Can't All Modes Just Get Along?

In the face of New York City's increasing assault on automobiles, Justin Davidson stands up for the pleasures and utility of driving as a key ingredient in the city's multimodal mix of mobility.

As transportation becomes a morally charged issue in New York, where bikes are in ascendance and "driving, once considered an act of freedom, has been demoted to a form of depravity," Davidson confesses his sins of the clutch.

Although Davidson dabbles in polygamous relationships with many forms of transportation, he takes offense to the fulminations against drivers, and sees automobiles as an indispensable component of New York's mobility mix.

"Like prostitution, drugs, and gambling, cars are too useful, too profitable, and too enjoyable to vanish. Their ill effects can be mitigated. They can be made safer, cleaner, and smaller. They can even be drained of fun. Google is developing a driverless car, which is a bit like inventing a self-smoking cigarette or a slot machine that plays alone."

While Davidson doesn't see the car disappearing from New York altogether, he is not opposed to thinning the worst traffic through punitive means.

"If New York is to become a better habitat for automobiles, it should never be cheaper to drive than to take a less convenient form of transportation. To put it another way: Saving time should cost money, and vice versa. That way, car-­haters can stop spluttering about the ills of driving and let the rest of us whip around the city in ­motorized tranquillity."

Full Story: Why I Drive



What Assault on Autos?

What on earth are you talking about "New York City's increasing assault on automobiles"?

Is it the zoning and building codes? No, can't be that... with the zoning resolution's massive amounts of required parking in a city where most people don't own a car or the ease of getting permission for a curb cut for vehicles to cross the sidewalks with the nation's most pedestrian activity.

Is it the DOT's introduction of a few protected bike lanes? No, can't be that... DOT studies have shown little impact, and some improvements, to traffic flow after implementing the lanes.

It must be the high costs imposed on drivers, then, right? Hardly! They still get to use the East River Bridges for free. They still have use of curbside parking for free, or ridiculously below-market meter rates.

Truth be told, the only "assault on automobiles" is their lack of social status. Having an expensive car is no longer the token of social standing it once was. And that's pretty much what Davidson's piece describes, without coming to grips with his displeasure at losing his ability to feel better than the crowded masses he passes by while driving his car through the city.


I agree with urbanresidue ... what on earth are you talking about Re: "assault on automobiles"? The cost of automobiles is extremely high -- from building and maintaining roads and bridges and other infrastructure (e.g., parking), to the many, many negative externalities ranging from oil-related conflicts to massive pollution to local quality-of-life degradation to skyrocketing health-care costs from overweight and unhealthy drivers.

These facts are not an assault on automobiles. Rather, they are facts to be finally considered by our leaders and our people so that we can forge a better, more efficient, happier and healthier future together. Calling this an 'assault' is like claiming that Hitler is overly criticized for his flawed tolerance of others -- it's a silly statement beyond comprehension.

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