Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 10

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

The world is his parking spot (The Economist)

New Yorker economics writer John Cassidy recently penned a blog post opining that New York City was adding too many bikes too quickly, there weren’t enough cyclists to fill them and that the bike lanes didn’t meet the cost-benefits criteria of good economics policy. As would be expected, cycling advocates (and others) subsequently almost exploded in outrage. Here is a very well reasoned response to Cassidy that points out that driving has its share of “costs” that Cassidy seemed to overlook — namely the pollution it causes. Cassidy has written a second post on the subject in which he defends his original position. Fun!

High-speed rail coming to..Victorville? (L.A. Weekly)

Here’s a good look at some of the Nevada politics in play over the proposed Desert Xpress high-speed rail line between Victorville and Las Vegas. The gist of it: No one seems to have any idea if people will really drive 80 or so miles from L.A. to jump on the train in Victorville for the rest of the journey, nor are there any guarantees that the line would be extended to Palmdale, which puts it somewhat closer to L.A., Metrolink and the Anaheim-to-San Francisco high-speed rail (if that gets built). Of course, all this depends on the Xpress getting some big money from the feds and that’s no sure thing — although it may help that Sen. Harry Reid is now backing the Xpress after getting some recent backing from an Xpress supporter in his reelection campaign. Fun!

High-speed rail not coming to downtown Riverside (Riding in Riverside)

Planning is underway for an eventual extension of the California high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Diego, via the San Gabriel Valley and Riverside. But the train won’t actually stop in downtown Riverside with choices narrowed to other locales preferred by local government or other institutions. Among those is the old March Field Air Force base. Okay, Source readers — let’s stop and think about this one. One of the big arguments in favor of high-speed rail is that it can go straight into cities, sparing travelers the time-gobbling drive to the nearest airport. Unless, of course, the station is at the…airport. Fun!

4 replies

  1. “We already have bike lanes. I use them!”

    Ummmmmm, are you sure you’re living in the same city as the rest of us?

  2. The bottom line is, that thinking is not sustainable. Bicycles, while also not ideal in terms of sustainability (tire wear, tubes, oil based lubricants, welding/brazing processes, metal production, etc.), have significantly less impact on its surroundings. With that said, the idea that a sustainable community/city/country/world is a good thing is purely opinion. Sure, I think it’s a good opinion, but a lot of people see having a bonfire as much more fun. So everyone has their own opinion on whether the idea of sustainability is worth its salt.

    So with that in mind, doing things to make cars less appealing is supposed to make people move away from them to *more* sustainable options. Now, if you think sustainability is not a concern, then I agree. The damage to businesses in the short-term will occur. However, without cars, people generally shop more locally, and less regionally, and the businesses near really high populations will eventually have access to more customers. This would not happen if there was a giant vacuum effect drawing people away from L.A. to the suburbs you mentioned.

    Also, keep in mind that I don’t think many people want to completely eliminate streets…commercial vehicles will still have access. And if the sustainable idea works (at this point, who knows), they will actually have more access due to reduced passenger vehicle traffic.

    *shrug* Whatever floats your boat.

  3. John Cassidy is right and the fact that the Los Angeles City Council nor our illustrious mayor can’t be bothered with the mathematics of the economics that support the argument against it is pretty sad. Study after study says that L.A. has the worst traffic in the universe, practically, but somehow our government thinks its a good idea to take away lanes for motor vehicle traffic.

    How about this? Let’s start enforcing traffic laws on bicyclists first. 99% of every cyclist I see:

    – rides with no helmet
    – the wrong way
    – through stop signs and red lights
    – cuts off cars
    – fails to yield to pedestrians

    If bicyclists want to be treated the same as any vehicle using public roads, then let’s start requiring cyclists to register their bikes with a city or state government agency so that they have to pay a fee to support the law enforcement resources it takes to keep roadways safe.

    Now all of a sudden this doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

    We already have bike lanes. I use them! We should add more of those, where reasonable. And where not, consider (I emphasize the word *consider*) grade-separated right of ways the way we have pedestrian bridges that cross over freeways. We should not be making it MORE difficult for buses, taxis, food delivery vehicles, the trucks that haul our groceries and appliances to and from stores and other people who conduct BUSINESS on the streets of major cities. Things like taking away motor vehicle traffic lanes happen as if it wasn’t hard enough to keep companies in regulation & tax-happy places like New York and Los Angeles. Who would want to business in a place like this when neighboring places like Carson, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Clarita, don’t do stupid things like this?