Sunday, December 25, 2011

The real enemy: Bad land-use policies (June 7, 2010)

Current mood: confident

I've been in Pittsburgh transit advocacy for nearly 20 years, and the more I get into bicycling, the more I realize the common enemy of both (if you want to think of it that way) is the automobile. More fundamentally, the biggest enemy is land-use decisions that cause us to rely 100% on auto use.

Bikes are not going to be the best option for everyone, but they certainly can do a good job of relieving overcrowding on transit in heavy use areas like the central city. This frees up transit for doing what it is better at, the medium distance hub-spoke trips to inner suburbs like Wilkinsburg, Bellevue, Crafton and Baldwin. Yes they can be biked, but it's just too far for the typical non-athlete to do daily, yet it's a short transit trip. Transit might not pay for itself going out here, but it doesn't take that much public subsidy to do it.

Farther out (McCandless, Moon, Monroeville), transit just cannot do the job in a cost-effective manner. Though hub-spoke travel time by transit may be comparable to the car, the subsidy is enormous and cross-suburb service is often non-existent. There are too few people spread too far apart. Cycling from out here essentially cannot be done except by the extremely fit or extremely dedicated, and takes considerably longer in most cases.

So, what to do? The proper fix is in Harrisburg and Allegheny County Council, encouraging land use and transportation funding decisions favoring non-dependence on cars.
Meanwhile, as I've been saying for almost 20 years, keep riding buses, and bicycle everyplace you can.

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