If you could walk everywhere instead of having to get in your car to drive half an hour to work, then five minutes to a lunch spot, then after work another ten minutes to the gym and finally a half hour back home, wouldn’t that add greatly to your quality of life? 30 + 5 + 10 + 30 = 75 minutes a day spent in your car. That’s over a full month of 8 hour work days spent just driving around. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just walk a minute or two and get to work, another couple of minutes to lunch, another few minutes to your gym then back home? You could use that time you have saved to start a business or spend more time with your family or just play video games.
We have many unacknowledged subsidies for driving cars long distances every day. Roads and police are paid for by the general public, not by those who drive the most.
Pollution cleanup and damage is either not paid for or is paid for by the general public – not those who drive the most.
Why are we continuing to subsidize driving when it is harmful for our happiness, our health, and our environment? Do we have other options?
I visited Hong Kong a couple of years ago and I think that that city has found a better way. Everyone there lives a short walk from the beach and a short walk from the mountains. Work is a few minutes walk away or a short subway ride (and the trains come every minute). Housing is more affordable because there are not artificial legal limits on how tall buildings can be… it’s a lot cheaper to rent a 3 bedroom apartment in a 100 story tower than a 4 story tower.
In LA, lots of communities have limited the size of buildings to under 4 stories (or even only to allow single family homes!). This has resulted in two major problems – there is no affordable housing, and we have sprawl 150 miles in every direction. Getting anywhere will require you to sit for hours in gridlock traffic. The hours spent in gridlock traffic makes people angry… and LA is a very angry city where people just don’t treat each other well.
My suggestion is that we end all subsidies of driving. Drivers should pay for road work, police, emergency services, etc through a very high gas tax. Oil should receive no subsidies.
Further, if we do better city planning, we could have a city like Hong Kong where even the poor live just a few minutes walk from the beach. Imagine 100 story towers a five minute walk from the beach down the LA coast. The entire city could live in an area a half mile wide by 15 miles long. We could have trains running in subways every minute – having a car would be silly. Unfortunately, LA is going the opposite direction as there is now a ballot measure attempting to prevent ALL new construction in LA basically.