"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Highway Fumes

This morning's Bike Blog at biketraffic.org had me choking on my oatmeal.

We are at a watershed event in modern history. Since our society began using cars as the primary mode of transportation there has never been as big a drop drop in driving as we are currently experiencing now. If the nadir in driving miles during the Arab oil embargo in the 1970's was a plateau, this current drop is more like a cliff. As in billions of miles less.

Higher gas prices are changing Americans driving habits. Finally our selfish behavior is hitting us in the pocketbook, and we are reacting. However, as gas purchases are down, so are the highway taxes that come along with them.

And what is the Department of Transportation's response to this drop in funding?

By diverting money from mass transit.

That's right. Finally, everyday Americans are beginning to see mass transit as the answer to getting us beyond oil. At least partly. I notice myself that my twice a week metra commute to work is now twice as crowded as it was even in April. And the Bush administration, which was practically appointed by the petroleum industry, will take the hard-won money we fight for almost daily, it seems, and use it to prop up a way of life that even the most dunderheaded, stubborn right-wingers can see is eventually on the way out.

I am not some pie-in-the-sky, wet-behind-the-ears, pantywaist that Hannity and Limbaugh seem to think exist everywhere beyond their diatribes. I know we need highways. The interstate system was originally conceived as an escape-route for our metro areas and of course, interstate commerce depends on them.

Yet in both cases, this tool is rendered useless by traffic congestion; the system is clogged by Americans who seem to think they have the right to a daily commute to work or play in air-conditioned comfort on leather seats that burns away 400 years of sunshine every mile.

Taking money from Mass Transit to keep the highways operable for emergencies and commerce is nothing less than shooting ourselves in the foot. We need mass transit to keep people off the highways. With substandard mass transit options, the system will not be able to keep up with demand, and growth will be stunted. We'll simply spiral downward faster and faster until it all just breaks down into a pile of rubble, potholes, broken down trains crowded with sweaty misery, gridlocked highways, and a population on the verge of revolt.

Hardly a vision for the future, but right in line with the vision of the Bush Administration.

Please write the Department of Transportation and let them know what you think of their plan to divert money from Mass Transit to fund highways. And start to demand that our elected officials distance themselves from the petroleum industry.


Steven Vance said...


I thought the interstate system was modeled after the Autobahn system, to move troops across the country.

Newtrøn said...

keep writing you sissy