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#1
Pit,

Recently I've given a lot of though to reducing automobile use. Growing up in the rural Midwest (USA), a car is somewhat necessary for trips to other towns (and even the nearest town, as I reside in the country) -- not a lot is offered where I live, and it isn't practical to bike 70 miles every time I need to go to certain stores. However, what I can do is reduce my use of the car.

All too often I see people driving to work when work is just a few blocks away (even in good weather). Public transportation is lacking in many areas in this country, but many of us could walk or bike our short trips and be better off for it. After seeing videos of places like Copenhagen and the Netherlands that relate to cycling, I really think America's car culture is outrageous.

I just thought I'd see what the Pit's thoughts are on reducing use of the car. I know a lot of people in other countries and bigger cities have more access to public transportation, which I see as a great way to cut city congestion due to excess single-person car use. I don't really consider myself an environmentalist, but I think it would be great if a change in mindset could help conserve our dwindling fossil fuel supply.
#2
America's car culture came about because it's so big of a country. That said, yes, more of us can walk 2 blocks to work or whatever.

I'll be moving to Dallas soon, and I will be using the DART train as often as possible.

Sidenote: Part of the issue is that not all American major cities have good public transit. If your options are a shitty bus system (because the times are wonky) or a tram system that goes like 5 places or driving a car, which do you think people will choose? Driving a car every time.
#3
So like, what is there to discuss? Pretty sure nobody is going to say "I think we should burn more fuel and build more cars!"


Don't bother saying that^. You aren't clever.
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#4
Quote by StewieSwan
Don't bother saying that^. You aren't clever.

Oh, pardon me. I wasn't clever enough for you.
#5
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Oh, pardon me. I wasn't clever enough for you.



I was pointing at my own quote, doofus.
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#6
Unfortunately, given the United States' large size, public transit is a deservedly daunting thing. When most every city is hundreds of miles away from the next, there are no good ways to transport people (cheaply) from one to the other.

That said, I don't think there's any excuse for a big city not to have public transit. I am from the midwest myself, and you are very correct in that vehicles are simply necessary for life in most cases. The nearest grocery store from my house is 19 miles, so I basically have to drive to get food.

As far as people who drive short distances, obviously the price of gas is not high enough yet. If it was, they would stop.
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#8
Quote by eGraham
Unfortunately, given the United States' large size, public transit is a deservedly daunting thing. When most every city is hundreds of miles away from the next, there are no good ways to transport people (cheaply) from one to the other.



China has the same problem and they're solving it with high-speed, long-distance trains.
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#9
That's because China somehow manages to actually do things.

But this is America
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#10
Quote by eGraham
That said, I don't think there's any excuse for a big city not to have public transit. I am from the midwest myself, and you are very correct in that vehicles are simply necessary for life in most cases. The nearest grocery store from my house is 19 miles, so I basically have to drive to get food.

Yeah, I lived within easy distance of St. Paul, MN for years.

My town was tiny though and not a lot was within walking distance. It makes sense to drive to the grocery store (because it takes an hour to walk there and good luck carrying all that food back). But it takes like 15 minutes to walk to the movie theater, so why would I drive (unless it's like -45F)?

In St. Paul, though, there literally is no public transit. There's technically a bus system, but it's terrible. (See above.) We also have a rail system, but the metro area is so spread out and the rail system doesn't go anywhere outside of like 5 areas. In fact, the rail system is so useless that it actually costs the metro area millions every year. It runs at a loss. It's these kind of half-assed attempts at metro transit that just make it worse.

As far as people who drive short distances, obviously the price of gas is not high enough yet. If it was, they would stop.

Well, a lot of people are also wusses about the cold. If it's 32F, then you can just throw on a jacket and hat and gloves for your walk.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Sep 21, 2014,
#12
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Yeah, man. You know it!
#13
Quote by eGraham
That's because China somehow manages to actually do things.

But this is America



Oppressive governments get things done, for better or worse.
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#14
I don't think I could drive less. I wouldn't be able to get anywhere.


Plus I like driving. Took a train to school everyday for two years and hated it.
Last edited by WCPhils at Sep 21, 2014,
#15
To get a public transport system that's comparable to China's would cost an outrageous amount of money for a country as large as the US.

Also, how would the oil companies make so much money if multiple people went on the same vehicle, i.e a bus or train?
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Sep 21, 2014,
#16
Yes, our car culture is ridiculous.

