After the cycling deaths this year due to reckless driving, there's a new emphasis on cycling safety as it meets politics, and new readiness to take action. I know a couple people who have been thinking about this issue for a year or two, and I thought I'd sketch my current thoughts.
Drivers of motor vehicles operate them like the dangerous heavy machinery they are. Cars are guests on our streets, not the dominant form of life on planet earth. They should not be able to use "Mad Bomber" tactics to pressure others, and drivers who don't meet minimum standards of competence should face societal and social pressure to improve or quit.
The availability and price of gasoline are not really on my radar. I bike as my primary means of transportation and use TARC as a backup plan. However, I know that gasoline prices have been going up steadily. I have heard rumors that gasoline is harder to get after this weekend's windstorm, due to interruptions in the supply and gas stations being closed due to lack of electrcity. I have seen long lines at the gas pumps. However, I have been amazed by the fact that I still see hordes of people out cruising around in their motor vehicles. I am amazed by my neighbors' willingness to burn gasoline to run their generator so they can watch TV. So when I saw this entry on the blog Sustainable77095, I could relate:
The announcement came today from the Governor: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080825/BUSIN...
Big Oil Earned $236 Per American Driver In The Last Year - over $150 Billion in profits (yeah, that's a B, that's $150,000,000,000) http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2008/per_driver.html
A hundred years ago of course roads were not for cars, because cars were rare, and to make roads places where cars could go, they had to be redefined.
It helps us understand what the street was like to city people then, if we think of what a city park is like to us today. It’s a place where we think of everybody as welcome, provided they don’t get in the way of others, don’t make a nuisance out of themselves, and don’t endanger other people. And it was in the nature of cars to be nuisances and dangerous, and so the early response was to blame the car and to restrict the car.
A) Raising Taxes on Truckers, who cause the vast majority of wear on our roads
B) Curtailing Road Spending
C) Raising Gasoline Taxes to make the Road Users pay for their Roads
D) Going $8bil more into debt with the Chinese
The state legislature is considering a special session to roll out the red carpet for ZAP Motor Company. The C-J breathlessly enthuses on the details. However, the C-J fails to mention the seriously negative reputation ZAP Motor Company has accumulated. From Wikipedia:
Today's must-read artcle: "Drivers Feeling Shunned by D.C.". They're taking on the car culture head-on, and it is amazing how weak the car culture spokespeople sound once they're on the outside.
The New York Times points out the ways that high gas prices do - and don't - emulate the proposed effects of congestion pricing.
FHWA's Traffic Volume Trends for March is out. It paints a staggering picture of how American drivers are reacting to gas prices:
Key quote: "Travel on all roads and streets changed by -4.3 percent for March 2008 as compared with March 2007."