Saturday, June 24, 2006

Anti-Car City Councils

I read the above linked article from the Weekly Standard about how many anti-car city governments are deliberately making traffic worse in their utopian goal of a classless society whereby everyone lives in high density housing (i.e. government housing) and uses public transportation (save those few priviledged aparachniks). This system, known in central planning business as "traffic calming":
PROPONENTS OF TRAFFIC CALMING--mostly government planners--not only oppose new highway construction and, in some instances, highway maintenance, but want to reduce mobility by installing roadway barriers and traffic-slowing devices that clog up the roads. In other words, rather than alleviate congestion, traffic calming aims to induce it.

Why create congestion? The goal is to make driving as undesirable as possible, thereby discouraging sprawl and encouraging people to live in high-density areas, where they will either ride mass transportation or walk. Since most cities have trouble filling seats on their money-losing transit systems, traffic calming is also another way to try to make these systems more financially justifiable.

So let me understand this, these people has taken it upon themselves to force the people (without consent in most cases) to leave affordable, comfortable housing in the suburbs and coerce them into smaller, more expensive housing in the city by making it near impossible to drive into work. Of course, those fortunate to already have housing in the city (i.e. city councilors and their special interest group friends) will reap the benefits of skyrocketing housing prices. But they will also make sure that zoning laws will protect their properties and prevent "ugly" apartment buildings from being built, thus creating a greater housing shortage exacerbated by the anti-car policies of said government.

Not only is this undemocratic, cynical, corrupt, and reeking of totalitarianism, it will backfire. I'll use Toronto's anti-car campaign for example. With Toronto's sky-high business taxes, crazy congestion and ridiculous parking, modern telecommunications has made the necessity of locating in urban areas less and less relevant. So a lot of these companies can move to more affordable (and car friendly) areas.

The car-haters in these cities will have their 'calmed' traffic. But they will not have the masses traveling happily on the "proletariat chariot" from their high density living complexes to work. The roads will be empty, the buses and subways will be empty, the downtowns will be empty: their dreams for a car-free city will come true when businesses and their employees get so fed up of the deliberately congested traffic that they move to more "car-friendly" jurisdictions.

Remember: car friendly = people friendly as a rule of thumb.

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