Automobiles Are Great!

This started as a comment, mostly motived from this blog entry “the thing about guns“. This entry however has nothing to do with guns, but one of our other massively glaring problems in society here in the United States. This is the remark that brought this up…

“If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing….Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not.”

Actually the US is really bad at that too. The feds spend 3% of the budget on roads, then another 3% in incurring debt to build roads. Then the other 50% of those road project costs are put on the states. Thus, the feds start huge road projects and then bum them off to those least able to pay for it. These road projects, surprising are only the Interstates.

Now step into the other road situation, all the local roads and highways. Responsibilities of states & cities/counties. That’s usually 5-10% of their budget, which taken in totality, means the country spends far more than 3% on this just from taxes – combine the city, state, and federal budgets and you have a massive amount of money spent to make car usage easier. Why do I bring all this up? Because the Us continues to perpetuate this as a “market driven choice” and it is in fact absolutely not. What does this choice bring us?

  • Dramatically higher incidents of cancer. Which kills dozens of thousands of people every year.
  • Dramatically higher incidents of benzine poisoning. Which also kills thousands and thousands every year.
  • Dramatically higher incidents of poisoning. Which kills dozens of thousands of people every year.
  • Pedestrians are endangered by our general road designs, which some places are fixing, but not many. Add several thousand more dead people. This is often children, elderly, and others while simply playing or slipping slightly into a roadway in a neighborhood or off a sidewalk. Something that should and could be entirely prevented.

That’s just the beginning. The small beginning mentioning just a few issues of our auto-dependency and the fact the US completely ignores it as a MAJOR problem. This little list above is just the things that can be directly correlated and connected to automobile usage, primarily of the combustion driven kind. Maybe some things will decrease when we get more electric vehicles out there such as cancer, benzine and poisoning. One can hope. But let’s not stop there.

Last year over 33k people were killed in cars. The year before that, 36k and the year before that 32k and before that 34k and before that… you get the point. Since the 1920s the deaths have gone up and stayed between 21k-62k per year. Direct, crash related deaths. Per capita they’ve decreased, which is good, but we still exceed 30k per year. Which means over the years, millions have been killed prematurely, a great majority of those people are young people too. More… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

That doesn’t include the 5k+ dead pedestrians every year or the 1k killed in unrelated incidents with cars every year that are still directly related to some form or another of crash.

Let’s take on another statistic. I’ve just been talking about the people who now lie dead. The dozens of thousands of dead per year, that sometimes die quickly and sometimes die agonizingly slow deaths. But what about the 3-5x as many people who are now on disability because of an automobile related incident? The now maimed, forever on disability. These people who are missing legs, arms, fingers, or worse. The two ladies waiting at a street corner, entirely innocent who were slammed into by an out of control cabbie. Lost their legs, laid screaming for help on the sidewalk after in traumatic pain and suffering. Because of one negligent fool. Now forever damned to be disabled for no reason. Well over 90k people per year are added to these ranks every year in the United States. Totally billions of dollars in costs to the medical system & taxpayers. A horrible toll for a war let alone merely trying to live one’s life. But alas, this happens and continues, unabated in every part of the United States.

All of these stats point to a massive death count, there are few things that kill more people in the United States than the automobile & it’s use. All of these stats also don’t even reach into the outer affects of auto dependency, our necessity to “stabilize” regions where oil is found. The destruction that happens because of that industry, but I won’t go on about those thousands, hundreds of thousands, or hell – millions of people that are dead because of that. But one can assuredly know they are in large part related to the United States’ obsession with the automobile.

So in the end, that’s a lot of writing I did. Which I do like to write, and research, but the whole point of this is. The United States is notoriously bad at not fixing very obvious problems. Roadways, automobiles and related killings and permanently disabling people are a prime example. Hopefully, one day the United States starts to wake up to this massive problem.

Just wanted to put throw in two cents, and put the gun violence problem into perspective. It’s a very small part of the absolutely massive issue the United States continues to ignore every day. The United States, simply, needs to get more focused on living & working better. Because right now, we’re really falling behind the developed nations of the world in huge ways.

