Sorry for the relatively extreme lengthiness between postings. But for the past couplathree weeks I’ve been virtually sequestering myself from old school 3-D human interaction in order to discover and grasp the circumstances of this newfangled albeit 2-D business called blogging – all those available RSS feeds, and who the heck knew what a widget was, never mind what it could do for your life! And don’t you even get me started on CSS! I’ve even been Twittered! (Uh oh no, although I’ve promised myself adherence to brevity with these posts of mine, here I already go oh so post-modernly digressing; let’s get me straight to the matter at hand:)
Since we last convened I’ve been thinking, and tremendously, about what we learned a priori from such illustriously learned entities as The Public Purpose and The Heritage Foundation and The Texas Public Policy Foundation, specifically ingeniously stupendously counterintuitive conclusions like: one, we as a society should be driving more; two, increasing urban density will only increase the amount of vehicle miles driven per capita; three, smart growth is to blame for the most recent market failure; four, that the fundamental problem with transit is that it is an illusion bereft of reason and that nothing can be done to provide genuine transit choice; five, we should not take advantage of fallow/underused infrastructure like railways to improve our transportation systems[i]; and thus, finally, our multi-modality should solely be confined to building more and more auto-centric roadways, tollroads and flyovers, each bigger than the last one, in order to relieve congestion and mitigate smog.
But after delving into TTI’s statistical universe?
“Bosh!” is all this Most Senior Fellow can now exclaim, “Bosh I say!” For beyond reams and reams[ii] of statistics, below are just some of the things he has found in The Texas Transportation Institute’s analytical summations[iii] regarding our present topic:
- Providing more options for how a trip is made, the time of travel and the way that transportation service is paid for may be a useful mobility improvement framework for urban areas. For many trips and in many cities, the alternatives for a peak period trip are to travel earlier or later, avoid the trip or travel in congestion. Given the range of choices that Americans enjoy in many other aspects of daily life, these are relatively few and not entirely satisfying options[iv] (feel free to inquire of my thoughts regarding “choice” and the “American” “Dream”:)
- In growing areas adding capacity of all types is essential to handle the growing demand and avoid rapidly rising congestion[v]
- Commute trips generally cluster around the most congested peak periods and are from the same origin to the same destination at the same time of day. These factors make commute trips by carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, bicycling and walking more likely[vi]
- Peak period public transportation service during congested hours can improve the transportation capacity, provide options for travel mode and allow those without a vehicle to gain access to jobs, school, medical facilities, and other destinations. In the case of public transportation lines that do not intersect roads, the service can be particularly reliable as they are not affected by the collisions and vehicle breakdowns that plague the roadway system and are not as affected by weather, road work, and other unreliability-producing events[vii]
- Transit, like ridesharing, park-and-ride lots and high-occupancy vehicle lanes, typically have a greater effect on the congestion statistics in a corridor, rather than across a region. Transit and these other elements “compete” very well with the single-occupant vehicle in serving dense activity centers and congested travel corridors[viii]
- (Smart Growth) characteristics can be incorporated into new developments so that new economic development does not generate the same amount of traffic volume as existing developments[ix]. Among the tools that can be employed are better management of arterial street access, incorporating bicycle and pedestrian elements, better parking strategies, assessing transportation impact before a development is approved for construction, and encouraging more diverse development patterns[x]
And now…for the coup de grace…
- If a region’s vehicle-miles of travel were to increase by five percent per year, roadway lane-miles would need to increase by five percent each year to maintain the initial congestion level[xi]
- This analysis shows that it would be almost impossible to attempt to maintain a constant congestion level with road construction only. Over the past 2 decades, less than 50 percent of the needed mileage was actually added. This means that it would require at least twice the level of current-day road expansion funding to attempt this road construction strategy. An even larger problem would be to find suitable roads that can be widened, or areas where roads can be added, year after year[xii]
So, let’s proceed getting our facts straight here: Pro-road/Anti-Transit Choice lobbyists like Wendell Cox (in sidebar John Stuart Mill wonders: “[Is this man’s] eminence due to the flatness of the surrounding landscape?”) and his ilk draw most if not all of their statistical ammunition from TTI as the foundation for their arguments; yet TTI’s very own analyses of their very own statistical universe directly contradict those conclusions being fabricated (ahem, allegedly) by Anti-Choice lobbyists. (forthrights George Orwell: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”)
Right now you are asking yourself, “What, exactly, does this Most Senior Fellow mean?”
Good question. Very good question. Well, he means a deliberate attempt is being made to divert an argument with a logical fallacy (in Greek, Ignoratio elenchi which, for Aristotle at least, amounts to ignorance of logic). Nowadays we call this a “red herring.” While it has no place whatsoever in any serious debate, it does allow us to make the following generalized assertion about those who tend towards employing this so-called debating tactic: “Its usage indicates the medieval kind of mind that first comes up with a conclusion and then does everything in their power to reach that foregone conclusion, putting every premise of theirs up for immediate dismissal[xiii].” If these people know what they are doing, shame on them. And if they don’t know what they are doing, then shame on them as well. Why? Because those who “achieve” extreme so-called professional Tayloristic specification should know the exact parameters of the universe they are confining themselves to. That’s why.
According to Karl Marx, many of what a group calls “truths” may have very little or no basis in fact. Instead, the group’s “truths” are often fabricated to favor that group’s economic interests and further its economic aims. So while capitalists construct an ideology that serves capitalists, those with progressive tendencies construct ideologies that serve the greater good. In other words, ideological debate is less an inquiry into facts than a battle for Power via what amounts to propaganda campaigns at the expense of Democracy and The Public Good. (You can rest assured that we here at THE Placemaking Institute, beyond being a non-partisan entity, are adherents to a strict dogma of Anti-Ism-Ist-Ism[xiv].)
But for those of you who are still sniffling at my reference to Marx? Here’s a little something from Adam Smith himself for you to try on for size:
The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [the capitalist class], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
Oh heck, will you just look at this? So much for my promises of brevity! Sorry for all that reading! I guess this is what happens when one can mindlessly type faster than one thinks. And so I’ll abruptly close this here argument of mine with an Irish proverb that’s as apt as it is old: “Bullshit a baker and you get a bun; bullshit a bullshitter and you get none.” Good day. (Bernard Shaw: “Any rebel has an obligation to replace the conventions he destroys with better ones.” Most Senior Fellow: “I know, Bernie, I know, and I’m gonna get to that soon, Bernie, so willya get off my back already?”)
[i] http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/address_mobility_problem.pdf: “Sometimes, the more traditional approach of simply adding more capacity is not possible or not desirable. However, improvements can still be made by increasing the efficiency of the existing system. These treatments are particularly effective in three ways. They are relatively low cost and high benefit which is efficient from a funding perspective. They can usually be implemented quickly and can be tailored to individual situations making them more useful because they are flexible.”
[ii] and by reams and reams I mean REAMS so AD INFINITUM you don’t even know!
[iii] http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/congestion_spread.pdf: “Congestion has spread to more cities to more of the road system and trips in cities to more time during the day and to more days of the week (and) . . . congestion problems (are) grow(ing) at about the rate of one population group every 10 or 15 years. So in the time it takes to enact solutions for one size of problem, congestion has worsened.”
[ix] Portland is one area where the multiple performance measures help illustrate the effect of the transportation and land use policies that are being pursued to create a denser urban area that is better served by public transportation[ix]
[xiii] David Parvo, Most Senior Fellow of THE Placemaking Institute
[xiv]Eliphas Levy: “To want without desiring, there is the secret of power.”