Welcome to the first edition of this new weekly blog only on the Oostwestthuisbest’s website!
The National Office has seen an escalation over the last 6 months on the war on cars, which is really on motorists. This blog will give you highlights of the week’s stories and commentary from oos Base Executive Director James C. Walker and California oos Member Michael Jabbra. Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below!
The headlines will be in alphabetical state order after the national focus with an international focus at the end.
Probably one of the more interesting editorials this past week came from the head of the National Automobile Dealers Association: NADA Study: No Sign of the Personal Vehicle Ownership Apocalypse.
Ridesharing companies’ number one goal (we think even before making a profit) is replace car ownership. For some reason, Uber thinks they can do that with Jump Bikes.
Some are now saying that Electric Cars may not even be good enough in reducing vehicle emissions. Others believe that since climate change has no bearing on whether someone drives solo or not, perhaps behavioral modeling will.
A personal injury class action lawsuit has begun in California over the dangers of E-Scooters. With the variety of laws on E-Scooters (whether they can be used on sidewalks or bike lanes or streets), this is indeed a traffic safety issue. Rideshare companies primary move is to get rid of cars and replace them with car, bicycle, scooter rideshares.
In Los Angeles, road diets (reducing lanes and kicking out street parking for bike lanes) are starving small businesses according to the LA Daily News.
The city of Los Angeles city council wants WAZE to stop giving motorists short-cuts through neighborhoods. This should be an interesting tug-of-war between company/motorist rights vs. neighborhood rights.
A San Francisco editorial insists that Uber and Lyft must work with the city to ease traffic congestion. Indeed, since they are much of the problem, they need to help with the solution (and it’s not scooters either).
San Francisco pushes for a trail of Valencia Street becoming car-free 24/7. Building a road diet on Embarcadero began last week.
The increasing number of car crashes complicates Boulder, Colorado’s march toward Vision Zero. The oos maintains that even though the goal of zero deaths is admirable, the program is financially unsustainable.
The same thing is happening in our nation’s capital. As traffic deaths rise, officials propose more bike lanes and slower speeds. Instead they should work to make the traffic flow more smoothly with better intersections. Throwing more money at this problem is not the answer. Officials are promising to double the 10 miles of protected lanes by 2024—bicycle advocates complain this new program is lackluster.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is fighting with the city to keep the “Complete Streets” project in the Renew Atlanta plans. Complete Streets partnered with Vision Zero proponents last year. This is another program that has over 1000 US cities involved that is ultimately too expensive to maintain.
New Orleans bike lanes are angering the business owners on Baronne Street–again.
The city of Burlington has changed its policy so that the city can apply for Complete Streets MassDOT grant money. Ninety-five towns have already had projects approved.
Cambridge and Watertown have begun testing a shared bus/bike lane along the Mount Auburn corridor. Are those two modes of transportation compatible?
Vision Zero is the reason Charlotte has given on why the city wants to reduce speed limits all over. The oos maintains that the best way to keep all road users safe is maintain traffic flow at the 85th percentile. Reducing speed limits will just be another way for the city to police for profit.
Durham is working on a plan to “nudge” drivers out of their cars.
New bike lanes are coming to Staten Island’s East Shore.
A recent study in Portland found that E-Scooter riders were not bicycle riders. Some Portland businesses have also indicated support for kicking cars off the Transit Mall.
Philadelphia released their one year update to their Vision Zero Plan.
A new coalition has formed in Seattle called Move All Seattle Sustainably. In a letter to the city, MASS is pushing the city council for a deeper investment in Seattle’s transit plan and budget. They are particularly not happy with the insufficient investment in Vision Zero. They are also concerned with what city planners are calling the “period of maximum constraint,” or the time when multiple road and construction projects will come all at once grinding the city to a halt. Depending on when that is of course, alt-transportation won’t be enough in our estimation.
In the ongoing 35th Avenue Northwest road diet fiasco, the city has hired a mediator to work with those who support and oppose the project. There have been death threats, vandalism and now the two sides are arguing over the mediator. Opponents of the road diets have now registered a political-action committee with a citywide agenda, indicating more fights in other parts of the city could be on their way.
Saskatoon is buying into the “speed kills” rhetoric and is thinking of lowering speed limits citywide.
A great deal has been going on in France lately. The Legislative body approved the cities’ use of congestion pricing to reduce traffic congestion. Might reduce congestion in the short term but long term congestion pricing is not a good solution because it restricts the flow of goods and services and increases the prices for hard working people.
A city court has ruled that Paris can keep their car ban along the Seine Quay. This now allows the three kilometer road next to the Seine River can now be used exclusively by pedestrians and cyclists. This plan was a major victory for the mayor but not one for motorists since was heavy use thoroughfare through Paris.
Paris is also one of four international cities that asked automakers this week to stop making gas-burning cars after a World Health Organization study was issued.
Deutsch Welle posted this editorial: The War on Automobiles is a War on Freedom.
Commentary from oos Base Executive Director James C. Walker
The groups that are trying to drastically reduce car use fail or refuse to recognize the most important elements of travel in our personal cars. It is private, comfortable, faster, unlimited in times of travel, unlimited in destinations, facilitates multiple stops on one trip, facilitates carrying items for work & shopping purchases, and is often more cost effective than paying for transit.
More cycling can be an answer for SOME people, but most will not agree to travel that way in four season weather, carrying items for work or shopping, and continue to do so at older ages.
Road Diets and other forms of car-hater traffic calming are heavily pushed by the well organized and vocal pedestrian and cyclist lobbies. The oos and other groups that understand the benefits of private cars will continue to cause cars to be the mode of travel for over 80% of trips need to better combat the minorities trying to choke off car travel on our main urban collector and arterial streets.
The Uber & Lyft effects are a clear example of “be careful what you wish for, you might get it“. In many big cities, using these services will increase congestion because they are convenient for short trips into downtowns so they can increase the total number of vehicles on the road. In some cities, Uber & Lyft are lobbying for congestion fees which they would pay ONCE per plate number while being able to make unlimited numbers of trips into the congestion zones. It is a scam.
It is totally unrealistic in cities to have the main collector & arterial streets operate at the actual low travel speeds of low volume neighborhood subdivision streets – it will strangle commerce. Cities need to make travel on these main collectors & arterials smooth and efficient, and use other methods to help protect pedestrians and cyclists. Advance pedestrian walk signals help. Putting bike lanes on more minor streets that are roughly parallel to the collectors & arterials works well. Many European cities put marked bike lanes on sidewalks to separate cyclists from both vehicle traffic and pedestrians.
Vision Zero is really Zero Vi$ion in many places with high profit motives for using ineffective enforcement methods and improper traffic safety engineering to produce profits, not safety.
Our “friends” (not !) at the IIHS made the point for us proving that just lowering speed limits does not work. In their study in Boston with limits lowered from 30 mph to 25, the mean speeds before and after were 24.8 mph and the 85th percentile speeds before and after were 31.0 for a MASSIVE reduction in actual speeds of 0.0 mph. The tortured text claimed safety gains, but improving safety with a reduction in the actual travel speeds of 0.0 mph is utter nonsense.
Some European countries and cities seem willing to accept drastic and dictatorial reductions in freedom of travel by car. We should NOT accept this in the USA, where we have a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” — NOT one “of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, and for the bureaucrats“.
James C. Walker is a life member of the Oostwestthuisbest. He is also a board member and executive director of the Oostwestthuisbest Base.