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On a Positive Note, Take a Route & Have a Beer!

Recently the Willamette Week had a great beer crawl transit + bike + walking routes list put together. Your’s truly made the list! I helped kick off this with the Trimet Route #4! Great list!!

Physical Discrimination, Unspoken Racism, Interstates, North Portland, Poisons and I-5

Take just a minute and look at this picture. Think about what facts you can clearly observe from this picture.

North Portland I-5 Construction in the 60s.

North Portland I-5 Construction in the 60s.

There are a lot of different things you can see. The most obvious is the clear path where block after block after block has been razed. To the left (west) 3 blocks you can see what is now Interstate Avenue. To the east you can see some other streets including what is now Albina/Mississippi.

One of the things the I-5 corridor did when it was put into place was displace two significant minorities. The jewish population in south and northwest downtown Portland were displaced and in north Portland the African Communities were segmented and displaced. Most of the Interstate was built in a few specific ways. When it was forcefully inserted through the middle of cities, destroying urban areas and communities all over America, there were a few specific tools that politicians use.

One was an unspoken discrimination. By finding the “impoverished minorities” they could easily sway the citizens to vote for paths through areas of a city that were considered blighted. It did not matter to these politicians and their constituents that these supposed blighted areas were peoples’ homes where they lived and owned homes. Yes, actually owned in many situations. But they were forcefully removed by sway of this, with a simple twist of eminent domain (the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property).

The definition of course, is relevant, but absurd as the people in these areas that were razed were powerless to stop the Interstates from wrecking their homes, breaking apart their neighborhoods and segregating white from black, jew from christian, even more staunchly than a simple discrimination. The Interstate, in some ways acted as an unspoken discriminatory divide between people throughout the country. Research any interstate in the country, and almost always a city used these build outs as a way to separate people as much as to enable them.

Freedom! …or chains that bind us?

Of course, the largest achievement of the Interstates, more than any other thing has been in creating a country that is tightly coupled to auto-dependency and foreign oil. With more energy and travel time than any other civilized nation between work and home. At one time it might have been a lofty goal, but now it is becoming a more and more clearly marked mistake.

…or kill us…

Another thing we’re finding out more and more, even with efforts to suppress and keep media reports form coming out about this, is the rather at which people are killed (i.e. die from any cause not related to a natural death). I’m not talking about the dozens that are killed in vehicle wrecks, the children that are ran over from offloading high speed traffic on neighborhood streets, or related “vehicle” incidents. I’m talking about from poisons that I-5 gives us via the petroleum vehicles barreling up and down the interstate. Here’s some reading material if you want to see how many are dying, painfully, every year in Portland specifically but also in lands throughout the country.

Did you see?

Originally, before starting to read the rest of the post what did you think when you say this image? Progress? Advancement? Efforts to build big things? Great things? Think again, the Interstate has never been a clear cut advancement for America. It’s always been shrouded in the idea of freedom, capitalism and the free-market. When it reality it is a large scale socialist re-distribution of funds from the haves to the have nots that have locked them into an auto dependent lifestyle. It was a redistribution that has given us massive traffic, lower economic throughput of goods (the railroad system we had in 1950 still exceeds the capability of actual good throughput by at least 2x in almost every part of the country.

Tax Burden? Why do Republicans support this socialism?

One of the largest burdens we have as taxpayers is in maintaining, building and extending the road system. The gas tax supplies ONLY part of the costs of road costs. If you took the entire amount of the money raised by gas taxes and applied it to the cost of the Interstates it would pay for about 95% of the costs. We’re quickly reaching a level though were the gas taxes don’t cover even that much of the Interstate, and we’re only covering about 0.5% of the costs of keeping up the Interstates, but we’re actually not spending the money on the roads but instead on new road construction. That means we’re actually only covering about 0.1-0.2% of maintenance and we’re adding to that by building MORE Interstates.

This fact doesn’t include were even more money goes, into state highways, local roads, etc. We, as a society, with our current infrastructure taxes can’t afford this (technically we’ve never really been able to, we’ve been spending the last 60 years going into debt by selling bonds to China & other nations to fund our expansions).