"Because America is so big" is a very bad excuse (Americans try to justify everything with this lol) especially when so much of this is a city level issue. America being so large has nothing to do with the city of Tucson or wherever you all live not caring about public transportation, sustainable design, etc. On a national level that's not an excuse either. Trains used to be used as actual cross-city transport when they first became a common thing (obviously). Not to mention that the funding and manpower to construct this would probably be proportional to smaller nations, and it's not like the USA hasn't done something of this magnitude before. The construction of the interstate highway system was one of the largest public works projects in history.

The real reason for this is because America (not so much the average American because it's not like we like the expenses related to cars, and it's not like everyone can afford to drive) made a decision to embrace the car culture and bad transportation planning, not helped by car and oil industry lobbyists.

When I lived in my old city I used to walk and take the bus more than I drove. Where I live now everything is stupidly spread out and the bus only comes to my area from 8am-1pm so I almost always have to drive to get anywhere. I would use these methods more often if I could.
Last edited by slipknot5678 at Sep 21, 2014,
#17
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
To get a public transport system that's comparable to China's would cost an outrageous amount of money for a country as large as the US.
And China, with all her different landscapes, is any easier? The reason this doesn't happen in the USA is that such initiatives either need to be lobbied for by the big boys, or invested in by private businesses, and the promise of profit is far too weak since everyone drives a car to get 2 blocks away from their house so it won't happen.

Also, how would the oil companies make so much money if multiple people went on the same vehicle, i.e a bus or train?

Passenger Tax ofcourse. Lobbyists will sort that out.
#18
Quote by slipknot5678
Yes, our car culture is ridiculous.

"Because America is so big" is a very bad excuse (Americans try to justify everything with this lol) especially when so much of this is a city level issue.

It does explain why it's so hard to not drive in rural areas, though. That's why it's relevant.

The real reason for this is because America (not so much the average American because it's not like we like the expenses related to cars, and it's not like everyone can afford to drive) made a decision to embrace the car culture and bad transportation planning, not helped by car and oil industry lobbyists.

Yeah, we have so much lobbying in politics; it's ridiculous. There's been several prior attempts for instance to build cleaner cars in the US, all of which were blocked by oil. The only (so far) successful instance is the Nissan Leaf, and that just came out.

On the issue of public transit, though...oil/car lobbyists generally contribute big to political campaigns. Then, they swoop in like hawks whenever public transit issues come up.
#19
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
It does explain why it's so hard to not drive in rural areas, though. That's why it's relevant.


Yeah, we have so much lobbying in politics; it's ridiculous. There's been several prior attempts for instance to build cleaner cars in the US, all of which were blocked by oil. The only (so far) successful instance is the Nissan Leaf, and that just came out.

On the issue of public transit, though...oil/car lobbyists generally contribute big to political campaigns. Then, they swoop in like hawks whenever public transit issues come up.


That's relevant to smaller countries too though. I had something in my post about how I think it is reasonable for rural areas to be more car oriented and praised TS for thinking about this despite living in a rural area, but for some reason I removed it from my post.

We're on the same page with everything else.
#20
Quote by slipknot5678
That's relevant to smaller countries too though. I had something in my post about how I think it is reasonable for rural areas to be more car oriented and praised TS for thinking about this despite living in a rural area, but for some reason I removed it from my post.

We're on the same page with everything else.

Cool, cool.
#21
Speaking of lobbying, my grandfather was working at an electrical engineering firm that was developing a brand new battery technology that could be used to power vehicles. I don't recall what the technology was though. But as soon as they saw the technology as a threat, Shell bought out the entire company, laid everybody off (including my grandfather), and filed it for bankruptcy. The company was never heard of again.

It all happened overnight according to him. A Shell representative walked into his office and gave him a cheque of £300,000 to retire with, and told him to pack up his things. He never worked again.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Sep 21, 2014,
#22
We have a pretty decent train system here on the east coast, but it doesn't go everywhere and many of the trains are dated (read:slow as hell). We don't get new ones for the same reason that most airline companies still use planes from the '60s-'00. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The only issue is that it makes travelling in what seems to be very dated accommodations for what ends up being a pretty hefty price (From central Jersey to NYC is $20 one way NOT including parking which can easily be another $10. Driving would cost you about $25 round trip in an average car with an MPG of about 20) less attractive as the years progress.

You take the train if you have to go to the airport in Newark or whatever. Otherwise you drive. It's cheaper, faster, and unless you're disgusting, probably a hell of a lot cleaner (yeah, there's fleas on some of the trains).

