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View Diary: Cars Cause Republicanism (338 comments)

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  •  I don't agree -- many issues hobbed into one (4.00)
    I don't agree that cars cause Republicanism. That's a sweeping generalisation and I feel it's incorrect.

    I believe that you are hobbing two issues into one. First is the issue of the availability of public transportation and the use of alternative transportation. Second is the issue of what you describe as "libertarianism" when it comes to car ownership: the supposed "trampling" of the society by the car owners.

    Correlation does not imply causation. When you see that more rural areas tend to vote Republican, I think car ownership has little to do with it. I think the types of jobs that people have in those areas, plus the less diverse environment that they are exposed to on an everyday basis contribute much more to the "Republicanism".

    "Traffic calming" and "speed limits" are these nasty phrases that are disingeniously used by people who want to push everything in the name of safety, but ignore the science. Pardon me, though, because I am a liberal car geek who loves my science.

    The science and research, and I am just giving you tidbits here, say that when the Nationally Mandated Speed Limit was repealed, the states that increased their limits from 55 to 65 actually reduced their traffic fatality rates. Many traffic calming attempts actually lead to driver rage, worse accidents, impairs emergency vehicles, to the point where the NY DOT advises to not install STOP signs to slow down traffic, because they cause higher speeds between the intersections. Traffic calming devices such as speed humps also significantly increase emissions (city of Portland, ME saw a 48% increase in emissions from installing humps, and that's not counting the extra gas from speeding up and slowing down).

    See, to me, it's much better to do things like what San Jose (I think, it was a CA city) did: they synchronized, re-timed their traffic lights and significantly reduced traffic (I believe the figure was 30%), while saving a lot of fuel and significantly reducing emissions.

    Given a choice, most people would rather not drive, at least during their daily commute. Unfortunately, given the transportation system state in most of this country, many people have no choice but to drive. I know many many folks here in the NorthEast who would gladly ditch their car if there was a reasonable transportation alternative.

    What also we need are initiatives to further promote (and perhaps reward) carpooling, and other commuter options in places where public transportation is lacking.

    Another thing that we need is safe bikeways to promote biking. I could bike to work--but the last 6 miles of the commute are on scary (to a biker) suburban roads, where the drivers are unfamiliar with bikes on the roads.

    Most people just want to get to where they are going. Removing artifically low speed limits, optimizing traffic patterns and lights, better driver education and training are all the things that contribute to a smoother flow of traffic and general public safety. That is an issue that is unrelated to the fact that so many people HAVE to drive (not CHOOSE to drive).

    Chris, I know that you are very much against the widespread car use that is prevalent in the U.S. However, that's no reason to make such sweeping accusations as "cars cause Republicanism."

    •  traffic calming is real and needed (none)
      Of course, I think you are talking about highways.

      I'm talking about high density urban areas with too much traffic going too fast.  I sat in on community meetings talking about the problem.  Conclusions: The problem is real, not imagined.  The problem is generated locally.  The problem is not going away.

      The solution is raised intersections which are safe at 25 mph - which is the legal speed limit in Ohio's residential streets anyhow.  The biggest problem was accomodating the needs of emergency vehicles.   Suggestions of trying to restrict turns or reroute traffic physically were killed because no one wanted to be the one waiting for an extra five minutes for emergency services to negotiate a maze.

      We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

      by Fabian on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:27:30 PM PST

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    •  You should know that I love these slightly absurd (4.00)
      and over-reaching diary titles. They really get folks thinking and arguing. I don't believe that cars are the main cause of Repulicanism, but they do contribute. And if we had a more, dare I say it, European aproach to public transit and gas taxes we might not have so damn many of them.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:53:27 PM PST

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    •  Here's some science on traffic calming (none)
      Traffic calming -- and no, I'm not talking about crappy speed bumps, those are soooo '80s -- is necessary to make people feel safe walking because the likelihood of being killed by a car increases enormously with relatively small increases in the vehicle's speed.

      If I'm hit by a car going 20 mph, odds are only 5 percent I'll be killed.

      At 30 mph, the likelihood I'll be killed jumps to 37-45 percent.

      At 40 mph, it's in the 80 percent range.

      If people are to have the option of walking anywhere rather than driving, cars need to be slowed the hell down.

      You're full of beans, and so's your old man!

      by skeptigal on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 03:45:22 PM PST

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