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Future Building Political Commentary

We need our politicians to commit to change if we’re gonna get through climate change

Replied to Add Dedicated Bus Lanes for Every Route by Ryan DiRaimo (The Urbanist)

Paint is cheap. Results are bold. Carbon savings are forever.

Wild idea: Give EVERY bus their own lane
Any bus route currently on a road that has two or more lanes in each direction should immediately paint that far right lane red.

Hell yeah! Just GET. IT. DONE. All of our transit and pedestrian and bike improvements take forever to build but we’re still subsidizing the shit out of driving, making it seem cheaper than it really is to drive.

And a commitment like giving buses priority literally everywhere is what it takes to actually get people to change their behavior. You need to make the desirable behavior way more attractive than the default — which sometimes means also making the (socially and environmentally harmful) default activity less desirable.* Trade a moderate increase in traffic for a drastic increase in bus reliability and reduction in travel times. Reward people doing the right thing, instead of our current punishment (it takes me 20 minutes to drive to Seattle (without traffic) and 10 to park, compared to 40-60 minutes to bus, plus a 10 minute drive or 40 minute walk to the transit center (yay transit-less suburbs!).

Right now we enjoy personal externalities for driving, with society and the environment bearing the brunt of our choice to drive. I don’t think it unreasonable to make people internalize some of the drawbacks of that choice so they can make a truly informed decision while bearing responsibility for it.**

My city’s considering a $20/year car tab to pay for installing bike and sidewalk infrastructure in seven years — which will otherwise take THIRTY FUCKING YEARS to build at current funding levels. EXCUSE ME? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of my laughing. Or is that sobbing. You’re telling me that, in the midst of a climate crisis, you’re OK with our city remaining unsafe to walk and bike through till I’m retired? 🤣🤣🤣

Sometimes we need our leaders to just lead. See what needs to happen, have a vision, and acknowledge that you’re making everyone’s life better in the long run even if individuals will need to adapt to some changes.

I’d love to see a politician willing to only serve one term so they didn’t have to care about pissing people off. Because people hate change, but we need BIG change, NOW. Either we choose some changes to make ourselves — more than we want, faster than we want — or the changing climate will make us change, and that way ain’t gonna be fun for anyone 😳

* I live in the suburbs and I drive 🙋 I’d rather ride my bike but I don’t want to die. I’d rather take the bus but I don’t have time for it to take three times as long to get somewhere. We can’t *only* make things worse for drivers; we also need to invest in our transit system and bike infrastructure so it’s safe and convenient to make the right choice, not just inconvenient to keep making the wrong one.

** Likewise, society needs to make it easier for people to escape the poor choices they’ve locked themselves into. Building as much housing as fucking possible — affordable and comfortable housing (both for individuals and families) — can let people who currently live in the boonies move closer in and escape those carbon spewing commutes. Part of that means lifting restrictions on development, part is imposing more restrictions on what gets built so it’s not all luxury condos or cheapo junk with no soundproofing. ALSO we could incentivize telecommuting instead of forcing people to come back to the office 😠

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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