Comment of the Week: We get the behavior we design for

It was a short comment, but it had the urgency of an epiphany. And it was thought-provoking.

I spent a lot of minutes wondering if the comment was just simple, or if it crossed over into being simplistic. I mean, did these stroads ever work well? Maybe when they were first built? I ask because the neighborhood I grew up in, in another city, half a century ago, is silly with four-lane roads, and they were safe for a kid to walk and even bike on. I walked to school on them, crossing at the light was not a problem. Drivers stopped at red lights, driving like an idiot was unusual.

Here’s the comment that sent me down memory lane. Fred wrote it, in response to another commenter, under last week’s comment of the week:

What you’re missing here is how the street design affords – and actually rewards – aggressive driving behavior.

Because four-lane urban highways are ubiquitous in Portland and the USA generally, many drivers today expect to be able to speed around cars that are obeying the speed limit – and there are absolutely no repercussions for bad behavior. In fact, there are rewards: drive dangerously, with no regard for anyone outside of your vehicle, and you get where you’re going faster.

The design of Naito and other four-lane urban highways creates the conditions that promote anti-social behaviors.

What’s your take?

Thank you Fred, and also to those commenters who worked overtime last week. We appreciate your contributions and they are an important part of BikePortland.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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X
X
3 months ago

The original comment addressed driver behavior, the number of lanes on a road, and the use of technology. From what I’ve seen our national preference for multiple lanes, traffic lights and wave style light timing has fostered aggressive driving in Portland. We pay in blood.

Motor vehicle operators have discovered that it is possible to game the system and almost all of us do it more or less. Even pedestrian countdown timers are useful to a person charging traffic lights. Unintended consequences are rife.

What if there was a way to reduce traffic fatalities in Portland by half? Analysts often use a value of a five million dollars per life saved, so cutting half of Portland’s traffic fatalities gives a yearly budget over $150 million that we could spend on–roundabouts.

There’s plenty of space in a big interchange for an ample roundabout and the throughput is better. On the ground, eighty percent is a realistic reduction in death, injury and property damage that could result from systematic adoption of roundabouts. Five out of six lives lost or broken are within our grasp to save. No magic, no venture capitalism, no saviors, just clear thinking and sound public policy.

You’re tired of paying taxes and it’s other people that will die, because they made bad choices? Well, it’s you that would get to work faster. This is a thing that can be measured, and it has been.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  X

Are the number of deaths expected at the sum total of intersections where roundabouts can feasibly be installed anywhere near half the total fatalities in the city?

How does that $5M per life prospectively saved get into PBOT’s budget?

Maybe we can use PCEF money because crashes emit a lot of CO2 in the form of emergency vehicles and lost embodied carbon in vehicles that are totaled, and safer roads will inspire more cycling and walking.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  X

One can quibble (see sibling comments) about the logistics of getting that money, but this is exactly the kind of reasoning and arguments our leaders should be using. It’s cheaper to build better infrastructure than pretty much any other improvement one could name. People want to bring up police enforcement. Cops are already (allegedly) doing other things, to get more enforcement would require a massive hiring spree and budget increase. That’s not cheap. They’d also probably need to increase police pay since they already can’t hire police. That’s just not the affordable reasonable solution it gets painted as.
Better infrastructure and strategic automated enforcement are real solutions. The mythical culture of personal responsibility will materialize as if by magic and people will wonder how it happened.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
3 months ago

The difference is there is no traffic enforcement anymore in Portland. Drivers realized they could get away with all kinds of horrible behavior after PPB went on strike and the results have been deadly and predictable.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

I keep waiting for the Mayor to rescind his orders from early 2020 that instructed the Police to no longer stop drivers for traffic violations. Have you heard him re-instruct the police to start enforcing traffic violations again?

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

I mean, did these stroads ever work well?

That depends entirely on what “working well” means.

