Road Closed

Media barons willing, I will be on KSTP tonight (c. 10pm) talking about Washington Avenue, closed to traffic. I will be asleep, so tell me what I said.
WashAve1 WashAve2 WashAve3 WashAve4

Property, the Great Pirates, and Public Transportation

Brad DeLong writes:

Ron Paul: Get the Government Out of My Government!
Strongbow Richard de Clare descendants Sutton Dudleys de Clonard Branch
Matthew Yglesias on Ron Paul:

Ron Paul And The Civil Rights Act: I watched Ron Paul on Hardball yesterday afternoon talking about his opposition to the Civil Rights Act…. The real issue here is Paul’s perfectly sincere [complaint that the]… Civil Rights Act is… a genuinely large infringement of people’s private property rights. It says that just because you own a hotel doesn’t mean you can decide to bar black people from staying at it. It says that just because you own a bus, you can’t decide to make black passengers ride in the back. It says you can’t buy—at any price—a seat at a whites-only lunch counter. It’s a massive instance of big government medaling in people’s private business.

It was also in the 1960s and 1970s an absolutely vital tool in resolving a social and political crisis of gargantuan proportion…. Ron Paul, like Rand Paul before him, opposes this measure not—or not only—out of some bias against black people but out of a deeply-held belief that the state should never solve any social problem no matter how severe the problem or how effective the solution.

It seems to me that that is wrong. When you own a hotel and bar Black people what happens is that if Black people comes in and sleep in the beds you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass. When you own a bus and require Black people to sit in the back and Black people sits in the front you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass. When you own a lunch counter and make it whites-only if Black people sit down at the lunch counter you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass.

Ron Paul’s belief is that the state should assist in amplifying social and political crises and injustices whenever the propertied wish to provoke them.

Private fee-simple property is, after all, an institution established and enforced by the government. You can hardly get the government out of what is, fundamentally, the government’s core business.

Or if you do–if you no longer rely on government to enforce your property rights, you had better be willing to hold seisin in the manner of Richard “Strongbow” de Clare–and had best start practicing with horse and lance…

This is a major problem for libertarians, though not for anarchists. Property rights are a social institution that improve efficiency, they are not however strictly moral. My own property is something worth preserving, as that is property I largely earned from work I did (with of course aid along the way from previous generations). Taking my property from me would discourage work. That the Queen of England owns property comes from inheritance because her ancestors (and the spouses of those ancestors) used force somewhere along the way. Buckminster Fuller labels them the Great Pirates, which I think is a very poetic phrasing of this phenomenon.
But property is not an absolute, and the expectations that the government can help random racist property owner enforce racial exclusion on his property, paid for by the general public, is noxious. This is less of a problem for anarchists like David Friedman who authored The Machinery of Freedom, who don’t rely on the government, but may hire their own private security firms. As those aware of the world may note, Anarchy has problems of its own.
As Hans Rosling says “People who don’t like government, go into this corner and discuss Somalia, People who don’t like markets, go into that corner and discuss North Korea.”
This is a transportation problem because the issue is basically one of the common carrier, who must the bus carry, and how must they be carried? And this was an issue with Rosa Parks, who decided to start the Civil Rights movement those who were defeated in the War of Northern Aggression still grumble about. (Though in that case the Montgomery Bus Company was apparently publicly owned, and the Jim Crow laws required it, it could just as easily have been private at the time, and been a private sector requirement, as it had been in the privately-owned streetcar era).

A Spooky Reminder to Obey the Speed Limit

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The NY Times on a new safety sign:

A Spooky Reminder to Obey the Speed Limit – NYTimes.com: “A Spooky Reminder to Obey the Speed Limit
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
New York City, it should be noted, has a speed limit: 30 miles per hour unless otherwise noted. The Transportation Department is hoping a pixelated image of a skeleton won’t let you forget it.
A custom-designed speed board — those radar-equipped digital signs that tell drivers how fast they are moving — will be unveiled this summer that sends a spooky message to lead-footed New Yorkers: a gaunt LED skeleton appears whenever it detects a car exceeding the 30 m.p.h. limit on city streets.
To underscore the deadly consequences of speeding, the skeleton is a bony version of the familiar pedestrian stick-figure who appears on crosswalk lights.”

