Since we’re on the topic of infrastructure. I will point out — by the way — that most (not all) people who opt to use bikes as an alternative to some of their transportation trips have cars and therefore also pay all the car related registration fees. So the population of people that only have bikes that are not paying their “fair share” is fairly small. Additionally given that car related fees do not wholly subsidize car infrastructure means that someone else — even those rogue bikers that don’t pay registration fees — are paying to ensure that cars can get from point A to point B.
Anyway, here’s a great article about how the US doesn’t have enough courage to do everything that it needs to do to disincentivize driving. To add a “stick” to the whole carrot and stick theory. Highlights:
[R]elative to European cities, it is exceptionally hard in U.S. communities to implement real disincentives to driving.
There are ways to do it. We could reduce parking availability or raise parking rates. We could implement congestion pricing. We could roll back subsidies for gas and highways and public parking garages. We could tie auto-insurance rates or infrastructure taxes to how much people actually drive. All of these “sticks,” to use Piatkowski’s term, would have a real impact on how people chose to get around. And that impact would no doubt be larger than what we get from building new bike lanes, sidewalks, or bus stops.
But why not just wield disincentives as what they honestly are? “Behavior change” sounds vaguely manipulative (whether we’re talking about behavior involving automobiles or thermostats). But in this context, the disincentives are really about removing subsidies and distortions from the market. Parking isn’t really free. Gas taxes don’t actually cover the costs of maintaining our roads. So why is it so hard to disincentivize driving at the same time that we incentivize the alternatives, at least until they’re in some better kind of equilibrium?
“Because we’re afraid,” Hamilton says. “Because we don’t have the guts to pull the levers on what we want. We know that we want a walkable, bikeable, transit community. We’re building it. But we’re afraid to push the disincentive lever too hard.”
Alameda is, of course, no exception. We are highly reluctant to remove distortions from the market because there is this belief that parking, like in Monopoly, should be free and that the only people who deserve to use the roads unfettered are cars.