By the criteria of the time, they probably did work well when they were built. Traffic volume was lower, and we though about safety differently than we do today.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
3 months ago

Something that is happening to me more than ever, that I don’t remember ever happening before 2021, is drivers crossing double-yellow lines on two lane roads to get around me when I’m driving the speed limit, or nearly hitting me head-on trying to do the same maneuver in other directions. It’s happened multiple times on SE Woodstock, Multiple times on SE 72nd, and once on NE 33rd. The car on NE 33rd had also blown through a very red light on SE Chavez and Gladstone during the same trip. Clearly they didn’t save much time if they ended up behind us again at NE 33rd!

Pkjb
Pkjb
3 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

I’ve experienced similar behavior from people in cars on Portland streets. Whether on my bike or driving the speed limit in a car, I’ve had many people pass aggressively in locations where it’s illegal and unsafe to do so. It has gotten much worse in the last three years.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
3 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

Yep. I haven’t ridden a bike in nine years so I can’t speak to what that’s like. Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I used to allow myself to drive 5 over, I would still sometimes get people roaring up on me, tailgating, flashing their lights, and honking. I usually rolled my eyes and thought “You’re lucky I’m in a hurry, because if I wasn’t I’d be driving the speed limit exactly.”
I firmly believe that driving 5 over is dangerous and I have been successful at weaning myself off of it by planning more carefully. It’s not just the speed; being in a mindset of trying to make up time breeds carelessness and recklessness. I’ve never hurt myself or anyone else but it would be far too easy to let it happen.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

It’s not just the speed; being in a mindset of trying to make up time breeds carelessness and recklessness.

This is true even on a bike or trike.

When I used to ride from 11th & SE Morrison up over Fairview and down the 26 path to Beaverton (and was competing so I was in great shape) I hit the top of Fairview at Skyline in PR time and the “gotta break the record” mindset took over.

That’s not so bad when you’re climbing – it’s hard to be dangerous horsing a trike up Cat3 climb 🙂 – but then I was on the descent.

I distinctly remember catching a car dropping down Skyline at over 35mph and slingshotting by it on the left where the extra lane opened up.

I plunged down the 26path way to fast and hit 45mph dropping down Roxbury – that’s a 25mph zone and the radar speed sign was reduced to flashing “SLOW DOWN” at me as I went by.

The margin for error on that descent was razor thin – if one thing had gone wrong I could have really hurt myself or someone else.

I *never* did that again.

Ryan
Ryan
3 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

On my way to work last week, was headed westbound on the Springwater just about to cross SE 174th. A car passed another car, double-yellow through a crosswalk. Luckily I hadn’t entered yet.

On the way home that same day, eastbound on Foster coming up to SE 82nd, a car honked at the one in front of it in the right-turn lane because, you know, the light had been green for more than a half-second. Once the first car turned, the car that honked quickly accelerated through the intersection to cut back into eastbound traffic. That’s also something I’ve seen a lot more of the last couple years that I don’t think I’d ever witnessed before, cars using the right-turn lane to get get around other traffic at the intersection. Sometimes they do it against the light as well.

J_R
J_R
3 months ago

The multi-lane roads worked well in the past because they provided a means of concentrating higher volumes of traffic and keeping low volumes and low travel speeds on local, residential streets. These arterial road worked well because drivers were 1) attentive, 2) courteous, and 3) law abiding.

Cars have become so comfortable and occupants so isolated from their surroundings drivers are no longer even aware of their speed. Cars have become so capable that drivers need not even slow for speed bumps. Besides that, we’ve become pretty selfish about meeting our needs and desires while ignoring the impact on anyone outside our bubble.

Add to that the complete absence of enforcement and the minimal consequences of any violation of the traffic laws.

I know lots of people favor physical changes to roads including fewer, narrower lanes, but that will cost millions and take decades to implement. I don’t think that will prove as effective as we desire partly because cars are so isolating as I described above.

Enforcement is the only tool I see that can start to reduce the trend and that could happen relatively quickly if there is political will.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Enforcement is the only tool I see that can start to reduce the trend and that could happen relatively quickly if there is political will.