I think we could do more rail travel, but it would take a massive overhaul of the entire system. I don't think it would ever change the need to drive in rural areas. I used to live in rural Ohio and I know it wouldn't ever work out there. There's just too much space to cover.

I think the better thing to look at is cleaner energy. If we could stop putting heavy taxes on car companies that are pursuing R&D of electric cars under the guise of road maintenance (still an issue, but come on guys... it's because oil is so ingrained into our economy, and you can't tell me that taxing every one of the tens of 1000s of cars that come through the highway system of the east coast every day $1.50 every 20-30 miles doesn't pay for road maintenance...)

Anyway, that's my take on it coming from an east coaster.
#23
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Speaking of lobbying, my grandfather was working at an electrical engineering firm that was developing a brand new battery technology that could be used to power vehicles. I don't recall what the technology was though. But as soon as they saw the technology as a threat, Shell bought out the entire company, laid everybody off (including my grandfather), and filed it for bankruptcy. The company was never heard of again.

It all happened overnight according to him. A Shell representative walked into his office and gave him a cheque of £300,000 to retire with, and told him to pack up his things. He never worked again.


what the fuck
#24
Quote by eGraham
That's because China somehow manages to actually do things.

But this is America


HEY

WE ARREST A LOT OF PPL

#25
Quote by crazysam23_Atax


In St. Paul, though, there literally is no public transit. There's technically a bus system, but it's terrible. (See above.) We also have a rail system, but the metro area is so spread out and the rail system doesn't go anywhere outside of like 5 areas. In fact, the rail system is so useless that it actually costs the metro area millions every year. It runs at a loss. It's these kind of half-assed attempts at metro transit that just make it worse.
It's also incredibly slow, slower than the bus/es they replaced. Also, there aren't any public transit trains that come out ahead, except Tokyo and Osaka. That's why they're all operated by governments. Buses and trains also are not always more efficient (that cost is absorbed by subsidies so a rider wouldn't know since the price stays the same) in terms of energy or carbon reduction. So few people ride buses and trains for most of the day that they are often not distributing their fuel consumption efficiently per person. It is in many cases cheaper (per ride, not including upkeep) and more environmentally friendly (as in less carbon per person) to drive in the U.S. and many places around the world. If you carpool and limit trips and plan your routes you're even better off.

That being said, walking and biking always cost nothing in terms of fuel or carbon and are good for your health. So, there's that.
#26
Quote by crazysam23_Atax

Yeah, we have so much lobbying in politics; it's ridiculous. There's been several prior attempts for instance to build cleaner cars in the US, all of which were blocked by oil. The only (so far) successful instance is the Nissan Leaf, and that just came out.
What? There's more and more electric cars every year and some take gas too so you can go on long trips. That's probably the best option really, if you're concerned about fossil fuels and your gas bill. At least in the long run, assuming you keep the car long enough.
#27
I know London has a congestion tax, which everyone hates, that you have to pay as soon as you enter a certain radius of the city. It's worked though, and public transit and cycling etc have become much more popular. It could work in cities like New York, LA, DC, etc. The public transit has to be good enough to take the load though.

I know SLC has one of the best public transit systems in the country, especially for a city of its size, and it works really well. Cities just have to be willing to invest in it, and people will use it.
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#28
Quote by seanlang01
What? There's more and more electric cars every year

And none of them were commercially successful. The Leaf seems to be gaining traction and doing well in terms of sales.

That's probably the best option really, if you're concerned about fossil fuels and your gas bill. At least in the long run, assuming you keep the car long enough.

I'm more concerned about rising gas prices. I know it's not as huge an issue as fossil fuels, but that's my honest concern.

Hybrids are a great option, imho.
#29
Public transit is nice. While I can drive a car, I really like someone else taking me, while I can make/listen music or read a book on the train, being soothed by the cattle in the fields that pass along. Not too mention I can use any drugs I want without worrying if I'm able to drive.

As a student you may also ride for free from monday to friday.

Also a car..1500kg to transport a person of 80kg. Seems a very inefficient way to move matter.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Sep 21, 2014,
#30
because real men drive muscle cars and pussy liberals drive nissan leafs


"oh my god that toyota prius realy made my panties wet" - said no woman ever
pinga
#31
My thoughts are that your thoughts suck ass. Driving is fun, unless you're a little bitch.
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#32
Quote by Cb4rabid
because real men drive muscle cars and pussy liberals drive nissan leafs


"oh my god that toyota prius realy made my panties wet" - said no woman ever

You probably haven't been laid in a while, and it makes you sensitive, doesn't it?
#33
I love driving, even when I lived in Baltimore I drove everywhere. Public transportation isn't an option where I live now but even if it was I doubt I would ever use it.
#34
Lets see 4 hours by public transit to see a friend and I still have to walk 5 miles each way or 30 minutes by car. Absolute no brainer especially since id be out 50 bucks the other way. Ill stil take pt or walk when its practical. Sadly ennough NJ is one of the better states as far as mass transit is concerned.