So when you look at this picture, think of it in a more holistic sense as the thing that’s put us on our current path to financial burdens our children can’t afford. An entitlement lifestyle that has Americans thinking they’re owed a road for everywhere they want to go, and that it be FREE! There’s more to our freeways than meets the eye, and everybody in this country needs to think a lot more about this and become more informed about what this infrastructure has led us into.

Our children’s lives (or deaths) depend on it.

NOTES:

If you read these I’ll have more cross-correlations and holistic views on why these things can be connected to our current plight in America, financially and otherwise.

Seattle Loses 17% of Transit Service

Ok, so it hasn’t happened yet. But as one would expect, more cuts are on the table. The Feds haven’t fixed the transit situation with funding options & the local cities & states just keep sucking money out into other solutions. It’s kind of par for the course. Seattle is threatened with a 17% loss in service. Most bus lines would lose one out of every bus. The only lines that would likely remain untouched would be a few of the Rapid Ride lines and high capacity runs during rush hour. But everything else is up for cutting.

What can you do about it as a citizen of Washington and Seattle? Go and message your elected leaders.

The US is seriously losing it’s ground right now, it’s happening fast. This is seriously getting interesting in some scary kinds of ways. Weigh in with your opinion, it may be the difference between standing in the cold, sitting in MORE traffic in Seattle or worse.

Some People Live Pretty Uninformed, Such as This Motorist

I’m officially starting a list of misbehaving, in a lethal sense, of any motorist that is risking others’ lives while they barrel around in their automobile. I’ll do the same for anybody that is wielding such a device that can cause instant death. I’m also going to work toward organizing a type of “Neighborhood Watch” to get these drivers ticked, with video evidence & more. I’m sick of hearing about “5 year old dead” because somebody is too busy in their life to pay attention and drive well.

This first video, which I recorded today was of a lady in a 4-door Silver Gray Honda Accord, with license either T38 OSK or T38 DSK.


Crass Uninformed Motorist

There’s just too much death, to not put something together. Many of Portland’s Citizens have been trying to improve things for years now, it’s time to take a step further and let drivers know this is unacceptable behavior in our city, in any city really. If you’re a brave soul and interested in outreach and organizing, let me know. I’m sure I’ll need help with this. Cheers!

I Can’t Seem to Stay Away From These Topics!?

Road paving in Portland. There are only a few situations when a road should get paved (or the more likely situation of “re-paved”). Here’s the criteria:

  • It can be (re-)paved with appropriate sidewalks on at least one side of the street minimum.
  • It can be (re-)paved with at least basic bicycle lane amenities and if at all possible, buffered bicycle lane and car parking.
  • It can be (re-)paved with appropriate spaced parking from the corners, with corner protection and drainage to clean the water built in.
  • It can be (re-)paved with appropriate parking for cars, based on short term and long term parking striping.
  • It can be (re-)paved with permission from the community immediately surrounding the street. Do not repave a street like 23rd without the communities permission. There is no need for it to be repaved and the roughness of the road encourages safety through slower speed and decreasing “through” traffic from using a neighborhood street unsafely.
  • It can be (re-)paved if there are amenities for crossing safety added so we don’t have more children die. Already, the cost is too high with just one loss of life attributed to inappropriate road build out in the city. How many have to die to make it a priority for safety amenities? It should be zero, but it’s obviously already higher than that.

Right now Portland is rapidly gaining frustration with the Mayor. The Mayor isn’t informing the public why, how or if it should be paving streets. Instead the city office is just forcing ahead the agenda to pave “100 miles of streets” in spite of and in many cases without any of the above. A pot hole is one thing, a dead child is absolutely something else. A pot hole should not rate above human life. A pot hole shouldn’t even rate above a sidewalk. But alas, these days it seems that the city Government’s priority is around filling the pothole, and pushing people back into cars.

Not sure if anybody else has noticed, but if you have half a brain, Portland has stood out and seen growth over the last 30 years because it DID NOT follow these types of policies. How about we straighten back up and get our heads screwed on right? That’s the spirit!