I highly recommend Harry Jaffe’s column this week on "Cars Losing War for DC Streets,"http://tinyurl.com/a6zvme2: "Autos face a formidable command structure in Mayor Vince ‘Sustainable’ Gray, who’s pushed proposals to make DC among the greenest cities in the world; Tommy Wells, the council member who used his transportation committee to promote streetcars and policies for a livable DC; planning chief Harriet Tregoning, who’s been a leader at the national level for smart growth and sustainability for decades; and transportation boss Terry Bellamy, who learned to love bike lanes when he was deputy to Adrian Fenty’s transportation chief, Gabe Klein. Tregoning is proposing growth plans and zoning rules that will make the city and its neighborhoods more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Bellamy is moving in with plans for bike lanes and streetcars, which could one day take people from Union Station to Georgetown. Gray is finding funds to pay for any changes. Tommy Wells will help shepherd them through the council, now chaired by Phil Mendelson, who leans toward bikes and buses. Tregoning’s planning office is in the process of proposing changes to zoning regulations that would release developers from including a mandatory number of parking spaces in new buildings. Lon Anderson [of AAA] told WAMU that the proposal ‘threatens the future of Washington.’"
Jaffe, who used to live in Chevy Chase in a neighborhood where residents can’t get to anything without driving, now lives downtown, so he now cheers what he admits is a war against cars and drivers by the DC government. He outlines well the basic power structure of the anti-driver movement. What he doesn’t discuss is why it has been so successful, and why it promises to be even more successful in the future. There is no countervailing force in government. No councilmember provides a voice for drivers. No bureaucrats or appointed officials fight for the interest of drivers and businesses, whose employees and customers depend on driving. Nobody stands up to preserve parking or automobile lanes when the anti-car forces press to eliminate them. While active pressure groups work to make driving in DC more difficult and expensive, no countervailing force says that to make this city work well we have to preserve cars as a vital element in our transportation system.
Drivers haven’t made their own interests a political priority, so they have no representatives or spokesmen in the political power structure. If we’re going to preserve a vital city center, with businesses accessible to workers and customers from throughout the region, we can’t make downtown DC accessible just to walkers, bikers, and public transportation riders. That strategy, as Lon Anderson says, "threatens the future of Washington." It is a strategy for decay and for sending future residents and businesses to the suburbs, where more open-minded and less ideologically constricted transportation planners strive to make all modes of transportation — including automobiles — convenient and affordable. If DC isn’t welcoming, and the suburbs are, DC loses.
You Say Sequester, I Call Bushwah
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