Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Flawed Small Car Argument

More ranting about CAFE standards. I was thinking about a concept in transportation planning called latent demand. It goes something like this. A city determines travel times are too much in their community. So they build new freeways, wider roads, that in the short term reduce travel times. But people then start to buy property in areas previously considered too far from the city center, and kaboom, their travel times are back up where they were, or often higher!

That's the flaw in the implicit assumption that forcing smaller cars on the public is the solution to our transportation energy needs. You don't have to look too far from your circle of friends to realize the person with a new fuel-sipping Honda is more likely to take a long road trip than one who takes a gas-guzzling old pickup.

I'm a tree-hugger, and I want to see true environmental change, but this is not the way. In the end, for true progress, we have to get past the cliched simplistic solutions, and a solution not based in government but societal change of less consumption.

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