Automation will eliminate it completely. I’m not suggesting doing nothing in the meantime, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Pkjb
Pkjb
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Your consistent pollyannaish faith in automated vehicles solving all of our problems is tired and unfounded. Nothing that has been demonstrated in a decade of real world tests of automated vehicles suggests that they will ever be safe to operate in complex urban environments. They function very well in controlled situations, such as designated transit guideways, and to a lesser extent, freeways when weather and visibility is ideal. But they are slow, easily confused, and periodically dangerous in mixed traffic. The only widespread implementation outside of pilots has been by Tesla. Their systems include safety features that can be ignored, disabled, or reprogrammed by nefarious actors (including the CEO of the corporation).

Similarly, the regulatory and legal structure that applies to vehicles is not adapted to or ready for a world in which vehicle operators can’t be held accountable for the actions of the vehicle. It’s wholly inadequate for providing for safety in the current world, but it doesn’t even start to address automated vehicle liability.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

My confidence in automation is hardly unfounded, though I agree it may not come to pass. The safety record of automated vehicles (Tesla aside; that’s a special case) is far better than human driven ones. However, if automation fails, we’re left with a number of intractable problems that won’t be solved in my lifetime.

I also disagree about the legal issues. In many ways it becomes easier to resolve responsibility when things go wrong. There will be a lot more information available than there is today, and if the occupant did nothing, responsibility for a crash will likely fall on the manufacturer or fleet owner. I see no reason to think the legal system won’t readily adapt. I don’t think automation raises any truly novel issues about responsibility and liability.

I am making a prediction about the future I feel pretty confident about, not advocating for any particular course of action.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The problems aren’t intractable, they’re just problems nobody wants to address because, like you, they think a wizard will do it.

If you stop assuming some magic will come in and solve all the problems without anyone having to do anything different, the solutions start seeming perfectly reasonable. This goes for driving, climate change, homelessness, hunger, and on and on. The problems aren’t that hard, it’s that the solution is to actually spend time and money solving them instead of making focus groups and PR for for automation or “tech” solutions.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

The problems aren’t intractable, they’re just problems nobody wants to address because, like you, they think a wizard will do it.

No one is proposing “wizardry” to solve homelessness or hunger, and it is indisputable that technology change will have to be part of addressing climate change, so that’s 3 strikes right there.

Can we address the problems associated with cars without technological change? I see precisely zero evidence we can, despite decades of trying. Easy as these problems seem to you, they have proven very difficult for policy makers who have to offer actual practical solutions.

Your assertion that car problems (along with homelessness, hunger, and climate change) isn’t hard is simply wrong. All these problems are hard, which is why they persist.

As I have said many times (even twice in the comments in this thread), I do not suggest we should wait for automation to address problems where we can. So if anyone took my advice seriously, it would be to tackle those problems we can now, even if a more comprehensive solution is coming.

If 2024 turns out to be the year everyone gives up their cars and starts using transit and rollerblading (or ends hunger/homelessness or climate change), then I’ll happily admit I was wrong about these issues being intractable.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

it is indisputable that technology change will have to be part of addressing climate change

It’s far from indisputable. The technology has existed for a hundred years. We have the technology. We just don’t have political will. Trains, busses, bikes. Add wind power, nuclear, various kinds of existing battery types, existing computer technology. We don’t need to wait for any self driving cars which will have limited to negative impacts on climate change.

You see zero evidence that we can because by your view, if we haven’t done it already then we need a new technology. You say decades of trying. We have not tried. It has only been like 10 years since any major politician actually even pretended to believe in climate change.

We’ve had politicians offer real practical solutions that would work for climate change if applied to today. A big obvious one was FDR. He was extremely popular, specifically AFTER he actually used political will to do big things. Joe Biden and the rest of the Democrats would never dream of doing big things. Government jobs that don’t suck? Not a chance. How about pouring billions into non-profits and big businesses to “unleash the power of the market” which has worked so well.

