Traffic Jams? You Want Traffic Jams?

There is a certain irony in the fact that Chris Christie is being pilloried because his aides caused a traffic jam that lasted for four days. Across the country, liberals have caused traffic jams that have lasted for years, and they are still trying to make them worse.

Take the Twin Cities, where I live. Like some of those New Jersey residents, I have to cross a river to get to my office. This takes an average of 15 minutes a day longer than it should because our regional planning authorities have deliberately undersized all of the area’s highways. Liberals do this to combat “sprawl,” which means living where you want to. Most people, here as elsewhere, prefer to live in the suburbs. In addition to causing an enormous amount of economic waste, undersizing highways also makes houses in the outer suburbs less valuable, and houses in the city and inner-tier suburbs more valuable. Where do you think most of the people who make regional planning decisions about highways live? While impossible as a practical matter, it would be fascinating to compare the man-hours lost due to anti-“sprawl” policies enforced by liberals with the man-hours lost over a four-day period in New Jersey because drivers from Fort Lee were delayed in crossing the George Washington Bridge.

Of course, once you get to the city you need to find a place to park. While Minneapolis is not as bad as New York or Chicago in this regard, it is bad enough. Now we have this, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Minneapolis seeks more people, not more cars.” The sub-headline: “City hopes to attract 100,000 new residents while advancing walking, biking, taking transit.”

Liberals have a fantasy of a city where people walk, bicycle and ride trolley cars:

Minneapolis leaders want to attract more than 100,000 new residents to the city without adding more cars to the street, further amplifying one of the toughest challenges for planners at City Hall: parking. …

Current rules outside downtown require at least one stall per residential unit, with leeway allowed if there is bike parking and transit proximity. But new City Council zoning and planning chairwoman Lisa Bender supports loosening that in transit-heavy areas, opening the door to fewer parking spaces in some buildings.

But, she added, “Our transit system [and] our biking and walking system still need improvement. It’s still relatively difficult to live in our region without a car.”

Hmm, yes. I, personally, don’t know anyone who tries to “live…without a car.” I would guess that approximately 100% of those who do so in this metropolitan area are either students or elderly people confined to nursing homes. Here is one reason why–a screen shot from my iPhone, taken as I was leaving for work this morning, as posted on InstaGram:


Yes, exactly: 20 degrees below zero. Now, if you are one of the four or five hundred people (or whatever) who live in condos in downtown Minneapolis, you can take a short walk through the skyways to get to your office. The other 2.5 million people in the metro area have to do something different. Have you ever tried to bicycle any considerable distance when there are two or three feet of snow on the ground, and the temperature is -20? No, neither have I; neither has City Council zoning and planning chairwoman Lisa Bender. You are pretty much going to need a car, and when you arrive in the city, you are going to have to park it.

In this instance, it isn’t just public officials who aspire to a fantasy village of bikers and power-walkers:

Stefanie Balsis, Minnesota marketing manager for developer Village Green, said she thinks that a project with the right location and target demographic could survive without parking downtown, where there are no parking minimums. …

“I’m just a big believer that if you build it, they will come,” she said. “Or if you don’t build it, they will realize they don’t need it. … If you keep providing them parking, the city will never evolve into kind of what we want it to be.”

That pretty much sums it up: don’t let the people have what they want, and the city may someday “evolve into kind of what we want it to be.” That goes for inadequate lanes of traffic, as well as inadequate parking. Of course, while the city is evolving, there are many thousands of people wasting countless hours of productive time because our regional planners want us to sell our homes in the suburbs and move to the city; or else agitate for more mass transit–we already have buses and a catastrophically expensive light rail system–or more bike lanes. All so that the city, and the region, can evolve into what they want it to be.traffic123113


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