Studies Have Shown….

The cold glass atrium at CalTrans District 7’s building downtown may look futuristic,
however, its tenants’ policies are anything but….

“Studies have shown” is a much-maligned phrase among those of us who “create our own reality,” as Shrub’s lackey Karl Rove once said. But the truth is, that the truth isn’t revealed by guessing, wishing, hoping, marketing spin, or repeating whatever prejudices your grandparents pulled out of the attic and bestowed on your parents to pass on to you. You find out what really happens in life by…well, actually looking at what really happens in life.

Or digging up studies done by reliable people who have carefully and with as little prejudice as possible looked at what really happens in life.

For a long time now—eighty years or so—the assumption was that building bigger and faster roads for more and faster driving supported the economy.

Well, it did support the economy of the car and oil industries, and Wal-Mart type Stupor Stores. But when you study it, it turns out that it soaks up tax dollars and depresses the local economies where the great majority of us live. Fast roads cost far more in tax dollars than they generate, and shunt customers past miles of small businesses at high speeds that require one to look at the road, not the neighborhood. Indeed, the neighborhood becomes an impediment to curse on your way to the big box store that has asked for tax breaks so it can vacuum money from the community and send it to passive shareholders and rapacious CEOs, while providing a paltry few low-wage jobs in return.

Indeed, sprawl development is bringing cities to bankruptcy…yet agencies such as CalTrans (subject of a damning report released just a week or two ago) insist on promoting road building standards that crush neighborhoods under speeding car traffic, killing both residents and business with ruthless efficiency. And local merchants and residents, parroting the lines fed them by the sprawl-industrial complex, engage in economic suicide by supporting the false facts that fast roads are somehow a sacramental “good”!

It’s interesting that a staid philosophical conservative saw through the claptrap years ago, when Walter Lippman said, in 1939:

“G.M. has spent a small fortune to convince the American public that if it wishes to enjoy the full benefit of private enterprise in motor manufacturing, it will have to rebuild its cities and highways by public enterprise.”

“Public enterprise” means your tax dollars.

You could say that I’m making all this up—and, for example, opponents of the North Fig bike lanes do say that. It must be noted, however, that it is they who are making up their “facts”—when they pretend to state any at all—because as bike lanes and road diets have spread over, not just those wooly North European countries (all of whom do very well economically), but through cities across the entire United States, we have an actual reality to look at, wehre we can see what actually happens. (Heresy!)

In other words, there’s a wealth of data available now showing just how backwards the CalTrans mindset of “More roads, more driving” is.

I’ve been collecting such studies for several years. Now, at the request of the City of Los Angeles’s official Bicycle Advisory Committee, I have sent them a selection of twelve to make available in one spot on the Internet for all to peruse.

So, click on over to Studies on Google Drive and start reading.

The truth will make you free!

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