These Things Used To Work Pretty Good

7 thoughts on “These Things Used To Work Pretty Good”

  1. How about another example of your tax dollars at work. Sacramento Bee ran an article about Caltrans considering rebuilding otherwise safe and serviceable highway bridges to allow a couple hundred per day oversized and extra heavy “mega trucks” (over 80000 pounds) avoid detours around the city. At a cost of $1.5 billion just for the three downtown I-5 bridges. So as to make heavy freight movement more efficient and California ports more competitive. Alternatively, if possible, strengthening them instead would cost a mere $400 million. Sounds a lot like that infamous bridge to nowhere slated for Alaska. No wonder the potholes don’t get fixed!

  2. IN THEORY the automotive congestion would be reduced b/c a commensurate amount of parking spaces would also be reduced, but only if a *sufficient* number of people took some kind of public transport, including taxis. The taxis would have more room at rush hour b/c ( in theory ) there’d be less road space devoted to parking, but that’s a big “IF,” & assumes that bikes lanes wouldn’t start occupying former parking spaces.

    1. Road congestion is different from parking space availability. I know plenty of places with endless free parking where the roads are clogged most of the time. Apples and oranges.

      Road congestion is when too many cars attempt to fill the roadway at the same time. There are two solutions. One is to make the roads wider and add more capacity. We’ve been doing this for about a century and we’ve hit a level of diminishing returns. We can’t even maintain all the roads we’ve already built. The other way to diminish traffic congestion is to reduce the number of cars on the road. That’s pretty cheap.

      You could solve both problems by charging people to use the roads. This would simultaneously raise revenue for maintenance and encourage more people to get off the road for non-essential trips. This is politically unpopular so it won’t happen in most places. So the roads will not be properly maintained. Instead, they’ll deteriorate. This will persuade many drivers to avoid taking unnecessary trips and/or agree to road usage fees. Failure fixes itself.

      Parking spaces are always competing with higher value uses in cities. Cities can choose to devote additional land area for surface parking lots and more money for the construction of multi-deck structured parking. Or cities can convert existing parking facilities to higher uses and let people pay extra for the luxury of parking in the remaining spaces. It’s a classic “opportunity cost.”

      Economic burdens like road construction and maintenance as well as loss of potential revenue in the form of low value parking lots will become a more an more obvious drain on local government. Some will respond by changing land use regulations and investing in alternative transportation systems (bike lanes and sidewalks are by far the cheapest) or they will simply go broke. Failure fixes itself.

  3. Lyft and Uber have recently introduced car pooling services aimed at commuters or others wanting longer rides at lower prices (e.g. to the airport). In the 90s, a lot of immigrants in NYC set up their own jitney services to make commuting easier in outer neighborhoods. They were regulated out of business apparently because they were cutting into transit usage. Uber and Lyft have a wealthier clientele and are more sophisticated politically, so it is possible they will reinvent the jitney, ideally in places where public transit is inadequate. It’s an interesting experiment, so I’m staying tuned.

    1. I’ve always maintained that Uber and Lyft and just fancy Gypsy cabs. UberPool is a tech version of the Colectivos and tuk tuks you see all over the world.

  4. In Denver, Car2Go recently shrunk their service area considerably, to where it is now really just the core (within maybe 2miles of the center). It stinks if you were trying to be car-light in a slightly further out neighborhood, but the reality is that 99% of all people outside the core own a car per capita and therefore have little need for Car2GO and/or Lyft, Uber, etc. The Car2Go vehicles would get taken out of the core and would sit sometimes for days in these further flung places, not a good business model for a for-profit business.

    If you live in the burbs, why pay for an expensive ride when you obviously have 2-3 cars sitting in the garage with sunk costs? Add in the fact that in Denver downtown parking is still really cheap. A recipe for Happy Motoring. Only tradeoff is time wasted, but in general most people don’t value their time very much.

  5. Imagine if all urban highways were dismantled and replaced with parkways. I’m talking about every highway within the outer belts of our cities. The new parkways could include bike lanes, streetcars, light rail, or subways. They could become dense business districts in some places and green oases in others.

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