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Liberal Dreams for “Car Free” Cities Running on Empty

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2024
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by Andrew Shirley
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26 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Shirley

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Recent research is shedding new light on just how valuable cars and car culture are for the American economy – and further undercutting the case for liberals’ utopian plans to radically reengineer cities and suburbs to do away with personal automobiles.

Leftists have spent years arguing that, in order to stave off a supposed climate change apocalypse and solve alleged housing shortages, Americans must ditch their minivans and pickup trucks and move into densely-populated cities where everything is just a short walk or bicycle ride away – a concept dubbed the “15-minute city.” Under this vision for the world, everyone would live in a jam-packed urban core like those seen in New York City, Paris, or London.

A Washington Post article from last November aptly summarizes the “15-minute city” argument. “Amid smoldering housing and climate crises, the 15-minute-city concept offers a way out of both, reducing our dependence on cars to go about our daily lives and freeing us to spend our time as we choose,” writes “Climate Advice Columnist” Michael Coren.

But is that really the case?

According to a pair of recent articles, the answer is a resounding “no.” As The Economist detailed shortly before the Post article was published, “vehicle-dependence makes the country fairer and more efficient.” Not only is a car-centric culture not harmful to economic development, it is crucial to building and maintaining a strong economy.

The piece specifically notes a study conducted by several prominent economics professors that examined road speeds in 152 countries. Unsurprisingly, “wealthy countries outpace poor ones. And within the rich world, America is streets ahead: its traffic is about 27% faster than that of other members of the OECD club of mostly rich countries. Of the 20 fastest cities in the world, 19 are in America.” In other words, there is a direct link between the strength of a country’s economy and how quickly people can get around via car.

“Many Americans,” the Economist piece continues, “already live in 15-minute cities, so long, that is, as they get around by car. Most of the essentials—groceries, school, restaurants, parks, doctors, and more—are a quick drive away for suburbanites.”

In another piece for New Geography published last December, Urban Reform Institute Founder and Senior Fellow Wendell Cox details another study from the University of Minnesota which also found “a previously undocumented, first-order relationship between a country’s economic development and the speed of vehicle traffic in its urban networks.”

Moreover, there is also a direct link between car travel times and job accessibility. “Even in the transit-rich New York metropolitan area,” Cox writes, “six times as many jobs are accessible within 30 minutes by car compared to transit.”

This finding cuts directly against the liberal assertion that ditching cars and packing as many people as possible into densely populated urban areas will make the economy more “equitable.” As has always been the case, cars are a great equalizing force in the American economy, allowing people from poor areas with few jobs to find work outside their immediate neighborhood.

As Cox writes, even the liberal infatuation with cities like Paris is short-sighted. While it is indeed the case that about 2 million people live in Paris proper and most have everything they need accessible within a short walk, this population only accounts for a fraction of the more than 10 million people that live in the greater Paris metro – most of whom rely on cars to get to and from work.

Even the left’s assertions that car culture is bad for the environment don’t match with the data. Even if one accepts the left’s premise that greenhouse gas emissions are an existential threat to the planet, American passenger vehicles account for only about 2.5 percent of global emissions. Eliminating that would mean eliminating passenger vehicles entirely – a prospect that is simply unrealistic given that most American infrastructure is car-centric.

Additionally, the public transit that Americans would have to rely on if they were to get rid of their cars is notoriously unreliable. Ridership on subways and bus lines is down nationwide with few indications of a recovery on the horizon.

Still, however, Democrats at every level of government have continued to pour billions of taxpayer dollars into schemes to make cities less car-friendly and supposedly more walkable. The only problem is, Americans don’t seem at all interested, and the data suggests they shouldn’t be.

Andrew Shirley is a veteran speechwriter and AMAC Newsline columnist. His commentary can be found on X at @AA_Shirley.

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PaulE
PaulE
2 months ago

The data proving the essential nature of automotive personal transportation (cars, trucks) for economic efficiency and societal development has been widely available for a number of decades. Countless white papers and studies on the economic and social benefits of a highly mobile society are readily available. That the information has been either intentionally suppressed or simply ignored by those that continue to advocate for “car-free” or limited availability mass transportation options for the general public has more to do with the political goals of those individuals championing such restrictive and controlled society. In command-and-control societies, which is where we are barreling towards at a rapid pace, it is essential to restrict the movement of the overall population to limited choices that ensure those in charge can better control the populace.

There really isn’t anything new here when it comes to the why the left in this country seeks to corral citizens within large cities to a limited number of options for personal movement. It is simply a matter of being easier to control a large population, if you limit the number of options that those masses can use, so you can better restrict their movements to what those that want to control the population can do. Thus, the rationale of Climate Change being the pretext to ultimately ban any means of ICE technology transition, while at the same time forcing the public into the singular option of much more expensive and less efficient EVs with limited charging options beyond major population centers.

Everything the left does has a purpose. Their ultimate goals have been spelled out for decades now. It is just most of the public either can’t connect the dots, doesn’t choose to listen very well to what the left is spelling out for you or the public thinks “It can’t happen here.” Well guess what? Burying your heads in the sand or pretending “It can’t happen here” doesn’t stop or even slow down the left in its pursuit of total power and control of the masses. That should be abundantly evident by now.

Morbious
Morbious
2 months ago

The demon party wants you unarmed and unable to move. I can’t imagine why.

John Bass
John Bass
2 months ago

They want us to be like all the other third world country’s in the world. Only the rich, famous and politically connected will have automobiles, the rest of us will either walk or ride our bicycles.

Melinda
Melinda
2 months ago

These liberals are in a pipe dream, literally. They couldn’t pay me enough to live in a city. I’m 8 miles from a small grocery store, 30 miles from a supermarket. I’d walk 8 miles for food rather than live in a city, and I’d be in better shape, too. It may cost more to live here (I doubt it), but it’s worth it for peace of mind rather than chaos and crime.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
2 months ago

Democrats won’t be happy until we all live in grouped, easily controlled areas of low or little value, give up individual transportation for government funded mass transit, our children are indoctrinated in their ways in their schools, and eat only what they provide for us. If it sounds familiar, it is: government did this to the Native American.

John Shipway
John Shipway
2 months ago

“Five minute cities”? I couldn’t tolerate living in a suburban neighborhood. Privacy is valuable to free people which is why I feel so sorry for the people that have sold their soul to the devices they stare into constantly, texting this, emailing that……gossiping on various social media sights. This is not “free” even though becoming a part of some social media site may not come with a direct fee. ALL of your data is sold and what you haven’t provided “they” can find with the basic data you have provided.
My God, look into the dangers of seemingly innocuous devices like the Ring doorbell. Also the incredibly data stealing, privacy destroying crap like “Alexa”. The combination of the federal government and some HUGE tech companies are herding everyone and sucking everything about them in efforts of control and of course for the financial gain of the corporations and their bought off politicians.
Be careful folks……if its not too late for you

anna hubert
anna hubert
2 months ago

Gospel that is forced on us applies to everyone only those who preach it are exempt

WJS
WJS
2 months ago

I have lived in a semi rural area for close to 37 years after living in two major cities (one for 41 years and one for 2 years). My current city has no bus service, minimal taxi service, and I don’t know about Uber service here for I don’t use it. The closest four major cities are at least one hour away or a little longer. Without vehicle transportation those of us living here would be hard pressed to get around and provide for our well being.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
2 months ago

LEFT. A bunch of whacoes. KLyle L.

tlang
tlang
2 months ago

I like my “30 minute city” just the way it is thank you. Having been to New York City many times on business, wondering if the people in Albany would want to give it all up to live in NYC. Didn’t think so. You can keep that sh1t hole.

Jeri
Jeri
2 months ago

Does anyone believe that the gangbangers and thugs will really be happy in “15 minute cities”??

Buck
Buck
2 months ago

Liberals are 25% of the population and why do we tolerate their juvenile dreams, and other bull? They should all move to sunny California and get the hell out of the way. They take from others, live off others, and quack their BS. America is tired of it and before it gets way to assertive “back at you” they should as the minority and non-contributors get the hell out of the way. “Word on the street!” Yes, now what?

Moonpup
Moonpup
2 months ago

It’s long been my contention that having “herds” (pun intended) of people packed into urban areas is so that oxygen depletion will occur. Lack of oxygen can lead to hypoxia – hypoxia can lead to brain damage – and brain damage can lead to voting Dimocrat…

Paul Meyer
Paul Meyer
2 months ago

This article doesn’t surprise me. You think about the left wing libtard logic and here’s my saying about it:
It never fails to fail.
Why put billions of dollars into infrastructure if the Left’s goal is to eventually get rid of cars, trucks, and SUVs? Oh, but wait! The only cars that will be available to us are electric. With lithium batteries. That could randomly catch on fire. ???? And can’t be put out by conventional means. ???? Which means your car is going to eventually just burn up and be worth nothing. But thank God they’re so affordable, right? ???? ????

Steven Coughlin
Steven Coughlin
2 months ago

Tex, what are you smoking? Conservatives want complete control? I think you are a very confused soul.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 months ago

Achieve Zero
esp for LA CA area vs Boston, Miami, NYC

ft wurth
ft wurth
2 months ago

debt elimination plan

63 percent tax on all income over 4 million
95 percent reduction in military spending
no foreign aid

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