Why “Freeways” and “Free Parking” Are a Bad Idea

I saw this stupid article which is made by someone who doesn’t realize how much he leeches off those of us who don’t motor.


1. Fairness. Not everyone can afford a car, can drive due to disease, youth, old age, or prior convictions. Designating some areas as “motoring only” essentially gives public space away for those who choose the motoring lifestyle and imposes this lifestyle on the rest of us.

Also, freeways tend to benefit those who don’t actually live near them the most by shipping companies and long distance travelers. Thus, they leech off those who have to deal with the noise and inconvenience, forever, while in a few minutes they are all ready in the next rest stop a few counties away.

The least we can ask for, in exchange for giving away, without compensation, our peace of mind, safety, and public space, is for those who use it pay directly back into the system by tolls.

2. Financial Stability. It seems like every decade or so we get a new plan which is going to end “congestion” by essentially taking public money and space and giving it away to a minority of our population. Then the problem recurs and it’s as if Ground Hog Day style, we forget that we just had this plan a few years ago and it failed. Since the roads are ever growing but the return is shrinking, we are doomed to financial ruin unless we get some revenue.

3. Crowding. No matter how wide our roads are there is more congestion. Just the idea that one can get to a very far location in “15 minutes on a good day” means that people will choose to live too far from work. Their commute will suck and they will ask for MORE public money to fix the problem that they created by living too far from work.

4. Impact on public health. Greater car use will result in more obesity, asthma, and personal injury due to inevitable accidents. Again, these costs are paid for those who don’t motor more so (look at childhood asthma and obesity rates).

5. Unpopularity. Ask anyone about their commute or the search for parking and you’ll get nothing but complaints. Thus, one has to start to question if motoring makes people so unhappy why are we spending MORE money on it?

6. Corruption. We’ll start to wonder more about the “jobs” and the profits of the motoring industries which steal from us while promising us benefits. All jobs are NOT created equal. The economic benefit we get from having more doctors or cooks is not the same as from hit men. Since motoring is so inefficient, it is going to cost the most money. This money gets into the hands of people who will use this money to bribe public officials, influence elections, and public opinion to convince them that “motoring is the only way” and that they “chose freely with no compulsion at all from all the choices in transportation which were equally funded and encouraged”.

7. Destruction of the free market. Only when we have an equal array of choices do we get any kind of economic “freedom”. If more money is going into motoring in terms of parking lots and freeways than other choices, we have essentially “picked winners and losers”. Only in the Soviet Union was the government so involved in market manipulation and that failed. Likewise, the motoring system will fail with the poorest of us being forced once again, for a bail out like we had in 2008. This will encourage another round of irresponsible spending and development.

Eric Britton has pretended that motoring is free and that society only pays for public transportation. Not only this is bad economics, but it is a highly misleading (and some might say dishonest) way to look at things.

Once again, we see some begging the question where the selective deletion of the most important fact, the absurdly high cost of motoring that the government extracts from the public whether we want it or not, has created a misleading framework where the conclusion is predetermined.

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2 Responses to “Why “Freeways” and “Free Parking” Are a Bad Idea”

  1. Eric Britton, editor Says:

    I always enjoy it when someone takes off after me for what they think are my ideas and position on these important sustainability issues, and here is a case in point. I can only urge the interested reader, and possibly the author, to consider this in the context of the purpose of the original article and the excellent responses that came from more than 30 people who given these issues clearly a lot of thought. That original reference once again is http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/why-free-public-transport-is-a-bad-idea/and the title of the article is “why free public transport is perhaps a bad idea?”

  2. Steve A Says:

    Actually, “free parking” isn’t. If on the street, our property taxes are going to subsidize the storage of private cars. If at businesses, we all pay for the parking lot in the cost of our goods.

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