I think we’re doomed because we’ve decided to close our eyes and let the market take the wheel, and that’s driving us straight off a cliff, whether battery powered or not.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

The technology [to address climate change] has existed for a hundred years… Trains, busses, bikes

We live in a technological society that relies on industrial processes such as concrete and steel and electricity, the production of which emit huge amounts of CO2.

Even if everyone started riding bikes, we’d need to convert a huge swath of industry to new technologies in order to avert the worst of climate change. Transportation is important, but is the source of only about 1/5th of our emissions.

We don’t need to wait for any self driving cars which will have limited to negative impacts on climate change.

I never claimed automation would help with climate change; in fact I made a post stating that specifically; look about 3 posts below this one.

I think we’re doomed because we’ve decided to close our eyes and let the market take the wheel, and that’s driving us straight off a cliff, whether battery powered or not.

Maybe you’re right about that, but if a solution can’t be implemented, it’s not much of a solution. “If only people had the will…” is a lament, not a solution.

If we can’t convince people to change (i.e. use “the market”), what’s the alternative? Force them to change? How’s that going to work?

Here is a testable prediction: technology and market forces are going to transform our transportation situation long before people adopt trains, buses, and bikes en masse, either because they’ve suddenly “seen the light” or some strongman forces them to.

Do you disagree?

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This just gets tiresome, it’s round and round and round.

So I’ll just give one response. You don’t have to force people to use trains, buses, and bikes. You have to build the infrastructure. People already use those things in other places where those options don’t suck. They’re not forced. It’s also not strongmanning to stop catering to cars. Building roads and hightways if anything is a strongman action to force people into driving. This whole nonsense about “strongman” and authoritarianism or whatever is just nonsense anyway. Everything we have going on in this world is due to mass organized action of some sort. At the moment, that organization is capitalism and the outcome is what we see now. That’s not freedom or personal choice, it’s the result of giving all the choices to a select few.

But I digress. In short, I don’t believe market solutions or capitalism have a future in the long run, and they’re taking us down a dark path, so that’s pretty scary that we’re sticking with them.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

You have to build the infrastructure.

Great! I in no way oppose building better transit or bicycling infrastructure (and never have). “Just build better infrastructure” sounds so easy; what’s stopping us? It’s certainly not the promise of automation.

(By the way, building a system that people would choose to use would exactly be using market forces to get people to make different choices. Welcome to the dark side.)

(And if this conversation feels repetitive and tiresome, it’s because you don’t engage with what I actually write, but rather with some caricature of who you think I am.)

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s certainly not the promise of automation.

It is that! That’s exactly what it is! That and the denial of the existence of climate change, the belief that oil is infinite and that perpetual growth is sustainable. People believe in magical solutions because it’s cheaper in the short term to do nothing.

Building a system that people would use would not be market forces any more than market forces built the interstate highway system.

I do believe I’m engaging with what you write, I guess it’s just that I can’t convince you you’re wrong. And vice versa. I think your belief that the way things are is some kind of natural result and not something that could be changed is self evidently false. Would it be work to change? Yes, everything is work. It’s work to stay the same. It’s work to do anything. It’s a matter of priorities. If we decide to have government funded jobs that build dense, high quality rail and cycle networks, dense public housing, and a myriad other things that don’t on their own solve everything, then we will be making progress.

You see, everything is hard. An 8 hour day of work is hard work. But no matter what we do with that work, it’s going to be the same effort. It isn’t any harder for individuals to build good infrastructure than it is to wait and let Elon Musk make a cheaper electric car. Hell, with public funded jobs we can make the work SIGNIFICANTLY easier for people without the tyrannical nature of private employment giving people long days, little vacation, and stress of unemployment. It doesn’t have to be hard at all. We just have to remember as a whole that the government can – and should – actually do things. We let the cold war ruin us. It’s really sad.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

Building a system that people would use would not be market forces any more than market forces built the interstate highway system.

Sure it is. There’s no law that says the government can’t compete in the market, and it often does (package delivery, for example). Why don’t you consider the option to take transit (vs riding or driving) a market choice? As transit improves, more people will chose it.

I think your belief that the way things are is some kind of natural result and not something that could be changed is self evidently false.

