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PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS: SARASOTA AND THE CHALLENGE OF MASS TRANSIT IN THE AUTOMOTIVE CITY BY ADAM S. LUBITZ A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. David Brain Sarasota, Florida May, 2011
A. Lubitz ii Acknowledgements I owe thanks to more people than I know for helping to bring me to this point in my like to thank my parents and my sister, Rachel, for all of their love and support during my time at New College and the duration of this stressful year, in particular. Professor David Brain, for his patience and insight. His courses and guidance have si ngle handedly given me an exciting direction in life. Professors Bob Johnson and Joseph Mink, for their excellent courses and faith in my abilities as a student. My few, fellow Urban Studies students Staci, Richard, and Madhuri for the endless laug hs and solidarity in this strange AOC. College. You dickbutts know who you are, and have made these past four years the best of my life. ike to thank Christina for her unending love and support. 3<
A. Lubitz iii Table of Contents Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. ii List of Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... iv A bstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... v Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 1 Section 1: Exceptionally American: Greed, Grief, and the Roots of Automobile Dependency ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 5 The Age of Electric Streetcars: ................................ ................................ ....................... 7 Auto Motives: ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 10 Urban Adversaries: ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 13 Professionalization, Ownership, and Zoning: ................................ ............................... 15 The Coup de Grce: ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 19 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 22 Section 2: Whatever Happened to the City of Tomorrow: Disorienting Automobile Orientations and Their Marginalized Debate ................................ ................................ ... 24 Too Close to the Sun: Negative Environmental Factors ................................ ............... 26 Dividing Lines: Negati ve Social Factors ................................ ................................ ...... 30 An Empire of Smoke: Negative Economic Factors ................................ ...................... 32 Back to the Future: Proposed Solutions to Automobile Dependency .......................... 38 Life, Liberty, and the Pursu it of Parking Spots: Political Obstacles to Smart Growth 42 A Cul de sac Policy: Regulatory Obstacles to Fighting Sprawl ................................ .. 49 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 51 Section 3: Case Study: Sara sota County Area Transit ................................ ...................... 53 History and Growth ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 53 Current Initiatives ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 55 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 59 Bibliography ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 64
A. Lubitz iv List of Figures Figure 1: Downtown 1910 Chicago, during rush hour. ................................ ...................... 9 Figure 2 : 1949 advertisement for the GM sponsored Greyhound bus. ............................ 21 Figure 3: U.S. Energy Ap petite. ................................ ................................ ........................ 27 Figure 4: U.S. Crude Oil Imports versus production. ................................ ....................... 29 Figure 5: Petroleum Consumption by Sector. ................................ ................................ ... 29 Figure 6: U.S. Consumer Unit Expenditures. ................................ ................................ ... 34 Figure 7: VMT versus GDP. ................................ ................................ ............................. 36 Figure 8: Transect zones. ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 41 Figure 9: Highway Interchange. ................................ ................................ ....................... 45 Figure 10: A collage of SCAT buses and trolleys used since 1979. ................................ 54
A. Lubitz v PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS: SARASOTA AND THE CHALLENGE OF MASS TRANSIT IN THE AUTOMOTIVE CITY Adam Lubitz New College of Florida 2011 ABSTRACT How do we confront aut omobile dependency? Many echo this question among urban planning circles, as the overall cognizance of the negative externalities of our foreign oil, but how are we s upposed to concern ourselves over these issues when we hear solutions could involve drastically changing our way of life? In an attempt to answer these questions, this thesis explores why the automobile has become such an integral part of everyday life in the United States, and how this means of transportation differed from before. First investigating the turn of the 20 th century to the Great Depression, I draw upon secondary sources to find the reasons for this vast shift away from transit. Citing the var ious reasons for why this modal shift has been criticized, I explore the range of options for addressing automobile dependency and the difficulties in restoring transit friendly environments. Using Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) as a case study, I uti lize a mixed methodological approach to find which options have worked well for them, although they remain in the distinct minority of transportation modes in Sarasota County. Dr. David Brain
A. Lubitz 1 Introduction This thesis explores how the automobi le has affected the success of mass transit authorities, and the ongoing challenge faced by public transit in its efforts to compete with the automobile. It does this by asking a series of questions; first, related to the causes behind the rise of the auto mobile as the dominant form of transportation. What promoted this shift in urban mobility from electric streetcars to individual cars? Moreover, why might this be considered a problem, and how does this problem persist? What are the advantages of transit, anyway, and why is this a contentious issue? Lastly, how do planning p rofessionals today cope with the lingering obstacles to transit? Posed numbers but in percentage of overall commuters? It is through these questions that I will investigate how public transit can and must compete in the field of urban transportation, despite its history of disadvantage. My central question, however, remains: How does a contemporary mas s transit authority in a low density context increase its share of the transportation market? I ask this as a resident who has lived here nearly four years and often wondered why exactly the bus only service not only has low ridership compared to cars, but also a negative reputation among many of my peers. I find this a question worth asking at a time when the United States, and many other urbanizing parts of the world, is reevaluating the real value in having an automobile dominated landscape. With it beco ming almost clich to
A. Lubitz 2 rural population as of 2007, 1 urban transportation deserves an earnest reconsideration. To accomplish this goal of finding out why public transit has the current ridership that it does, I first survey why bus only mass transit systems such as this one are the norm in so many U.S. cities. I inspect the history of mass transit and automobility to find numerous reasons why the quality of these service s so often falls beneath the critical those who own and would otherwise use a single occupancy vehicle (SOV), to the designated routes of a mass transportation syste m is perhaps the greatest challenge these solely state funded agencies face today. In addition to examining these questions in general, I will consider Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) as a case study for looking at the specifics of these common problem s. I chose to divide the parts of this thesis up into sections not out of a stylistic preference, but due to the sheer range of content. The first two of these sections could eventually form another thesis altogether. But I decided to take this approach due to how I found a more in depth analysis of the historical, social, and political realities surrounding automobile dependency more easily brings to light how this conundrum ng a solution. I also chose not to rely too heavily on chronology; this would limit the arguments of the project. The subsections are not to be understood as consecutive, although the project does still possess a fair amount of continuity, but mostly in th e looser sense of how the New Urbanism was created long after the Progressive Era. 1 United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Population Distribution, Urbanization, Internal Migration and Development, January 2008, ii.
A. Lubitz 3 The first section provides a historical background of how development and land use Based u From Streetcar to Superhighway to Mass Motorization and Mass Transit I provide a background of how by the time much of Sarasota was being developed in the 1950s, the American suburban development machin e was already in full force. As for the backdrop of this mode of development, I analyze what some historians such as Edwin Black refer to as "The GM Conspiracy." Despite the title, this phenomenon actually involved several corporations with auto centric in terests, and successfully razed the previously superior public transit, replacing it with fleets of diesel and rubber tire based buses. As a result, the overall landscape experienced a radical shift in design away from a traditional urbanism. The second section examines why an alternative to the car for transportation is of importance, and analyzes the various solutions that have been proposed. I first analyze the great number of negative environmental and social externalities created by the shift towards an auto centric transportation network Following this, I investigate the various advantages of transit, and find that it has value as a matter of increasing the accessibility for everyone as well as decreasing the amount of congestion and pollution from an auto dependent network. If this is the case, then why do we persist in building sprawl? I consider how, d espite apparent drawbacks of the automobile, the policies inherited from the 50s have persisted. Lastly, what has been done to try to fix automobile dependence and create viable transit options? Drawing from Suburban Nation by Duany, Plater Automobile Dependence & Denial I explore a series of methods implemented by planners to address s
A. Lubitz 4 struggle in a landscape already dominated by the automobile and extended well beyond t debate into left and right for the sake of convenience of discussion. In th e third section, I use Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) as a case study for discovering how a relatively successful mass transit authority has gained ridership in the challenging suburban landscape. I also find out about a tiered system of importance in increasing and maintaining ridership: First and most importantly, to simply increase the sheer amount of infrastructure of a mass transit authority (i.e. obtaining more buses), and thereby lower the potential turnover time for stops. Secondly, to not only increase the number of buses serving routes, but to prudently select routes based on a thorough land Thirdly, and in less direct control by the transportation planner s themselves, are the external factors of demographics of Sarasota, market fluctuations (such as gas prices and the tourism industry), and the public reputation of the transit system altogether. I also consider the challenges presented to SCAT by the count y lines, which have brought particular pressure to service in both Englewood at the southern line of the county and University Parkway which straddles the northern edge. Although I have opinions as to how our transportation network could be improved, I i ntend this thesis as a descriptive, not prescriptive, analysis regarding transportation in the United States. However, I conclude with an overview of the lessons learned throughout my study regarding the challenges, strengths, and weaknesses of certain app roaches to increasing the viability of mass transit.
A. Lubitz 5 Section 1: Exceptionally American: Greed, Grief, and the Roots of Automobile Dependency Miller McClintock, 1937 2 The automobile is one of the mos t ubiquitous modern technologies in the United States. As of 2008, two hundred and fifty six million registered vehicles have scattered across the country. 3 For the majority of Americans, it acts as the main form of transportation for distances ranging fro m coast to coast, or simply from an office building to a fast food restaurant drive manufactured vehicles, and feel entitled to the individual car. We often take it for granted, as its introduction into our cities and lives has long worn off. Although leaders ranging from inventors to politicians have expressed skepticism towards the automobile, history of its gradual domination over our landscape shows how this matter of convenience today is only the result of continuous federal legislations and business practices by automotive interests. By the 1950s, when much of Sarasota County was under development, a series of business deci sions, economic climates, and legislations had already contrived mass transit as the underdog of urban transportation. This section explains why public transit today has such low ridership compared to the automobile by exploring the modal shift of transpo rtation in the United States between the late 19 th century and the end of World War II. I first consider how a rapid 2 Norton, Fighting Traffic Safety Engineering 74 (July 1937), p. 35. 3 National Transportation Statistics: 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation, p. 40.
A. Lubitz 6 continual success until 1920. Next, I explore the how planning and development interests shifted focus towards the automobile, due to its sheer potential for meeting market demands at the time. Simultaneously, the public often distrusted the successful streetcar companies before placing blame upon automo tive companies whenever issues of congestion and accidents would arise. In addition, a concurrent desire to rationalize and professionalize the challenges faced by city management created a much different approach to tackling traffic problems, and often re sulted in a further investment in automobile dependency. From the onset of the Great Depression, I then explore how ate National City Lines, which razed what was left of most streetcar infrastructure. Lastly, I investigate how the Interstate Highway Network, created during the late 1950s, further solidified the If you were to take a stroll through a major American city around the turn of the 20 th century, one of the main differences you would experience is in the typical means of transportation. Rather than watching out for speeding commuters and taxis, you wou ld find yourself walking among other pedestrians, passed by the occasional coach, horse drawn carriage, or in rare cases, an automobile. If you wanted to travel to another city, or simply out of the city, you would probably take a steam powered train, boat or if you were particularly rich and adventurous, an unreliable, gas powered automobile. Within the city, however, you could have the luxury of being somewhat removed from some of the filth of the horse ridden street by simply catching a stagecoach or ev en one of the new
A. Lubitz 7 electric trolleys. Within a mere thirty years, however, these trolleys would have already begun being systematically removed from the streets. Despite the visions of many upstart city planners, federal subsidies and various business moves facilitated the urban fabric to unambiguously alter in favor of the automobile (Hart and Spivak, 14). t whose presence social construction of the street from the perspective of its own time can we see the car as the auto dependent network we face today, we should first consider the roots of American urban transportation around the turn of the century, right before the automobile rapidly gained ownership by 1914. Before then, it was not uncommon to see people of a ll ages walking, shopping, socializing, and playing in the streets that connected their relatively close residences. Ultimately, unprecedented increases in immigration, and subsequent demand for urban transportation brought upon a harsh reality. As a metho d for coping with this rapid change, the profession of planning developed upon the principles of rationalizing in the name of progress. This is where I will begin my assessment of the modal shift in urban transportation. The Age of Electric Streetcars: Fr om 1890 to 1920, the electric streetcar became common among the growing American cities, from the established New York and Chicago to the new metropolises of Los Angeles and Detroit. During this golden era of urban transportation, electric trolleys found p atronage rise from 2 to 15.5 billion annual passengers, a net ridership increase
A. Lubitz 8 those living outside of cities for the first time in American history (Foster, 14). Of c ourse, this was largely due to how expansion of the boundaries of cities was at a much higher central cities averaged 25.1 percent, while the average rate at the fringes was 32.7 development for that decade (15). Electric streetcar companies facilitated the extension of these suburban boundaries quite conveniently. This expansion was done through the addition of what is for these electric companies. These primarily radial, linear service lines directly served the outlying areas, even extending as far as 6 miles from the urban core by 1900 (65). While growing American cities could maintain transit at the fringes, any would crowd up enough to make any form of locomotion impractical. Foster points out another crucial aspect of early railway success and consequent demise by explaining how streetcar companies had often become the targets of political reformers, on top of already losing convenience in overcrowding cities. By the turn of the century, many street railways had been transformed from shakily financed operations competing against several other local companies into huge, profitable monopolies with absolute control over public transportation on city street s. As patronage and profits increased
A. Lubitz 9 To gain a more precise image of this crowded situation, it should also be noted that Chicago, pictured here in 1910, had up to fifteen private tr ansit companies simultaneously vying for market dominance during its heyday (16). Figure 1 : Downtow n 1910 Chicago, during rush hour. How were trolleys (or any forms of transportation) supposed to be efficient in this? (Source: University of California. publishing.cdlib.org). Since they had purely profit driven interests, these private companies became an even easier scapegoat of urban transportation problems once they acquired a decent share of the market. Unlike tod public service ethic; it was purely a profitable business, especially when it unlocked tracts of new land for real estate development. In this regard, the interested businesses often consiste d of electricity companies desiring to further their grip on public utilities. This odore Dreiser presented a very unflattering picture of the machinations of an unscrupulous
A. Lubitz 10 trolley magnate in The Financier (1912) and The Titan companies gradually became major political targets, despite how city residen ts used their routes for a majority of their transportation needs until the 1930s. Auto Motives: By the 1920s, both planners and developers found a real opportunity with the developers, finding a new arena for the sake of easier profits, both sought after the formation of suburban locales. While streetcars easily facilitated the annexation of many of these outlying areas, the automobile truly unlocked the countryside. After 1914, the mass produced Model assembly line (Meyer, 336 from Major Problems in the History of American Workers 1991). Not only could the automobile help tame these dangerous streets, it even promised a positive change in social status for his workers and anyone else who could afford one. simple solution to some of the more formidable social problems of American life associated with the emergence of urban America Adopts the Automobile 112). In other words, the auto facilitated social stratification; it easily removed t hose wealthy enough from the urban centers that newcomers had gradually overrun. T aside, Jones explains how it meant much more to American motorization to have an immense boost in middle class purchasing power with per c apita GDP increasing 24 percent between 1913 and 1928 (11). Flink also
A. Lubitz 11 argues that even when compared against the rise in automobility in France from 1900 1914, the key difference that enabled unprecedented diffusion in the United States was not simply man ufacturing methods or subjective benefits: ways of adopting the automobile in France were very much like those and efficiency over the horse, through the public health benefits of horseless cities and the breaking down of rural isolation, to enhancing individualism and mobility, every motive for adoption of the automobile that I found in the circulating media in t he United States can be found as well in the French Media ( The Automotive Age 28). manufacturing and purchasing capacity, provided more than opportune conditions for the rise in au tomobility. This rise accounted for the creation of 485 companies between 1900 and 1908 alone, with 253 of them remaining active by 1908 (25). Another key development of the substantial rise of automobility by 1915 was the first drastic price drop in the primary form of fuel for autos. Although the oil refining industry grew substantially in the last few decades of the nineteenth century, it primarily manufactured kerosene for lamps and heating. Combining crude oil with a different mixture of hydrocarbons created gasoline, which many considered for decades too flammable, and thereby risky, to use practically. By the farm and industrial engines, but much of it was dumped into the nearest body of water Cars and Culture 36) Eventually, gasoline was found to be a much more efficient fuel for the internal combustion engine, as it packed much more potential energy into its mass than any other source of energy before it. As a result,
A. Lubitz 12 gasoline could be packaged and sold as the logical next step in an evolution of primary e nergy sources. As an added plus, there was very little concern over where to keep finding petroleum, as expansive fields were discovered in East Texas in 1901. Instead, s pressurizing method of refining, which after its implementation in 1913, effectively known, failed att empts at battery powered vehicles from a joint effort by Edison and Ford (Black, Internal Combustion across the American landscape. Not only had the automobile become affordable from mass production, the gasoline powered internal combustion engine became more affordable than the lead acid batteries, as well. According to Edwin Black, much of the reasoning behind the downfall of electric powered transportation stems from the bad na me that the Electric Vehicle Company (EVC), a cartel of the prior bicycle monopoly and rising electric battery monopoly, gave to electric vehicles. Before its legacy, the Seldon patent over electric battery propulsion, collapsed by 1911, the EVC had been k acid batteries severely weighing down the powered internal combustion. Newspapers promulgated a clear message: that these electric companies were out dated and not to be trusted with both electricity generation and urban transportation, while the incipient gasoline and automobile companies provided a new,
A. Lubitz 13 more eff ective product without the prior, corrupting power conflicts influencing their decisions. Urban Adversaries: The automobile had relative ease in replacing the horse as the most common means of mobility, but ousting the pedestrian from the street was a ne w challenge altogether. The pedestrian was obviously a key part of urbanity, and no amount of cars could prevent that from truly changing. This proved true even with the terrible statistics 00, pedestrians accounted for more than two thirds of the dead in 1925. In [larger] cities the proportions a child or teenager being struck and killed by a careless motorist (29). Even when safety regulations attempted to address these unfortunate From 1915 (and especially after 1920), cities tried marketing crosswalks with paint ed centric up to this point, so who was to start controlling pedestrian movement with merely some painted pathways? This reluctance on behalf of the pedestrians, and la ck of effective safety measures from municipal governments facilitated this initial struggle between the pedestrian and the motorist, but most still placed blame on the individuals involved, rather than the whole mode of transportation (68). Instead of cha llenging automobility altogether, social movements focused on how to make this particular and use of horse drawn vehicles were merely extended to motor vehicles as wel
A. Lubitz 14 166) not adequately considering the immense differences between the two forms of transportation whatsoever. still epitomized the ability, if rich enough, to li terally rise above the unrefined members they were a picture of arrogance of wealth Republic of Drivers 37). However, a reflection of material, and conse quently cultural, success. This fascination further shifted the fight from that of driver versus pedestrian to driver versus streetcar. Moreover, the automobile, while it easily met the vacationing desires of the rich, was sold on the premise that it wou and inter urban transportation, respectively. To combat the image of exclusivity, industry spokesmen argued that the auto acted as a pr actical supplement; if you had a traffic jam on one street, you could now more easily avoid it with the auto. Furthermore, proponents asserted that the construction of wider roads, which could easily accommodate more autos, could benefit all, whether they owned one or not (22). The burden of guilt from auto accidents fell upon the driver s themselves, rather than placing more responsibility upon the fledgling automakers. On the other hand, streetcar
A. Lubitz 15 related accidents often held the streetcar companies accountable, as they were expected to provide a comprehensive service and experience. Whe reas automobile companies could get away with producing a marketable product, then relinquishing much of the responsibilities should an accident occur, these streetcars became gradually less appealing from their now comparatively slower speed and gradually reduced efficiency as ridership rates began to drop (Jones, 52). Professionalization Ownership, and Zoning: City officials applied the same notions of rationalization to chaotic city streets during the rise of automobility, bringing about the rise of st andardizing professional expertise to address these issues (104). At the vanguard: the aforementioned planning profession, and various engineers, namely those now specializing in traffic engineering and civil engineering. Previously, there had been no real accepted body of knowledge regarding how to deal with urban street traffic (105). To these professionals, the problem track where there had been little to no research regarding the potential market. In power necessary to make the required ser vice extensions to keep them competitive. Rather than assisting with the expansion of these doomed streetcar companies, engineers typically also found them a hindrance to the motorist, the overall level of nce in other technical problems of municipal service, engineers seldom saw their enemy as injustice or disorder. Instead they attacked inefficiency, and saw in the pursuit of efficiency the answer to other, less
A. Lubitz 16 ar companies of the time, these engineers had no aspirations to a public service ethic. Rather, they believed that if their primary goal was met in this case, maximum travel efficiency then the other benefits and solutions would easily follow. This str ict rationale applied to cities already beginning to favor the automobile over the pedestrian, and as a result, made this mode of development all the more permanent. As the cities expanded, the severely high ratio of renters to owners within cities grabb ed the attention of President Hoover, a first step towards the preference of dispersed, single family homeownership. By 1923, Hoover made clear his belief in the has a cons more profitably, and he and his family live a finer life and enjoy more of the comforts The Bulldozer in the Countrys ide 20). He argued for home ownership not merely increasing in numbers but for an overall paradigm shift from renters to owners. In 1922, he established a division of building and housing in the The staff worked with industry officials to create national standards for building materials. At the same time, the housing division urged municipalities to adopt a uniform building code. In both cases, the goal was to lower construction costs by elimina ting a serious obstacle to streamlined, large scale operations (22). Inevitably, Hoover believed this would result in a greater investment in place, ultimately leading to greater household material wealth. In order to sell suburbia, real estate develope rs wanted to dispel the belief in how
A. Lubitz 17 income tax deduction on mortgage interest in 1914 and the rapid diffusion of both the automobile and installment credit after World War I, home ownership became affordable unprecedented rise in non farm home ownership of 12.5 percent between 1920 and 1930. These new construction projects peaked in 1925 when the number of housing starts reached 937,000, nearly twice the pre 1922 record (23). In addition, Nye explains the rise of consumption among consumers during the 1920s further creating a world for automobility: cal location. Americans were becoming progressively detached from the local and immersed in ever larger contexts, where they confronted abstract names and values determined by the marketplace. Perhaps in response to this impersonality, they rejected collec increasingly measured one another by the value and extravagance of their (174). Hence, the rise of private home ownership found a pivo tal medium with the automobile, one through which the pre existing desires of spreading out and accumulating material wealth could find an outlet. Boyer explains how single functionality already etched out i n the planning mentality by 1914, [was primarily meant to] remove and separate conflicting land uses and dysfunctional districts that might Dreaming the Rational City 153). Essentially, zoning pragmatically gu where an industrial factory or hazardous waste site might also be built. With the increase in homeownership, this consideration of the impact on land investment caught much more attention.
A. Lubitz 18 Early planner s in the 1920s had also voiced concern over how their transit or two lines at a time. As a result, the transit systems underwent more comprehensive planning following 1 923. However, this plan backfired since: [transit] advocates apparently anticipated little or no serious opposition to the principle of improved rapid transit for the masses. They soon discovered that voters who were quick to approve the principle of rapi d transit were loath to back up these straw votes with bonds necessary to finance new facilities. Planners also learned the hard political lesson that opponents of rapid transit could stall official adoption indefinitely by attacking any published plan at a single weak point (Jones, 75). subways and elevated trains would still eventually worsen the issues of congestion in rs] believed it would accelerate the centralization that many hoped to avoid; rapid transit construction and congestion fed 6). Thus, planners considered transit a transportation option that would, even if successful, inevitably becom e a victim of its own success. It went against the prominent energy regime with political momentum oil and lifted the problems away from the street, where the most demand for reform existed. Within the rationalized grid, more intersections presented an opportunity for more collisions, but it also enabled the synchronization of traffic lights. Unsurprisingly, the traffic engineers loved this possibility. The gridiron street had existed for millennia, but the inclusion of timed lights made the traffic flo ws all the more manageable with the advent of cars. On older streets, however, the less predictable pattern allowed for the more flexible methods of biking and walking to become simpler options, while cars would often not even be able to fit down many of t he oldest streets. By
A. Lubitz 19 every twelve residents; [while] Chicago and Boston boasted but one automobile for every still an enormous, untapped market for automobiles in the largest cities. With streetcars gradually phased out of the equation, this became an even more enticing opportunity. The Coup de Grce : While the best year for transit was 1924, the onset of the Great Depression was the final blow to an already overwhelmed, debilitated transit system. As multiple municipalities continued to debate which transportation solutions would most benefit nspired with the hope of ushering in an urban status quo of their own. The ringleader was General Motors; the other companies in this operation were Standard Oil of California, Philips Petroleum, and Decline of Urban Many of the details remain unknown or, at best, obscured from history and conspiracy, but what we do know is that these companies conglomerated to effectively remove the struggling electric streetcar companies f rom nearly all of bus driver, E. Roy Fitzgerald, to go from a rural Minnesota 7 th grade dropout to the kingpin of American urban transportation (Black, 214). Initial c auses of the rise of automobiles aside, Fitzgerald gained this position largely because of a power vacuum created in transit management after the Pubic Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (216). Part of the New Deal, this act legally mandated divestiture o f streetcars from their electric companies. The electric companies accepted their fate; after all, their streetcar business was an incidental extension of their primary
A. Lubitz 20 business of actually generating and selling electric power. But in attacking the overgr own electric companies, an even larger trust took their place. Rather than having New Deal redevelopment funds revitalize the already weakened streetcar infrastructure, venture ler company), under the banner of National City Lines (NCL), gradually bought out local streetcar companies across the U.S. and replaced their infrastructure with gas burning, rubber tired buses. NCL even made certain to replace the tracks in the pavement to seal viable transit, with the one notable exception of San Franscisco cable cars, these companies finished off the already struggling transit companies. This busines s move fulfilled a slowly realized vision of completely replacing transportation in the U.S. with cheap gas burning internal combustion. GM had a rough time after the 1920 21 financial crisis since it had already saturated their potential market, but answe red with diversifying their product to trucks and buses, which now were to slowly take over American transportation (204). Even Yellow Cab sold most of its share to GM by 1925, marking another key market seizure (208). Alfred Sloan, president of GM since 1 923, championed their revival and eventual decimation of their rival, private support of Nazi Germany with their Opel division (239), these keen business practices perfectly e xploited the transportation market and established an effective monopoly for mysteriously and simultaneously acquired a fleet of new Cadillac cars, having previously placed
A. Lubitz 21 become obsolete, so that the public would complain about the service, the poor condition Although not always quite as corrupt, these stories spread across the U.S. in the 19 40s and 50s. Figure 2 : 1949 advertisement for the GM sponsored Greyhound bus. It posits Greyhound as a better alternative than the automobile for certain trips (Smithsonian Museum of American History. http://americanhistory.si.e du/onthemove/exhibition/exhibition_14_3.html).
A. Lubitz 22 By the 1940s, roadway engineers also needed the roadways to most immediately connect not only military bases but also the patchwork of military industries in between. But following the victory of World War I I, the national highway network gained permanence and even became an integral part of American culture. Fast food, gas United States. Although the National System of I nterstate Highways was kept to 40,000 miles after the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944, the 1956 version of this act opened up the roadways and extended the Interstate system from 37,000 to 41,000 miles (Weiner, 14). Although the automotive industry first e mphasized quality, safety, and dependability, these issues lost attention by the 1950s when marketing focus shifted towards playing up the excitement and freedom that artists and journalists had already established in the popular imagination (Seiler, 39). Conclusion In summary, by the 1950s, the development regime with full momentum favored auto dependent, sprawling neighborhoods, discarding any old, civic or transit oriented notions from the turn of the century. The automobile impinged upon the prior sta tus quo of urban life, but also promised a general improvement in the sanitation of cities due to its replacing of the horse as a primary mover within cities. Even though it turned the pedestrian and driver into mutual nuisances, the auto ultimately proved more useful to developers and planners in meeting the demands of healthier, wealthier living at the urban fringes. Even by 1910, city streets had simply become too crowded for viable transit. Planners, mostly coming from an engineering background, sought after the automobile as the efficient solution to problems of complicated, inefficient streets.
A. Lubitz 23 Furthermore, the few transit companies that were able to out compete the many others had become seen as too large and uncaring of the overall public welfare tha t it affected. Although both Edison and Ford hoped to establish a network of drivers still attached to the electric infrastructure of the city, the internal combustion engine successfully out performed the electric vehicles in both acceleration and top spe ed. The gradual rationalization of the municipal planning and development process allowed for the automobile to take its place as the next key form of transportation. President Hoover even called for an increase in private home ownership, which entirely consisted of expanding urban boundaries, and conveniently coincided with the booming capita GDP. By the 1920s, Americans were also eager for any new technological change, and stree tcars were already seen as a thing of the past. Traffic engineering and highway engineering became synonymous; you could not talk about one without also talking about the other. Through the agreements between General Motors, et al., National City Lines suc cessfully negotiated with numerous municipal governments, including those of Florida, to intentionally replace their largest competitor the electric streetcar with diesel powered, rubber tired buses. This modal shift ultimately promoted the perception of the automobile as not only the most flexible, but also the most practical and enjoyable means of transportation.
A. Lubitz 24 Section 2: Whatever Happened to the City of Tomorrow: Disorienting Automobile Orientations and Their Marginalized Debate re broad Art Buchwald, 1966. 4 With the advent of an auto ce ntric mode of development, the new American Dream had formed. Unlocking the landscape for inexpensive suburban homes, a much larger exodus from the cities to the suburbs occurred; based on the promise of more affordable, healthier, safer living for everyon e. Concurrently, economic activity had lost its spatial focus, standard designs went from that of downtowns and CBDs to strip malls. As for automobiles, what were once just the vices of the rich became the required habits of nearly everyone. Undoubtedly in favor of auto centric development, the American However, this alteration did not happen without its discontents. Although many other reasonable arguments against sprawl have found political influence, The Oil Crisis of 1973, and housing crisis of 2008 have most notably made Americans reconsider an automobile orientation. Despite the evidence, and a vast range of possibilities for dealing with automobile dependence, numerous c ritics on both sides of the aisle have facilitated the preclusion of transit friendly policies. Moreover, an assortment of regulatory obstacles has effectively kept the improvement of mass transportation a marginalized issue in much of America. 4 Art Buchwald, Have I Ever Lied to You? (New York: Putnam, 1968), pp. 197 198.
A. Lubitz 25 The key p oint of this section is to answer three major questions: the first is why automobile dependency might be a serious problem, or why increasing transit usefulness (and thereby ridership) deserves attention. Second, what options are being explored to address these issues? And last, why is it still so difficult to implement these principles, and achieve a lasting, modal shift in urban transportation? Beginning with negative environmental factors, I consider how the auto centric development framework has time and again been chastised as an environmentally unfriendly method of development. Following this, I explore why we should look beyond the given automobile based framework due to the intrinsic social costs it places upon all of us, and especially the disadva ntaged. Next, I look at how a modal shift is in order due global and local economic strength. In the next section, I explore various methods used to address an auto centric l andscape. Namely, I explain New Urbanism and its key values that pertain to a recovery of viable mass transportation in the United States. After this, I explore the obstacles towards achieving the end results for which these Smart Growth options strive. I consider political hurdles, which entail the common criticisms of these movements, as well as regulatory difficulties, which often involve subtler, more exasperating challenges for the transit seeking planner or developer. s condition of automobile dependency and the automobile itself was and continues to be a mixed blessing. While it certainly enabled an towns they previously inhabi ted, this usually left the original cities worse off. Unsurprisingly, the automobile worked its way down on the socioeconomic ladder; it
A. Lubitz 26 mobilized families and their larger communities gradually and according to wealth (i.e. the most affluent could leave f irst, etc.). This issue is much larger than Sarasota or the United States however, as with automobile dependency comes numerous negative externalities. Oil dependence and environmental degradation are pervasive issues; they affect everything from local nei ghborhoods to geopolitics. Although international implications warrant another thesis entirely, the preference towards automobile dependence extends far beyond our borders. This is evidenced by the fact that while 46% e registered in the United States in 1999, that number dropped to 30% by just 2007 ( National Transportation Statistics: 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation, p. 51). Back in the U.S., two key bubbles pertaining to automobile dependency burst since the 1 940s: That of cheap oil, and that of extremely profitable suburban housing markets largely sold on credit. Due to the sheer popularity of the automobile, these bubbles had inflated to this unsustainable extent. Too Close to the Sun: Negative Environmenta l Factors United States, continues to rapidly consequently create an ever larger hole in the ozone layer, at an alarming rate (McNeill, Something New Under the Sun 2000, p. 353; Kunstler, The Long Emergency 2005). suburbia contribute to the overall amount of our petroleum consumption, and f urthermore how much of that has to be imported from unstable countries.
A. Lubitz 27 Figure 3 : U.S. Energy Appetite. This chart illustrates how U.S. energy usage has greatly altered, even in the past fifty years. Notice how one of the most environmentally degrading sources, coal, actually found resurgence around the 1970s, despite the principles of the environmental movement. Even when autos were first popularized, issues of automobile noise and air pollution were dismissed as not only s olvable in future iterations, but actually a part of its appeal (Black, 3). But today, after the long standing effects of automobile dependency have come to surface, we find incessant, serious issues of climate change at (or at least near) the forefront of political debate. The story of oil depletion follows that of any other technically limited yet prevalent resource: the tragedy of the commons. 5 With no growing industries, in particular, could easily silence t he few dissenting voices of preservation in pursuit of more oil. However, with this environmental minority becoming more vocal, the dreaded phenomenon of 5 Ano ther example of this phenomenon can be understood from Cod (Kurlansky, 1997).
A. Lubitz 28 has found some resurgence in p opularity, but remains a marginalized issue in light of more attention getting predicaments, such as terrorism (Bardi, 324). All too often in the United States defeat [com mands] more attention that pollution, deforestation, or climate change Regardless of the harmful emissions from automobiles, the auto dependent development regime already necessitates an environmentally deleterious extension int o undeveloped areas. This inherent seizure of open space is often what most upsets anti o grow utward more than focusing on a core where transit proves the most viable.
A. Lubitz 29 Figure 4 : U.S. Crude Oil Imports versus production. After 1994, the U.S. started importing more oil than it produced. Since then, the discrepancy has ste epened (Energy Information Administration). Figure 5 : Petroleum Consumption by Sector. An increasing amount of oil is used in the transportation sector than the other major sectors combined (Energy Information Administration).
A. Lubitz 30 Dividing Lines: Negative Social Factors The automobile embodied a particular desire for Americans to stray away from their shared values, commitments, and, of course, each other. It became a primary means for the gradual dispersal of urban life, a movemen t already in demand for decades (Foster, 49). Of course, since the affluent could enjoy these benefits first, the automobile helped the further escalation of social stratification between those in cities and those in suburbs. Public highway construction, i n particular, has a bleak history of choking and displacing historically black and low income neighborhoods. The desires of providing gutting many of the poorest communi ties in great American cities (Altshuler, The City Planning Process can always tell what kind of neighborhood a freeway has been cut through. When the road is straight, it has gone throu gh a poor neighborhood. When there are lots of curves, St. Paul Pioneer Press July 14, 1999). Although the automobile certainly has a disproporti onately negative effect upon everyone in terms of physical, mental, and civic health. As for physical health, two of the leading causes of death in the United States run rampant in suburbia: obesity (and consequent heart disease), and fatal accidents involving a car (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm ). Furthe rmore, these accidents, as they always have, most often involve a child or teenager struck by a speeding car. A recent study even confirmed how the perceptual acuity of children in grade school
A. Lubitz 31 prevents them from accurately judging the speed of any vehicle going over 20 miles per hour (Preidt, University of London, November 23, 2010. http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=646577 ). D istracted driving has become another major new iss ue regarding automobile safety over the past decade with increasing, widespread usage of cell phones. Even for every new feature a cell phone or smart phone may have, it provides one more task a driver can easily be distracted by. These distracted drivers even increase queue discharge time at signalized intersections, particularly in the case of text messaging while driving (Pulugurtha, Brumfield, Transportation Research Board, 2011). This both increases commute time and inhibits idle reduction. Regarding m ental health, studies have concluded a correlation between suburbia and a loss of genuine engagement with and intuitive education from nature; in ambitiously attempting to gain the benefits of both city and county, suburbia fails at both. (Louv, Last Child in the Woods 2005, 71 72). Planners often see transit as a key part of the solution to these issues. Governing bodies must keep in mind that service cuts to mass transit services have disproportionately affected the poor and disabled who need it the m obvious [victims of sprawl] are the 80 million Americans who are either too young, too legally blind, deaf, or in some other way disabled from driving t heir own vehicle is at the mercy of their local transportation authority. In an auto dependent context, this further stifles their already limited mobility. The fact that members of different ethnic groups and social classes inevitably share mass transit further stigmatizes its reputation. While many planners may believe
A. Lubitz 32 that our nation is now a post theories of urban poverty is that none of them sees racial segregation as part of the issues of race and class, we allow these problems to stagnate and worsen. The results of which inc reasingly consist of fortified fragments, gated communities, and privatized flow n or driven. After all, a enough to afford a car you actually really enjoy driving, or perhaps even a driver. An Empire of Smoke: Negative Economic Factors Despite the continual rise in U.S. eco nomic dominance owing in no small part to the rise of automobility, the suburban landscape ultimately has more financial costs for its populace than benefits. Firstly, the implicit dependence on oil because of dependence on automobiles overwhelms internati onal trade. The U.S. imported nearly 4.29 billion barrels of oil in 2010, in many cases from politically unstable countries (U.S. Energy Information Association, htt p://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MTTIMUS1&f=M ). The Center for American Progress builds upon this serious issue by bringing up how this impacts our trade deficit: t rising oil imports widened our deficit, increasing the gap between our imports and exports. This is but one example that our economic recovery and long term growth is inexorably linked to our reliance on foreign oil. The United States is spending approxi mately $1 billion a day overseas on oil instead
A. Lubitz 33 Oil Dependence is a Dangerous Habit 2010, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/01/oil_imports_security.html ). Hence, this price point of $1 billion per day, and subsequent increase in a national deficit, continues to trend upwards with every new, auto dependent su bdivision we construct. The i nconvenience of car maintenance compounds these costs, as fuel, parking, etc.), with indirect costs topping 39 cents per mile. Even with average a ssumptions of ~12,000 miles driven per year (Emission Facts, EPA, February 2005, http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/420f05004.htm ) these expenses can now top $15 thousand dollars per capita per yea r (MacKenzie, et al., 1992, 10; http://www.commutesolutions.org/calc.htm ). trend towards mass consumption seizing poli tical and social control in the U.S. What was special about Ford (and what ultimately separates Fordism from Taylorism), was his vision, his explicit recognition that mass production meant mass consumption, a new system of the reproduction of labour power a new politics of labour control and management, a new aesthetics and psychology, in short, a new kind of rationalized, modernist, and populist democratic society (Harvey, 125 126). Any business was good business. This simple maxim proves to also justif y any whether home or car design, fell by the wayside. As more and more citizens put greater portions of their income towards this commodity that could instantly improve one designs that needed to accommodate this shift. Figure 2.4 shows the result of a two cars per bedroom policy. From a planning perspective, Shoup (1997) explains the
A. Lubitz 34 unpredictability of planning properly for par king spaces in order to accommodate increasing parking demand. Citing a former report: Surveying 57 suburban employment centers in the United States, Robert Cervero (1988, 26) found that building occupancies ranged from 0.5 to 6.0 persons per 1,000 square planners predict the number of parking spaces any office building will need throughout its economic life? (4). This blatant inconsistency in suburbia has facilitated the rise of minimum parking requirements, w hich cause serious financial and land considered as impact fees, minimum parking requirements impose staggering costs on as a key example of the overarching problem of automobile dependence. Figure 6 : U.S. Consumer Unit Expenditures. dedicated to gasoline and motor oil alone ( Consumer Expenditures U.S. Dept of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2009).
A. Lubitz 35 This emphasis on excessive, yet necessary gasoline consumption gradually allowed for oil companies to flourish. Following the financial crisis of 2008, leading o il company Exxon Mobil surpassed Wal Mart in the Fortune 500, the annual list of the 500 based Exxon took in $442.85 billion in revenue last year, up almost 19 percent from 2007. The company also raked in the Mobil Revenue http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2 009/04/20/news/a8 fortune.txt ). To give these numbers some sort of scale, 2 nd place Wal Mart earned a modest $13.4 billion in profit, still up a mere 5% from the year before. This difference of nearly ependence upon the oil industry for basic transportation needs. Even with the advanced metropolitan transit options many American citizens can rely upon in our largest cities, the use of gasoline based internal combustion engines remains a prerequisite of our mobility needs. As evidence against the alleged, codependent relationship between Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the following graph highlights the departure of these two variables around the late 1990s.
A. Lubitz 36 Fig ure 7 : VMT versus GDP. This graph demonstrates how since the mid Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosper Much of the persistent rise in VMT over the past generation owes itself to the increased distance between homes and stores in suburbia. While the VMT between home and work have actually decreased, the VMT between home and commercial venues rose by nearly four times (Kooshian & Winkelman, 2011). This statistic flies in the face of the belief in the latest telecommunications technologies saving shopping trips via ordering items online. While the number of te lecommuters increased from about 3 million in work trips are only about a quarter of all V.M.T. In fact, V.M.T. for work has decreased from 1969 2009, but shopping V.M.T. almost quad rupled.
A. Lubitz 37 http://economix.blogs.n ytimes.com/2011/01/20/growing without driving/). While the Internet has certainly had an impact on travel behavior, in a condition of automobile dependency, the trips saved are still merely relegated to other vehicles, often delivery trucks that may or ma y not be more energy efficient. Most importantly, this the two variables are certainly not codependent. If one considers this increase in light of income distribution, the correlation loses even more validity. Between 1969 and 2001, average VMT per household rose by 71%, mean household income for the bottom three period when national GD P rose by a striking 166% (Kooshian & Windelman, 29). Thus, the gains made went largely into the higher income households, although everyone had to increase their driving for access to the same basic needs. Another key economic disadvantage of an auto dep endent suburbia entails how it is more difficult for smaller businesses to flourish within sprawl, and simultaneously easier for large chain companies to predominate. This common process of replacing ability to gain its own, distinguishable sense of place. From its onset, automobility weakened the economies of local communities as it drew more customers towards regional markets (Nye, 189). This preference in numerous cases of suburban real estate. In contrast, the more densely populated the region, the more free market competition actually works.
A. Lubitz 38 Back to the Future: Proposed Solutions to Automobile Dependency far down the path of suburban development. Public and private infrastructure is already well solidified with anything but density in e may be ripe for taking steps down new paths, for fresh thinking and new approaches, simply because so much effort Urban Mass Transportation 296). Since then, the call to action has gradually grown louder, but notably, with little in terms of results. This section reviews the range of options that have been ex plored for coping with automobile dependency. Namely, I examine solutions promoting urban density: Smart Growth, Transit Oriented Development (TOD), and New Urbanism, while also considering the options of alternative fuels and map manipulation. Density i s a good starting point for discussing the solutions to automobile dependency. In terms of urban design, density acts fundamentally antithetical to automobile orientations; the compact design facilitates a true, modal shift towards predominating transit in metropolitan area in the United States New York City also has the lowest percentage of automobile transportation (Owen, Green Metropolis 2009). Recent studies have even confirmed the initially unintuitive conclusion that asphalt jungles are better for the planet by Phillips and Gnaizda ( CoEvolution Quarterly apartment in a typical building near downtown San Francisco used 80% less heating fuel 7). This
A. Lubitz 39 realization of how auto oriented development rests at the center of the numerous social, environmental, and economic challenges of contemporary cities, and also that density seems the logical antidote, has led to the creation of a long list of alternatives to this typic al development mode. Growth, Transit Oriented Development, and New Urbanism have proposed in similar yet distinct ways that the solution to the automotive city ultimately invol ves urban intensification. Smart Growth entails a belief that current development trends are unjust and ineffective for the creation of places people would actually desire to live. Kooshian and Windelman outline the key principles of Smart Growth as follow s: 1. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices, 2. Create walkable neighborhoods, 3. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration, 4. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place, 5. Make development decision s predictable, fair, and cost effective, 6. Mix land uses, 7. Preserve open space, 8. Provide a variety of transportation choices, 9. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities, 10. Take advantage of compact building design (16). Many of these principles blend together and go hand in hand, as the existence of one allows for the much easier creation of another. For instance, transit inevitably becomes more viable for the neighborhood with higher density and a mixture of uses. In t he same vein as these principles, Transit oriented Developments (TODs) have recently gained popularity as another solution to auto dependency. Another self explanatory concept, TODs encourage urban redevelopment projects focused around transit terminals, w ith the hope that by utilizing a more efficient transit network, average commuter times (and costs) will be greatly reduced. In doing so, TODs are built on the
A. Lubitz 40 promise of local economic development that will benefit a greater number of the local populace s ince there would be more access to jobs, housing, and other necessary resources (PolicyLink, 2008, http://www.dialogue4health.org/pdfs/wf1/transit oriented policylink.p df ). The nonprofit organization, Reconnecting America, champions the policies of transit oriented development. In a recent report, their affiliates outline the investments to occur: Value capture is seen as a way to pay for capital projects as well as a potential source of income for paying ongoing operating costs. However, transit agencies are not the only ones hoping to capitalize on the value created by transit. Local juri sdictions hope to tap into rising property values to encourage transit oriented development (TOD) and help pay for neighborhood improvements such as local infrastructure, improved pedestrian linkages, and affordable housing. Meanwhile, property owners and developers see transit as a highly desirable amenity that has the potential to increase the value of surrounding properties and create Finding a direct linkage between value and public transit, their report capitalizes on a recent trend in U.S. cities to reconsider their transit oriented roots. Serving as a theoretical foundation for these Smart Growth policy frameworks, 1980s as a response to the broken promises of the successful, common sense urbanism of th incomes (and, hey, people), and diversity of transportation modes rest at the heart of the diversity applies both locally and regionally, as well.
A. Lubitz 41 Regionally, the movement adopted a scale previously used by ecologists to describe an (T1) to the dense urban cor e (T6), the transect provides a guideline of specific, concentric regions of a municipality that makes sense of the distinct, succeeding parts of a larger system (Duany and Brain, 308). Figure 8 : Transect zones. Shown from both right, with Special District (airports, harbors, etc.) on the far right. (Source: DPZ). In steering us away from predictable, single use zoning regulations, the tra nsect provides a model for implementing more transit friendly urban form. This design proves transit city serves as the main economic unit from which transit can thr ive. In response to demands that the transect find easier implementation, the Center for Applied Transcept Studies (CATS) created the SmartCode. The code facilitates how different components of
A. Lubitz 42 the transect can still be calibrated so the parameters are sti ll regionally appropriate. In other words, the code helps planners implement a Smart Growth framework more easily. As more planners should know, learning from local design vernaculars can often facilitate a safer, non automotive environment. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Parking Spots: Political Obstacles to Smart Growth Despite the ever rising number of proposed solutions to auto dependency, plenty of social and political obstacles to not only increasing ridership, but also gaining a real, modal shif t from cars to transit remain. Although transit ridership naturally experiences marginal increases with higher gas prices, a modal shift faces the challenge of political disagreement on the tenets of transit facilitating Smart Growth. Social conservatives in the U.S., in particular, often find themselves as part of the current opposition to transit experience of private car ownership and usage has been socially constructed as a s ymbolic gesture of American citizenry (Seiler, 38 9), this thematic undercurrent creates one of the most challenging obstacles for transit. The most outspoken critics of Smart Growth CATO Institute, Wendell Cox of the c onservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, et al. essentially not benefiting from the most important device in achieving the American The Greatest Invention 19). They profess a false belief in the automobile as the single most important device for giving Americans increased
A. Lubitz 43 th took place after the automobile and nullifies many of the points he makes, which already often look at only limited data. Even in the argument of how designing cities with Smart Growth principles can so often to consider all the factors. Namely, he ignores the immense challenge in designing new communities and making them possible while still maintaining the intended price points, Toole uses this stereotype of Smart Growth communities to tarnish their image, As true that an American teenager gains liberation from the home once they can drive, but as the history tells us, that liberation is not an innate aspect of the car itself so much as it is an externality of auto dependency. That same teenager would have had much greater mobility already if they lived in a pedestrian, bicycle, and transit friendly neighborhood. out due to how the entire institutional regime was already in favor of this mode of transportation before popular notions of the liberating automobile caught on with advertisers. stereotypes of how women and children can enjoy safer travel in a p rivate car, whereas
A. Lubitz 44 all aspects of the transit experience are unsafe. Following the media hysteria and spin after an incident on December 22, 1984, when a white, male passenger gunned down four young, black men, after they had harassed him for money on the New York subway, the defense by a terrified citizen in a scary setting. At that moment and for subsequent years urban railway Sideris, et al, 2002). These stereotypes, coupled with the fear of the fragility of transit systems following terrorist attacks, stifles many of the efforts by transit authorities to bolster ridership (Taylor, et al., 2005). He nce a fear of both transit and excessive government control has led critics to freedom associated with them. However, Litman (2011) sums up the opposition to transit: Evidenc e of a war consists of exaggerated objections to policies such as traffic calming (which increases traffic safety), busways and bike lanes (justified to improve transport options, which helps reduce traffic and parking congestion), and more efficient road and parking pricing (justified to reduce traffic and parking problems, and finance facilities). These policies benefit motorists. Critics apply a double standard: They claim it is unfair to spend motor vehicle user fee revenues on other modes, but ignore t he much larger subsidies motorists receive in the form of roads and parking facilities financed by general taxes and building rents. (28) As another example of this deliberate emphasis on finding solutions that still involve an auto orientation, anti planner treatise, Best Laid Plans attempts to refute arguments of peak oil. Regarding eventual substitutions of oil, he states that through resistant auto designs, [the auto indust industries could make similar efficiency gains, we could nearly double our effective oil
A. Lubitz 45 simply a matter of time b efore scientists will discover more efficient methods of remaining in suburbs. Sentiments such as, ical improvements epitomize a frequently stated belief from this anti transit perspective. Neoconservatives and libertarians in favor of automotive transportation have been claiming this for many years as a method of shifting attention away from a lucrative system for auto after discovering his numerous sources of funding from conservative foundations all of which are opposed to transit. Figure 9 : Highway Interchange. ajor donors to Randal O'Toole's anti transit, pro sprawl campaign stand to gain from continuing overwhelming dependency on motor vehicle mobility, and from sprawl development which reinforces that dependency. Through its involvement in asphalt production, Koch industries profits from highway [Photo: Congress for the New Urbanism] 6 6 Team. J anuary 2007. http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_lrt_2007 01a.htm.
