Long-term parking

Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Interesting read here, and a “big idea” indeed.

The author opines that removing vehicles from the nation’s streets “would make urban life cheaper, safer, quieter and more pleasant,” and that good public transportation “coupled with fast, safe, pleasant walking and bicycling can easily meet the need for movement within our cities.”

As a bicyclist who just drove a couple thousand miles to the Phoenix clusterplex and back, and as a resident of the Duke City, where driving like a deranged asshole is the official city sport, I can dig it. The recent trend toward cheap gas has not made motoring any happier, either, unless you’re one of the overpowered, underbrained sociopaths who thinks “Max Max: Fury Road” was a documentary.

But I’d sure like to see some numbers on the up-front cost of shifting urban hellholes like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to auto-free — or even auto-limited — human-friendly habitats. Somehow the word “cheaper” is not the first descriptive to leap to mind.

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26 Responses to “Long-term parking”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Good morning. Interesting article. I have to go to Phoenix to pick up some furniture, at the closest Amish furniture dealer for me, in the next week or two. NOT looking forward to driving through Phoenix to Sun City. But isn’t the big problem for reducing cars in the city, any city, the commuters that work but don’t live in the city?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, Pat, we out here in the Great Murkin West have had the “luxury” of growing horizontally rather than vertically, and that’s a problem when you start thinking about how to cut down on the happy motoring.

      Herself used to commute to Denver and back twice a week when we lived in Bibleburg. And back when I still could get and keep a real job, I occasionally lived more than a stone’s throw from the newsroom. In Tucson, for example, I lived on Orange Grove Road, while the newspaper was way to hell and gone down on South Park, a really ugly 20-minute drive away.

      Turning cities into villages is gonna be a real pisser.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        The spread out Western cities are a problem. A city like Chicago makes it easier to live without a car. But easy and safe bike commuting there, or many Eastern cities, has a long way to go. Detroit has a real opportunity to re-invent itself into a car limited place. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

        Looks like El Nino is breaking down. Hard to complain about our weather, but we could use a little more rain this spring.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I’ve read Crawford before and while he paints an idealistic picture, its not clear to my merely adequate brain how to get there from here. Comparing an industrial city like Bremen, which has plenty of cars but also plenty of mass transit and bikes to a tourism city like Venice is a little apples vs. oranges. You can’t do industry without heavy transportation. Perhaps we needed to expand the comparison to see how the working class grunts in the factory districts landward of Venice get around. Like Bremen, many German cities were bombed flat and they had the luxury of urban renewal en masse with the idea of sustainability, just as we were about to go on our gasaholic phase, e.g. Levittown.

    Both Patricks nail it with the observation that car travel has been the design driver of American cities for half a century; Albuquerque is a casebook example of the clusterfuck that paradigm produced: a sprawling city that accommodated distances with high speed mega-arterials that are unsafe for anyone not in a Hummer. (Patrick, is it a mortal sin to have a sentence with both a semicolon and a colon?). Santa Fe has less of a problem except for NMDOT travesties like Cerrillos and St. Francis.

    Its not that simple to go backwards. Mass transit is generally a flop in low density situations, and a success in high density such as DeeCee and NYC. But as the Strong Town folks keep mentioning, low density is ultimately sustainable at very high costs per inhabitant because once the piper has to be paid on roads, water lines, and sewers, the cost per mile is the same but there are less people per mile to split the bill. Public transit will become more accomodating as we contract, assuming we do so.

    We will be in a world of shit when more of our cities need major R and R. Contraction and density is good in that regard. Abandoning or repurposing the House With The White Picket Fence On A Quarter Acre is the main issue.

    Back to the future?

    • Steve O Says:

      I see zero evidence of urban planning anywhere in this country

      Inertia, that’s all.

      Crazy that it’s cheaper for business/industry to keep inventory on the road than in warehouses.

      I’m betting on catapults as the next mass trans innovation. Set up nets in each neighborhood and just launch people five or six blocks at a time

      • khal spencer Says:

        I like that. Catapults. O’G, where is the cartoon on that one?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Well, here’s a suitable example:

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        “Just in time delivery” is to blame, Steve. You don’t have supplier deliver the part until the assembly line needs it. Part of the quality management programs and streamlined manufacturing processes started years ago in Japan and quickly adopted here.

