Many Benefits to Less Driving

Steve Berg at MinnPost: “Here’s a transportation solution: Reduce the need to drive”

He runs down MnDOT’s projected budget needs and the ridiculous shortfall, then comes with: “What’s missing in this bitter and prolonged fight is any serious attack on the demand side.” Amen, brotha! You might think he’d then go the transit-pimping route, but he contiunes with a discussion of sprawl and zoning.

Filling in our neighborhoods with businesses that serve our needs does a number of good things. You can walk or bike to them, so it’s better for your health and it’s better for the environment. It encourages you to actually get out in your neighborhood and experience it; see your neighbors and be aware of what’s going on. And it keeps the cash flow circulating in your hyperlocal economy.

I still say we need to spend some money on transit. Yes, I know, transit also costs a lot of money that MnDOT doesn’t have. I still have to get to work, though.

Long term, people. Long term.

3 Comments so far

  1. Justin (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 10:09 am

    All good ideas, but i think the reality of it is, big business pays the politicians, and small community store fronts don’t. All his arguments make sense for the perceived goals (individual benefit/environmental conservation/meeting budgets). Without some benefit to the individual politicians, this probably wouldn’t happen.

  2. Erica M (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 10:14 am

    Yeah, I had fleeting thoughts about market analysis and beaurocracy.

    Which is Steve Berg’s point: Our current business/political/social climate is not overly hospitable to making this happen and it will take a high-level change for it to succeed.

  3. noodleman (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 11:35 am

    There was a time when there were no “big box” stores and people did more shopping within 5-miles of their homes. So, IMO, it’s less about big business “paying off” politicians than it is the typical American consumer attitude of “cheaper is better.” You can still buy a HDTV from a locally-owned Mom-n-Pop store … but it will cost you more than it would buying one from a Best Buy that’s out in the ‘burbs.

    Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs don’t dominate because of corporate lobbying; they dominate because Americans don’t want to spend one penny more than they have to for a pair of jeans or a new refrigerator.

    Change the American attitude toward pricing and it would solve more than just the survival of neighborhood stores. It might even keep more manufacturing jobs right here in the US rather than them being moved overseas for cheaper labor in order to keep retail prices down-down-down.

    There are two sides to inflation. The upside is that it means more money — eventually — in the pockets of workers right here at home.

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