The Latest From BostonBiker.org

News, Events, Updates


Streets Are A Public Utility Designed To Move People (Not Cars)

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 15

The title of this post comes from the parting lines of a police training video from florida.

Those words have been swimming around in my head for a couple days now. I had always thought something similar but “Public utility designed to move people” really crystallized my ideas. Roads are for people, and those roads work better or worse depending on how those people choose to use those roads.

For instance Latron sent in this lovely picture.

20130211massaveandnemos

I really noticed this during the storm. People had reclaimed the streets, and were almost universally happy about it. It was only when the cars came back that things started to get nasty.

Being a public utility, roads are a shared but limited resource. We only have so much space, and we have to move everyone around. Like public water infrastructure, the size of our “pipe” is only so big.

amount-of-space-required-cars-bus-bicycles-poster-image43

Why is it then that we seem to prioritize the most inefficient user of our roads, single occupancy automobiles? As I have written about before, cars are way too big for the job they do. Using many more square feet of our roads to move the same number of people around that a bicycle or a pair of shoes could do much faster, and cheaper.

It would seem that we have convinced ourselves to do something that is foolish. When you see a lot of people doing something foolish, its often helpful to follow the money. Who makes money from a foolish act, and what is their motivation for having people continue to do said foolish act. In this case you will easily follow the money back to a whole host of very large companies (car/oil/construction).

Then its just a matter of looking at how they have convinced people that this foolish act is a good idea, and before too long you have it pretty much figured out. Some small number of people make a very large amount of money if everyone continues to drive cars, they convince us we need to drive cars with billions of dollars in advertisement, and secure their money flow with lobbying of our elected officials.

This is basically how capitalism works in america. For better or worse we live in a system where often making money for a few outweighs the benefits for the many. Not only would our roads be much more effective at moving people around if they were not clogged with single occupancy motor vehicles, the air would be cleaner, people would be healthier, local economies would have more money in them, it would even be quieter and more pleasant to live in this city.

It is very hard to defend the continued use of cars as a major transportation option for city dwellers. They are expensive, loud, inefficiency, unhealthy, politically dangerous (oil wars, and money spent to protect oil over seas), bad for the environment, dangerous to children, dangerous to the operators, make motorists unhappy, and make our shred public roads operate poorly.

Its time to abandon the single occupancy automobile in favor of better and easier options. We need to move to better and more efficient public transportation, walking, shared car use (zip car), bike share programs, denser and more innovative city planning, and yes cycling.

Cars are killing us in a 100 different ways, and making us miserable in the process. Lets stop this madness, get on your bike, and get out there!


submit Streets Are A Public Utility Designed To Move People (Not Cars) to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in advocacy | 5 Comments »

The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • This Monday, Say No To Keystone XL Pipeline March 28, 2015
      TweetCan’t ride your bike under water!  Global warming is real, its serious, and it has Boston in the cross hairs, this Monday show up and let President Obama know that we care. From 350.org:   As he approaches his final … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Mayor Walsh Announces Vision Zero For Boston March 27, 2015
      Tweet Like New York, Mayor Walsh has outlined a ‘Vision Zero‘ philosophy for Boston.  It’s something myself and many other have been saying for years.  Traffic fatalities are not “accidents” they are crashes.  They don’t just happen by cosmic chance, someone … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Big New Plans For Comm. Ave.! March 27, 2015
      Tweet   The city wanted a shitty plan, a plan based on old ideas, on the idea that the car would always be the main form of transportation in the city, and the entire bike community stood up and said … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Big New Plans For Comm. Ave.! March 27, 2015
      Tweet   The city wanted a shitty plan, a plan based on old ideas, on the idea that the car would always be the main form of transportation in the city, and the entire bike community stood up and said … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Commonweatlh Avenue victory? March 25, 2015
      TweetI submitted the following comments in resposne to a Boston Globe article reporting on proposed bikeways on Commonwealth Avenue. Real solutions to bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor can be found by connecting parallel streets, an initiative … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Commonweatlh Avenue victory? March 25, 2015
      TweetI submitted the following comments in resposne to a Boston Globe article reporting on proposed bikeways on Commonwealth Avenue. Real solutions to bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor can be found by connecting parallel streets, an initiative … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Commonweatlh Avenue victory? March 25, 2015
      TweetI submitted the following comments in resposne to a Boston Globe article reporting on proposed bikeways on Commonwealth Avenue. Real solutions to bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor can be found by connecting parallel streets, an initiative … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Commonweatlh Avenue victory? March 25, 2015
      TweetI submitted the following comments in resposne to a Boston Globe article reporting on proposed bikeways on Commonwealth Avenue. Real solutions to bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor can be found by connecting parallel streets, an initiative … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Do You Live In Cambridge? Do You Ride A Bike? March 23, 2015
      TweetIf so please vote to spend some of that sweet sweet Cambridge tax monies on some awesome bike friendly projects! Welcome to the participatory budgeting (PB) ballot for the City of Cambridge, courtesy of the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team. If … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Don’t Miss Your Chance To Give Public Comments On The New Comm. Ave. Design! March 23, 2015
      TweetThe big Comm. Ave. public meeting is tomorrow, make sure you show up to give your input! From Livable Streets. ————-   Don’t miss your opportunity to weigh-in on the city’s updated design for Comm Ave! Join us at the … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker