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View Diary: Morning Feature: Mass Transit - Our Lives and Footprints (Plus Kossascopes) (185 comments)

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  •  Bikes Work (6+ / 0-)

    Bike commuters find that trips up to 10 miles are inexpensive and healthy.

    •  yes they work for a very small number of people (12+ / 0-)

      with certain types of employment and in certain types of settings. The ideal biker is childless, has a white collar job where he/she can shower or clean up and maybe even store clothes, lives in a temperate climate and lives much closer to work that the national average of 24 miles.

      Oh, and is relatively fit.

      its not really realistic to imagine that a nation who wont take the steps to do the most basic of physical exercise is going to start biking any significant distance. Not to be snarky, but in my town, you'd be hard pressed to find any adult person who isnt at least 30-50 pounds overweight.  It's sad, really.  But its the reality in many rural communities. Motorized  grocery carts are exceptionally common and the elderly arent the main ones using them!

      These folks are NOT going to bike anywhere. And to be honest, I'm not sure there really could without dropping 100 pounds first somehow.  My community doesn't even have a gym. We have the YMCA. A lake with a decent walking trail around it but taking a look around my town, its obvious that not enough folks even bother to use that.

      Besides, in the case of rural/semi-rural communities like mine, its really not even safe. Even I wouldn't bike out here on  those roads. There are no sidewalks (and yes i know you shouldnt bike on sidewalks but I would anyway if they had they were there, rather than take my chances in the street).  I stand in wonder of those brave souls i see biking in my community because they are literally riding on the "white line" on the edge of the road. Beyond that line is only grass. No way would I ever ever do that.

      I do think, however, that these folks would be open to carpooling. It fits the psyche of the geography and melds with the lifestyle a bit better. I think carpooling would be easier to pull off in a rural/semi-rural community than in a suburban community. Hands down.  

      •  So bike to the subway. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        Best of both worlds.  And if my fat ass can bike for 2 miles to get there, anyone can.

        •  What subway? (8+ / 0-)

          Here in Florida (where mdmslle and I live) there are no subways, and subways aren't even theoretically possible because of our water tables.

          Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

        •  subway? there's no subway in FL (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

          and even if we had the money to build them they arent possible due to aquifers.

          i would respectfully recommend you travel outside of americans major cities and stay in those "other places" for at least two weeks to get a better understanding of how a very large number of americans live day to day.

          we dont have subways and many places barely have a decent bus system.  

          •  Development/tax patterns are key. (1+ / 0-)
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            The real question is why somebody chooses to live several miles away from a small town when they could live in the town, and walk or bike safely to most places they want to go.

            I know -- because they like the privacy, or the animals, or the trees, or whatever. But there should be a cost attached to this that is commensurate to the extra strain the resulting sedentary/driving lifestyle places on our health system and atmosphere. I would impose a payroll tax on those who commute more than a mile or two. Motor fuel taxes should be higher, too.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 11:15:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well as someone who's lived (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              winterbanyan, NCrissieB

              in such diverse places as Washington DC suburb where I grew up, South Florida less than 3 blocks form the beach, and central florida in a town of 15,000 (where I bought my home) i'll give you my perspective:

              The fact is that where I live now has very few jobs actually IN TOWN. I call it semi-rural because its not exactly country living where I live (although if you drive three miles out it would be). I can walk to walmart or winn-dixie grocery store (1/2 mile) or Walgreen (less than 1/2 mile) from my house. Most people who live "close in" could bike where they want to go but its not likely for the reasons i explained upthread.  While where I live is gorgeous (theres a huge lake in the middle of town and a walking trail around it) and we have a very vibrant ecosystem (certified bird watching sites right in the middle of town), there's just not a lot of commerce here.  Most folks drive to the next biggest town to work about 20 miles away.  I wouldn't characterize this community as a place people go to b/c of privacy or trees or animals. But you can TODAY buy a decent house for 80,000.  You can buy a mansion for 150,000 and a lakeside mansion for 200,000 or so.  When I left palm beach florida, converted crap apartments that were renting for 1000 month were being sold as condos for 500,000. That's bullshit. AND you still needed a car to get anywhere!! How about we charge THOSE folks extra. They can clearly afford it.

              The cost of living is much lower AND the neighborhoods are more friendly and "old fashioned" (IOW kids play outside without constant adult guards watching to make sure some pervert doesnt snatch them up).  I dont have kids but I like it that most of the kids play outside like we used to, in groups and seem to be happy without the latest ipod or other gadget hanging from their pockets.  Stress level is lower. People are friendlier, in general. that was something i was sort of unaccustomed to..not that folks were rude where I came from but here people actually engage. Its sort of nice.