A. Lubitz 46 These right developments of all kinds, inc luding TODs, have the goal of creating social capital where doing so without acting eerily similar to the classic example of the well meaning, but ultimately patroniz ing moral visitor. Because of this challenge, they can appear to some as solely a force for gentrification the forced displacement of lower income residents from their property due to its costs soaring too high from redevelopment. As Hetzler, et al. argu class minorities into required multi family housing, rather than displacing them entirely. To them, t is, in a sense, a type of social engineering, a racist project that carries out global urban apartheid under the name of colorblind neoliberal development. This implicit character allows for the persistence of property led economic development in the name of the free avoided. However, this single minded stance acts as a decisive blow to many transit friendly proposals, as it immediately assumes they will only beget a callous, neoliberal policy. As another example, Harvey (2008) explains how consumerism, as a force for Even the incoher ent, bland and monotonous suburban tract development that continues to dominate in many areas now gets its anti m as an upper class lifestyle rather than an alternative mode of development altogether implies the
A. Lubitz 47 possibility of transit as more of a feel good commodity rather than a genuine solution to transportation issues. As I heard Duany say himself on a panel, sheer pervasiveness, spread alongside the 1950s American Dream of set back, single family housing, comes in direct conflict with the basic tenets of the New Urbanism. However, their communities still function in a market driven context, and as such, must principles in order for the project to find realization whatsoever. These specific zoning regulations can often skew the principles of the New Urbanism, and as a consequence, make their communities more prone to attack. These critiques from both sides apparently assume the New Urbanism is a monoli thic organization. From the left, The New Urbanism can be cast as solely a force for gentrification, and from the right, as a form of excessive, public space oriented intervention. Among the group itself, political divisions, which are inherent in its dive rsity, fail to surface when tackling the issues of solving sprawl. However, in striving to be an apolitical, diverse organization, the New Urbanism exposes itself to attack from both angles. Regardless of these implicit differences, New Urbanists still c ome to consensus when it comes to public space (Duany et al., 2000, 41 2). They strongly believe in the intrinsic value of public place making, since it inevitably benefits all individuals involved. It has value in itself, as Putnam observes: Social capita community, so that not all the costs and benefits of social connections
A. Lubitz 48 connected individual in a poorly connected society is not as productive as a well c onnected individual in a well connected society. And even a poorly connected individual may derive some of the spillover benefits from living in a well connected community. If the crime rate in my neighborhood is lowered by neighbors keeping an eye on one personally spend most of my time on the road and never even nod to another resident on the street (20). within it. Despite negative stereotypes, a recent study even showed how subsidized housing actually provided increased property tax revenues for the city due to Spillovers and Subsidized Housing, The point r emains that with higher social capital, citizens place more value on democratic, civic engagement overall. In addition, forms of reciprocity are more pronounced, which itself leads to stronger bonds of trust and a subsequent shared sense of community. Wey rich and Lind ( Moving Minds 2009), highlight how numerous right leaning contextual consideration. Dispelling myths about transit being a completely failing industry, t hey highlight how critics conveniently look at only certain data in their analyses. In one reappraisal of New Urbanism critic Peter Gordon, they highlight how in delibe as a baseline and cutting off in 1995 he carefully ignores most of the benefits of light rail because the average opening date for the light rail systems was nearly 10 ye ars into the
A. Lubitz 49 reap the benefits of transit until 1997, when ridership had the n increased by an overall 30.7% since 1980. Others have noted the flawed argument that predominates current politics: that transit based transportation, unlike auto based transportation, relies heavily on government subsidies. ansit when the auto oriented urban fabric must realize the benefits of transit at a slower rate than the benefits of more lanes. Critics also seem to willingly forget how it was actually government subsidies that largely contributed to the shift away from transit, taxing private streetcar companies while subsidizing highways (49). Although the federal government levies substantial excise taxes upon gas, they still pay the multi billion dollar difference in building and maintaining our highway network (Lewyn July 1999. http://www.repamerica.org/opinions/op eds/6.html ). Federal incentives for attaining these funds has even influenced increased, State specific highway construction. Rather than basing their allocations on vehicle miles traveled, a state receives funding based on how many miles of interstate they possess (Winston et al., 2004). Ultimately, a convenient, collec tive amnesia prevents a stronger connection between big government and the automotive industry, despite the significant subsidization imbalance between highways and transit (175). A Cul de sac Policy: Regulatory Obstacles to Fighting Sprawl Even among those who agree on the pertinence of addressing automobile obstacles prevent many projects from finding realization, let alone achieving desired
A. Lubitz 50 results. Even when using the re putable transect model, municipal single use zoning codes will often prevent the hoped for redevelopments to happen. In the least, these restrictions often force the planned designs to suffer great cuts. The ease of creating sprawling communities cannot be matched. Hence, we persist in building sprawl for the sake of the short term marketplace. Even with the housing bubble bursting in 2008, real estate developers are already fluent in the language of moving product in suburbia, and have continued resistan ce to change. Additionally, housing and traditional mixed use from finding any implem entation. With fire and other safety related regulations, many are already used to working with the laws in an auto oriented development and, naturally, are opposed to change. The aforementioned rise of zoning gradually established a framework in favor o f sprawl, considering how the property owners have invested a great amount (and often, a majo what the land might become, but rather what it was when they decided to purchase it. When taken to the extreme, behavior opposing any redevelopment is referred to as NIMBY ism (Not In My Back Yard ism). This trend plagues the development process, as homeowners can often veto what would otherwise be sound redevelopments. They deserve that right, but it all too often proves detrimental to the implementation of less auto orient ed development.
A. Lubitz 51 streets are usually required to have twelve foot lanes, which take l onger for pedestrians to departments] try to minimize emergency response tim e, without considering that the resulting wide streets lead to an increased number of traffic accidents, since people drive can operate in only the widest of roads. Conclusion The various environmental, social, and economic hardships that afflict our suburban landscape have brought a more earnest reconsideration of our development warm ing, neighborhood destruction, and a complete reliance on oil from combatant nations, only for the sake of prolonging our automotive environment. Solutions to these problems suffer the immense challenge of implementation in a suburban context. Although the se solutions provide multiplying benefits, the numerous critics from both sides of the aisle have rallied against Smart Growth and transit. Right wing opposition to public transit stems from concerns over the appropriate role of government spending. As suc h, this criticism frames transit as a wholly wasteful activity, when it has largely become an unprofitable expense due to generations of subsidizing highways. Ultimately, if the proponents of these initiatives want their movement to not falter and sink into the history of urban planning as a passing fad, it seems as though the call to
A. Lubitz 52 action should continually emphasize compact urbanism rather than marketable lifestyles with an urban veneer. However, mixed use development is impossible without the acquis ition of funding in the first place, which can sometimes force parts of the project to gratify the whims of the developers or landowners. Hence, the communities that have actually found fruition must often pick and choose only a sample of the Smart Growth oriented principals to which it abides, further exposing itself to attack. While synonymous adjectives such as walkable, bikeable, sustainable, and livable have sprung up as buzzwords among the popularizing anti sprawl movement, regulatory obstacles such a s fire safety, storm water management, and minimum parking requirements have blocked their realization.
