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

    • The Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • An Alternative to the Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • The Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • The Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • The Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • A Sign Of The Times December 2, 2016
      Made this brass knuckle bookmark for a client and they wanted “Civility” stamped on it.  Thought it fit perfectly into the world of 2016.  No reason we can’t be civil while we fight the power! Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • We Can Still Ride Our Bikes! November 14, 2016
      Tweet I was having a conversation with a friend on our ride to work after Trump was elected, and it was pretty grim. We talked about all the many many bad things that are likely to happen to our state, … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Insane Truck Commercials November 5, 2016
      Tweet I stumbled upon these two videos for Nissan’s “Titan” truck line.  If you are not familiar with these behemoths the titan gets a shocking 15 mpg…which I guess makes it pretty standard mpg for “male overcompensation” size trucks these … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Action Alert: Call Cambridge City Councilors by Monday for Protected Bike Lanes! November 5, 2016
      TweetThe group of citizens in Cambridge pushing for safer streets is on a roll! (more, here and here) From the email: Thanks to all of your support, we have motivated the Cambridge City Council to pass 8 policy orders requiring … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Newton Wont Install Bike Lanes To Make The Roads Safer Because The Roads Are Too Dangerous In Newton November 5, 2016
      TweetThis is sort of what I used to hear about kids walking and biking to school…”We can’t let our kids walk and bike to school there is too much traffic near the school.” Why is there traffic near the school…because … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker