Tuesday, 2 of September of 2014

Category » Cars

La – Robin – Hood is Out

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Tuesday he will not be sticking around for President Barack Obama’s second term, according to Roll Call.  Many of us first got to know LaHood when George Will wrote that this mediocre legislator had been transformed: “I think we can change people’s behavior.”

LaHood was talking about getting people out of their cars and onto rail transit.  However, he was not talking about people voluntarily leaving the road.  His determination was to coerce people out of their cars.  Since then he has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to wasteful projects in pursuit of the Portlandification of America.  Good riddance!


Maryland’s Transportation Plans Go Off the Tracks

The Washington Post editorializes about getting Maryland moving again.  It seems that northern Virginia has become an attractive destination for Marylanders who can no longer take the high cost of living in the high tax state.  So perhaps improving its transportation system will make things better.  This would be true if the State Assembly spent revenues on transportation projects that work, namely roads and bridges.

Instead, the Post exhorts Smart Growth Governor Martin O’Malley to “take the lead” on an initiative to increase the tax on gas an additional 15 cents per gallon, and the scheme would divert money increasingly to transit projects: “the Red Line in Baltimore” … “the Purple Line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties” … “the Corridor Cities Transitway.”  Sure, some money will also trickle down to roads and bridges.

Transportation policy in this Smart Growth State has already been heading in the wrong direction, and Gov. O’Malley’s “leadership” only makes matters worse.  The Post earlier reported on Montgomery County’s plan “to give more of the road to buses,” which simply doubles down on the earlier idea to push “car-free living.”

The reason why so many people have become anti-tax over the year is only partially explained by the high tax burden many people face.  It’s also due to the distrust with politicians on how they spend tax money.  A scheme like this only deepens that skepticism.


Challenging the Anti-Car Consensus

When Smart Growthers say “Less is More,” they are usually talking about reducing capacity on major roadways. This fad has developed it’s on catchphrases and buzzwords like Road Diets and Complete Streets. In my town of Gainesville, the political establishment has long championed the effort to reduce lanes on two major arterials cutting through the heart of downtown.

Last week, the editorial editor commented on this with the typical Either/Or Fallacy. This week, the paper published my response.


Faster, Please

Your Smartphone Will Replace Your Car Keys by 2015, according to Wired magazine.

“According to the Korean automaker [Hyundai], the driver can swipe their phone across an embedded NFC chip to unlock the car, and once inside, the place the phone in the center console, allowing the car to start, while an inductive charging plate keeps the juice flowing without needing to plug in.”

Once in the console, your Smartphone will link to a 7-inch touchscreen mounted in the dash and be able to automatically import contacts, navigation destinations, streaming audio and other apps.  The future of mobility looks very bright.


The EV Market is a Tough Sell

PJ Media says it best: Plug-In Cars Don’t Resell – Because They Don’t Sell


Driving Toward Stronger Social Cohesion

City Journal California offers an interesting take on how municipalities are using Smart Parking Meters.  Using ground-sensor technology, Smart parking meters use ground-sensor technology to sense when a parking spot is occupied, send text messages to notify drivers that their time is running out, prevent drivers from adding money over permitted time limits, change parking rates based on congestion, “and—the main source of controversy—reset any remaining time when a car leaves the parking spot.”

“The issue is not that the City of San Francisco will get more, but that an unknown someone will end up with less. Unless we somehow reverse a century of urbanization—moving back to small towns where everyone knows everyone else—finding these points of connection, these interactions that facilitate empathy with fellow citizens, will continue to be invaluable.”

In other words, even if motorists travel independently they share a sense of community with other motorists expressed by the frustration that have with local governments that cheat others out of meter money.  Smart growthers say the automobile contributed to social isolation, but that’s always been a stretch.  This makes more sense to me.


Red Light Cameras & Traffic Accidents

Installed at dangerous intersections to hopefully reduce the frequency and severity of car crashes, red-light cameras contribute to an increase in accidents, according to a new study in New Jersey.

“Rear-end collisions at the intersections were up by 20 percent, from 286 the year before the cameras were installed to 343 the year after, according to the report made public yesterday. Overall, accidents increased from 577 crashes the year before the cameras were installed to 582 the year after. The “crash severity cost” — which takes into account vehicle and property damage, emergency response and medical care — increased by nearly $1.2 million after the cameras were installed.”


Point – Counterpoint

Can We Please Stop Pretending Cars Are Greener Than Transit?

leads to …

Can We Drop the Fantasy That Transit Is Green?


The Greedy Government-Surveillance Society Complex

Technology is wonderful, but in the wrong hands can lead to abuse of our citizenry.  Combine technologies potential with the thrist for more money from local governments and you’ll have a toxic mix of government watching you and fining you “for your own good.”

National Journal reports on the latest development where local governments are re-timing traffic signals to shorten the yellow light function, thus making it more likely motorists will be caught (with intersection cameras) running red lights.

“Cities and for-profit camera companies maximize revenue by setting yellow-light times that are too short,” said National Motorists Association President Gary Biller. “It is a violation of the public trust, and it jeopardizes motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian safety.”

Local government’s insatiable appetite for money (i.e., greed) is putting lives at risk.  Yellow lights serve a critical function at busy intersections, and shortening them simply to raise more revenue show a callous indifference to the safety of the community.  Sadly, I see this trend only increasing in coming years.


The New Normal for Highway Capacity

Congestion continues to worsen around the country’s major cities, yet the political will for taxpayer-financed new highways seems to be lacking.  A solution to this dilemma that is increasingly gaining currency in public policy circles is tolling.  Indeed, tolling is already more extensive than one might first think.  Where there is resistance comes from the general public that sees a road and believes it has been paid for with gas taxes and, consequently, they believe paying a toll to drive on it represents a double billing.

Such is the sentiment S. Masani Jackson, as quoted in the New York Times: “I’ve been living here my whole life, and I have never had to pay for the 110 Freeway.  It’s ridiculous.”  She’s referring to Interstate 110, which is converting an 11-mile stretch across central Los Angeles into tolled express lanes.

One of the driving forces behind this policy development is Robert W. Poole, Jr. of the Reason Foundation.  His work on Congestion Pricing makes the case that all states and metropolitan areas should be looking into this opportunity to create capacity while associating the costs with those who actually use it.

But there are benefits beyond just reducing congestion and eliminating/reducing taxpayer subsidies.  Tolled roads tend to be safer, which enables motorists to drive faster.  The newly constructed Texas Tollway 130 posts a speed limit of 85 miles per hour.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.