Headline over at parknews.biz: Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It – The author goes on for 1500 words describing the fact that there are thousands of laws written that affect driving. And that most of them promote driving, or at least make it easier for people to drive cars. He also posits that our zoning and parking requirements promote car driving to the detriment of rapid transit.
By the time you finish the article, you are ready to storm city, state and federal legislatures and get these laws off the books and save our nation. Rather than take the position that a cabal of oil companies, concrete manufacturers, and auto companies meet in star chambers to get the government to promote their products, there is an alternative view.
Unlike geographically small countries like most of those in Europe, huge America grew to a point where vast distances required ways for the citizenry to move across them. A train from New York to Chicago, for instance, wasn’t going to cut it. People lived in small cities across the country and wanted to get to large cities to shop, play, and do business. The creating of a vast rail network to make that happen wasn’t really technically or economically feasible.
We were also fortunate to be the richest country on the planet and individuals had enough disposable income to purchase automobiles to enable them to maintain a lifestyle that allowed for suburbs with single family homes. Strangely, millions of families preferred more than a 900 square foot apartment sharing a building with 100 other families. They had a choice.
It would seem to make sense that the laws would follow citizens desires to own and drive automobiles.
We live in a country with more cars than people. Legislatures have reacted to the lobbying of the suppliers of those cars and the infrastructure required for them. Those same legislatures have reacted to farmers, shippers, technology companies, and the myriad of other interest groups that supply us with the goods and services we use every day.
Have all these laws been in the best interest of the citizenry? Probably not. Just as the laws that regulate pharmaceuticals, food production, television broadcasts, or how much space should be allowed between houses could all use some tweaking to make them more reactive to individuals, so also could those affecting automobiles.
Yes, Americans shouldn’t be required to drive, but to change that culture, one would have to change our complete mind set. Some people love living cheek by jowl in cities, others want to raise their families in small towns. Just as we shouldn’t have to drive, we shouldn’t have to live the way central planners want us to.
Isn’t this a great country or what?