              As far as having to pay extra, consider us already paid up. If it weren't for us, there would be no green trees and plants. Having come from the city of DC where, granted, we have rock creek park, everywhere else you look is concrete. I consider it even.

              •  Not to mention ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                winterbanyan, mdmslle

                ... moving to central South Blogistan brought you nearer the campus of Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, making it more possible that someday you might meet Chef or the Professor of Astrology Janitor or even the resident faculty.

                On a serious note, I agree.  The "everyone should just do X" approach is exactly the kind of attitude that created our environmental crisis.  It flies in the face of nature's values of "openness, diversity, resilience."  Nature has a word for species that only live in a single kind of habitat: extinct.

              •  Think through implications of commuting tax. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I'd impose it on the employer, not the employee. That would give the employer incentive to develop affordable housing, support good schools, good police protection, etc.

                In your case, some employer from that town 20 miles away would probably relocate to your town. Then its employees could avoid the tax while enjoying good schools, green space, friendly neighborhoods, etc. And folks in your town wouldn't have to drive 20 miles to work.

                And there's more:

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:04:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  love it. nt (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HeyMikey, NCrissieB
                •  We tried that once ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... that system where the employer provided housing, schools, shopping, civic services, etc.  Called 'em "company towns," as I remember.  It didn't work like you think it will....

                  •  Unions, etc. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    In those days employees had no clout. No unions, mostly. And poor whites were often pitted against blacks, to the detriment of both.

                    Understand, I'm not claiming I have the key to Utopia. Certainly we'd be trading one set of problems for another. But I think the problems we'd gain would be more amenable to management by the psychological tools of average humans than the problems we now have.

                    And I've focused on the employer as the key to housing, schools, police protection, etc. because -- in the words of Willie Sutton -- "That's where the money is." Corporate profits have increased significantly over the last several decades, while real middle-class earnings have been flat or even lost ground.

                    I would be interested to see what effect the recession has had on inflation-adjusted corporate profits compared to the last several decades.

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 11:45:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  And I don't commute at all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              because I have a business in the home.  So should I get a tax credit?

              I have a problem with this idea because very often people don't get to choose where they live.  I know many are on the fringes of town because they're too poor these days to live in the Urban Renaissance, or because they were pushed to the fringes by their color.

              And frankly, not many people can find a job within a mile or two of home, or find a home within a mile or two of their job.

              "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

              by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:47:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  We get bikers killed on our narrow (8+ / 0-)

        roads and busy intersections all the time.  And a recent study showed that drivers consider the bike lanes to be merely extensions of the driving lane.

        And this despite a new state law requiring vehicles to give a 6-foot berth to anyone on a bike.

        There's definitely some consciousness-changing that needs to be done.

        "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

        by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 06:01:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Road rage and cyclists (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, winterbanyan, BYw, NCrissieB

          It's pretty darn easy for drivers to become enraged at bicyclists. Sometimes they have "good reason" as cyclists blithely ride two abreast, or unnecessarily far out into the road, causing multiple cars to stack up behind them for extended periods of time. Often, there is no reason, but the rage happens anyway, just from general irritation at a slightly inconvenient "other". And it goes the other way too-- it's easy enough for cyclists to feel contemptuous, superior, and entitled with respect to those fat, inconsiderate slugs hurrying by in their cars.

          In my area, we've had a few deaths in recent years (of cyclists, of course) as a result of these rageful interactions. In a couple of cases, there was alcohol involved. IMHO, it was not so much that drinking made the drivers lose control of ther cars, more that they lost control of their emotions.

          My sense is that the rage factor is a bit less these days, thankfully. In part this may be due to an extended "share the road" campaign by county gummint, and maybe also just because cyclists have become more numerous, so sharing the road with cyclists has become a more routine, expected part of driving.

      •  Rural & semi-rural communities (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        You are quite correct about the transit realities for folks living in rural or semi-rural communities (like me, for instance). Most everyone is very "green" around here, at least in their awareness, yet we live so spread out, and sometimes so high up on the ridges, that we wind up having to use a car for almost every trip out of the house.

        It's a beautiful way of life, except for the car thing. But that one thing means that in the long term (or sooner), it's just not sustainable for a typical American lifestyle. Rural living used to mean a great deal of isolation, and a much slower pace to life, with none of the convenience and variety of city living. Soon enough, it will be like that again, with the possible exception of a few rich people who can continue to drive everywhere as if global warming and peak oil are someone else's problem.

    •  Until they get run down by a semi. (7+ / 0-)

      Every year, are always 2-3 bicyclist killed on the highway I would have to use.  That looks like a small number, until you consider nearly no one is crazy enough to ride on a major interstate highway with virtually no shoulder.

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