Last week, the media brought you the simple solution to climate change, air pollution and any number of other environmental challenges – simply stop using fossil fuels.
This week, we have the answer to urban sprawl, air pollution (again), climate change (again) and another variety of challenges –- stop building roads.
Americans own 300 million cars and don’t seem the least bit inclined to abandon the convenience and time savings they offer. But if cities want to get serious about global warming, it’s time to shut down road building and maintenance and force those drivers off the road.
That’s the word from Curbed, a website focused on architecture, interior design and real estate.
“Mayors across the U.S. claim they want to stop climate change but keep widening freeways, protecting parking and incentivizing sprawl,” the site wrote in the caption to a photo of a major urban interstate interchange.
The story promotes the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda, to which more than 400 mayors now belong. The group, also known as the Climate Mayors, formed in 2017 when President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords.
The mayors pledged to pursue the policies within their cities that were laid out in the Paris agreement to try to prevent the global average temperature increase from reaching 2 degrees Celsius. Global average temperatures are cooler now than they were in the 1930s and have not risen measurably since 1995.
But according to Alissa Walker, a veteran climate activist on the Curbed staff, the mayors are not “doing enough to address the elephant in the atmosphere – the inextricable link between our cars and climate change.”
Walker says Jenny Durkan, the mayor of Seattle, has been a bright spot in this. She has introduced a city climate action plan that includes congestion pricing on downtown streets and other measures to choke traffic, punish drivers and try to force them into mass transit.
But more must be done, Walker wrote. Lots of more. “Instead of building highways, knocking down apartments for parking lots or rallying to ‘save’ single-family housing, U.S. mayors need to be charging drivers to enter cities, approving affordable housing near transit hubs, eliminating parking requirements and building out a robust bus network.
All that could be paid for and mass transit made free if only cities would place heavy taxes on ride-hailing services, such as Uber.
They should stop encouraging electric vehicles on the street – all cars are evil; not just gas guzzlers. “Instead of offering a bold framework for reducing or eliminating the numbers of vehicles on the streets of these [cities with climate woke mayors], these mayors are hyping their embrace of electric vehicles.” By the time enough electric vehicles are on the roads to significantly reduce emissions, “it will be too late,” she wrote. “Not just from a climate standpoint but from a density standpoint.”
Mainstream media loves these reports – the leading environmental columnist for Mother Jones promoted this story.
But those mayors know not to get too out in front of their constituents or they will risk losing their next election. And their constituents are clearly not over cars.
No state outside the New York area has been more committed to urging its residents out of their cars and onto mass transit than Maryland. But as Wendell Cox, a transportation expert, has pointed out, Maryland spends 45 percent of its transportation funds on mass transit, but mass transit accounts for only 3 percent of its trips.
Yet, he says, it’s still quicker to travel by car – even in the congested areas of Baltimore, the D.C. suburbs and Annapolis, Md. – than by mass transit. And, even after all that spending over decades, fewer than 1 percent of Marylanders have left their cars for mass transit.
The media continues to parrot the ideas of the left, almost no matter how impractical, and it insists Americans will willingly go along.
“If U.S. mayors are going to go ‘all in’ for climate, their constituents need to tell them to find new ways to cut down on cars in their cities.” Not likely to happen under the current environment.