October 25, 2010Over at enviro-blog Grist, conservative William Lind is interviewed on the subject of transit. Lind is an anomaly of sorts in the center-right transportation camp in that he backs many of the transit programs championed by leftists. Of course, just like the lefty backers, he gets virtually everything wrong in his diagnosis of what ails the American transportation system.
Lind, who wrote a recent book on the subject with the late Paul Weyrich (both of whom previously authored another error-laden book on the "conservative" case for transit), is a social conservative and has allowed his time spent working on defense issues to color...
October 21, 2010This morning, The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire quoted me "disapproving" of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's TIGER II grant picks. LaHood "countered" critics of his program by... not addressing their criticisms.
Mr. LaHood countered that much of the money will build bridges and improve railways to relieve congestion. Overall, the department said about 29% of the money handed out would go to road projects, 26% is aimed at mass transit, 20% for rail projects, 16% for port improvements and just 4% for bike paths and walkways -- the favorites of environmental groups.
Mr. LaHood added he would have preferred to have $600 billion to work with instead of the $600 million he was allotted ($15 million of that was for administrative costs.) The DOT noted that states...
October 19, 2010Matthew Yglesias of the Center for American Progress links to a Washington Post article that notes that office rents in downtown D.C. are now higher on average than office rents in Manhattan. He correctly points out that Washington, D.C.'s building height restrictions are largely responsible:
Normally what happens when you get high rents is that people respond with bigger buildings. Which is why Manhattan has such big office buildings. DC office buildings, by contrast, are quite short. So are developers working on responding to the high demand by building taller buildings? Of course not! Taller buildings are illegal in Washington DC.
Consequently, instead of building up...
October 18, 2010
Watch the interview on YouTube.
October 18, 2010Since the early 1990s when advocates of so-called Smart Growth took control of federal transportation infrastructure policy, we have increasingly heard transportation projects described as "livability" enhancements. Livability sounds great: I mean, who doesn't want their community to be more livable? The problem is that for Smart Growth advocates, "livability" is not about improving the lives of residents and offering them more opportunities -- it is about restricting the movement of individuals.
Livability projects are generally those that make auto travel more difficult: converting highways to boulevards, closing city streets to cars, opening one-way urban streets to bidirectional traffic, narrowing roads, zoning out parking, and installing speed humps, to name just a few. Congestion is by far the most...
October 15, 2010[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYSkSxWFWo8 285 234]
October 14, 2010
Watch the video on YouTube
October 13, 2010Michael Lewyn, a law professor and anti-"sprawl" activist, has a post on Planetizen about how he and his ilk are supposedly unfairly maligned as elitist social engineers, while those opposed to so-called "Smart Growth" and more subsidies to public transit are labeled contrarians.
Every so often, I read something describing defenders of sprawl as "contrarians", implying that they are underdogs fighting against the elitist, anti-sprawl Establishment. For example, when I did a google.com search for sites including Robert Bruegmann (author of one of the better defenses of the status quo) and the word "contrarian" I found over 1400 "hits." Similarly, a search for websites using the terms "smart growth" and "elitist" yielded over 6000 hits.
But realistically, most of the U.S. built environment is sprawl by any concievable...
October 12, 2010Google has been making headlines after the company revealed over the weekend that its driverless cars have logged nearly 140,000 miles on public roads (see this awesome video clip). These robot cars are able to navigate traffic through a combination of GPS, radar, mounted video cameras, and laser range finders. The basic technology has existed for several decades and has gradually been improving. DoD's DARPA sponsored a series of annual Grand Challenge competitions a few years ago, awarding a team consisting of Carnegie Mellon University and GM engineers with $2 million in 2007.
I find these events incredibly encouraging. America's surface transportation technology has seen no significant...
October 7, 2010The Transport Politic's Yonah Freemark today posted an article praising the anti-automobile policies of Paris' Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and delivering what he seems to believe is an attack on congestion pricing.
Looking back, the results have been astonishing: Even with no direct financial reason to abandon driving, the city saw a 17% decrease in driving between 2002 and 2007, a trend that is continuing (according to the most recent information, it may now be 24%). In the same time period, travel on the regional rail network increased by 16%, by 8% on the...