Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

The Monday Roundup: Parenting by bike, hidden auto taxes & more

Posted by on August 3rd, 2015 at 9:43 am

amsterdam mom

Just another day in Amsterdam.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Here are the bike links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Parenting by bike: A diary travel study of 37 Dutch women concluded that mothers there bike as much as childless women and see transporting their kids by bike as “pleasant and natural.”

Hidden costs: Todd Litman notes that to build an auto-dependent city is essentially to put a tax on your population — hidden in the cost of their car payments and gas bills.

SoulCycle cashes in: The “boutique fitness firm,”” which says it’s not in the business of changing bodies but rather of changing lives, is going public.

Reverse e-bike: This company makes fitness bikes that plug into the wall and pay your electric bill.

Millennial housing preferences: Among the highlights from a new survey: 83 percent of Millennials say they like walking, but only 71 percent like driving. That compares to a 2-point gap among Baby Boomers.

Boris “backsie”: The mayor of London got in tabloid trouble after he was videoed pedaling his bike while his wife rode in its seat. (It’s illegal in the UK.)

Devolve the Interstates: Evan Jenkins says Democrats should embrace a GOP suggestion to give complete freeway funding duties to the states, removing their incentive to overbuild to win federal dollars.

The Interstate error: Sending freeways into cities rather than just between them was a huge mistake, conservative environmentalist Reihan Salam writes.

Advertise with BikePortland.

Virtuous cycle: Making it safer to walk and bike makes it easier for cities cut car use, of course. But taking the steps that reduce car use also makes cities safer.

Chris King speaks: The bike-part magnate, explains how Zen Buddhism, among other ideas, influenced his entrepreneurship.

Self-driving cars: They’ll be good for cities only if the cities are also using urban planning to reduce car use, MobilityLab predicts.

Vision Zero class: All 30,000 NYC employees who drive government vehicles have been assigned to a six-hour driving safety course that includes a “hardcore” video about careless driving consequences.

Gas tax hike: In Washington, that is. Its legislature agreed on a deal to hike gas tax seven cents, or 19 percent, to improve transportation funding.

Finally, your video of the week is sort of like those stories about mothers lifting cars into the air to save their children. Sort of:

โ€” If you come across a noteworthy story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • Dave August 3, 2015 at 10:34 am

    And, I’ll bet no little kid ever died being locked up in a hot cargo bike.

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  • WAR August 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Oregon will never have the wealth that Amsterdam enjoys until we secede from the United States.

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    • Matt August 3, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Actually Oregon has a pretty high dependency upon the Federal Government:

      Not the highest, but it wouldn’t be all puppies and happiness without the rest of the US.

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      • Chris I August 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm

        Your link says something completely different. We get $0.85 in services for every $1 we pay in federal taxes. I think we’d be better off on our own.

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    • rick August 3, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Which new public bridges built in Oregon since 2009 haven’t used federal dollars outside of random parks department bridges?

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    • q`Tzal August 3, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Oh PULL-ESE!
      Can it with the secession nonsense.

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    • Todd Hudson August 3, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Most large-scale bike infrastructure projects built in Portland over the last several years has been funded through federal grants. Example: 50s bikeway.

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  • 9watts August 3, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I (mis-)read SoupCycle goes public(!)
    I’d never heard of the other one.

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  • wsbob August 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Introducing his subject, environmentalist Reihan Salam in his Slate story, is a little heavy with the cornball humor, but does give a decent overview of how the interstate highway system came to be, and of some of the devastating effects it’s had upon some cities and towns across the U.S.

    Salam’s idea for fixing the interstate highway system, consists of leaving the system’s through connectivity…in other words, design and funding for roads providing interstate highway system connectivity, to individual states. That idea has a negative in that it risks leaving the interstate highway system being of inconsistent quality and function as it traverses the U.S.

    The positive aspects of his idea…mending or reversing suburban sprawl, restoring city livability, are good ones though.

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    • John Lascurettes August 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Ike’s interstate network has been established though. We don’t need to keep expanding on it. So we already have that consistency through legacy.

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      • wsbob August 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm

        The exception, I believe, that Reihan Salam takes to the U.S. interstate highway system, isn’t to its connecting cities across the country, but specifically, in how the system connects U.S. cities; in simple terms, right through the heart of cities rather than around their perimeter.

