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Automobile Reduction Measures

September 13 is Pedestrian Day!

On that day in 1899, Henry Bliss was the first pedestrian killed by an automobile at West 74 Street and Central Park West in New York City.

Check with your local police department to find the location of the first pedestrian death in your town. Work to see a memorial plaque placed there.


In 1955 [Lewis] Mumford declared war in a series of New Yorker articles entitled "The Roaring Traffic's Boom." He wrote:
The prevalent conception [is that] the main purpose of traffic is to enable a maximum number of citizens to derive all possible benefits from the use of automobiles.... Transportation -- I blush to utter a truism now so frequently ignored -- is a means and not an end.... Like any other tool, it must be used for some human purpose beyond the employment of the tool itself.... [B]efore we cut any more chunks out of our parks to make room for more automobiles or let another highway cloverleaf unfold, we should look at the transformation that has taken place during the last 30 years in Manhattan.... The private motorcar [is] a method that happens to be, on the basis of the number of people it transports, by far the most wasteful of urban space. Because we have apparently decided that the private motorcar has a sacred right to go anywhere, halt anywhere, and remain anywhere as long as its owner chooses, we have neglected other means of transportation.... Instead of curing congestion, they [planners] widen chaos.

--From Landscape Architecture, an issue from some time in 1990.


On Earth Day 1990, the New York City Department of Transportation instituted several short and long term projects, the following facts are what resulted:

42 Street was open for Buses and human-powered transportation only. Bus speeds rose 29% eastbound and 9% westbound. On adjacent streets open to all traffic, eastbound speeds increased 16% and westbound speeds by 18%. Overall traffic in Midtown Manhattan declined by 21%.

The bicycle lane in Central Park was permanently extended to encompass the southern loop. This increased bicycle use by 60% in the morning rush and 180% in the evening rush.

The existing bicycle lanes on 6 Av. (northbound) and Broadway/5 Av. (southbound) were cordoned off by cones for the day. This widened the bikelane to include the lane in which cars usually park. This increased bicycle volumes by 51% on 6 Av. and 61% on Broadway/5 Av.

--Based on an article by Christina Sekulla, SMART Moves; Vol. 1, No. 6; published by NYC DOT, 1990.


Main street is usually crammed with automobiles. The automobiles fill every possible place to park along the curbs, and drivers must wait in long queues to get through the next intersection. There are a lot of drawbacks in this situation. First, there are fewer visitors to the businesses and governmental offices because the visitors must spend time looking for a place to leave their automobiles. The visitors also expend their emotional goodwill while waiting in the queues and competing for parking spaces. Second, everyone must breathe air that is substantially deteriorated by the admixture of noxious fumes from tailpipes, and the fact that the fossil fuels that make noxious fumes are finite and are rapidly declining does not lessen the discomfort...

Recently, bicycle transportation has received popular and research attention. It has become apparent that bicycle transportation is a possible alternative for solving the problems of immobility, traffic congestion, air pollution and energy shortages. However, there has been little research on the actual reasons why people choose bicycles as a transportation mode.

--Donna Lott and Dale Lott (Bicycle Research Associates, Davis, CA) and Timothy Tardiff (U Cal. Davis); Bicycle Transportation for Downtown Work Trips: A Case Study in Davis, California.


"This is amazing," said Vernon Lecount, 42 years old, who sped down the center of 42d near Broadway on roller skates. "I can't believe that it's New York, let alone Times Square."

Although some traffic experts had predicted that closing 42d Street would create a gridlock nightmare, transportation officials said traffic in midtown was 20 percent lighter than normal yesterday because alert motorists had avoided the area.

"I've never seen it so light," said Aaron Anderson, a traffic agent assigned to keep traffic moving at the intersection of 43d Street and Broadway. "I think people were smart and heeded the warning and didn't drive into the city today."

Mohammed Hassan, manager of Bryant Imports, an electronics store near Fifth Avenue, said: "It's almost one o'clock and I've only had two customers today. See those shipments there in the corner [of the store]? Well, my customers will have to wait another day to receive their merchandise because there's no parcel post pickup." [Well, if this were a long term project, there would be deliveries made. It seems best if the network of greenstreets could get deliveries around the clock.]

--Calvin Sims, "On Car-Free 42d Street, only Merchants Fumed," New York Times, April 20, 1990.


New York officials admit that if Congress hadn't kept EPA at bay last December, they were preparing to impose a $10 fee on cars entering midtown and institute and odd-even system for letting them into Manhattan. Off the hook, the city did nothing.

--Newsweek, August 29, 1988.


Sir Hugh Bidwell, the Lord Mayor of London, has called ont he Government to treat London's transport problems as a "national priority." A report, commissioned by the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of London, states that London's pre-eminence as a financial centre is threatened by an inefficient and congested transport system.

Similar statements were made by the CBI last year, and the Government is coming under increasing pressure to take action. The Lord Mayor's report calls for more investment in public transport, and recommends much higher parking charges, stronger enforcement of parking controls and a programme of more extensive bus lanes. Sir Hugh also stated that introduction of some form of road pricing (making drivers pay an extra charge to bring their cars into central London) will be "essential to achieve efficient management and development of London's transport."

--London Cyclist, July/August 1990. London Cycling Campaign


Madrid, "with some of Europe's worst traffic jams" fines have been raised to as much as $900 for crimes like red light running -- drunk drivers face up to 6 yrs. Bank accounts of delinquent summons-payers will be seized -- licenses of frequent offenders will be revoked. City has doubled its fleet of tow trucks to 130.

--Wall Street Journal, 3/8/90


"In the central sectors of Rome, Milan, and Florence, Italy, all traffic except bicycles, buses, taxies, delivery vehicles and cars belonging to area residents have been banned between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Cracow, Mexico City, Munich, and Budapest also have imposed various restrictions on motor-vehicles in efforts to improve the quality of life in the central city."

--International Bicycle Fund News, Summer 1990


In Hong Kong, electronic sensors on cars price highway travel by time of day, with commute hours the most expensive; drivers are issued a monthly bill.

--International Bicycle Fund News, Summer 1990


"A Madrid Plan Fails" Motorists ignored calls for "Day Without Cars" 5/24 -- police noted traffic only down 3% -- extra commuter trains idle, no increase in reg subway ridership. Mayor Agustin Rodriguez Sahugun had been urging commuters to leave cars home on weekdays.

--Wall Street Journal, 5/25/90


The Mayor of Paris, Jaques Chirac, has just ordered the cancellation of more than 100,000 parking spaces. He wants 200 miles of road in the city center to be declared a red zone where parking is forbidden. The extra space will be used for more public transport and pedestrian areas, and anyone caught parking could face heavy penalties.

--London Cyclist, Jan/Feb 1990. London Cycling Campaign


Meanwhile, London Buses are continuing their campaign to keep cars out of bus lanes. Buses are carrying slogans such as: "Bus lanes are London's arteries. Drive your car in one and you are a clot" and "Keeping the arteries of London clear is good for everyone's blood pressure." Each advertisement reminds drivers that the maximum fine for misusing the bus lanes [costs 400 Pounds].

--London Cyclist, Jan/Feb 1990. London Cycling Campaign


Portland [Oregon] caught the trail-building bug during the last decade as it began constructing a light rail system and rerouting traffic to improve its downtown. After tearing down a crowded arterial along the Willamette River, the city replaced it with the grass and bike trails that form one of the most popular areas in Portland, Tom McCall Waterfront Park. ...

As a sort of retro-vision of the future, trail advocates would like to see a path connecting all the cities of America. The trail would snake through forests and farmlands, the bright lights of downtown areas and the calm of suburbia -- a walkway for Americans who believe that the automobile has put too much distance between them and their country.

--Timothy Egan, "A Stroll in the Country For City Dwellers, Starting Downtown," New York Times, June 24, 1990, p.E5


What about the new Clean Air Act? Any extension of the deadline for clean air will eventually allow more highway expansion and more VMT growth, and hence make it all the harder to eventually meet the standards. It is like getting an "extension" on having to remove the termites from your house -- they simply continue to eat your house and multiply. The only advantage to the extension is that a few people make money, at the expense of everyone's health. I also noticed "ensure traffic flow improvements: listed as a requirement for TCM. As mentioned above, improving the flow of automobiles is not necessarily good. This is like trying to kill ants by drowning them in maple syrup -- you may kill a few ants immediately, but in the long run it's counterproductive.

--Michael Vandeman, Legal Tools For Stopping Freeway Expansion, July 19, 1988.


The bottom line is that congestion, far from being an evil that must be eradicated, is actually a very humane way of keeping VMT and air pollution in check. Like pain, it is a potentially lifesaving indicator, telling us that we are doing something harmful to our "bodies". Just as nasal congestion does not mean that our nose must be widened, traffic congestion signals and underlying disease (losangelism) that should be cared for.

--Michael Vandeman for the Sierra Club, Transportation / Air Quality Fact Sheet, May 14, 1989.


"The company car must be abolished," says the Association of London Authorities in a report on possible ways to ease traffic congestion.

"Company-assisted private motoring has become a perk with terrible consequences," it says, "the tax avoided comes to more than all the subsidies to public transport put together. It distorts London's travel patterns, increases congestion and pollution and should be removed at once."

Looking at the problems caused by this 'perk' from quite a different angle, a recent item in the Daily Telegraph stated that some firms are considering its abolishment because of "office jealousy." Apparently bickering amongst executives as to whether their car should be fuel-injected or turbo-charged is taking up an inordinate amount of director's time. And although the car may be worth far less than other bonuses offered to 'top managers,' some will ask for these to be lowered in exchange for an electric sun roof!

The ALA report (which is not connected with office squabbling) is called Keep London Moving and is priced at [5 Pounds].

--London Cyclist, Jan/Feb 1990. London Cycling Campaign


Traffic controls in cities abroad

A broad outline of the kinds of measures in force or proposed in cities outside the US would be:

  1. City wide programs
    1. daily restrictions (according to license plate number or day of week sticker).
    2. charges for entry; variously known as : area licensing, road pricing, congestion pricing.
  2. precinct or block by block
    1. pedestrian zones
    2. traffic taming

Some examples:

    1. Athens: Foremost example with a program, since 1982, of "alternative day" car use in a defined central area of the city. Restrictions apply Monday- Friday, 6:30 AM - 4 PM. Last digit of license number determines which vehicles allowed to drive into restricted area. Vehicle's last digits 1 to 5 alternate with 6 to 0. Buses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles are exempt.

      Drivers who enter illegally are subject to a relatively high fines.

      1985 survey showed 23% decrease in private cars, 26% increase in taxis. I don't have a figure for the modes combined, but surveys did show a 7% reduction in bus travel times through the restricted area. There were small reductions in CO, NOx and HC emissions.

      Mexico City: Latest and possibly most successful daily restriction program. Began November 1989. Government says it has reduced air pollution by 10 to 15%. Independent environmentalists cite a more conservative 7 to 10% reduction, but a Wall St. Journal report says they are impressed nonetheless.

      There is a $150 fine for violators. Billboards display a NO DRIVING TODAY sign, a steering wheel divided into 5 segments, each one bearing the license number endings prohibited from driving on a given business day.

    2. Singapore: The only large city which has introduced area licensing. Since 1975, cars entering Singapore city center during the morning rush with fewer than 4 people have to display a sticker which costs about $3.00 a day. 1975 figures show initial reduction of private cars by 75%. 1984 figures still show 50% drop from pre-scheme days. Singapore today is still relatively uncongested.

    1. There are as many as 2,000 pedestrian zones in European cities and towns. Some embody entire downtown historic cores; others focus on single major center city streets. Among the most well known examples are to be found in Bologna, Florence, Cologne, Munich, Hanover, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

    2. A more recent style of dealing with traffic is applied mostly to residential areas; it is a means of planning streets and avenues with design priority given to walking, biking, and public transportation. Unlike pedestrian zones this does not mean prohibiting autos but rather making them alternatives more viable. Traffic taming slows speeds on "shared streets" -- where cars and pedestrians have equal rights. The cars must be driven at walking speed.

      Among the design methods: creating zig-zags by staggering parking prohibition on different sides of the street; planting trees in the parking lanes; "silent policemen" which are road bumps to slow traffic; widening of sidewalks at intersections [and crosswalks] for pedestrian safety; parking on parallel on one side and diagonal on the other with total number of parking spaces remaining constant; 20 mph speed limit [that's still fast]; varied paving materials.

      The Dutch "woonerf" and the German "Verkersberuhigung" techniques are the most advanced examples of this kind of design.

--David Gurin, Traffic Controls in Cities Abroad, May 2, 1990.


San Francisco area's Sierra Club and Citizens for a Better Environment are in the middle of a lawsuit against road building until the area meets federal air quality standards.

--summarized from The Urban Ecologist, Summer 1990.


The Energy Project of the Center for Environmental Legal Studies (CELS) has completed the draft of the landmark Environmental Externalities Costs Study. CELS, at Pace University's School of Law in White Plains, NY, is also pursuing a utility reform project dubbed the "Pace Package," with which Fossil Fuels Action shall assist. It will export CELS' New York conservation success to other states.

--Early Summer '90 Update, Fossil Fuels Policy Action Institute, POB 8558, Fredericksburg, VA, 22404. tel. 703/371-0222.


Fossil Fuels Policy Action Institute is calling for a nationwide moratorium on paving! Call and ask a copy of the petition... Fossil Fuels Policy Action Institute, POB 8558, Fredericksburg, VA, 22404. tel. 703/371-0222.


The average occupancy of a bicycle in India, at 1.4, is better than the average occupancy of a car on [San Francisco's] Bay Bridge (1.15).

--Based on a presentation by V. Setty Pendakur (Professor, University of British Columbia); Ecocity Conference 1990 Report of the First International Ecocity Conference, Edited by Christopher Canfield. Published by Urban Ecology, POB 10144, Berkeley, CA 94709. Tel. 415/549-1724


Commuting in L.A. takes 50% longer than 1 year ago. 79% drive alone. Results of State of the Commute Report, survey by non-profit Commuter Transportation Services & So. Cal Association of Governments. Some companies getting serious about carpooling incentives, flextime (including 4-day workweek), and experimenting with telecommuting. 46 miles of new rail and subway network to be in service by 1994.

--Wall Street Journal, 5/25/90


Per capita gas use in US cities is 4.5 times greater than that of European cities. Within the US, transit oriented cities like New York use 40% less gas/capita than auto-oriented cities like Houston. Travel by Amtrak in 1987 was 1.9 times more energy-efficient than travel by air (2527 Btu's/passgr mile vs. 4753 Btu's/pssgr. mile). Shipment of freight by rail is 4 times more energy-efficient than shipment by truck (443 Btu's/ton-mile vs. 1898 Btu's/ton-mile).

--27 NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL, LABOR AND STATE TRANSIT GROUPS UNVEIL ALTERNATIVE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION POLICY, contact Harriet Parcells: Campaign for New Transportation Priorities.


"There's a limit to the amount of oil," says Etzioni simply. It's true that "we found a lot more than expected, and the market (is doing its wonderful thing. In the end, though, we're burning it up like mad, and nobody's adding a single barrel to the pool down there. So one of these days we'll have to deal with that issue again."

Every time he sees another highway under construction, he says, "I ask myself, 'Has anybody sat down to ask whether in 40 or 50 years are we really going to be swimming in oil?'"

--Interview in Christian Science Monitor with Professor Amitai Etzioni, Center for Policy Research, George Washington University, April 3, 1987.


The cost of a gallon of gas in the US has reached its lowest level ever. It does not reflect the cost of defense for the Middle East, smog, global warming or the trade imbalance caused by oil imports. Gasoline prices in Europe and Japan are double or triple the US prices because governments there impose levies that force consumers to consider and internalize the full costs of their behavior. If Americans want to hold down oil consumption and attendant carbon dioxide emissions and play a world leadership role, a revision of transportation policy to reflect all energy-related costs would be a good place to start."

--"Strategies for Energy Use," Scientific American, September 1989.


Since it is a fact that the US has the cheapest gasoline in the world and since we are the wealthiest nation in the world, we can afford an increase in the gasoline tax.

The current gas tax is 31 percent. In Britain it is 64 percent, in France 76 percent, in Denmark 78 percent. An annual five-cent increase for 10 years would be tolerable, especially since very would be tolerable, especially since very few people will cut back on driving,whatever the cost of gasoline.

Since 44,000 people a year die on our highways and since 80,000 are permanently injured by cars, it is essential that we expand both mass transit and Amtrak in order to reduce this waste of life.

The first five-cent increase should be allocated as follows: one penny for Amtrak so it can order new equipment and expand its system; one penny to the Federal Railroad Administration so it will have funds to share with states for mass transit projects [and rail freight]; and three cents for mass transit so we can reduce auto use, clean up our air and put the brakes on global warming.

No one seems to be able to recall what OPEC did to us in 1973 and 1979. We are already back in the lap of foreign oil exporters. In the second quarter of this year we paid than $10.2 billion.

Certainly Americans should be willing to make a small gas tax sacrifice to help America get off its knees and stand tall again.

--Samuel Stokes Jr., "Do Increase The Gas Tax To Help Improve This Nation," [sic]. A guest editorial in Bellow Falls, VT. Town Crier. Stokes is a board member of the National Assoc. of Railroad Passengers.


The majority of serious bicycle accidents involves collisions between cyclists and cars; these accidents are caused primarily by high-speed motorized traffic. Furthermore, potential cyclists view high-speed motorized traffic as a significant obstacle to use of the bicycle. Lowering car speeds (eg. traffic calming) is therefore a major issue of campaigning by the organizations within the European Cyclists' Federation, which represents 250,000 everyday cyclists in Europe. Wearing helmets has been promoted for sports events but not for everyday cycling, partly because mandatory helmet use, implemented in some countries for small motorcycles, led to a drop in bicycle use to one quarter of the former level.

Traffic safety is not perceived as a major issue in places where pedestrian precincts have been opened for cyclists. However, cyclists here typically ride rather slowly and yield or stop for oncoming pedestrians.

A German demonstration and research project, based on the aim to reduce car traffic in cities by improving conditions for cyclists, was carried out in Germany between 1981 and 1987. Two medium-sized cities, Rosenheim and Detmold, were chosen for the project out of 131 cities that applied. Studies showed that there was potential to double bicycle traffic if the bicycle became more attractive and the car less attractive. The project incorporated road capacity reduction for motorized traffic, extension of the bicycle network, and other measures. Initially proposals to reduce road capacity provoked resistance in politicians and local planners, indicating that many had supported their town's application only to get additional federal funding for bicycle facilities and not to rework related traffic politics.

--Jim Freemont, Proceedings from Pro Bike 88. Bike Federation, 1818 R St. NW, Washington, DC. 20009. 202/332-6986.


[Y]ear 2000 congestion, even with an improved transportation system, would be more pervasive than experienced now... This is not a prediction; rather, it is an acknowledgment that public transit must account for an even greater share of trip-making that the previously discussed forecasts if the high-growth scenario is to come to pass. This acknowledgment, in turn, underscores the importance of traffic management policies to cause waterfront workers and residents to elect to use transit. More directly, parking costs and on-site parking supply will have to be tightly regulated on the waterfront.

The mere existence of high-quality mass transit service does not guarantee its use. Research has clearly shown that transit use relates not only to the quality of the transit service provided, but to the ease and cost of automobile use as well. While traffic congestion that motorists encounter on route to the waterfront will deter some from electing to travel by car, traffic congestion by itself is an ineffective deterrent. The presence of excessive parking, available at no cost or at nominal cost to users, will prompt many to drive even if they must contend with congestion. p.5-117

--Hudson River Waterfront Transportation Study, Technical Report, April 1986.


The argument that a gas tax is regressive fails to recognize that high income groups spend more on transport, own more autos and use them more extensively than low or moderate income groups (Dept. of Labor, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 1986). Annual gas expenditures range from $429/year (lowest economic quintile) to $1,892 (highest quintile).

--Blueprint for the Environment. [This publication may have something to do with the National Clean Air Coalition and published in 1989 --DC]


To facilitate traffic, on the other hand, spoils a district of human habitation. Gough Street in San Francisco, for example, which carried 2,000 cars per day in 1957, was altered to carry 7,500 per day by 1967, and during that period the average length of residence dropped to half that of less- traveled nearby streets.

Business Week estimates that about half of all US political contributions, legal and illegal, come from the highway lobby.

Over greater distances, where a lane of highway carries 3,600 people per hour by car, 42,000 could go by train of 60,000 by bus.

More is spent on cars than on clothing, and roughly 70 percent of state capital funds are used for building and maintaining roads.

In the city, a car moving a t thirty miles per hour requires as much space as sixty pedestrians.

In the face of a population explosion an insatiable demand for energy after World War II, the automobile was made less efficient. Today's standard American car gets fewer miles to the gallon than did its predecessor fifty years ago.

Besides repeating solutions that don't work, ignoring ones that might work is also a mainstay of the automobile culture. Chevrolet, to cite a classic case, designed a promising pollution-control valve in 1924, then dropped it. Today, the automakers are conspicuously not building Rankine vapor-cycle external combustion engines, which dispense with transmission, starter motor, carburetor, and engine-block cooling system and which burn inexpensive fuel such as kerosene without emitting pollutants to any great extent.

Every such campaign should include an effort to draw in greedy, ambitious, ruthless allies, and give them an incentive to bury Detroit. these allies would equal in guile the land speculators who, after bribes are deducted, typically make a 2,000 percent profit when a new highway comes through. They should equal in predatory skill the door-to-door salesman who trade on status anxiety.

One obvious place to look of allies is the chemical industry. Adoption of the Rankine vapor-cycle external combustion engine, for instance, would boost the sales of heat exchangers, high-temperature lubricants, and fluorocarbon fluids (and probably lower the cost of oil for petrochemicals by lowering the demand for gasoline). The electric equipment and electric power industries are logical places to look, too, even though the oil companies have a hold there through ownership of much of the coal and gas that fuels the plants. the makers, installers and merchandisers of electronic equipment, to name further prospects, stand to benefit from more accessibility for less locomotion.

Homeowners as a class offer another possibility. Pollution is getting worse in the suburbs and staying high over weekends. Houses are likely to fetch a premium in any district that lowers its rating on the smog index several points below the figure for the surrounding region.

Every campaign for sensible transportation should try to create disincentives against the use of the automobile. Selective destruction of highways is desirable, for example, to make it harder to get from place to place by car or truck; and additional congestion in town is worth seeking. Disguises and pretexts have to be found to pursue such goals, because passionate attachment to the automobile, cultural inertia, and vested interest would need to be called something like the American Land Expansion Program in public and explained in private as a windfall for contractors, bureaucrats, and union business agents -- all those specifications and inspections, all that paving to be torn up, all the space to replant.

Similarly, the widening of the sidewalks might be presented as the Boulevard Movement for the benefit of merchants, shoppers, schoolchildren, buyers of front footage, and others. Even in elaborate disguise, of course, only a few anti-automobile measures are likely to slip through for a while. On the other hand, traffic is so heavy in most metropolitan areas that a slight additional impediment may bring on a crisis from which the automobile will never recover.

Disguises are plentiful. The so-called oil shortage, for example, though perhaps brought on prematurely by the oil companies, was due sooner or later anyway -- the result of severing consumption capacity from the earth's resource base. Under cover of "saving gasoline" on could lobby for mandatory engine tune-ups twice a year with a system of "licensing" official mechanics to make them artificially scarce like doctors and plumbers. The periodic worry over long waits and finding interim transportation might hasten the end of the automobile.

In the guise of fighting air pollution and noise as well as "saving gasoline," one could advocate reviving streetcars. Double tracks down the clogged streets of most cities would make driving unbearable. The good old cry of "keep taxes down" should be applied to road surfacing materials and maintenance schedules. With the sheer volume of traffic already on the verge of defeating presenting paving technology, only a little more deterioration would be necessary to generate countless potholes.

These are only a few examples. The possibilities are endless. To get two or three minutes more walking time a traffic signals in the city might pay off tenfold in obstruction. The crucial thing is to put further disincentives to work when any aspect of motoring improves temporarily. Otherwise a decongestion effect is predictable: if the streets clear a bit, everyone will think of driving again unless other pressures are increased.

--Robert Erwin, "Dead End: America on Wheels," The Progressive, December 1974.


OH, YOU'RE SAFE IN YOUR CAR???

While on the FDR Drive, a limited access highway on Manhattan's East Side, an auto driver approached congestion caused by a pedestrian standing in the middle of the road. A brick came through the window and the person reached in and grabbed her purse off the front passenger seat.

reported in the September 3, 1990 issue of the New York Observer.


In northern New Jersey, 80 percent of residents who work in the state drive to work and 60 percent drive alone.

--Christopher Daggett, "Smog, More Smog and Still More Smog, New York Times, January 23, 1988.


Pollution rules affect commuting in Southern California.

A South Coast Air Quality Management District regulation requires large companies to reduce worker's use of cars. "They're making progress," though slowly, a district spokeswoman says. 20th Century Industries, an insurance firm, offered carrots like good parking spaces, but that had little effect. So the company tried the stick: $30-a-month parking charges; "almost overnight," 200 car pools formed.

Atlantic Richfield offered employees $100 a month to take buses to work, and was "overwhelmed" by new bus riders. Los Angeles will subsidize up to 1,000 new van pools; Mayor Bradley also proposes giving employers a discount on ridesharing taxi service they purchase for the workers and requiring them to match parking subsidies paid to workers with transit aid.

[Also, it goes to reason, if companies stopped giving cars to their employees, or provided equal cash settlements to those who don't want the car, driving would be reduced.]

