Monthly Archives: February 2005

Which Elected Officials Are Unwilling to Spend Money to Improve Facilities for Bicyclists and Pedestrians?

By Dom Nozzi

In general, there are at least four (sometimes overlapping) types of elected officials who do not support putting more dollars into bicycle and pedestrian facilities:

  1. The Uninformed. This is the category of officials who have not been made aware of the benefits of more biking/walking. Over the course of the past few decades, as evidence of the merits of non-auto travel has become so overwhelming throughout the nation, this category is now a rapidly diminishing group. Those who don’t know are not paying attention.bicycling on path
  2. The Old School. As Thomas Kuhn points out in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, some people have devoted so much time and effort into the old school of thought (the old paradigm) that even an avalanche of evidence supporting the new paradigm and rejecting the old paradigm is insufficient to convince members of The Old School. To reject the old paradigm is to reject everything they have believed and worked for during their entire lives. Often, to do so is to have to reject their entire life’s work as a waste of time. For most people, this concession would be too awful to accept. Instead, they stubbornly hold on to their old views. The new paradigm is only accepted when this old school dies off and is replaced by a new generation which has not been immersed in the old paradigm.
  3. The Motorist. This category includes the elected officials who “get it” with regard to the merits of non-auto travel. But their suburban upbringing, their suburban lifestyle, or both, has convinced them that it is naïve or undesirable to strive for a return to a more traditional, walkable, compact community design. Of course, these car-happy views are not openly, publicly expressed. They are simply manifested in the votes such an official casts. The unfairness of this sort of public “servant” is that it is perfectly acceptable for such a person to opt to continue living the car-dependent, suburban lifestyle (as long as they are paying their fair share of costs). But shouldn’t other citizens have an opportunity to live in and enjoy a different, more walkable lifestyle? One that is rapidly vanishing from America?
  4. The Spineless. There is another category of officials who “get it.” These are the officials who, while they are strongly supportive of putting more money into bicycle and pedestrian facilities, always run for cover and cast a pro-car vote whenever the opportunity arises. Such a politician is terrified of the thought of an unhappy constituent – including those unhappy about the loss of those things that are detrimental to the community. These are the politicians who never make anyone unhappy. And therefore never get anything done.
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Transportation

What the Top Florida Planners Think Florida Needs to Do to Fix It’s Growth Laws

By Dom Nozzi

I went to a forum held in early 2005 at a hospital auditorium in Gainesville, Florida. It was an assembly of each of the state Department of Community Affairs secretaries (directors of the state planning office) since the state growth management act was adopted in 1985. Each discussed at great length what they thought was working and not working with the state act in trying to “manage” growth.

I was astonished by the almost complete lack of awareness of what this state needs to do in order for there to be a decent, livable future here.

And this was a collection of the head honcho Florida planners over the past 20 years.

John DeGrove, the “godfather” of the 1985 law, thinks the crucial need is funding. I guess his sole focus is on the “dire” need to be sure that we widen roads concurrent with new population growth. Most of the others agreed that funding is critical so that the act can work.congestion

In other words, we’ll have good growth management and retain our quality of life as long as we can keep widening roads for free-flowing traffic (the major – yet unspoken — reason for the Act). We also need, they say, to build larger wastewater treatment plants, and building bigger insecticide factories (Oops! I mean public schools.)

Apparently, we have a desperate need to do this so that we can perpetuate the sprawl machine in Florida – which, by the way, is strongly incentivized by the Florida Growth Management Act (via its road concurrency rules).

Whoops!

No one acknowledged the crucially important point that I wanted to jump out of my seat and scream: For cities, congestion is our friend because it inevitably delivers us an enormous set of beneficial community objectives. Since the biggest “crisis” that most Floridians see with growth is congested roads, transportation concurrency is the only level-of-service standard that anyone gives a damn about in the state Act. The imperative is to not allow new growth if it will further congest our roads. Which often means that the development is approved only if there is an agreement to widen the road. Because most/all available road capacity is in our sprawl locations, transport concurrency is a powerful sprawl engine — totally counter to the growth management objectives.

Not only that. Because the needs of cars strongly clash with the needs of people, a quality car habitat (through the free-flowing traffic delivered to us by a “properly” functioning transportation concurrency law) effectively and substantially degrades the people habitat.

In sum, the state growth management law so many of us are proud of is a superb recipe for ruining the State of Florida for people. But an excellent recipe for creating a paradise for SUVs.

Who needs enemies when we have ourselves?

Leave a comment

Filed under Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation