Opening Streets for People and Closing them for Cars

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

Awful as it is, the pandemic handed a few favors over to mother nature.

For months, cars were mostly parked. One could cross streets before setting up an appointment with a local priest for last rites.

One could see blue sky in big cities, such as Delhi—and one could hear birds singing where before one heard only vehicles:

Dehli Blue Skies
Blue skies in Dehli (NPR, “With Coronavirus Lockdown, India’s Cities See Clear Blue Skies As Air Pollution Drops,” April 10, 2020)

Much of that return-to-nature is passing, alas.

One change, however, that is likely to persist (likely to succeed), are the streets that have been closed to cars in order to gain space for outdoor dining for cafes and restaurants. Welcome, Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs).

Close to my home is the town of Louisville, Colorado:

Main St. Louisville CO
Main St., Louisville, CO (Colorado Hometown Weekly, April 13, 2021)

According to the article on Louisville, Main Street will be open to (un-endangered) pedestrians and outdoor tables “April 26 through Nov. 1” (similar to the summer of 2020). Let’s take what we can get.

Not so close to my home, opening streets in Scotland is going well:

And, a bit south, in England…

Not only streets with eateries, but streets with schools are being blocked off, often to dozens of SUVs that drive less than a mile to get the kids to and from school. Many kids bike on their own, but they can also relax in a trailer (and let the parents do the work):

It’s no surprise that bikes take care of the school transportation in the Netherlands:

Nor should it be (but it is to me) a surprise about Finland:

And, of course, it’s not only people who need un-endangered transit on streets—this street being again in Nederland:

Covitality – Signs of Life on Earth Day

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

When Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, announces his marriage to Hamlet’s mother, he (an incestuous, murderous villain) has the political wherewithal to admit the timing of the wedding wasn’t ideal, since it came “With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage.” So much more must I lament the fact that the mission statement for this web log is being realized around the world. People are driving less so all may live more.

It would be absurd to talk about the silver lining of the present pandemic (or, as several preachers I’ve heard say, the “global pandemic”). The cost is too high and, really, the effects will probably be short lived. Two days ago, a barrel of crude oil was worth negative $35 or so; today you must pay upward of $20 or so for the same barrel. This pandemic too will pass.

In the mean time, however, it is worth pointing out that here on earth (on Earth Day, also) the virus has given us a picture of what the world could look like if people chose to drive less instead being forced by legal mandate to drive less.
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Covidiocy, Covidity, Covitality

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

I was pretty sure I had invented all those words, but that’s not the case. Covidiocy refers to people who make inane statements or perform inane actions relative to covid-19. Covidity refers to having a proclivity toward respecting the guidelines for slowing down the spread of the virus. Covidity has its own Facebook page. Covitality predates covid-19. It is a kind of therapy for adolescents (especially). It phonetically contrasts with co-dependence. In Person vs. Automobile, however, I give it a new meaning.
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Presidential Candidates, Cars, and My Predictions

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

This, I admit, is a quixotic post, in that my critique of the automobile industry touches only tangentially on electoral predictions, but it’s an unlikely union I chose to make. Hopefully, I’ll soon be riding an electric kick scooter so I can finish that short series and forget about politics for a while.

Transportation and the Candidates

It’s becoming likely that Joe Biden will face off with Donald Trump in the November election. Bernie Sanders remains in the picture although it appears the established, moderate Democrats have teamed up against him and settled for Biden. The Libertarian Party holds its primaries toward the end of May, and the Green Party late spring and early summer.[1]
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Scooters (Part 1 of 2)

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

This web site promotes self propulsion above all forms of transportation. Other forms of transportation should of course be considered as an advancement. However, an advancement doesn’t entail perfection.

Before we consider kick scooters, take electric cars, for example: they may be potentially fossil fuel free, but any plastics in their design are likely petroleum products and, currently, natural gas (a fossil fuel) provides the electricity for the bulk of electric cars in California, a forward-thinking state that admits humans have a pollution problem.[1] In addition, electric cars may involve manufacturing pollution[2] and disposal pollution[3]—as well as human rights abuses.[4]
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David Byrne (Talking Heads) and His Bicycle

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

He owns a very nice bike helmet, he says, and even wears it if he needs to ride in gnarly traffic. However, with dedicated bike lanes, such as along the West Side of New York City, he lets his (now) gray hair blow in the wind. He doesn’t want to unnecessarily risk “helmet hair.”[1]

David Byrne on bike, nice helmet in basket (from NY Times interview on Youtube )

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Good News for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

Below are some recent events that chip away at the disproportionate role of the automobile in Western society (and, technologically, almost all society is Western).

  • Everywhere: Protected bicycle lanes make even automobile drivers safer
  • Colorado: New legislation increases penalty for drivers who hit vulnerable individuals
  • Spain: People protest automobile pollution in Madrid

Protected Bike Lanes

As reported in “CU Denver Today” an extensive study recently concludes that adding protective bike lanes (i.e. lanes with a physical barrier, not just paint) to city streets not only makes the bicyclists safer but all the drivers safer.[1]

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The Legal Bias Against Pedestrians and Bikes (Part 2 of 2)

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

When I discuss the American (and increasingly global) dependency on automobiles, some people with a politically conservative bend respond by saying that the problem is a result of personal irresponsibility, no more.[1]

I was raised to think this way, to think individualistically. So I get it.

However, over time, I realize that done exclusively, this thinking allows conniving and greedy organizations (or their leaders) to move invisibly through the world, exploiting freedom by limiting the range of choices that occur to individuals. As a result of such organizations, even if one’s moral fabric permitted him or her to resist pernicious trends, the very idea of resisting may never enter one’s mind. The gains of corporate and political greed are usually won upstream, with whispers in back rooms, such as, What they don’t know won’t hurt us, and, I don’t care who they vote for as long as I choose the candidates.

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The Legal Bias Against Pedestrians and Bikes (Part 1 of 2)

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

This is the first of two posts that highlight points made by Gregory H. Shill, University of Iowa College of Law, in his paper, “Should Law Subsidize Driving?”.[1]

Shill’s eminently readable, 76-page paper has already been summarized nicely in the article, “How Driving is Encouraged and Subsidized — By Law,” by Angie Schmitt (March 6, 2019).[2]
Continue reading “The Legal Bias Against Pedestrians and Bikes (Part 1 of 2)”