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

    • Cars…Not So Good August 26, 2015
      Tweet NPR reported today that Boston ranks 6th!  Sixth!   Sadly it isn’t “Awesome Cities”, it was Cities with the highest level of time wasted in traffic.  We didn’t get here by accident.  It was years of decisions, choices we … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • test August 26, 2015
      Tweettest
      Boston Biker
    • Help Hubway Decide Where To Expand Next August 24, 2015
      TweetFrom The City: Since Hubway’s last expansion in Boston, we’ve received over 33,000 suggestions for station locations. Based on that input and consultation with community-based organizations, we have developed a range of station options for our 2015 expansion. We have … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Where should Hubway go next? August 24, 2015
      TweetBoston Bikes wants input on expansion of Hubway bike dock stations in Boston.  Fill out the survey to help place new stations in Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury/Franklin Park, and South Boston.  Looks like the Hubway bike network will be even … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Where should Hubway go next? August 24, 2015
      TweetBoston Bikes wants input on expansion of Hubway bike dock stations in Boston.  Fill out the ssurvey to help place new stations in Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury/Franklin Park, and South Boston.  Looks like the Hubway bike network will be even … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Nearly Doored; Passenger Good Enough to Apologize August 20, 2015
      TweetUsually I scan driver’s seat or the rear driver side seat to check for doors that might opening ahead of me. In this instance, a passenger in the rear reached over the seats to open the rear, driver-side door. I … Continue reading →
      yourstruly
    • Ghost Bike For Anita Kurmann August 19, 2015
      TweetA ghost bike will be placed where Anita Kurmann was killed by a driver in a truck last week.  The memorial will be Thursday Aug 20th at 6:30pm at the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Beacon st.
      Boston Biker
    • Ghost Bike For Anita Kurmann August 19, 2015
      TweetA ghost bike will be placed where Anita Kurmann was killed by a driver in a truck last week.  The memorial will be Thursday Aug 20th at 6:30pm at the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Beacon st.
      Boston Biker
    • Minute Man Maintenance August 17, 2015
      TweetJust a heads up, they are working on the path. All this week from 9:30am-2:30pm between Swan Place (Arlington Center) and Lake Street in Arlington.
      Boston Biker
    • Hubway Turns 4, Has Logged Over 4.6 Miles In Trips August 17, 2015
      Tweet If you take the 4 millionth trip you could win a prize!  From Hubway: Hubway’s launched with 60 stations and 600 bikes throughout Boston, and the first trip was taken on July 28th, 2011. In the last four years … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker