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Friday, May 27, 2011

There Is No "War On Cars"

Posted by on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Ben Schiendelman writes for Seattle Transit Blog and actively participates in Seattle transportation politics.

Last July, a volunteer from Streets For All Seattle, a coalition working on the city’s transportation infrastructure investments, asked the Greenlake Community Council (GLCC) to support their goal of making walking, bicycling, and transit the easiest ways to get around Seattle. It was part of the group's vision to raise $30 million in new, dedicated annual revenue for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure. The GLCC voted 25-5 in favor of endorsing these goals.

So why is the chair of the GLCC, Michael Cornell, now spreading the myth that there’s a "war on cars" and attempting to advance an agenda that contradicts the organization he was elected to represent?

Of course, like nearly every other Seattle neighborhood, Greenlake’s neighborhood plan contains the goals of “significantly improving public transit” and “making walking and biking safer and easier.” These goals were developed like all of Seattle’s neighborhood plans—through a lot of meetings—and they reflect the values of our neighborhoods and our city. Cornell attended the meetings and witnessed firsthand the overwhelming support this vision of Seattle. And one would assume that he’s familiar with Greenlake’s neighborhood plan.

Yet, at a GLCC meeting this January—and I’m paraphrasing here—the Community Council Chair introduced Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee as, “the man involved in the war on cars. ” But I'm not paraphrasing when he's quoted saying at the meeting that “bicyclists are militant and looking to cause a conflict whenever they can.”

Then, earlier this month, Cornell began organizing an effort to recall Mayor Mike McGinn in response to the mayor's transportation policy, calling it a “war waged on people who drive cars.”

Sorry, there’s no war going on in Seattle.

There’s a war going on in Misrata, Kabul, and Baghdad. But in Seattle, we’re busy waving people through four-way stops when we drive up at the same time, riding our bikes, taking the bus, and—for better or for worse—going to meetings.

The Mayor’s transportation policy is hardly outlandish and shouldn't be controversial. It's attempting to implement the very same vision expressed in Greenlake’s neighborhood plan, nearly every other neighborhood plan in Seattle, and the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

And it’s more than folks in Greenlake who share a vision of Seattle where walking, biking, and transit are the easiest ways to get around.

A recent poll of Seattle voters found that—when asked if they support spending more transportation funds on investments in transit, bicycling, and walking—57 percent said yes, only 28 percent said no and the rest weren’t sure. When asked if, given limited funds in the city’s current transportation budget, they would support greater investment in transit, bicycling, and walking if it meant fewer dollars were available for auto-oriented projects, 49 percent said yes, 34 percent said no, and 16 percent weren’t sure. And, when asked if they supported changes in the configuration of Seattle’s streets that make mass transit, walking and bicycling safer and easier (think Stone Way, Elliott Way, Nickerson St, and Fauntleroy Way), 62 percent said yes, 25 percent said no, and 13 percent weren’t sure.

That’s not a war on cars—that’s simply a city that supports all of the basic modes of transportation that we use to get around.

Nobody is trying to take away anyone’s car. There’s only a city attempting to build a transportation system that reflects what the majority of Seattle residents want.

But the media is complicit in stirring up hysteria and trying to create a story where none exists by giving a platform to people like Cornell, pushing a fake "war on cars" agenda radically inconsistent with the values of the majority of Seattle voters.


Comments (41) RSS

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Baconcat 1
The "war on cars" is propaganda, pure and simple. Turn anyone who suggests doing things in a new way (even if they drive cars!) into an enemy to be attacked and destroyed. Pile money on anyone who screams "THEY WANT TO SOCIAL ENGINEER YOU OUT OF YOUR CAR" to keep them in office. Sorta like screaming "they're after your kids!" or "job-killers!".

The "war on cars" is a distraction and a shameful attack on our goals of a greener future made for every Seattle citizen, from those who walk everywhere to that awesome car covered in old floppy discs on through to tall bikes, skateboards and even that stunning yellow H2 that I see around in impossible parking spaces (bravo, driver!).

Let's not live in a city where anyone who bucks the status quo is an enemy.
Posted by Baconcat on May 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
Posted by Fnarf on May 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 3
agreed, thanks for deescalating the rhetoric Ben
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on May 27, 2011 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 4
Apparently Cornell has now figured out that there is no provision in Seattle's city charter for recall, because he has been very silent for almost a week.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on May 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
There's no war on cars.

We just make 6 lanes of highway traffic funnel into 2 lanes and then wring out hands about all the "traffic problems".

Then we build a Convention Center straddling the obvious bottleneck so it can never be fixed.

Then we "remedy" the situation by proposing low cost light rail.

Then we spend $20 billion planning and not building it.

Then we spend an order of magnitude higher per mile building it.

Then we go bankrupt building it and can't build any more.

The traffic remains bottlenecked.

But there is no war on cars.

And if you say so, I'll down shout you and call you names.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
in-frequent 6
i'm sending this from inside of my car, just to be safe. here, i feel safest of all.
Posted by in-frequent on May 27, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Ziggity 7
Do you what we need a war on? Crows! One of those fuckers dive-bombed me today!

War! On! Crows! War! On! Crows!
Posted by Ziggity on May 27, 2011 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Kinison 8
"bicyclists are militant and looking to cause a conflict whenever they can."

Thats basically how I see these Critical Mass "parades" every Friday night. When they gather more people for a Sunday "parade" through the neighborhood, the endgame is often the same. Since there was no signs posted a week in advance indicating there would be a "parade", the driver obviously didnt prepare to take detours, so the car quickly gets trapped trying to get out of their neighborhood. They honk their horn and are immediately surrounded by cyclists who start slaping the cars roof or hood" and the driver freaks out fearing for their safety or property and ends up hitting one or two cyclist just to escape. Seems to be a broken record on these Sunday "parades".

Also, the deep bore tunnel, if this was a 3 billion dollar light rail tunnel, SCAT/PSN/SLOG/SIERA/CASCADE/Mayor wouldn't have a problem with it. They would welcome the investment in mass transit, but since its being used for cars & trucks, its suddenly an obscene waste of tax payer money (even though were spending 18 billion for light rail).
Posted by Kinison on May 27, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
very bad homo 9
Since when do losers get billions of dollars in support like more roads and bailouts? If it's a war then the cars are winning at the expense of people.

Such a stupid concept.
Posted by very bad homo on May 27, 2011 at 1:04 PM · Report this
raku 10
What's the #1 killer of children, teenagers, and adults under 40 in Seattle, King County, Washington State, and the United States?

Whatever it is, we should probably have a war on that.
Posted by raku on May 27, 2011 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 11
The War on Cars is just as real as the War on Christmas, and the War on Christians. They all deserve equal consideration.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on May 27, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Where can I sign up as a foot soldier in this war?

Will I get to drive a tank?
Posted by gerwitz on May 27, 2011 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Baconcat 13
@11 I love you for that. It makes kinison @8 sound like Bryan Fischer.
Posted by Baconcat on May 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM · Report this
@7 War on caws!
Posted by i'm chuck swindell on May 27, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Baconcat 15
@14 oh my gawd
Posted by Baconcat on May 27, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 16
People making $500 car payments and spending another couple of hundred a month on insurance get furious when talk comes around to transit and walking and biking. You know the type, right? The kind of person who lives on pork & beans to drive a Corvette? The kind of person who thinks only losers take the bus?

Hell, yeah, there's a war on cars and I want to lead a division!
Posted by Bauhaus I on May 27, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
The War on Cars would be kind of a cool band name.
Posted by Actionsquid on May 27, 2011 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Green Lake is two words.

And #17 is completely right.
Posted by ScreenName on May 27, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Also, this guy Cornell is a Realtor in North Seattle. You'd think he'd be more careful of his brand than to affiliate with such a reactionary lie.
Posted by ScreenName on May 27, 2011 at 1:48 PM · Report this
People riding bikes get furious when talk comes around to licensing them. You know the type, right? They focus on paying a fee. But in reality it would be a good way to ticket those that break the law and make the rest look bad. Nope they want to ride anonymously so that they can run stop signs and lights tying up traffic.
All vehicles on the road should follow traffic laws and without an endorsement and a plate there is very little reason for a bicyclist to follow them.

Posted by Pissed off Driver on May 27, 2011 at 2:02 PM · Report this
balderdash 21
There is a War on Cars, a War on Christmas, and a War on Christians.

Well, as long as by "war" you mean "I dislike and would rather see gone but I am too peaceful and lazy and busy living my own life to actually do anything but look down on."
Posted by balderdash on May 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Baconcat 22
All vehicles on the road should follow traffic laws and without an endorsement and a plate there is very little reason for a bicyclist to follow them…

I think the chip on the shoulders of people that forget that they are wrapped in hundreds of pounds of metal is incentive enough. What you're bothered by is little more than annoying scofflaw activity.
Posted by Baconcat on May 27, 2011 at 2:50 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 23

Tell that to my stepmother who was put in a coma by a bike messenger.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 27, 2011 at 2:52 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 24
@23 I've had a very similar problems as uncle was put in a coma by a UPS truck.
Also, my cat was run over by a St. Bernard delivery-dog yesterday trying to deliver some much needed brandy across town.
Down with all delivery services!
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on May 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Baconcat 25
@23: Yes, that's exactly like all those folks biking to work or a little kid meekly pedaling down the street.

With all due respect to your stepmother, your reaction is incredibly insulting and borderline irrational. I think she's owed an apology for your crass and opportunistic abuse of her misfortune.
Posted by Baconcat on May 27, 2011 at 3:01 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 26
The only war on cars is by Council and the Governator, who insist on a LOWER capacity Deeply Tolled Tunnel instead of cheaper HIGHER capacity alternatives like Surface Transit or a Rebuilt Viaduct.

Yes, the Surface Transit has a HIGHER car and truck capacity than the Tunnel of Tolled Terribleness.

Kind of surprising, but you can get lower pollution, lower cost, and higher vehicle capacity by not digging insane holes in the glacial till and vacuoles and silt.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 27, 2011 at 3:16 PM · Report this
seandr 27
There Is No "War On Cars"

Apparently, Baconcat didn't get that memo.
Posted by seandr on May 27, 2011 at 3:48 PM · Report this

Are you showing a video of a car breaking the law to support an argument that bikes shouldn't have to obey traffic laws? What?
Posted by lortext on May 27, 2011 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Right - it's just a war on the people who rely on cars. Which, as far as Seattle work commutes go, was about 68% of them at last count.
Posted by Mr. X on May 27, 2011 at 3:55 PM · Report this
You're too late Ben. You guys can pretend that you're not fighting this war but its bullshit. You can pretend that fighting the tunnel is about x but the simple truth of the matter is that you don't believe in spending that much money on a project catering to cars because you think the future of modern life is one that doesn't include the automobile.

And that's fine.

Just be honest about it.

I'm so goddamn sick of watching you guys thinking you can just sneak this enormous social change under the radar and not have to answer for your true intentions and ideologies. It doesn't matter how righteous your cause is, it's still shitty public leadership.

Be honest with the people.
Posted by Solar System on May 27, 2011 at 4:03 PM · Report this
raku 31
#30: Surface/transit people who want to build 8 lanes of free highway (6 surface highway + 2 expanded I-5) instead of 4 tolled lanes (deep bore tunnel) don't want to accommodate the automobile. Because they want a streetcar or something thrown in. Oooookay.
Posted by raku on May 27, 2011 at 4:31 PM · Report this
Maybe so many people think there's a war on cars BECAUSE THERE IS A WAR ON CARS ... despite wartime propaganda to the contrary.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on May 27, 2011 at 5:07 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 33

The motherfucker was breaking the law when he mowed her down. I demand an apology for your crass stupidity.


Interesting how I didn't complain about the existence of bike messengers so much about bicyclists breaking the law and hurting/killing pedestrians. Pathetic attempt there, asshole.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 27, 2011 at 5:35 PM · Report this
TVDinner 34
@30: As cited in this post, the majority of people support more complete streets that provide for all modes of transportation. That includes cars. If you're against this, you're in the minority. Put your grown-up pants on and deal with it.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on May 27, 2011 at 5:50 PM · Report this

Yeah, then ask them about removing lanes to make room for bicycles, and that "majority" disappears toot sweet.

Posted by Mr. X on May 27, 2011 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 36
@29 - And imagine if 100% got to work by car. How would that work out, congestion-wise?

If I were a general in the war on cars, my strategy would be to eliminate transit.
Posted by Free Lunch on May 27, 2011 at 7:09 PM · Report this
@30 "Be honest with the people", like you "Solar System" WTF? Have the balls to at least make up a name when you are chastising for having the balls to state their opinion WITH THEIR NAME ON IT. What a tool...
Posted by hannah mcvey on May 27, 2011 at 10:09 PM · Report this

I'm sorry that you apparently disagree with my desire for people who are in the position of making/influencing public policy to be honest about their true intentions rather than poorly attempting to play politics.

I'm really not sure why I need to identify my real name to express that desire other than the likely scenario that you'd like nothing more than to spend your evening googling me so you could come up with "dirt" to create personal attacks against me in an attempt to discredit my opinion.

Weird. Really, really weird.
Posted by Solar System on May 27, 2011 at 11:01 PM · Report this
There is one of two things going on here.

The people fighting the war on wars are too stupid to realize they're fighting a war on cars (incredibly unlikely)


The people fighting the war on cars think the public is too stupid and/or afraid of change to understand the need for a war on cars (incredibly likely)

Make it clear that the war is in fact on cars and that its not a war on drivers or commuters and the people will get it.

People don't get it right now. It's not because they are too stupid. Stop thinking that and stop treating people that way. They are ignorant. There's a huge difference.
Posted by Solar System on May 27, 2011 at 11:40 PM · Report this
War on wars is war on cars. Derp.
Posted by Solar System on May 27, 2011 at 11:43 PM · Report this
TVDinner @34 -- Before you graduate to big boy pants, you'll need to learn a bit about reading poll results - question wording, question order, screens, top lines, crosstabs, poll memos, statements of methodology.

This one is not to be taken too seriously.

Just scratching the surface, the questions presented as #'s 1, 2 and 3 in the press release are #'s 11, 12 and 13 in the crosstabs - out of an allegedly 11-question poll.

When it comes to defining "the majority", I'd put more stock in the SUSA poll this one was ginned up to contradict.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on May 28, 2011 at 7:42 PM · Report this

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