The way things are is the way things are. Wishful thinking can’t change what you see outside your door today. Maybe things would be different now if people had made different choices in the past, but that possibility is gone. Lamenting lost opportunity won’t help. Embrace reality.

But tomorrow is a different question. Why do you think I don’t believe in our ability to change? Of course I do — I believe that the next 30 years will be more transformative than any three decades in human history. Have I not repeatedly referred to the energy and transportation revolutions that are underway even now? That I see many intractable problems finally finding resolution? I’m optimistic exactly because I see change all around us.

But back to your opening statement: I challenge you to produce even one shred of evidence that the promise of automation is holding improvements to public transit or the bicycle network back.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Maybe things would be different now if people had made different choices in the past, but that possibility is gone.

This is really the crux and boils down the whole conversation. Nobody disagrees here. But if we want things to be different in the future we have to make the different choices now. Waiting for automation or electrification or free market solutions isn’t a different choice, that’s what got us into this mess. And policy decisions that made driving the default. Those are the things that need to change. I don’t know how I can personally make that happen, that’s why I’m pessimistic. I feel like the Clear Eyed Realist is me.

I don’t know what kind of evidence you would accept for the last question. It seems obvious. For anyone who thinks climate change is real and wants to do something about it, automation (and electrification) is a convenient distraction if you believe it will work because it means nobody has to change anything. So instead of investing in the big changes that we’re in “opportunity debt” for by not having built it 50 years ago, we get infrastructure spending investing in electrification and highways.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

But if we want things to be different in the future we have to make the different choices now.

I absolutely agree. And I also agree that there is no reason to suspect that there is a coming “moral change” that leads us to alter our fundamental social outlook and become more collectivist or more transit loving. I’m not saying it can’t happen, or that it would be bad, only that there is no evidence that it’s coming. Solutions that require being in that world aren’t interesting; I regard them as fantasy unless they include a way to usher that world in (which they never do).

I honestly don’t understand why the prospect of technologically driven change isn’t more exciting; it holds the promise for addressing some of the fundamental problems we face today, such as traffic safety, urban pollution, parking, and others. A technological change can be just as sweeping as any other. Look at how radically the world changed the last time there was a revolution in daily transportation.

For anyone who thinks climate change is real and wants to do something about it, automation (and electrification) is a convenient distraction 

I am aware of exactly zero serious thinkers about climate change who think we can transition without electrifying transportation. It may not be a sufficient step, but it is absolutely necessary. Automation won’t really be a factor one way or the other, and I’ve never heard anyone say it would be, but electrification is not a distraction. It is an essential mission.

I think what you want is a social revolution, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think you take issue with so much of what I write because I dismiss the possibility of something you so dearly want. But I also think you somewhat agree with me about the unlikeliness of it coming to pass.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

“Hell, with public funded jobs we can make the work SIGNIFICANTLY easier for people without the tyrannical nature of private employment giving people long days, little vacation, and stress of unemployment. It doesn’t have to be hard at all. We just have to remember as a whole that the government can – and should – actually do things. “

I say this in all kindness, but you really should live somewhere for a few years where this ideal exists…..China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela Saudi or …..?
I don’t mean to say “love it or leave it”, but you really should experience the life you’re espousing before you think it’s so amazing.

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

FDR had supermajorities in both houses.
To compare him with the current political situation and wonder why Biden can’t do the same is laughable…

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

Constant excuse. Democrats gets majorities and do nothing with it. They don’t want to change anything. Furthermore, somehow Republicans manage to make big changes, somehow while being a minority party. They’re all bad, but they show that if change is actually wanted, it can happen.

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

What big change have Republicans made?
A tax cut? They had a majority to do that.….
Dems have not had a real majority since Obamas first 2 years and they passed Obamacare.
You actually think Trump accomplished more than Obama?
No wonder this country is a mess as uninformed as people are…
Biden has passed the largest infrastructure bill in history!