      • Steve O Says:

        Pat, I get why they do it. But part of the reason why it works is because, compared to all other associated costs ( like salaries and pensions and healthcare ), gas is cheap cheap cheap.

        Similar to the fact that FedEx and UPS got started as overnight delivery guys, and now they make most of their money on ground transportation items

  3. Charley Auer Says:

    All of the above comments plus Phoenix and Las Vegas are way hot at least 4-5 months out of the year, with lows in I the high 80’s at nite. Based on 50 years in LV and the last 3 in the Phoenix valley.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    We’re living on an island in Sicily just 1 km long and 600 meters wide. Cars are gradually being removed. Many years ago here one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy was full of parked cars. Those are gone and NOBODY is complaining from what I hear. Vehicle access here is controlled, barely, but parking issues make having a car rather dumb (we don’t have one here) since pretty much everything we need is available within walking or cycling distance and plenty of services are available to haul in anything bigger than you can haul in your hands or on your bike.
    It’s a gradual process – start with the city center and work your way out. Even in Ancient Rome the commercial traffic was restricted to the night so the streets would be free of congestion for the people to walk (or if you’re Donald Trump, you get carried in a litter?) wherever they needed to go. Every time I visit the in-laws in Santa Barbara I wonder how long before the city fathers wake up and close State Street to auto traffic? It’s already a tourist draw, but it would be even better if one could walk or cycle there without dodging cars and trucks.

    • khal spencer Says:

      The Mayor closed off some of the access to the Santa Fe plaza and that has helped a lot in slowing things down and making it more walkable and enjoyable. I think they should completely close it off, but not sure what that would do to traffic on surrounding streets. As you say, exceptions can be made for commercial deliveries.

      Here in BombTown, the City Leaders, and I use the term loosely, seem to go in the other direction. More parking, wider roads, more sprawl. To paraphrase Bobby Jindall, when did Los Alamos become the Stupid City?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      What about places with no city center, like Bibleburg? The city fathers did their best to obliterate it in the urban-renewal craze of the Sixties and Seventies, and now they wonder why all they’ve got downtown are homeless dudes, a bunch of empty parking garages and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Yeah. As SteveO said, there has been little real long range planning.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Yeah, the dolts in-charge in Sioux City, IA are in the same (lame) mindset. They had a nice, closed to traffic street and they opened it up to cars, pretty much killing interest in the area which mostly sits vacant while contractors slap up ever more (never to be rented) retail space on the edges of the city. They’re still into the sprawl mode there, kind of why we say it’s the best place to be when the world comes to an end – there you’ll still have 10-20 more years!!!

  5. Ira Says:

    If you’ve got some time on your hands, here’s a blog with some interesting ideas http://gehlarchitects.com/blog/

  6. khal spencer Says:

    While we are on the subject.

  7. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Meanwhile, we have this: Car sales boom, helped by cheap gas and easy credit. Zoom zoom, people!

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Much of it thanks to “securitization” of auto loans into “asset backed securities” by Billary’s buds on Wall street. Got to churn that market don’t cha know. How else you gonna pay the lobbyists, candidates, and congress?

      • Steve O Says:

        Who is actually buying those things? From what I’ve read, most of these exotic securities are just traded back-and-forth amongst the same small pool of victims, I mean customers

    • larryatcycleitalia Says:

      If I was the king of the USA I would have slapped a nice $1 per gallon tax on dead dinosaurs once the price dropped under $2 per gallon, thereby encouraging continued conservation + generating some serious revenue to repair all the roads and bridges that have been neglected for far too long. Any money left would go to high-speed rail. But President Musso….er…..Trump would never go for that, would he?

      • carl Says:

        it should be a $1 per gallon tax regardless of price. infrastructure doesn’t get cheaper when the price of fuel goes down. now is the time to do it when gas is cheap. anyone here follow mr. money mustache?

      • Steve O Says:

        Carl, Warren Buffett said about the same thing last week. What does that guy know? Only posting record profits for the 96,835th quarter in a row. He’s going to be wrong one of these days…

      • redrockmtb Says:

        me and warren are tight.

      • Steve O Says:

        What was the mr money moustache line: paying for parking is a sign from God that you’re in a place where cars were not intended to go.

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