Motoring Infrastructure: Long Standing Money Pit

Until very, very recently, there was little to no accountability for motoring infrastructure.

This story made my day:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/710-freeway-extension-killed-assemblyman.html

There has been an assumption that motoring infrastructure was “necessary to drive economic development”.

Time and time again, however, we find that they wind up hollowing out our cities, creating ghettos.

Still, the logic is that if freeways were so bad for regions, why were they building them.

From the article:

““Representatives of the California Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have routinely misrepresented important information while hiding the true cost and benefit of this project from the public,” he added.”

But why is this on a bike blog?

Because as a pro-infrastructurist, I have been grappling with the whole “gas money” argument for quite a while.

LTR’s know that my usual approach, instead of being defensive, “please give me some of your gas money”, I prefer to go to the other side and burn their house down.

Here we go again.

The standard for things like public transportation, for example, is for it to pay for itself. This is, in part, because it’s easier to charge people to get on a train than it is to drive their car. It would be impractical to put polling stations on every block and not worth it.

So we use the whole “gas money” which does not pay for all roads, and today it does not even pay for the maintenance for the federal highway system.

Why do we not hear more about motorists paying their way?

Because, of course, it’s politically unpopular to question motoring in any way.

As I said above, motoring is seen as an economic benefit showering their largess on the little people on the bus and in the bike lanes until they feel exploited no more and they yell out of the window of a building. Or until they cut the federal funding.

In the past, I have made the argument that money for bike paths and lanes is actually just more money for motorists because it mitigates to a degree a danger that the government created by building dangerous roads. Also, bike lanes and paths are used by motorists more often than by cyclists, only, for parking in, storing heavy equipment, dog walking and so on.

True cycling infrastructure will have all other uses prohibited and the vast majority of its users will ride their bikes there from their houses. We don’t really have any of this in San Diego so we have about zero percent of the “gas money” going to cycling.

This leads back to the main question which is WHY IS THE MOTORING TRANSPORTATION SUCH A FAILURE? It seems to require more money each year, it does not make back it’s “investments”. And despite having the lion’s share of the transportation budget, I still hear constant whining from motorists. It’s practically a way to make friends by mentioning how awful the traffic is or the parking situation is.

Of course, nobody wants to hear the cyclists complain. They’d just tell him to get a car.

But overall, despite spending almost no money on cycling, I really can’t complain too much. Or rather, I don’t. Perhaps I have been conditioned to keep mum because nobody cares?

At any rate, I still wonder how we are going to extract all the money on motoring infrastructure back from motorists? When will they completely mitigate the dangers, smog, and noise of motoring? If they do mitigate it, will they see this as some kind of “war on motoring” or as motorists, finally taking “personal responsibility” for the cost that they subject society to? How many dollars need to be spent before “traffic sucked” or “parking is tight” ceases to be a conversation starter? One trillion more? Two trillion?

I think that our elected officials need to be asked these questions.

While it’s only fair for us to crawl through glass for each and every bike lane and train line, shouldn’t each road widening get the same treatment?

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