pattern language, politics

Why Most Transportation Should Be Public and How That Could Help Private Enterprise

Written in 2008. Still relevant. Updated.

We need to clear up confusion between public and private when it comes to transportation and creating new human settlements.

We presently allow OUR public rights of way to be filled with private automobiles. This leads to a pollution-congestion problem which is not merely inhuman but also deadly to the planet. This pattern is being emulated globally. Public rights of way should belong to the public.

Similarly we talk green and assume it can happen by retrofitting innumerable private and separated dwellings, owned by individuals, What is needed is a scale of housing no individual could afford, but which would makes real green economically viable. The whole kahuna: power, recycling, modular capacities.

The solution to the transportation problem:

Advertiser-supported, shared public transportation. Free to user and gradually replacing private cars for commuting and inter-city transit.

Create a new generation of vehicles of all sizes. Create tons of jobs for the persons who build, operate and maintain such vehicles.

Give them preference in terms of access to rights of way. On city boulevards, make them double-wide or double decker, or both. Power them green, hybrid. Batteries could be easily renewed by maintaining stations at regular intervals. Roads could enable their movement via technologies yet to be created,

WE own the roads after all.

Privately-owned and operated vehicles are at odds with a rational transportation solution. We need to reconsider the way we use our rights of way.

A similar understanding could be applied to the creation of viable, sustainable, green communities.

Lack of “consumer confidence” in the future is understandable. We haven’t drilled down to the changes we need.

The era of the private automobile and the resulting design of our settlements as strip city highway culture splayed over the land, is unsustainable. It should be happily over anon.

We need an era of good news:

To create a prosperous economy, we need to go beyond even Al Gore and his hybrid car proposals to the creation of a world where human settlements are built on a scale that can support green economically. And where the private automobile has an increasingly minor role.

Automobile glutted freeways are a form of hell we should not wish to perpetuate.

So what do we do?

1. Start building a new generation of vehicles and highways that will provide free transportation on major roads supported by advertising.

Ride courtesy of … name your advertiser. Starbucks, your local insurance company, a restaurant. If we plough ad revenues into transportation we are creating a win-win for consumers. Reducing our costs of getting around and stimulating free enterprise and competition within a rational framework.

New vehicles could be green and comfortable. Have a contest among advertisers to produce the very best.

2. Give major tax breaks to companies that build green human settlements with early education, preventive health, entertainment and access to retail products within walking distance. Car free, pedestrian communities, replacing metrosprawl.

Here’s Christopher Alexander’s notion of a self-contained town.

Preserve country towns where they exist; and encourage the growth of new self contained towns, with populations between 500 and 10,000, entirely surrounded by open countryside and at least 10 miles from neighbouring towns. Make it the regions collective concern to give each town the wherewithal it needs to build a base of local industry, so that these towns are not dormitories for people who work in other places, but real towns- able to sustain the whole of life. SOURCE

The Essential Site for Understanding Alexander

3. The technologies needed to help the rest of the world escape the trap of highway-culture will develop naturally. The entire world is going to literal hell because we have not thought beyond individual, private vehicles.

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