--Wall Street Journal, January 15, 1991


Cities from Bonn to Budapest are eliminating automobiles from their downtown districts, in an effort to make city centers livelier, safer and more pleasant....

Vienna's most prestigious commercial street, the Graben, was converted to pedestrian-only status this summer, matching other streets in the same area. As in Bermany, Vienna's pedestrian-street movement originally began some ten years ago. Store owners initially worried that business would be hurt, but tests showed that sales actually increased.

--The Urban Ecologist, Fall, 1990. Urban Ecology, POB 10114, Berkeley, CA 94709. 415/549-1724.


For the first time, [Mexico City] authorities have banned all vehicles in an area of more than 50 square blocks around the city's historic central square, or Zocalo, a traditional "hot spot" of concentrated fumes. Also for the first time, mandatory emissions screening has been imposed at approaches to the capital for all trucks and buses trying to enter the city from outlying regions.

--Mark Uhlig, "Gasping, Mexicans Act to Clear the Capital's Air," New York Times, January 31, 1991.


In Montgomery County, Maryland, a county with 750,000 people and 400,000 jobs just north of Washington, DC, where I work as a Transportation Coordinator, we recently issued a major study that looked at the strategic choices facing the County in transportation and land use over the next decades. Our study, backed by sophisticated computer simulation modeling, found that if the County continued its pattern of planned automobile-dependent sprawl within corridors, traffic congestion would soon choke off economic development opportunities even if the pace of growth were slowed significantly.

On the other hand, our study found that the County could accommodate twice as many households and jobs as today without excessive traffic problems if most new growth was clustered in pedestrian and bicycle friendly centers focused on an expanded rail transit and busway system, with shifts in commuter subsidies to favor alternatives to the automobile. Attaining this would require shifting from a 75% automobile driver mode share to a 50% automobile driver mode share for commuter trips made by County residents.

A fundamental conclusion of our study was that the pattern of growth is more important than the place or amount of growth in determining the level of traffic congestion and resource use. The strategy that clustered development to favor transit, pedestrians, an bicycles led to roughly half the level of energy use and air pollution as the sprawled automobile oriented strategy. These findings are now being incorporated into revisions of the County's growth management system and master plans for land use and transportation, although it will take years to effect the fundamental reform of many related local policies.

--Michael Replogle, Public Transportation for the New Century. Prepared for presentation to the Transit 2000 Conference in Chicago, Nov. 15, 1990.


You say that "No serious impact on ... groundwater quality from the build alternatives are identified." you simply haven't done your homework. The EPA has recently stated that 75% of water pollution is caused by runoff. A large part to that is from roads -- a well-known fact. Since you admit that the build alternatives will include growth in traffic, it follows that there will be very significant increases in water pollution....

The loss of the Cypress Freeway also caused 90,000 trips to disappear....

There is no evidence I am aware of that HOV lanes increase the proportion of HOV use. In fact, studies in Santa Clara County have shown that despite the new HOV lanes, the percentage of commuters carpooling has decreased...

--Michael Vandeman, Correspondence to Preston Kelley, District Director of the California DOT, regarding the EIS for the I-880/Cypress Freeway replacement, December 23, 1990.


If highway construction were so good for air quality, Los Angeles, after all, would be a paradise of fresh air!

If, as you assert in the EIS/EIR, the freeway will be so good for air quality and noise levels, I have a challenge for you: Why don't you and your senior staff move to homes next to the existing or proposed freeway?

--Michael Vandeman, Correspondence to Preston Kelley, District Director of the California DOT, regarding the EIS for the I-880/Cypress Freeway replacement, January 13, 1991.


Well over one-third of the State's taxes are paid by residents and businesses in New York City, and the figure would rise substantially if State income taxes paid by commuters were included.

State Reforms. A higher gasoline tax could be justified on several bases. First, it would produces large sums of recurring revenues. For example, a 15 cents per gallon increase would generate approximately $800 million annually. A larger increase might not generate an equivalent multiple because the demand for gasoline is not completely inelastic, but reduced automobile usage would serve other positive interests including cleaner air, expanded use of mass transportation, and energy conservation. In addition the State's gasoline taxes have not been increased for a long time and are relatively low [the second lowest in the nation, 8 cents/gallon], which suggest that an increase would have minimal effects on the state's competitiveness.

--The Fiscal Problem of the Two New Yorks: Size, Nature and Possible Solutions, Citizens Budget Commission, May 1991.

 


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