Eleven Ponts To Nowhere, part 4

 We've come to the 4th point in John's plan for eliminaring the personal automobile...

 Start a PR campaign to discourage automobile use. Mimic the anti-smoking and anti-DUI campaigns of recent decades. Make driving unpopular.

Result: driving becomes less appealing.

 There's not much to argue about here, a solid PR campaign is a logical step in getting any mesage across. So, we'll move on to some of John's responses.

  Again I appreciate the helpful critique: this is fun. I should probably remove the part about pork barrel highway spending because it detracts from the purpose of the point. As for the HOT/no new freeways part of the idea, that needs a little revision.

What about a freeze on new, toll-free highways? Currently, highway planners envision what they think traffic will be like in, say, 2020, and then build lanes accordingly. What if they maintained the existing highway infrastructure as is but put a moratorium on new free roads? That is, if you want a new lane, it will have a toll on it. In the longer term, I would advocate changing free highways to toll roads, gradually.

Anyway, the point of this would be to remove a government subsidy on driving, which encourages waste. If you have to pay for something based on how much you use it, you have an incentive to conserve. This is why I think moving to a toll highway system would cause people to drive less, in aggregate.

 Stoppng road expansion altogether, or making any new roads toll roads would have an immediate effect on the popularity of driving, but in my view it's rather draconian and would have an impact on the economy as well. Anyone know of any kind of research done on this, research that was not poliically motivated either way? There would be so many factors involved in stopping freeway expansion, and a lot of unintended consequences could arise. We need some good data to see if this is a valid idea or something that could trigger more problems than it solves.

 I've thought of something I didn't consider with the car-sharing idea. I've been analyzing it strictly as a numbers game, and in that aspect I still think it doesn't make enough of an impact on personal car ownership. It does, however, introduce Americans to the idea of life wthout a car, and the best advertising there around is word-of-mouth. In that regard it does have some value to John's argument, and could have a bigger effect than numbers alone suggest.


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