        That’s what I-5 does in Portland, and what some dreamers have hoped to reverse, giving thought to putting the freeway underground where it crosses through the city on the east side of the Willamette. Salam writes that he thinks the center of the city highway system route contributed to a decline in the quality of life existing available in the intercity; making suburban living much more accessible and appealing.

        I think he’s also saying that through the federal government having had authority over the design of the system, even as it courses through the heart of cities, local governments were persuaded to relinquish what had been their practice of deciding upon local transportation route priorities favoring functionality and livability.

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  • B. Carfree August 3, 2015 at 11:52 am

    MobilityLab assumes that inter-neighborhood travel is by car because the distance deters human powered or public transit. However, over and over we hear about people using cars instead of cycling due to their fear of being injured by a car, not due to any inability to ride a few miles. That means that even absent any urban planning changes, autonomous-driving cars will lead to more cycling since that (over-stated) danger will dramatically diminish.

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  • B. Carfree August 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I never thought that there was anything remotely difficult about raising children without resorting to car use. My now-twenty-four-year-old son was raised without a car. We did a lot of walking in the first three years and then put him on the front of a rear-steer tandem until he was ten. We just thought we were living a standard middle-class life in a small city, as did our many friends who were doing the same thing. Who would have thought that such things warranted academic studies?

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    • davemess August 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      what city?

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  • ethan August 3, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    What’s the context of the person lifting the car off the cycle track? Is it just parked there for no reason?

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    • Anne Hawley August 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      It looked to me like the car was parked across a cycle track. The super-dude appears to ride off on his bike after shifting it out of the way.

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  • wsbob August 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    It’s not an article with a lot of depth, but Chris Plano, writing for Mobility Lab does recognize that the potential ability of autonomous vehicles to allow more motor vehicles to be fit within the space available on roads, isn’t likely to allow cities to become more livable.

    With this ability of autonomous vehicles eventually realized, the same paradigm of house to work, school, play, etc, auto dependent commuting could still prevail. People would just be kicking back in their motor vehicles for trips from ‘here to there’ rather than instead, walking, biking and so forth to those places.

    The question remains, how are people in our area to be persuaded to much more enthusiastically ask for communities to be designed to be much better equipped for walking and biking than they tend to be today…and use that infrastructure actively and willingly, rather than cruise about in the comfort and safety of their motor vehicle.

    It’s a great idea that communities could and probably should be designed more like college campuses where driving is the exception and walking or biking between where people sleep, work, study and play, is the rule. This is something that should happen somewhere in our area, at the very least in an experimental or model situation.

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    • Pete August 4, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Some of the scarier writings I’ve seen coming from the ‘intelligent’ connected future of transportation, has all people walking or on bikes using mobile applications to alert their presence to the infrastructure and surrounding automobiles. But yeah, the community layouts remain the same…

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  • q`Tzal August 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I’m all for not over-building roads and highways but this GOP anti-intetstate highway bill has nothing to do with big roads (which they LOVE) and everything to do with a continual assualt on the federal government.

    This is yet another attempt to nibble away a piece of national identity until every individual state sees no reason not to secede.
    Their goal is not to make the federal government small but to kill it completely from the inside.
    They want lawless corporate anarchy and they don’t care who gets hurt between them and their goal.

    In particular: the devolving of all federal funds also ensured that no consistent standards will be met: road quality, road safety, signage, tolls on all roads, mandatory driver safety standards for private and commercial drivers.

    The dangling of the federal money carrot is the other end of a stick used to enforce the most basic minimum standards. Take that away and everyone’s safety is in jeopardy

    And at some point THAT affects interstate commerce. What happens when some set of heartland states decide to toll every major route and eliminate any government oversight of drivers because “the private sector will handle that just fine”?
    Do you want those drivers HERE? Donโ€™t you think everyone else will have the same thought? At whay point does a broad fear of out of state drivers start dragging down every state’s economy because trade traffic is heavily slowed and reduced?

    Reduce highway building for sure but don’t assist these loons in destroying our country.

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    • John Lascurettes August 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      While I agree with your carrot analogy, I still wonder how does the EU handle intra-continental travel funding? Because european citizens pretty much have free ability to drive across borders. I don’t think there’s a common pool of money for EU highways. Our Interstate system, as first conceived by Eisenhower, is a complete network already. Any expansion it has is now at a local (state’s need) level.

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      • q`Tzal August 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        Trains: we need a lot more of them, the need to operate much faster and they need to be managed as a 21st century organization not a 19th century fiefdom.

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      • Jeff Bernards August 3, 2015 at 11:20 pm

        We’re getting a tunnel/highway built around our town in Slovenia, with EU funding. They have to finish the job in the next three weeks or return the money. Go out there on a Sunday night and I see them working away, they (we) don’t have the money to give back. It’ll be interesting they’re close.

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    • Chris I August 3, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Devolvement is an interesting topic. I tend to believe that states like Oregon and California would be better off, as we will have more money (we pay more in federal taxes than we get in benefits) and we will have more flexibility in how we spend it. Projects like the CRC would never happen without fed involvement, but the same could be said for Trimet’s new Orange line. I’d like to think that ODOT would spend more on seismic retrofits and safety projects, but its more likely they they would just dump money into projects like the 99W bypass in Dundee.

      It can be argued that devolvement would be negative for many states, though. States like Ohio, Florida, Georgia, etc would cut essentially all funding from active transportation and mass transit. You would start to see an even greater polarization in state infrastructure (ie: “don’t ride your bike in Georgia, they don’t have any shoulders”).

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      • q`Tzal August 3, 2015 at 3:35 pm

        As it is, as someone whose job entails driving daily through most of CONUS, even now we see great disparities in how funds are applied.
        Oklahoma and Kansas have tolls on most of their useful interstate highways. It is hobbling enough that to get around you either pay up or wander through back roads and small town residential and school zones.
        Texas seems to dedicate most of their funding to Dallas Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin. While this makes sense from a demographic distribution standpoint it leaves rural citizens in the dirt… sometimes literally.
        Michigan is just showing all the signs if being this country’s Greece: their infrastructure is crumbling all around from lack of any funding from anywhere.

        Now it’s one thing to preach fiscal responsibility, which I believe in wholeheartedly.
        It’s another thing to cut off entire populations like they are contestants on a Donald Trump game show.

        When we as a nation decide to make one region a pauper’s ghetto we are ensuring its demise and the mass exodus of its citizens to other neighboring economies.

        What happens to ours and everyone else’s economies when millions of American refugees (of all skin colors, especially white) show up not like after Hurricane Katrina but like Grapes of Wrath?

        Allowing the GOP to divide the nation to kill off certain regions will set into motion a series of cascading and synergizing economic downturns that will set our nation back to the pre-WWI economy of destitution and hyper-elite rich.

        It’s almost as if they WANT a violent bloody Bolshevik revolution.

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        • wsbob August 4, 2015 at 8:58 am

          The interstate highway system being a federally designed and managed system helps ensure there will be a consistency in quality and function of the system across the U.S. That is one of the things that writer Reihan Salam touches on in his article, but doesn’t delve into.

          There’s good and bad in allowing cities authority over how the interstate interfaces with their cities, but bottom line, it’s likely that most people would agree that the need for a high quality highway system from coast to coast, that does a good job of connecting with cities in between is of fundamental importance.

          Certain political parties’ use of various bottom line items to make a show of being fiscally responsible, when in fact, cutting funding on those items is likely to wind up costing way more in the long run, is the kind of thing that undermines the credibility of such parties judgment.

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          • q`Tzal August 4, 2015 at 8:52 pm

            Exactly, exactly, exactly.
            Elimination of standards will directly restrict travel by increasing cost of interstate travel for ALL users.
            It will increase risk, confusion and petty traffic law prosecution by balkanized jurisdictional traffic laws too numerous for a single human to ever remember.
            It will discourage and reduce trade between states by adding unnecessary expense.
            It will shrink state economies by stifling business opportunities and availability to adjacent markets within the United States.
            It will kill businesses and the jobs they produce. PERIOD.

            Now, given the opportunity to go back in time to redesign the Eisenhower Highway system I’d use a dash of JH Crawford’s Car Free Cities design : Interstate highways between the cities but only a beltway around them. Realistically big trucks and big highways have no business driving in to dense urban areas. We could make our cities much more safe and pedestrian livable if we weren’t constrained by a requirement to accommodate elephants in a children’s tree house.
            Except for the loop bit the freight off-load zones of dense cities reflect this: large trucks deliver freight to local handlers that break loads down to smaller increments for smaller vehicles that are situationally appropriate.

