, 07:29 AM
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'National interests' US goes to war to defend are Rubber , Oil, Coal and Making the world safe for selling Cars and Weapons to maintain the empire ..
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Old 05-21-14, 12:35 PM
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I prefer to capitalize that E - Empire. Lots of us do good work to pull our part to keep it together, including me.

Also important are mines in Africa that yield us our battery making materials. Huge part of our war machine is dependent on that.

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Old 05-21-14, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
We have a big symbolic change in our city. Last fall a large public plaza opened. It straddles Main Street and actually cuts it off (that is, you cannot drive down Main between 3rd and 4th because that's part of the plaza now - no traffic allowed. It has a very small impact on the overall traffic pattern really, but it does signal a change in the role of walking, driving and cycling in the downtown area. South of downtown, Main street will soon be completely re-done on a Complete Streets model. Another major thoroughfare on the southside was reduced from 6 lanes to 4 and a bike lane added each way. None of these is blatantly anti-car, but they do favor cycling over driving.
I like this. I sometimes think that if I were the King of a city I would ban personal autos, set apart some routes for deliveries and mass transit, and let the people work the rest out for themselves. But even if it worked I wouldn't be King for long that way. With the public plaza idea it could grow, just a bit at a time without people reacting to a cataclysmic change, and eventually get to the same place as my Kingdom would be.
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Old 05-21-14, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I like this. I sometimes think that if I were the King of a city I would ban personal autos, set apart some routes for deliveries and mass transit, and let the people work the rest out for themselves. But even if it worked I wouldn't be King for long that way. With the public plaza idea it could grow, just a bit at a time without people reacting to a cataclysmic change, and eventually get to the same place as my Kingdom would be.
I agree that you do need to go slowly with disincentives.

I also think you need to present them in a positive way for each occasion. With a plaza, perhaps it should be said, "Yes, it will take you three minutes longer to drive around the area, but you will be able to enjoy a safe and pleasant shopping trip when you come downtown. This will also attract more tourists and shoppers from the suburbs, which will be good for the city."

The ironic thing is that these changes, when well planned, make a city into a better living place for almost everybody. They are not a boondoggle for a few crazy hippie cyclists and other special interest groups.
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Old 05-21-14, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
Is it the job of government to make driving more appealing, by subsidizing it?
This sums up my view, too. I don't think we should bring out the stick. They should just get the same size carrot as everybody else.
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Old 05-21-14, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
This sums up my view, too. I don't think we should bring out the stick. They should just get the same size carrot as everybody else.
But taking away the carrot (or part of it) is perceived about the same as the stick.
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Old 05-22-14, 12:29 AM
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If the disincentives purposed are only financially enacted, it will effect some harder then others creating issues.

I would prefer to see more enforcement of the passing laws that drivers violate (in Oregon) through the practice of traveling past a solid line. While passing a slower road user.

I would also prefer to see better choices for Alternative transportation dollars that an individual is able to benefit from in the tax structure.
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Old 05-22-14, 01:17 AM
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They can do what ever they want. I quit going into the big cities more than 10 years ago. There is nothing there I want or need and it is nothing but a huge hassle.
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Old 05-22-14, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by yote223 View Post
They can do what ever they want. I quit going into the big cities more than 10 years ago. There is nothing there I want or need and it is nothing but a huge hassle.
I'm with you ... we rarely visit big cities and have no desire to live in one.

The city we live in now is about 250,000 people and that's almost too big.


EDIT: I will add that is interesting to visit some big cities once in a while ... Melbourne, Paris, London, Hong Kong, etc.

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Old 05-22-14, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by yote223 View Post
They can do what ever they want. I quit going into the big cities more than 10 years ago. There is nothing there I want or need and it is nothing but a huge hassle.
It's not just a problem in big cities. Small and medium-sized ones are jammed with cars, too.
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Old 05-22-14, 12:47 PM
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A city of 100,000 is way too big for this guy. I won't live in anything bigger than 20-25K and on the far edge of town at that. 2 to 5 miles out side is even better.
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