The Hamster Wheel of Car Attacks

It is another day and another set of dueling anti/pro cars editorials at the StarTribune.  Driving is evil.  Anyone who drives doesn’t care about our city, our planet and is just immoral. Driving is necessary.  It is the only way to get to jobs, get kids to school, to get groceries, to go to the doctor, to see family and friends and just plain survive is by driving.  Anyone who attacks driving is immoral. Round and round we go on the same hamster wheel of attacks. The problem is that it is the wrong question.  We don’t have transportation issues – we have land use issues.  If people have reasonable alternatives to driving, they use them.  And when they don’t, no amount of dunning will lead them to stop driving because they don’t have reasonable alternatives.  And doing things like taking away parking, narrowing streets to deliberately cause traffic jams, adding unneeded bike lanes and pylons to slow traffic, and other anti-car actions just make their lives worse.  And most specifically, the lives of people who are least able to use other transportation alternatives like parents, children, people who are older and persons with disabilities.  And government shouldn’t be in the job of making its peoples’ lives worse.

Changing land use is a much harder topic than shaming people for driving.  In Minneapolis, the existing land use is valued at over $55B and any changes will cost substantial money and take decades.  But we can change. We have seen walkable communities develop around downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota over the last 20 years. We could create more if we intentionally focused development into these areas or another specific area of the City.  Unfortunately, the City of Minneapolis has chosen not to do that, instead scattering development through dozens of square miles of single-family homes.  This will not create land use that is supportive of walking, biking and taking transit.  Until the City changes its policies and focuses development to create land use that supports alternatives to drive,  we will just remain on this hamster wheel of the StarTribune publishing attacks on people who need to drive and defenses from people with no alternatives.   Carol Becker Longfellow

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