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        • Pete August 4, 2015 at 11:34 am

          Reading this made me think of a recent talk I heard by Lawrence Somers (who’s certainly had his share of controversy). One point he made was that our nation’s critical infrastructure is in need of overhaul, and that doing so would help hold our place in the developed world (and help sustain the economy with jobs and training at the same time). He noted that the government can currently borrow money at the lowest rates in history, but the (political) focus on doing away with the budget deficit threatens the ability to fund even necessary projects. His point was that a budget deficit is not necessarily a bad thing when managed properly (and spent effectively).

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  • Tom August 3, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Below is link the NYC Vision Zero video. It did not seem to be in the article. It would be nice to see something closer to this approach for the reporting of collision fatalities, instead of the usual dehumanizing victim blaming, highly speculative armchair post analysis from people not directly involved, and ‘was or was not wearing a helmet’ type stuff.

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  • Eric Leifsdad August 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    How much for the e-gen bike to generate $0.012/hr worth of electricity? ($24/year if you pedal at 100W while working a 8hr/day desk job assuming you can you pedal 800Wh in a day.) Bike generator kits are available on amazon for around $300 and then there’s things like this 20W setup for $200 http://www.adafruit.com/products/1533

    It might be cool to charge your e-bike while pedaling at your desk, but not so hip with the A/C going. For the money, solar would do better.

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    • soren August 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      also, charging an e-bike in a wall socket likely pollutes less than charging it via the calories the average person eats.

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  • Barney August 3, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    John Lascurettes
    Our Interstate system, as first conceived by Eisenhower, is a complete network already.

    I guess you haven’t heard about Interstate 11. It’s Harry Reid’s pet project to create a new “super highway” between Las Vegas and Boise/Eastern Oregon. Some signage is already in place on the Las Vegas end.

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    • q`Tzal August 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

      The traffic already exists there.
      There is already a VERY large (unsafely large) amount of heavy truck traffic routed down highways US-93 & US-60 from Phoenix, AZ to Las Vegas, NV.
      Mexico is a bigger trading partner than China and a lot of freight comes across at Nogales, AZ and El Paso, TX

      “Interstate” 11 is a prosaic name for an expansion to a mostly 2 lane almost dirt highway through the backwoods of Arizona’s desert. Failing to widen it won’t stop the traffic nor its safety implications of traffic following the shortest route between point A and point B in the complete absence of any route even vaguely better.
      This portion is being completed now in sporadic segments. Whether they call it I-11 is immaterial.

      North of Vegas it gets a bit ridiculous. “Interstate 11” would most likely follow the US-95 route from Vegas towards Reno, NV (really Fallon, NV most likely spurring off west towards Reno at Fernley, NV)
      From The Dalles down through Bend and Klamath Falls highway US-97 does funnel some heavy-ish freight traffic north south but from an expansion standpoint it suffers the same problems as everything north of Las Vegas: a complete and utter lack of need.

      I have hauled loads up and down these proposed routes for years now and other that the Phoenix to Vegas segment all it really needs is fresh thicker pavement (to stand up to the heavy loads) and maybe a couple of 2 lane loop bypass roads for the areas that demand it.

      Good strong pavement is all that is really needed in most of these places.

      “Upgrading” any part of US-395 to interstate highway standards is a joke. Far too much of it is deep mountain highway with vast stretches in the middle of nowhere AND 35mph terrain following turns. Beautiful drive but you’d have to destroy an entire mountain range to pave an interstate highway.

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      • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

        Terrific description of the issue, q`Tzal.

        I always enjoy reading the thoughtful perspective that comes from your experience driving freight. Seems like nobody could have a more salient view of America’s highways. As no-longer-a-driver, I easily lose sight of these large infrastructure issues. Like everyone else, bike-rider or otherwise, I’m dependent on over-the-road freight. It’s useful to stay informed by someone who can see the big-road picture as well as the local bike infrastructure picture.

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        • q`Tzal August 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

          Also: the more twisty and narrow a road is with blind turns and posted (relatively) slow curve speeds the more suicidally fast sports car drivers seem to be intent on driving through them.
          Even California drivers who seem able to withstand 30-60 seconds of being stuck behind me on I-5 driving safely go volcanically apoplectic as soon as they see it isn’t safe to pass… thus they MUST attempt it. US-395 in California South of Reno is the worst.

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    • wsbob August 5, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Other than the money it will cost (always a lot.), and from q`Tzal’s point of view as a trucker, the fact that the country the road passes through is mountainous, what are your objections to this particular Interstate Highway System project?

