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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Arguments Against Non-Motorized Transportation Losing Steam


A recent update in Baltimore Spokes struck a chord.

Written by Juliellen Sarver, of the Mobility Lab, the piece begins with the following questions:

"Why are the relatively modest costs of sidewalks, bicycle lanes and paths, and pedestrian improvements met with suspicion and hostility by the conventional auto-oriented transportation community? What are the true costs and the true benefits of these projects?"

First, improvements for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and cyclists benefit only a small group of people. No, such improvements benefit nearly everyone, even dedicated motorists who benefit from "accessible, convenient, and efficient connections between their cars and their destinations."

Second, conventional cost-benefit analysis in the United States and Japan strongly favors car-oriented projects at the expense of other types.

Third, non-motorized transport is Slow and Inefficient. Yes, walking and bicycling are usually slower than traveling by car. However, non-motorized transportation is very efficient, and cycling and walking "increase efficiency through cost savings and the benefits of connecting places, people, goods, and services."

Third, these result in Excessive Costs and Subsidies. "The true costs of roadway projects are rarely considered by the models typically used to justify them. These include increased crashes resulting from higher speeds and volumes, and the decrease of physical activity due to car travel. Similarly, the true benefits of non-motorized projects are rarely considered when arguing against such projects."

Fourth, these would be Unfair to Motorists: As noted above, the true costs of road projects are rarely considered. In addition, "non-motorized facilities offset the negative impacts of roadway projects such as air pollution and water-quality issues."

Fifth, these costs are Inefficient and Wasteful. The most successful places, in terms of transport, are those that "provide diversity of transportation options and connections. Those places become centers of social and economic life by attracting people who arrive by or use the non-motorized facilities."


To read the full article, click here.


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