Still Angry, or “What I Believe”
Posted by Kevin A. Straight
I realized last night that I hadn’t logged into this blog in over two years. I’d like to say a big “sorry” to all the poor people whose comments have been in blog-limbo all this time, waiting for me to mod them!
It’s hard to say why I haven’t been posting. Certainly, I am still really pissed off at the way our transportation system works here in North America. If even one person who reads this blog is inspired to get rid of their car, or grows up to be a decision maker and enact pedestrian friendly policy, then I have made a difference. And it helps me to have an outlet for when I’m angry at the system and slightly buzzed.
As I relaunch the blog, I thought it would be useful to summarize my transportation platform. Basically, I believe there are way to many automobiles in use in the world. All of the following planks are designed to make it harder to use a car and easier to walk or use a bicycle:
- It should be hard to get a drivers license–hard enough that anyone who doesn’t need one or shouldn’t have one won’t get one. As a start, we could make the exam more difficult, require yearly medical checks, and require people to hold a learners permit for three or four years before the apply for a full license.
- Roads and buildings should be designed for people and bicycles, not cars. Cars can use the space that is left over after the sidewalks and bike racks go in. Parking for cars should be extremely limited.
- No housing tract or apartment building should ever be built more than half a mile from a grocery store. Ideally, retail and residential occupancies should be well intermixed so people can easily walk to shop.
- It should be much more expensive to register large vehicles than small vehicles. This could be implemented by a tax schedule that goes up in relation to weight, height, or engine horsepower.
- It isn’t feasible to outlaw all cars. Contractors and house movers, for instance, need to be able to buy trucks (but should be made to jump through many hoops to get them). Disabled people or people with small children might need to drive golf carts. I don’t really have a problem with golf carts, as long as they are small and can’t go any faster than a bicycle. A golf cart license should be like a concealed weapons permit: they only give it to you if you take a class and come up with a plausible reason why you need it.
- No one should ever be allowed to design another intersection with a pressure plate. Every time an engineer puts in a pressure plate, it’s like saying “screw you” to bicycles. Actually, 95% of existing intersections could be redesigned to be more bicycle friendly while constricting automotive traffic.
- Bicycle education should go back into elementary schools. No one should get past fifth grade without being trained in basic bicycle safety, riding technique, and maintenance.
- All traffic laws should be enforced at least as severely for cyclists as for motorists. Bicycles will never be accepted as a mature mainstream mode of transportation while most cyclists keep acting like children: running red lights and ignoring hand signals.