      The objections to the project expressed here, prompted me to do lazy person’s research on the subject via a simple web search. There were some Vegas Sun articles that came up, and a Daily Kos piece(none of which I clicked on and read.), but the stories there were years older than the March 24, 2015 press release on Harry Reid’s senate site.


      At this point, knowing little about it or its history, I have few personal thoughts in particular about this project. Generally, I’m not a fan of the gambling industry of Vegas and Reno, but plenty of people do need opportunities for work. From an ecological standpoint, the prospect of supporting what some people regard as an almost certain, substantial increase to come in the population growth of cities out in the parched U.S. desert, seems a very poor idea.

      Harry Reid tends to get a lot of flack because he’s a high level Democrat; U.S. senate minority leader. Whine and crab, whine and crab, ad nauseum. If there are other good reasons besides this exception some people have towards him, for objecting to this highway project, let’s hear ’em.

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      • Barney August 5, 2015 at 10:39 am

        I’m having some trouble responding here and keep getting an error message when I hit the post button. I’ll try to break it up into smaller bits.

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      • Barney August 5, 2015 at 10:40 am

        I am not personally opposed to the project. In fact will almost certainly take some pressure off the I-15 corridor which has many very congested sections, often choked with heavy truck traffic. My comment was directed towards the fact that the Interstate Highway system is not a complete and finished system yet which is contrary to what John L stated above.

        To meet the standards of an “Interstate Highway” however will require that the entire length of the project be made a 4 lane divided highway with no traffic lights for the full 1000 miles of its length. If the final route selected is along the existing Highway 95/93 corridor then that will mean an overpass with on and off ramps for every significant crossroad and a bypass around every small town along the way. Unlike the US highway system which are a second tier road network, often on local roads and go straight into the heart of a city, the Interstate by definition is a superhighway. Think of I-5 versus US 30. A little new pavement on US 95 will not do it. This will be a project requiring hundreds of billions of dollars over the next couple of decades. That’s a lot of new stuff for an “already complete network.”

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      • Barney August 5, 2015 at 10:41 am

        As for Harry Reid, you are right in assuming that I am no fan of his. The reasons are many but among them are his many ethics conflicts and how he and his family have personally profited from the large scale Chinese solar projects all over Nevada. If that is not conflict of interest then what is?
        Even though Harry claims to be a devout Mormon his actions are often in conflict with the tenets of his faith. I have a problem people who believe the rules don’t apply to them, ad nauseum!

        We have strayed quite a bit off topic here which was about the GOP idea to reduce the federal funding of freeways. Clearly democratic leaders like Reid intend to spend billions if not trillions of dollars on highway projects. If its in their state, that’s even better!

        “Evan Jenkins says Democrats should embrace a GOP suggestion to give complete freeway funding duties to the states, removing their incentive to overbuild to win federal dollars.”

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        • wsbob August 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm

          “…We have strayed quite a bit off topic here which was about the GOP idea to reduce the federal funding of freeways. …” Barney

          Discussion started out from the mention in this roundup, about the negative effects of the interstate highway system’s long standing design pattern of cutting through the heart of cities. Bottom line, is that for a healthy economy and high standard of living, the U.S. probably does need a good, well designed and functioning interstate highway system. That it should serve Arizona and Nevada, may be a valid point. At least one to give serious thought to.

          To give that serious thought to whether better interstate highway system connectivity should be made through those states, it may be best to set aside the politics, at least for awhile. In the minds of most reasonable people, a desire for a healthy economy and high standard of living in the U.S., still takes precedence in terms of importance ( I hope…), over politics. I think both the dems and the repubs would agree on this, and that’s what those of them in congress should be focusing on.

          Roads such as the interstate highways system may be necessary evils. I know I don’t like traveling on them. Would the country be ok today if there never had come to be any highway system of greater magnitude than say, Route 66’s two lane country road type highway? Overpopulation is a serious subject. Great ideas such as motor vehicles and interstate highway systems are just two of the things (of many.) that may be making overpopulation something to be increasingly concerned about. I’m not sure that establishing ever larger populations in the desert, is such a great idea. California did this with L.A. I’m wondering if something, hopefully on a smaller scale, may be what the proponents of the Highway 11 project are anticipating.

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          • Barney August 6, 2015 at 8:03 pm

            I would love to keep the conversation going but it looks like this thread is dying. Thanks for keeping the conversation civil.

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