The Spectacle of the Road-Widening Consensus

By Dom Nozzi

America has long subsidized cars.

Gas taxes pay only a fraction of road costs.

Free car parking. Shoup says 98 percent of all parking is free—he calls free parking the biggest US subsidy. A fertility drug for cars.

Free-to-use roads. Tolls are rare.

The result is a consensus: make cars happy. Even if it bankrupts us. Democrats join hands with Republicans. We all agree: Happy Cars are imperative.

Tragically, consensus also arises from the “barrier effect.” When we pamper cars (oversized and high-speed roads, parking lots, and low-density, dispersed land uses), we recruit new motorists who were formerly non-motorists. This recruits more “car cheerleaders” who increasingly demand politicians create even LARGER roads and parking lots—which further reduces non-auto travel. A self-perpetuating vicious cycle.

The race for Virginia governor in 2009 exemplified this ruinous spectacle. The 7/29/09 Washington Post reported that both the Republican McDonnell, and the Democratic Deeds, are falling over themselves to convince us they are the candidate most likely to widen roads. It IS possible to build our way out of congestion. It IS possible to solve obesity by loosening your belt.

Inconveniently, we learn that “Virginia isn’t quite out of money, but its balances are heading that way.”

No matter that the State is bankrupt. McDonnell announces that we’ll cut public services (“diverting money from schools and other priorities”).

Deeds assures us there is no reason to fear losing our god-given right to happy cars. He is “winking and nodding” on raising taxes.

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Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

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