Car park

“Why do American cities waste so much space on cars?”
Uh, because they’re climate-controlled living rooms that go places?

A good newspaper not only reports the news, it stimulates debate on the issues of the day.

And this piece by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times — “I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing” — is certainly going to set some chins wagging.

But hoo-boy, talk about your roadblocks:

Given how completely they rule most cities, calling for the outright banishment of automobiles can sound almost ludicrous. (We can’t even get people to agree to wear masks to stop the spread of a devastating pandemic.)

In other words, don’t swap the Escalade for an e-bike just yet, Sparky.

One more minor quibble: I think this sentence — “Manhattan, already one of the most car-free places in the country, is the best place to start.” — is just a wee bit Noo Yawk-centric.

How about starting with a smaller space, like Santa Fe? Wall off the actual walkable/bikeable bits from the metastasis that surrounds them, provide car parks around the perimeter, and encourage people to engage in muscle-powered transportation.

Pedicabs will be available for hire, but you’re gonna have to show me a serious hitch in your gitalong or other qualifying infirmity before you make someone else haul your fat ass around town. The penalty is crucifixion (first offense).

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25 Responses to “Car park”

  1. SAO' Says:

    What’s your set-up for grocery hauling? Backpack, panniers, or can you recommend a basket combo? I seem to have acquired my first dorky hipster cruiser, and need to add some errand enablers. But I don’t want to make it too much of a wide load, (1) because it’s already carrying a 55 year old wide load, and (2) because everything with two wheels at some point ends up strapped to a four wheel internal damnation combustion.

    • Herb from Michigan Says:

      Read the NY article which in many ways makes sense. On the other hand, it’ll be very hard to get people to give up air conditioning with global warming here. For sport today I waited until the temp hit 96 with appreciable humidity and hit the bike path. Geezus…even in the shaded spots it was a scorcher and I thought my Kenda’s would melt. Over the 16 miles I saw six people 4 of which were teenagers headed for a swimming hole. And then the thunderheads began building (but sadly for naught). And there’s Northern American winters. I just don’t see how the average person will give up their climate controlled automotive world. I though the itty-bitty Smart car with all electric drive was the step in the right direction. Bikes are a great solution but again, it’s only going to get hotter and wetter in many regions. Sadly, the pandemic and those to come are pulling people away from mass transit planning.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yeh, that’s the thing. We follow the path of least resistance. I nearly didn’t go out today because by the time I dealt with my chores and obligations it was already as hot as balls. Nevertheless, I persisted, and holy hell was I a sweaty mess by the time I got back to the ol’ rancheroo.

        Thus I was not inclined to bike it to the Sprouts for some medium-heavy restocking of the larder. I fired up the rice rocket.

      • Shawn - cool in the Gorge Says:

        We’ve been pretty cool up here in the Oregon Gorge area. Our warmest day thus far has been about 94 degrees. But it’s a “windy” heat – 25 mph constant headwind with hills. I remember a time when I was passing through Vegas in the summer. I decided to skip the casino girls, free drinks and shrimp cocktail to do a mid-afternoon ride on the trails in Henderson. I don’t recall the temperature, but I think I was in Mordor looking into the eye of Sauron that day.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I covered a few Cactus Cups in the Phoenix metro and way too many Interbike/Outdoor Demos in the Vegas area. Sure gives a fella the 411 on what to expect come the afterlife.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      A Wald basket zip-tied to a rear rack is a cheap, sturdy hauler if you keep the load light. On the Vespa I’ve used a Wald and a messenger bag to pretty good effect. Th’ow in a cold bag and you’re good to go. They do a couple nice front baskets too. Nice guys; met ’em at Interbike one year.

  2. SAO' Says:

    Going to slap some links to my favorite twitter account here … Brent Toderian, an urban planning guru and the best friend of bikes, dogs, and trees everywhere.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Manhattan car-free? Not the last time I was there.

  4. khal spencer Says:

    Last time I was on the east coast, albeit a while ago, NYC was chockablock with cars. Kinda reminded me of a remake of that Yogi Berra comment: “No one drives to NYC any more. Its too congested.” Maybe that has changed.But I like his idea and it echoes the stuff coming out of Charles Marohn and Strong Towns.

    There is actually a proposal in the works of the city council up here in the People’s Republic to cordon off the Plaza and a few surrounding streets as car-free. Its created quite the battleground about car free vs. traditional values. Stay tuned.

    • SAO' Says:

      “No one drives anymore, the roads are too congested.”

      I had just typed that, was about to click the REPLY button, stopped to top off my coffee, and you beat me to the punch.

      I guess there’s a “extra medium” version to the “great minds” saying!!

  5. Pat O’Brien Says:

    A quarter hour city is a great idea.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Chez Dog in Bibleburg, situated as it was in the fabled Patty Jewett Yacht & Gun Club, was a much better 15-minute-city kind of place than is El Rancho Pendejo.

      Our little ’hood boasted flat terrain, low-traffic streets, and small islands of retail scattered around within walking distance: The Safeway of the Living Dead, a smallish Ace Hardware, a pharmacy, Ent Credit Union, a nice little coffee shop, a one-man auto-repair op’, a burger joint, etc.

      We have some of that here, but every outing involves a shit-ton of vertical gain and a circuitous route to avoid high-speed multilane streets. And of course come summertime there’s the heatstroke.

  6. SAO' Says:

    Forgot to mention, re: pedicabs.

    Maybe the most thriving market for these? Outside SEC and Big 10 football stadiums before and after games. In Lincoln, NE, you need to book a trip a week out, and there’s a $50 surcharge for the trip home.

  7. SAO' Says:

    WaPo piling on:

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