War on Cars

The anti-car sentiment seems to really be picking up as of late. It could be bias on my part due to confirmation and exposure. However, I’ve been anti-car, biking in the city, and paying attention to this topic for about a decade now, and things are definitely heating up. I think the conversation has appeared in more than one thread here, so let’s give it its own home and start off with the kind of content that

So far 17 people have been killed by cars while biking in NYC in 2019. That’s already 7 more than all of 2018. Two of them just yesterday This is probably the biggest reason the conversation is heating up. More deaths per unit time means people are more consistently active, angry, and motivated.

Turns out that cars are just another Citgo sign situation. Change is what people hate. If you take away their cars they’ll be mad. But if you take the cars away, people will also be mad and not want you to bring them back.

There’s a laughably bad group of people who comment on some cityplanning blogs I follow for Philly that just have this huge axe to grind and view everything through the lens of the Mayor trying to stop car drivers and make car driving worse. The more I read and interact with city planning blogs it just seems like there is a small, rabid subsection of readers that believe the suburban, car-centric lifestyle is the epitome of human achievement and cities should be increasingly engineered toward their passing through.

When really its like, no the Edmund Bacon led highway planning and sprawl of NE philly (its got a lotta stroads) and the weird tax situation in city heightening distance commuting all making for a terrible situation and the city would be better off with expanded light rail and greater density focusing on human experiences in neighborhoods over car right of way, speed and parking minimums.

The people who oppose new bike lanes in New York are primarily:

  1. Old white people who live in upper Manhattan and are terrified of youths being anywhere near “their” streets or not having a place for their driver to park.
  2. People who live outside the city and outside of the major commuter rail lines who drive all the way to the city instead of driving to or moving to one of the places that has rail access
  3. Taxi unions, Uber/Lyft, etc…
  4. Specific community representatives who oppose bike lanes through their neighborhoods for cultural reasons (e.g., the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn that successfully forced one of the most-traveled bike lanes out of their neighborhood due to anger at women cycling and people cycling on Saturdays).
  5. Whoopi Goldberg (she specifically hates bike lanes and is activist against them)
  6. Delivery drivers who are mad that they get tickets for parking in the bike lanes and have nowhere else to park.

The old white people are the biggest problem. They are TERRIFIED that they’ll be hit by bikes. They show up at every meeting about bike lanes and literally scream about the danger. Literally scream.

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The hits keep on coming. I’ve bike down Woodhaven to the beach several times before. Now I just go out of y way to use Ocean and Neptune instead because Woodhaven is insaaaane.

This is part of why I prefer mountain biking to street biking.

On trails or in the mountains, the only things that can likely hurt you are your own lack of skill or your own failure to maintain your equipment.

You don’t have to worry about anyone else.


The same kinds of people who protest bike lanes? In rural places, they do the same thing with biking trails. They hate biking trails. It’s not uncommon for shitty people to string fishing line or barbed wire at neck level on bike trails. Cyclists die.

So in practice it’s safe as long as you aren’t the first one to ride a given trail on a given day…

It’s amazing how much shitty people hate bikes. I get honked at by cars basically every time I bike. Never because I did anything wrong or even illegal. Usually because they want to pass me but legally can’t.


In Philly its a lot of the same boxes being checked for anti-bike lane people

1.Old white people in south philly who are anti-change
2. People who commute into the city via car and do not know how to drive with bikes around (PA burbs or South Jersey)
3. Specific district reps. on city council who see bike lanes = white gentrification and specifically halt or slow any work by the Street Dept. in their district.
4. Car Maximilists (ususally people who live in the NE which is basically 1 giant sprawling suburb that happens to be in city limits) who see any use of funds or planning toward bike safety/use as a zero sum game at the expense of their cars’ ability to park/drive with no limit on their restrictions.

Oddly enough I don’t see concerted Taxi or Delivery efforts against them in Philly. There’s an assumed cost of doing business for parking tickets in Center City Philadelphia that is just a thing right now. Honestly I wish fines levied were heavier and/or we adopted an off hours / night delivery rule like Manhattan for our Center City district.

fifteen characters of fuck cars*

*obvious exceptions

It’s still orders of magnitude safer to bike in New York City than it is to bike on almost any major road outside of New York City.

Any road period.

I currently live about 8 miles from my work. Not a long ride by any stretch. Unfortunately the first 5 miles of these are no sidewalk woods/property on either side no shoulder arterial road.

Very twisty and turny with little visibility ahead. It’s a nightmare for a biker.

If I biked upstate, I’d be one of those people who take the whole lane (perfectly legal) and stick a pool noodle on the back of my bike.



I’d kill for useful mass transit where I live. A commuter line would be great. Sadly, that doesn’t seem likely in my lifetime.

Self-driving cars seems to be the next logical step. Combine with livery services and you would be primed to abolish private car ownership.

If we would build bullet trains, you could commute from Albany to New York in less time than it takes today to do it from Poughkeepsie.

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I’m honestly surprised the Metro North was never expanded to Albany. I assume there’s some upstate political bullshit behind that.

DoNotEat has some opinions on this, and they’re nuanced and thorough and if ya wanna watch his videos or read the sources he drew from to make them, lemme know. But my favorite reasons that I take from him for why trains aren’t built are as follows:

The Actual Machines / Fucking Magic (AM/FM) distinction, where many solutions pitched to those in power from both the right and the left exist in the realm of FM (hyperloop, self driving cars, etc) but we live in the world of AM.

Also the fact that most FM solutions’ costs and budgets exist only on spreadsheets, whereas most AM solutions costs are drawn from actual figures, actually used to construct actual infrastructure in years past, and are much higher.

In an ideal world, city freight, highways, etc. would be handled underground. However, that’s really expensive and not practical in seismically active and coastal areas.

The trend would be created areas of higher density where you don’t feel like you’re at San Diego Comic Con year round.

It used to. Every remaining Metro North line has rail trails (or Amtrak) continuing on from their terminal stations. They all used to run further.

There was a lot of interest in extending the Hudson line north past Poughkeepsie. Proposals keep being made.

The problem is always the same. To quote wikipedia:

Since the tracks continue north of Poughkeepsie, there have been various proposals over the years from both the MTA (Metro-North’s parent agency) and Amtrak, to extend service northwards. Amtrak’s predecessor, Penn Central operated rail service north of Poughkeepsie to Albany-Rensselaer/Buffalo until April 30, 1971; since then, only Amtrak’s intercity trains continue beyond Poughkeepsie. Most proposals have been scratched after strong opposition from residents of northern Dutchess County, who fear the effect on their still largely rural communities that being within an easy rail commute of midtown Manhattan would have.

The funny thing is that the people complaining and fighting this are living in towns that still commute to New York City! They just commute to Poughkeepsie by car and then ride the train…

Even worse, studies keep showing that the line needs desperately to be expanded, both in terms of existing line capacity and in terms of northward expansion, due to the huge population demands. The further studies into this have all been shot down by the local communities upstate.

TL;DR Upstate New York hates infrastructure and wants terrible traffic and completely full trains.

It used to go to Canada.

Good lord, it gets worse.

Research indicated that there is a desperate need for more rail service. The FTA even agreed to partially fund further research due to this need.

The Towns of Stanford,[42] Milan, Red Hook and Rhinebeck and the Villages of Tivoli and Rhinebeck passed resolutions against the study.

These rural towns blocked even performing a study on the impact of expanded rail service.

This is part of why I don’t live in Dutchess County anymore. The infrastructure up there can’t ever be improved.

Fuckin’ Rhinebeck. The entire Capital Region would love to be connected to NYC, but fuckin podunk sheepherders don’t want it. Pretty sure Greene and Columbia counties would be fine with it.

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When I lived in Japan, I lived in a very rural part of Fukushima Prefecture. The distance from my town, Nishigo, to Tokyo is roughly around the same distance as it is from Albany to Manhattan. The big difference is that in Nishigo, there is a Shinkanesen stop. I could go from my little podunk rice-farming town to Tokyo in a little under an hour. Plus, the price of a ticket was cheaper than an AMTRAK ticket from Albany/Rensselaer to Penn Station.

Because of that, while most of the people who lived in my town were rice farmers and blue collar workers, if you went up into the mountains a bit, you found these huge houses and estates. That’s because a lot of CEOs who worked in Tokyo actually lived in Nishigo because there was so much more land and it was so cheap. If you’re making enough money, why not live in Nishigo when it was only a 55 minute bullet-train ride to Tokyo. Also, Japanese trains have airline attendants selling food, etc.

If there was a bullet-train equivalent from NYC to Albany, Albany would essentially become a suburb of NYC.