A. Lubitz 53 Section 3: Case Study: Sarasota County Area Transit In this section, I use Sarasota County Area Transit as a case study of a typical, government mandated mass transit authority in a mid sized, low density county of 372,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division), a situation not uncommon to the United States in general. Considering their relatively successful implementation o f various ridership increasing policies, I explore how their lessons can be used as a model similar mass transit authorities. I employ a mixed methodology of investigating SCAT, using unstructured interviews with their employees and a consultant to explore what options have worked well for them. fuel efficiency in buses, implementation of smartphone apps via Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and utilizing Google Transit have all contributed to gradual increases in ridership, while the challenge of a modal shift is unfortunately out of thei r hands. History and Growth Not formed until 1979, Sarasota County Area Transit was a diesel and rubber tire based fleet of buses from the start. From their website: taking over th e bus system from Cities Transit, a private business. Years ago while under Cities Transit, there were only seven buses serving ten bus routes. There were only three trips each day to Siesta Key and Venice, with the remainder of the routes concentrated in North County. The
A. Lubitz 54 population in 1979 was about 150,000 residents. In 1979 none of the buses in Photos, http://www.co.saras ota.fl.us/scat/History.asp ). Always a modest company, their ridership remained steady until about 2003, once gasoline prices started rising again (Sarah Blanchard, Senior Planner at SCAT, Personal Interview, 2.10.11). Due to the automotive context in whi ch it works, Blanchard explained to me how it has never claimed over 3% of the transportation trips taken in Sarasota County. Figure 10 : A collage of SCAT buses and trolleys used since 1979. gov.net/scat/History.asp ). They encountered a slight bump in ridership in 1990 after the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legally requiring them to provide door to door paratransit services for the county. In September of 2005, the Sa rasota County Commission
A. Lubitz 55 with which to realize their goals. In May 2006, Blanchard explained how after the implementation of these funds, ases, but nothing wise operate their own private vehicle. Their gains mostly entailed capital investments of increasing the sheer number of busses to decrease turnover times from the dreaded 1 SCAT officials want to increase service time during peak hours from 6 0 minutes to 30 or 15 on busy routes. Adding service on Sundays and holidays also has been discussed, Blanchard Current Initiatives Since the time of that quote in 2006, Blanchard was happy to tell me that the expansion of service on Sundays has increased their ridership more than any other measure, and that it has contributed to its ridership double that of its 2004 levels (Blanchard, 2.10.11). After asking how SCAT has improved ridership, she explained a tiered system of importance in increasing and maintaining ridership: First and most importantly, to simply increase the sheer amount of infrastructure or number of buses, thereby lowering the potential turnover time for stops. Secondly, to not only increase the number of buses serving routes, but to select routes prudently based on a thorough land out where the employment centers exist and design routes accordingly. Third, and in less direct control by the transportation planners themselves, are the external factors of
A. Lubitz 56 what I have exp aspects of their improvements are themselves subject to the (sometimes lawless) external market. The problems they face also include factors such as the county lines, which have broug ht particular pressure to service in both Englewood at the southern line of Sarasota County and University Parkway which straddles the northern edge. After better Route 18, http://scat.scgov.net/article.aspx?b4dbb6b4=86a2a0 ). The same article explains how simultaneousl y decreasing their turnover rate from 60 minutes to 30 minutes on Routes 99 and 17 provided increases of 21% and 31%, respectively. SCAT currently employs a range of strategies, many of which capitalize on the he new line of biodiesel electric hybrids has generated considerable attention due to their image of sustainability. The sheer visibly of demonstrating their transportati word in this way has proven very effective in getting mass transit services the attention they need. SCAT has also begun implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line between USF in South Manatee Cou nty to the Memorial Hospital, which has the highest employment density in the county (Blanchard, 2.10.11). This service would greatly differ in that it would offer a dedicated lane for much of this distance, something appearing much more like actually comp etitive transit. Unsurprisingly, it has come under great contention for utilizing an old, unused rail corridor, to supply dedicated transit lanes
A. Lubitz 57 between the airport and downtown. Regardless of arguments abound over its placement, it seems a clever retrofi t for a great deal of wasted space. Blanchard states how the crucial funds for the BRT project have come directly from the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). SCAT has also implemented slightly smaller, 27 foot long buses that both create higher fuel efficiency standards and make the maneuverability of the buses in a more urban context safer, faster, and easier ( The case of the BRT provides a textbook example of the immense challenge of implementing tra nsit in an area completely unaccustomed to this mode of transportation in the first place. With the addition of its warm climate and aquifer, Florida is particularly difficult for multimodal development. Warm, year round temperatures also make potential tr ansit riders that much more reluctant to use a service which requires them to wait outside. The influx in population that Sarasota receives during the winter months intensifies the challenge of providing adequate service in an auto dependent context. Altho ugh droves of tourists arriving without cars provides an excellent opportunity for accommodate such an influx, which in turn decreases its competitiveness in the tourism market. T he difficulty further increases with the challenge of convincing an elderly population to switch over from car usage. Despite the age gap, SCAT has also begun the implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), which utilizes GPS tracking to no time
A. Lubitz 58 access to Google Transit, but those who do would most likely be potential choice drivers, whi ch SCAT is now striving for the most.
A. Lubitz 59 Conclusion The benefits to increasing the viability of transit seem straightforward: there would be less pressure on the environment, less destruction of communities caught in the path, and less political pressure to maintain a military presence in volatile oil exporting countries. Central cities, which, despite the rise of information technology, remain as the economic nuclei of our society, are most easily served by transit On the other hand, wasteful spending. Numerous initiatives have increased transit ridership to an extent, but t will happen anytime soon in less urbanized areas. If anything, the automotive industry and the federal government after the financial crisis in 2008), will continue the trend of gradually weaning off our dependence on oil through increased fuel efficiency standards and a moderate increase of hybrid, then perhaps fully electric vehicles. o bstacles not only to increasing ridership overall but to getting some shift from cars to populated and mixed usage a community tends to be, the more transit, bike, and pe destrian oriented it becomes. The more recent right wing call rail against transit for the on distracting numbers of property costs, the auto dependent landscape con tinues to look more appealing for many developers. However, the money made from real estate in many instances becomes only a quick buck, while an investment in place lasts for generations.
A. Lubitz 60 The City of Detroit truly epitomizes how the automotive industry is inherently unsustainable. The most recent 2010 census has shown that its population has decreased 25% in the past decade, making it the only city in the United States to go from over one million citizens to under that limit. This case of urbicide proves how the automobile industry has become too big for its own good, especially in one of its main points of origin. The automobile is still finding record numbers of sales; the industry has just been outsourced from its roots for the sake of further expandin g manufacturing efficiency and profit. A vicious cycle perpetuates of how public funding due to a lack of public transit ridership, and the ridership further diminishes due to a lower quality of service. complex than that. Owen provides an excellent explanation of how sustainability stems not from self sacrifice, but rather, possibly the best example of an investment in place. Of course, these sustainable goals, imported from Kyoto protocols and European history, filtered through the American business model into something not of creating places worth investing in, but rather a marketable commodity. Sustainability found life only through becoming a marketable, consumable product. But the lessons transit, but often only with the he lp of rising gas prices or a similar incentive. Americans are going to give up their automobiles, let alone their promised land of suburbia. Images in the news of dead, oil covered seagulls ur travel, development, and especially consumption
A. Lubitz 61 behavior. imposed upon them. However, I find one example an interesting solution to the challenge Texas DOT had an immense issue of obstinate citizens not following the instructions on accompanying fine. As a new ad camp aign, they changed their slogan to the now famous state. This example goes to show how a campaign in favor of a policy that many believe as overly controlling used the very spirit of the opposition to successfully meet its own ends. In other words, the campaign successfully offered a solution to the pervasive problem of convincing Texans they should litter less. I find this example to apply nicely to transit since, as w ith littering, there are similar attitudes among the opposition, which label transit as excessive government control. Rather than approaching the problem from into greater consideration their targeted audience, and in some cases perhaps explain how With the historic exceptions of movements led by Friedel Klussman to save the cable cars in San Francisco in 1947, and by Jane Jacobs to bl ock the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway in 1962, fighting against automobility proves nearly towards the automobile have so clearly demonstrated the value in foregoing automobility and instead investing in place, but ultimately fall on deaf ears due to our history of reliance on the car and desire for suburbia. After the introduction of the automobile into
A. Lubitz 62 American mass culture, drivers soon dictated land use, abetting the spread of suburban living. This was a cultural choice, not an inevitability. Transit is now associated with a renewed mainstream interest and predominantly left p oliticized nature of transit will make these issues even more difficult to implement. The strangest part of this opposition to m ass transit involves how it allegedly promotes a dangerously left leaning sense of communal living. Interesting, then, how it d on to discuss any similar issue with airplanes or elevators. Despite these oppositions, sustainability will continue to make gains, however marginal, as it can only make someone stop and think about their actions to a point. Besides, environmenta l regulations are continually no match for the immense power and influence of American industries. This theme has found reoccurrence throughout the past century. The measures often fly in the face of redevelopments attempting to improve the efficacy of pub lic transit, rather than actual, substantially damaging development. At this point, the greatest challenge facing city planners might be that of bringing a lifestyle healthier for both citizen and planet out from the confines of the most wealthy and popu lous U.S. cities, while still keeping it affordable and otherwise accessible. Part of the reason why driving is seen as a freedom involves how access is still limited to those of adequate age, ability, and economic means. But in this century, the new image of freedom may shift back towards the ability to live in a safe, lively, transit friendly environment. Hopefully, this will prevent planning departments and DOTs from continually believing that the solution to traffic problems is more lanes.
A. Lubitz 63 As for furt more in depth. How these lanes have actually impacted both riders, the nearby property owners, and transit authorities, would shed light on the solution of BRT over merely increasing infrastructure. My analysis of SCAT could have also greatly benefited not only from more interviews but also from more considerations of the people that use it. There seems to be an image of SCAT (and many other mass transit authorities: see MARTA) predomi public transit, so an examination of how these attitudes and prejudices affect the service could be in sightful.
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