I look forward to the evaluations. We need to be careful to avoid Hawthorne effects though.

Transportation is a metaphor for Life: “Pothole Protection Act” edition

Recently seen at a bus shelter: billboard_ad

Business Wire press release:

Teamsters Local 320 Opens “Stop the Slash” Phase II With Twin Cities Billboard, Bus Shelter and Print Campaign
As the battle over Minnesota’s projected $5.2 billion budget deficit intensifies, Teamsters Local 320 – representing some 11,500 public employees throughout Minnesota’s 87 counties – has begun an advertising campaign asking lawmakers to halt plans to balance the budget by firing public employees, neglecting street maintenance and cutting education, rather than require the richest Minnesotans to pay their fair share of taxes.
“Hey Minnesota Legislators… They pay their fair share of taxes… or we pay with our futures.”
“The war on working families and the middle class must stop,” stated Local 320 Principal Officer Sue Mauren. “As Governor Dayton has said again and again, it’s time for the rich in Minnesota to pay their fair share of the bills. And it’s time for some legislators to stop blaming public employees – the teachers, trash collectors, police and firefighters, public defenders, university workers and airport workers – for America’s recession when they should be blaming the real culprits on Wall Street and K Street.”

The third ad, which appears on billboards throughout the Twin Cities, features a picture of a large pothole with the caption: “Defeat The Pothole Protection Act”

Co-opting Complete Streets

Chuck Marohn endorses streets over roads … Co-opting Complete Streets

: “Now notice that I called this route a ‘road’ and not a ‘street’. Understanding the difference between a road and a street is critical to understanding the problem we have with engineers misusing the Complete Streets approach. From our Placemaking Principles for a Strong Town:

To build an affordable transportation system, a Strong Town utilizes roads to move traffic safely at high speeds outside of neighborhoods and urban areas. Within neighborhoods and urban areas, a Strong Town uses complex streets to equally accommodate the full range of transportation options available to residents.

Roads move cars at high speeds. Streets move cars at very slow speeds. We should build roads outside of neighborhoods, connecting communities across distances. We should build streets within neighborhoods where there are homes, businesses and other destinations. The auto-road is a post-WW II replacement of the rail-road. The street should be what it has always been; the street.”

Streets are in cities, from the Latin Strata (and have always been paved with something), roads are in the country, from the same root as “ride”, and harken back to the rural routes taken by men on horses. Streets are for land access (and secondarily movement), roads are for movement (and secondarily land access). We get problems when we treat roads like streets and streets like roads. The words are probably muddied in common usage, but transportationists need to keep these things clear.

Brookings Loonies « Systemic Failure

Drunk Engineer writes: Brookings Loonies « Systemic Failure: “Oh my, what is the Brookings ‘Institution’ smoking?
Their report on transit performance ranks Silicon Valley as #3 in the nation for what they term ‘transit access’ — even better than New York City. They also rank the Valley’s sprawling office parks as #3 in the nation for transit-accessible employment.
Silicon Valley, I must point out, has a whopping 3.5% transit mode-share.”

To defend Brookings for a minute, they are not measuring performance, they are measuring access and coverage. Access to jobs within 90 minutes (as a %) is much better for small cities than large, because you must reach the end of the region within that time (there are limits to transit inefficiency). Coverage is typically better in gridlike (western and midwestern) cities, since most people can reach transit by walking. Those two things are factors in mode share, but do not alone define mode share, which depends on many other things. It is these measurements which are useful. One can easily question their thresholds for walk distance or % of jobs within 90 minutes (compared to say, total jobs with 45 minutes), that is not (or should not be) the point. The point is the data is now all together in one place where it can be systematically compared.
I agree Fresno is not one of the top 10 US cities for transit.