Dave Reid
Car Culture

Highway Bill?

Cars, not people, win this round.

By - Aug 10th, 2012 12:06 pm
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I-94 Expansion

I-94 Expansion

On July 6th President Obama signed into law the latest version of the “Highway Bill,” know officially as MAP 21. While MAP-21 is supposed to be a transportation bill, the House GOP have been fairly successful in turning it in to a car-focused highway-only bill.  By labeling it the highway bill it minimizes the value and needs of transit, bicycle and pedestrian programs, and unfortunately this time it is really does live up to its nickname.

This time it truly is a highway bill as popular programs such as Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and Recreational Trails were reorganized and downsized into one program, Transportation Alternatives.   Not only were the programs reorganized, but total funding for these programs has been cut from $1.2 billion to $800 million. States were also given the ability to opt-out of 50 to 100 percent of the program in certain situations, essentially eliminating or completely marginalizing the programs. And just to pile on, some road-specific items were mixed into the new transportation alternatives program, further diluting the usefulness of these transportation programs.

This move back to a 50′s-style car-focused bill is actually ignoring the desire of the American public.  In 2010 Transportation for America conducted a poll in which they found that 59 percent of American’s believed that, “we need to improve public transportation including trains and buses, to make it easier to walk and bike to reduce traffic congestion.”  It also found that 66 percent of American’s say that they “would like more transportation options so they have the freedom to choose how to get where they need to go.”  Unfortunately, that is not the direction MAP-21 is taking us.

Despite most of America’s desire for a more balanced transportation system, it looks like car culture won out this time.

And just one final note:  MAP-21 diverts $18.8 billion from the General Fund.  Yes, just one more auto-oriented subsidy.

A Second Designated Driver Services Comes to Milwaukee

There’s is no doubt that Milwaukeans enjoy a tasty adult liquor drink, so much so that Milwaukee was named Drunkest City in America by The Daily Beast in 2010.  Unfortunately, we also seem to enjoy bringing along an unnecessary accessory to the festivities, our car.

We reported in May that the driver service Zingo is starting operations in Milwaukee to address this problem.  But as the Milwaukee nightlife scene is quite extensive, there is more than enough room in the market for multiple services to handle the volume.

Enter My Driver Milwaukee.  Just like Zingo, My Driver Milwaukee will drive your car home for you.  My Driver Milwaukee also offers the ability to rent a driver for the evening, for parties, or just a night on the town.

Dangerous Roads

It’s been awhile since the last Car Culture, so this edition features a great number of some of the oddest and quite frankly saddest failures on our dangerous roads. Apparently “getting your drink on” is now a family activity, there’s a new definition of the four-for-four deal being offered in the drive-thru lane, and once again can we please stop aiming for our officers?

Loosen our Belt

The State of Wisconsin is preparing to spend millions more on the expansion of I-43 from Silver Spring Drive to Highway 60.  As part of this process WisDOT is holding meetings to give the public an opportunity to weigh in.  But if these go at all like the Hoan Bridge meetings, it’s likely WisDOT will pick the bigger is better option, once again forgetting that you really can’t loosen your belt to lose weight.

Featured Tweet

This photo from right-wing writer James Wigderson points out where the real political dividing line is in Wisconsin. Where the sidewalk ends.

3 thoughts on “Car Culture: Highway Bill?”

  1. Garrick Jannene says:

    One thing I will never understand is Republican opposition to mass transit when they seem to love “big government” when it comes to roads and highways.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Garrick Yeah On one hand I don’t get it, but on the other I do. Individuality versus community.

  3. Jeff Jordan says:

    The idea that this along with many others of politicizing every issue that comes to fore is madding, but this one as much as politic’s is big highway money.
    If the crafters of the narrative that fascinates the suburban and rural voters is the city versus them issues, why should that demographic care if we have better pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit options as long as they can get where they want to go. In this narrative , you get in a car that is equipped with every thing that can distract you from devoting your attention to driving; such a GPS, DVD Players, thousand dollar stereo systems, full screen displays that show maps and access to the internet and the latest phone hook ups. I’m also amazed that , according to the commercials I see, the ability to drive and watch your full screen display while the car is in a controlled skid at obviously high speed is an absolute necessity. In this world, people leave their home and go where they want, when they want. They anticipate no delays, no problem parking when they arrive and , most importantly, no extra cost. Al of this, they tell themselves, is paid for by their license fee’s and gasoline taxes. In their world they have the right to this and are upset when they are told they are wrong. And the folks that are profiting from this fantasy are more than happy to finance this narrative in song and story.
    We often look at these issues in the naive hope that we will prevail because we are right. The question I have who is speaking for us? Where is the organization that has the financial backing to change the narrative and move the needle to our advantage?

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