One impassioned group of people that seems to hate the things in a rather arch sort of way hang out at a place called LA Streetsblog. And trust me, they have a very serious problem with cars. If you were to spend a little too much time there you too could come away believing that only through the destruction of personal transportation will our species truly be saved from extinction by planetary environmental collapse. It apparently is an infectious ideology. And yes, the rumors are true. Buses, trollies and transit villages are mankind's salvation. All hail Metro!
If SB 375 has ideologically committed followers, folks for whom public transportation and vast social engineering schemes engender an almost messianic devotion, then this is where they are to be found. These are urbanist fundamentalists engaged in fine-tuning the ideological parameters of the upcoming Sustainable Cities Cultural Revolution.
Of course I do enjoy reading their blog. Not because I hate cars mind you. Quite the contrary, I myself drive the epitome of autovist chauvinism, the economical and fuel efficient Saturn Ion. No, the reason I like reading LA Streetsblog is because the people writing there are such true believers in their cause. They really do seem to believe that by advocating this stuff they are saving the world. And I find that fascinating. Whoever would have thought that taking a bus or riding the Gold Line would someday be considered a revolutionary act?
Here is an example of what I mean. The singer Bono of the celebrated Irish band U2 recently penned a New York Times op-ed piece praising automobiles. And in that article he truly offended a Streetsblogger by calling for "the return of the automobile as a sex object." Here is how a writer named Ride Solutions expressed his outrage:
Bono's creepy fetishization (sic) of the automobile is part of the core psychological problem that has led to the country's transportation, energy, and urban design mess.
Well, there you go. I guess if fewer people had sexual feelings for their automobiles, our skies would be bluer and the polar bears safer. But just so you don't think that RIDE Solutions is without any degree of optimism about the fate of man, there is this:
Bono would have been better off, if he insists on bizarre fetishization, to emphasize beautiful and "sexy" urban spaces. If the idea is to sexualize something so that people want to spend more time with it, why not emphasize our cities and downtowns?
You know what? I blame you guys. If you had just put aside your car fetish and learned to love the Downtown Specific Plan, everything would be OK by now. And yes, the bus will be here any minute. Please be patient.
But did you know that there is a scenario where the car actually could save the world? Or at least help to reduce Sacramento's record budget deficits? This from the LA Times:
California drivers could get stuck with speeding tickets even with nary a cop in sight under a proposal tucked deep in the budget Gov. Schwarzenegger unveiled today ... The Republican governor wants to let cities and counties install speed censors in red-light cameras to ticket speeding drivers. Those whizzing by the detectors up to 15 miles above the limit would have to fork over $225 per violation. Those going faster than that would pay $325 under the plan ... That would net cash-strapped California about $337.9 million through June 2011. Every year after that, the program would generate nearly half a billion dollars, the finance department says. Local governments would get a cut of the proceeds.
OK. I seriously doubt you'll ever raise half a billion dollars in new state funds from ticketing bus riders for speed walking. And if you're going to raise money in this state you are going to have to be creative. It's not like we make much of real value anymore.
And for those of you who thought that the wave of tickets being handed out lately was strictly being done as a way for the government to raise revenue? Well, it looks like you weren't quite so paranoid after all.