Friday, January 30, 2015

Carhead with a green tint

A brief "Climate Connections" program aired on Salem's KMUZ this morning and it revealed volumes about why our efforts to cut pollution from transportation have failed so dismally.

The Climate Connections series of spots attempts to give a little bit of information in a short digestible fashion for radio audience. The one here today focused on efforts by the Utah Department of Transportation to preserve what it called "flow" in automobile traffic, Presenting flow as an environmental good because autos pollute the most when accelerating or carrying a heavy load.

In other words, if you drink enough pseudo-green Kool-Aid, timing stop lights, increasing travel speeds and avoiding pedestrian impedance — the traffic engineers term for how a pedestrian looks through the driver's windshield — is actually a boon to the environment!

Salem breakfast on bikes blog calls this unthinking view of the world "hydraulic autoism."

Here at LOVESalem, it goes under the name "Carhead."

But it's the same demented, destructive worldview, the one bankrupting cities and states all over America, in a futile effort to maintain the fantasy that you can design a system around the private automobile without marginalizing vast numbers of people and destroying the environment.

As decades of actual experience have shown, whenever you increase traffic speeds, you not only increase the slaughter on the highways – a huge burden for humanity and a net catastrophe for the environment — you also increase the number of people who will choose to drive on the route with a higher speeds.

In other words, mismanagement by measurement of the wrong thing. By focusing solely on one engine and the omissions from that one engine, your ignore the total result of the system, which is more driving and more pollution and more demand for widening and straightening the roads, and adding more capacity to the web of roads, which further increases the amount of driving.

The only way to actually reduce vehicle emissions is to stop moving around in single occupant vehicles so darn much.

You reduce emissions in getting around by providing a complete mobility network, instead of a transportation network, as transportation is the defined today.

A mobility network is one where people have choices about how to get around and the most frequent trips can be taken on foot or bike, or by a form of transit that keeps the individual automobile parked, rather then all trips being designed for an automobile, with the automobile dominating all discussions of transportation.

A mobility network is one where all people, regardless of wealth or physical disability, can participate fully in the life of their community – in civic, social, economic, and recreational activities— Without having to own or have access to an automobile. In other words, automobiles are not prohibited, but they are not required in order to be a full participant in society.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

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