Daily Archives: September 16, 2012

Can I get an Amen? Wreck-Free Sunday

Gigi may no longer be at my house but she seems to have found Internet access somewhere. I found a comment that was credited to her by FB that if it wasn’t legal to ride on sidewalks, and drivers didn’t want to share the roads, that because motor vehicles killed about 100 people per day and the worst year ever for bicycle they killed 10 people that year, perhaps it would be best to ban motor vehicles from the roads. Can I get an Amen to that?

What I was actually thinking about that would be a ban on private motor vehicles only, combined with making all wrecks potential “assault with a deadly weapon” when “vulnerable users” are involved. The logic behind this thinking is that people are mostly looking out for their own survival but also not expecting people to be actively trying to kill them without overt provocation. Add to that that most cyclists and pedestrians don’t consider riding a bicycle on the road “overt provocation” like some drivers do.

Excuse me I had a “Squirrel!” moment there. Ban private motor vehicles and make hitting the people not driving trucks (i.e. everybody else) an automatic assault with a deadly weapon until proved otherwise. The reason for the ban is a majority of the deaths of vulnerable users is caused by cars, that the majority of the oil used is used by cars, and the majority of congestion is caused by cars. Get rid of cars and vast numbers of problems will just vanish. Now I know that this will create more problems, but those are easily solved by expanding public transit and converting those enormous fields of pavement used to store cars between trips to housing (each parking place could house one person when converted to housing). The main reason why people can’t walk or ride a bike is distance between destinations, and the main reason for the distance between destinations is those enormous fields of pavement used to store cars between trips. Convert those to housing and distance becomes a non-issue as the destinations are cheek-by-jowl with the origins.

Keep motorized transportation for goods, and building all that close-in housing becomes a job-creator to put a temporary boost to the economy while we transition to a car-free economy. Since most of the cars are built outside of the US dumping cars will not have that great an adverse effect on the US economy, but getting rid of them creates opportunities for other growth. For one thing getting rid of cars means people are going to need to eat more good carbohydrates. That means that there will be more need for things like wheat and rice and potatoes that are grown with low glycemic index but high carb loads for long-lasting energy for people with active lifestyles. That would be almost everybody in the car-banned world, as walking and riding a bike would cover the majority of journeys. Plus bulldozing the former suburbs back into farm land would provide a place to grow those crops where they could be easily transported to where the people are. Or at least they could grow the veggies those people would need as fresh produce that could be transported by cargo bikes and trailers to where the people are.

Those veggies could be made more affordable by keeping the tax on oil high for all motor vehicle fuels to reduce usage so that locally produced products could compete with products that had to be transported from par away places. Those taxes could be spent on rebuilding the rail system and converting roads to shared use between large trucks and people walking and riding bicycles. There would be no reason to have 2 wide lanes and a lane and a half of shoulder in each direction for the current Interstate system as an example. You could have one side bi-directional for trucks and the other side bi-directional for foot and bike travel, with the wide shoulders and 2 lanes converted to 2 lanes and a passing lane on the truck side and converted to wide bike lanes and wide pedestrian lanes on the human powered side. The frequent truck stops could be converted to hostels and inns for HP travel at the former exits.

I have ridden a bike on an empty Interstate highway before it was open to motor vehicles and found the experience quite nice. Interstates are made for heavy truck travel and as a result have limited grades and the most direct possible routing, which would also be great for people walking or riding a bicycle. Since rails can’t handle all the new freight traffic needed to support living in the car-free economy we still need trucks and buses to get goods and people from place to place, too.

Not everyone will have the time to walk or ride a bike to go from city to city, most will but a lot won’t. Tourism will become a mixture of taking care of people for whom the journey is the reason to travel and those who just want to get to the destination and have fun. The latter will be served by planes and bus travel (and passenger rail if that gets expanded), while the former will be served by the converted Interstate system and back roads that would become bike-friendly because of reduced high-speed car traffic. Tourism won’t disappear, but it will be changed drastically. For instance I see “foodie tourism” as a new niche, people going to out of the way locations where the planes and rails don’t go to eat the local cookery that isn’t franchised fast food. back in the pre-car tourism era this was a major reason for travel, especially outside your state or country.

In the post-car world, things won’t be perfect. But they won’t be too bad for most people.

PSA, Opus