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

This is literally why Trump may get elected.
John V doesn’t comprehend that 50% of the country don’t share his views and has disdain for the 50% who are more aligned with his views.
So the Trump cult wins.
Thanks.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

Trump’s getting elected because every time a Democrat gets in power, people are reminded of how bad Democrats suck. Then they get reminded how bad Republicans suck, so we go back and forth. In this case, people of good conscience can’t stomach voting or caring about Biden who will blindly and against all criticism continue to support and lie to our faces about genocide in the middle east. He continues the same shit we hated Trump for with immigration. We’ve got press secretaries doing the Simpsons Steamed Ham bit about evidence of IDF claims.

If it’s my problem and I’m swaying the result, it’s not really my problem is it? If Biden loses the election, that’s the fault of Biden and the Democrats, not the voters. I mentioned FDR. He was so good at actually doing things, they had to make a new rule so we couldn’t keep re-electing presidents. Now we can’t find someone well liked enough to win against disgraced Donald Trump. And he barely won the first time!

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

OK, you are just replying now like some silly Trump troll on Twitter. You seriously make no sense. Biden is not supporting genocide, the US does not run Israel despite what uninformed people who have never been there might say. Between your statements and the Gaza ride thread, the level of plain antisemitism on this site is predictable.
Only Jews could do genocide is such a stupid trope.
His immigration policies are NOTHING like Trumps and it is a political loser for him.
Have a nice day.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

Buddy, I hate Trump. He’s a poison. But if you think that’s going to be enough to stop him from winning when so many can see through lies like you just repeated right here, I’m worried for the future. I am anyway, but even more.

Enough people are not going to be convinced by lies like yours. The US doesn’t run Israel, so that means it’s pretty good and OK that we back them 100% and send them the literal weapons they’re using to massacre thousands. Utter nonsense. It’s sickening.

And people aren’t all so stupid as to believe at face value the antisemitism smear. Those kinds of lies worked on Jeremy Corbyn in the UK because their media apperatus coordinated lying to the public. I don’t think it’s working here. People just aren’t that stupid.

Only Jews could do genocide is such a stupid trope.

See? You’re off the rails. You’ve lost the plot. Nobody – anywhere – nobody is saying that. This isn’t worth a response.

Biden is deporting as many or more people than Trump, despite most of the changes Trump made being purely executive order. Meaning Biden could just undo it. Biden is moving forward with border wall construction, despite all the hay made about Trump’s border wall.

Biden’s infrastructure bill may have some nice things in it. If it was actually having a noticeable impact on a lot of people, they might actually care. He also expanded drilling with that money. Cool beans. You can nit pick all you want, but at the end of the day, people are disgusted. That doesn’t mean they’ll vote Trump, it means they won’t vote.

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

Please elaborate what Trumps policy would be on Israel and NO Japanese in internment camps were used in work projects.
This is just embarrassing now.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

I don’t know what’s so hard to understand. This is just a fundamental cognitive dissonance Democrats exhibit. When people point out that Biden has abysmal approval ratings because people hate what he’s doing, the response always just jumps the tracks into “o u think trump wood be bettr?!@”. Biden’s poll numbers, approval, and the lack of enthusiasm for him are facts. People don’t like him. It’s not on me personally to do anything about that, it’s on him to do something different.

FYI, Japanese internment was almost a decade after the New Deal began and FDR died just after internment started. The two things are not related. Japanese internment is a horrible stain on our very stained American history. The New Deal on the other hand is simply an example of something that had vast public support. It’s an example of government doing big things, and why it’s namesake is used in the Green New Deal – i.e. something like that but for the big cause of our time.

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

OK John, this discussion is stupid.
Its 2016 again and you are the person who just could not take Hillary and the emails..
An almost illiterate game show host and fascist wannabe is preferable to you and 48% of America.
You really are in the Cult or at least tacitly support it.
You think a person who thinks water kills magnets among a lot of ignoramus thoughts is a realistic alternate to what you perceive is imperfection.
We are done I think.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago

It wouldn’t have gone off-topic if they’d been wearing reflectors!