As for the muscle cars being better then a prius thing. I kind of want to throw a supercharger and do a bunch of ridiculous crap to a prius, straight pipes, bigger air intake, modfify the battery to throw even more juice into it at the start. Prius'es take off really well btw. I'm sure if a redneck really tried he or she can make a wicked 6-7 seccond dragster out of a prius. Muscle cars just scream small penor and rarely get under 10 secconds in a quarter mile.
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#35
Im not gonna take the bus. There's icky people on there
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#36
We need to get all the people who aren't interested in driving off the road and into buses and trains and self-driving cars, and then the people who like cars/motorcycles will have all the roads to themselves. This would be a utopia.
#37
That would be awfull, all the self dring cars would be in the fast lane driving the speed limit and then they would be making walls by going side to side. Considering how many roads there are where people go 20+ over by me its a really bad idea.
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#38
The main issue that relates to this in America is its urban planning. A long time ago some retards thought it'd be a good idea to spread everything out as much as possible. They received big incentives from the auto industry to move to a structure of city centers with sprawling suburbs.

The end result is a depressing landscape of drab architecture, places we don't have a connection with, lack of culture, and ultimately, a need for cars. Even if the grocery store is 5 minutes away on foot, the lack of a simulating environment makes it hard to compel us to walk. It is depressing to walk through a sprawl of parking lots and chain stores. There are only a few places in the US which follows a more European model of development that avoid this...Boston, NYC, and Portland. These places are vibrant, full of culture and interest, and ultimately makes us want to walk. I come from China where there is a huge public culture where it is much more interesting to walk/public-transit than driving. I've also been to other parts of the world that share this characteristic. The US is the polar opposite and it is awful in that regards.

I love driving, but most driving is done without an enthusiast purpose. Most of it is spent in shitty traffic in a country that is abysmally unaware of common courtesies when it comes to driving; left lane is for passing. The US doesn't actually have a car culture at all--true car culture is Germany. Rather, the US has a I'm-compelled-to-not-walk culture.

I consider poor urban planning one of the greatest failures of America and its harm while subtle is far reaching.

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#39
How about no, I'm not walking home from work in the midwest cold, or humid shit summer.

Never lived near a city or public transit, it's needed to get a job either way.
My friends and I often cruised around wasting fuel trading rides for weed and 3 bucks to pump a gallon of gas into a car so 5 of us could cruise around some more.

We were some cool kids.
#40
Quote by guhtar
All too often I see people driving to work when work is just a few blocks away (even in good weather). Public transportation is lacking in many areas in this country, but many of us could walk or bike our short trips and be better off for it. After seeing videos of places like Copenhagen and the Netherlands that relate to cycling, I really think America's car culture is outrageous.

I think it's important to mention that while the Netherlands sees a lot of cycling, it's still a first world country with an enormous amount of pollution by cars. It might be better than some other countries but it still needs to be considerably improved.

Dutch people spend a lot of time commuting, I think a few years ago (and perhaps still) the most of all Europeans. Most of those commuters actually still take the car. Public transportation is used a lot, yes, but I think most people would agree that the train system is run by incompetent morons, causing trains during rush hour to be incredibly crowded and with a lot of delays etc, especially around the large cities where most people need to be.

The main reason people would prefer public transport in large cities is because driving there is a bitch and because parking fees are expensive (sometimes in excess of 5 euros an hour). The reason people would use public transportation between/to and from/outside large cities is because there's a train station/bus stop nearby and it will take them close to where they need to be. If this is not the case they would take their bike or car.

Also, the reason that so many people cycle here I think is due to the fact that we have a lot of good facilities for cycling here - think designated bike lanes and bike stalls (sometimes even with surveillance at no cost).

EDIT:
I walk to work (it's like 5 minutes) and I don't even have a driver's license so I have to take the train/use my bike. If it's within say 10-15 kilometers I'd prefer to use my bike anyway. I only really use the train to go back to my parents' house sometimes. Taking the train takes about 3.5 hours, whereas driving by car would take a little over 2 hours. I prefer the train anyway because that allows me to read or whatever.
Last edited by ultimate-slash at Sep 22, 2014,
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