Five reasons leaders steering via rear-view mirror on transit issues

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From a letter to the editor by Hans Noeldner in The Capital Times:

As the Obama administration prepares for vast public spending on infrastructure projects, why isn't Gov. Doyle pushing for walkable communities and energy-efficient transit rather than emphasizing more highways? Why aren't Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, for that matter?

1. Because transit and other sprawl-avoiding interests don't have powerful lobbies that make big-time political contributions.

2. Because there is very little manufacturing of transit equipment or infrastructure in Wisconsin. Contrast that with GM Janesville (Feingold's home town), Harley Davidson and Johnson Controls in Milwaukee, Cummins in Stoughton, and other automobile- and highway-related businesses throughout the state.

3. Because it has probably been many years since Doyle walked to the grocery store, pedaled a bicycle to a game, or rode a bus to work. But this dearth of practical experience is true for nearly all of our elected representatives! Consequently they have no VISCERAL comprehension of the "magic quarter-mile" . . . nor the many other on-the-ground factors that make communities walkable and dense enough to support transit.

4. Because outside the urban cores of a handful of municipalities such as Madison and Milwaukee, adults in Wisconsin drive or ride in a car virtually everywhere: Nearly all walking, jogging, bicycling, etc., are done for recreation or exercise, not to get from "a" to "b." Intentionally or not, the motorist quite literally "rules the road" . . . and thus frightens non-motorists off publicly owned thoroughfares.

5. Because the "psychology of previous investment" in automobile-addicted lifestyles makes us loath to imagine anything else. . . .
Hans maintains his own blog Entropic Journal.