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  qqq
BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

FDR put thousands of innocent Japanese in camps also
Your history knowledge missed that one?

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

No my history didn’t miss that. I know history. Do you think it was somehow necessary to put Japanese people in camps for us to build massive public works projects? I don’t think the two are causally related.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  BB

Biden has passed the largest infrastructure bill in history!

Which included some of the most important climate change provisions passed to date.

BB
BB
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Facts are not an important thing for some people.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

“If change is actually wanted”… what would it take to make those in power work towards making the kinds of changes you support?

That’s not some abstract question, it’s something that requires a concrete, actionable answer if we are going to move forward on building the type of transit and bicycling infrastructure that would make people want to get out of their cars.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s not abstract, for sure. But it’s too big a question for me to answer. It’s definitely not one thing.

This is similar to when it is pointed out we have proof that higher transit and cycling mode share are possible. We know it can be done, it has happened, and we know some of the things that worked. But we have so many impediments here, none of them density or size related. We just seem to have so many road blocks and baffles in our system to stop any kind of government changes from being effective. Any time something big worked, we get crap like Taft Hartley weakening some unions or the Faircloth amendment hobbling public housing. And then of course our anti-democratic system of government, military spending. The list goes on.

But I don’t know. Maybe the thought that anybody can change anyone’s mind is an illusion, and we really are just as random as the weather. In that case, the best we have is to hope for some random technology (a wizard) to solve our problems. And hey, it could happen. That would be great, it’s just that we have no rational reason to expect it.

I think that people actually do come around to believing our government can do things, that Unions can make our lives better, and that the free market is not to be trusted. I think if people are given real examples of it, minds can be changed. We have had sparks of that in the past. The New Deal was immensely popular. Obamacare was very popular back when people didn’t realize it was just a gift to the insurance industry. Bernie Sanders sparked some real excitement and optimism in people. Places that have good public transit actually have people using it. We know people like it, but there are the political hurdles to get through (i.e., official priorities).

Damien
Damien
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

Hear hear, John.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

If you stop assuming some magic will come in and solve all the problems without anyone having to do anything different, the solutions start seeming perfectly reasonable. 

I’m a little surprised by this. Maybe I was misunderstanding your comments in previous posts, but I thought you were against people needing to do things differently as you were against personal responsibility and the ability of people to alter their habits. Or do you mean other people need to do things differently ?

The problems aren’t that hard…

I agree with you that the problems aren’t that hard to solve. The problem arrives when people believe there are different solutions to get to the desired results.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Well let me clarify for you. The solutions aren’t people individually deciding to do better. That’s ahistorical. People don’t do that, or if they do it will be in a random way that isn’t useful. They require government action and/or political organization. That’s very different.

If I or anybody had actual specific solutions all worked out we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. Whenever anyone gets near the levers of power, it seems they usually lose all political will and become hell bent on keeping the job they have above all else, and doing something different means risking that.

I’m afraid that if any solution to climate change, homelessness, etc, is going to come, it won’t be in a form we’ve seen before. Organized labor was the solution last century. It might be the solution now, I don’t know.

But I’m rambling. In short, the difference between “personal responsibility” and organized action is pretty straight forward. Personal responsibility is an illusion, or it’s putting the cart before the horse. It happens after other mass changes happen.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

100% agree with you on this! It’s just that the light tearing through the tunnel towards us is the ongoing climate crisis finally pushing the worlds problems into the PNW. I truly don’t believe there is time for the levels of automation you are hoping for before the power/social grid starts to come noticeably apart.

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2021/oct/14/climate-change-happening-now-stats-graphs-maps-cop26

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I don’t think automation will help with the climate crisis, except to the extent it speeds electrification of the vehicle fleet. Electrification is a necessary step that appears to be well underway, even if still in the very early stages.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I just admire your optimism that there is time for widespread automation to take effect.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

As I’ve said before, I’m the most optimistic person here.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I used to be, my brother still is.

Funny what decade after decade of observing human short-sightedness, greed and stupidity does to a guy.

