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comment by veen

    Geography, Business decisions, social choices and the general development of the United States over the past 100 years have created an environment in which the utility of the automobile is fundamentally unmatched.

And what a shame that is. I would kill for L.A. weather with Dutch urban topography and bicycle infrastructure. The past few months of 'I am physically unable to move outside of my neighborhood without a car' have really reminded me of how much I hate car-dependancy and commuting by car, even if the former is a nearly traffic-free 15 minute drive. It's interesting how the one mode of transportation that requires a license, some modicum of skill and permanent engaged attention is the one that's championed for giving people freedom when I feel so much more free and present when cycling or on a comfortable train ride. I get why, but it's still a shame that there is no room for alternatives for the large swathes of people who don't want to or can't drive.

kleinbl00  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

On the one hand, 80% of the population of the United States is urban. On the other hand, 95% of the population of the United States considers themselves to be a high plains drifter, roaming with the tumbleweeds from one lone outpost of humanity to another, vast fields of buffalo grass beneath their feet for weeks at a time as the sun-drenched FREEEEEDUMMMMMMMM of it all surrounds them like their godhood.

And I'm gonna be honest. I grew up in a town of 20,000 people, half an hour from a town of 15,000 people, an hour from a town of 50,000 people and two hours from a town of 400,000 people and I'm here to tell ya - there wasn't a single fuckin' bus in a hundred mile radius until I went off to college.

I'm a big booster of public transit. It makes so much more sense than the alternatives. I love rail, I love carpool lanes, I love vanpools, I love all of it. But for one in five Americans it is simply not an option. Not in any way shape or form.

And whenever the five percent say "I can haz bike lanez" the ninety five percent point at the one-in-five guys and go WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM

My LA biking radius was 9 miles. If I needed to go less than 9 miles, it was quicker to take a bicycle just because of parking and traffic. If the sun was out, pedal power was quicker to get more than halfway across the urban core. And LA? Let's be honest, LA is the place where people will pay more on car payments than they will on rent because you're never going to invite anyone over to meet your six roommates.

Maybe things will change. Slowly. I guess this month is the first time the median new car payment is out of reach of the median American family.

veen  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I can only imagine how much further your L.A. range would be if you'd sport an ebike instead.

The iron-clad laws behind urban geography is that speed and travel time dictates how far away people will live from each other, and that transit only makes sense when said transit is faster than driving. The decades-long attitude of US transportation planners, channeling their inner Robert Moses, is that driver speed is the penultimate measure of success. Thus the biggest argument against transit and bicycle lanes is that it will slow down car traffic, whilst ignoring that it's a bit of necessary collateral damage. Thus the U.S. urban topography throws people as far away from each other as possible, with everyone in their own solitary steel bubble moving to their solitary McMansion bubble. (Didn't Bowling Alone have a large section about this?)

More and more people are realizing that a) the shittiness of suburbia is by design, b) that cars are a large part of the problem, and c) that it doesn't have to be this way. Ever heard of Carmel, Indiana? I have:

kleinbl00  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ahh but the thing of it is? eBikes aren't that much faster. They just require less effort. I never found the effort to matter that much; what kept me out of an eBike is the inability to charge one up easily. My LA commute, round trip, was roughly 1.5x the comfortable battery range of anything under $6k. They were also, at the time, illegal on bike paths and bike paths are the only way you can survive LA long-term. Sure- might not be an issue in Cypress Park. But you ride through Santa Monica and you would encounter law enforcement. The only reason Rad Power Bikes limits their stuff to 20mph is to skirt that nasty Class 3 category, and the only reason anyone skirts Class 3 is because of municipalities like LA, where anything capable of going over 20mph assisted is still illegal on bike lanes.

You're right, I hadn't heard of Carmel, Indiana. Looking at it? It's a suburb of Indianapolis. I have nothing bad to say about its walkability, bikeability or general pedestrian-friendly vibe, but I will point out that a not-insignificant portion of its inhabitants definitely researched "how long will it take me to get to work in Indianapolis" before they moved there. And I hate to tell ya - I tried three different addresses in Carmel and three different addresses in Indianapolis and not a single combo had public transit options between them. Not on Saturday, not on Monday. There are a number of municipalities in America that look like that right now - Redmond, WA comes to mind, as does Burbank, CA. Call 'em "housewife friendly." It is a trend I support and one I hope more communities embrace. It does not, however, greatly impact the adoption of mass transit. Mostly? It encourages you to park in a big free parking lot and walk around shopping all afternoon with Olivia and the girls. I mean, there are three wine bars between us and the cars, it's a sign.

    The iron-clad laws behind urban geography is that speed and travel time dictates how far away people will live from each other, and that transit only makes sense when said transit is faster than driving.

So look.

1) The largest single asset most white people will ever own is their house. This is a big reason why there's a tax credit for homeownership - it helps keep minorities poor.

2) Homeownership within walking distance of your job is not only entirely out of reach for nearly everyone, it doesn't make much sense in an environment where jobs change every four to ten years.

3) As the largest single asset most white people will ever own, banks recommend that a third of someone's income be spent on paying for homeownership.

4) And no. People don't need to own houses. The rest of the world doesn't do it this way. But the US does. And because the US does, rent is equally expensive, if not more so, because it does not build wealth.

5) And the further you live from your likely job, the more likely you are to need to drive to it.

It's a rare state or county that requires the development of commute options in tandem with the development of property. In general? You throw up McMansions because everything's cheaper in the country and whatever bus line you put in? no one would ride it. Light rail is going to open down the street from me next year, a mere 75 years after the Post Office. The Seattle area has two international airports now and if we're lucky, you'll be able to ride rail between them in another fifteen years or so. Fundamentally? The United States was settled by automobile. As a consequence, automobiles remain crucial to transiting it. This is not the future I want. I would like to see it change.

But the causes are a lot less flippant than people want to believe. It's an intractable problem due to logistics, not culture.

Unlike guns.