Now that it’s our Presidentially anointed, patriotic duty not to drive, I’ll do my part by cutting my driving to, well, zero.
Drivers can only bend so far, however. “People can’t change where they live,” said Richard Porter, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. “They can’t change where they work, and there aren’t any clear substitutes to gas.”
Well, in the short term perhaps not, but in the long term perhaps people will change where they live — refashioning communities to reduce the need for driving. Imagine that! In the meantime, maybe now that “driving less” is a national policy, how about radically refashioning all the federal policies that encourage wasteful driving? Five to start:
# Many key federal facilities are sited with an anti-urban bias, from defense installations with needless “security” setbacks to post offices with gonzo parking lots.
# The feds pay 90% of capital costs for highways but 50% or less for transit.
# Transit commuters can receive only $75 in transit costs pretax, versus parking spaces worth up to $120 — and walkers or cyclists get no preferential tax treatment.
# The nation’s truckers get federally managed highway maintenance, but their competitors on the railroads must pay their own way.
# Affordable housing tax credits typically favor larger projects (e.g., mortgage revenue bonds require a minimum of 100 units on one site) and end up favoring larger, suburban sites.