Damien
Damien
3 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Sure, Trike Guy, you could be a clear-eyed realist about it, or you could take a page from Watts’ book and choose optimism because it (I’m paraphrasing) “feels good“.

True story: I once gave believing in heaven an honest go, because that seems like a lovely, positively optimistic vision. Alas, it wasn’t one I could intellectually honestly sustain. Same goes for a technological (wizardry, to borrow from John V) solution to what is ultimately a behavioral/cultural problem.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Damien

How many clear I realists do we have in the house?

My belief in technology only goes as far as what is already being developed. For example, 18 months ago I did not believe I would ever see a computer pass the Turing test. And now people complain because ChatGPT occasionally makes a mistake.

Every commercial auto manufacturer is building electric cars and selling them to the public. Most are working on automated vehicles, and you can ride in one in several cities today. Is it really that loony to think that they might work?

I believe in a brighter future not because “it feels good” but because I can see people building pieces of it all around me. As unsettling as it may be for some, we probably need to move forward without forcing the sinners to repent.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago

I always like reading Fred’s comments.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago

I could if it was a sit-down dinner. I’d just look for corner of the room that the servers overlooked, and watch for the guy pointing out that everyone else was already getting served, so when were they going to finally get something?

curly
curly
3 months ago

Snobbish?

SD
SD
3 months ago

There is bad behavior where people feel like they are on their own, and there is bad behavior where people feel like they have an angry mob behind them cheering them on.
The changes that we have seen over the last 4-5 years is a result of radicalized drivers feeling justified in their impatience and dangerous acts. It is shocking what some people will encourage and admit to in dark web chatrooms like nextdoor.

Lazy Spinner
Lazy Spinner
3 months ago
Reply to  SD

If a certain former POTUS, various members of Congress, the current President’s son, a bunch of billionaires, plus loads of local criminals and addicts don’t face any accountability, then why should the common man behave? How many regular people start feeling very foolish for obeying the law when seemingly no one has to?

I am 100% serious about this! I don’t advocate for bad behavior, but I do think that people are fed up, angry, and that is manifesting in rebellious and anti-social behaviors. People have started thinking, “If Ted and the cops don’t really care, then I may as well zip down Hawthorne, Lombard, or Naito at highway speeds because I can.”.

Damien
Damien
3 months ago
Reply to  Lazy Spinner

Ha, I don’t think you’re off-base. These are logical consequences of America’s “I got mine *&^% y’all” culture. Been that way at the top for a long time now; why not the bottom?

On another article, strong German social norms were mentioned as a reason why you don’t see some of this behavior in Germany. But that’s the thing – we also have strong social norms here. They’re just inherently anti-social.

ROH
ROH
3 months ago

I’ve wondered for a long time whether any streets in a city should have more than one lane for car travel in each direction. Multiple lanes seem to encourage worse driving behaviors like weaving in and out of lanes and racing. One lane in each direction makes the person following the speed limit the “speed governor” for the entire street. And with a center turn lane, with occasional islands so people can’t use it to pass, the whole street may be more efficient, even if slower.

Aaron
3 months ago
Reply to  ROH

I think this would be the way to go. For drivers who want to move quickly through the city, they’re welcome to use the multiple freeways we spent billions of dollars on for them to drive fast.

And if the freeways are always full of car traffic so you can’t actually go 60mph? Well, that’s just the trouble with cars. Maybe take a train or a bike instead, they don’t have that problem.

hawthornebridge
hawthornebridge
3 months ago

if you record all the cars that go across the hawthorne bridge, westbound, you will see that because there’s a hill before the bridge they expect to go AT LEAST 40 mph.

this means anyone entering from water ave. is in danger.

this is proven by the amount of folks entering the bridge, realizing the terrain is different, then losing control and swiping the side of their car or totaling it completely & endangering others in the process.

the city would probably shut down that entryway rather than slowing traffic. if they had few bumps there that might entice people to take it easy.

it feels likely that the crashes in comparison to the amount of drivers on the bridge is disproportionate.