Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Helpful First-Aid Lessons

New May edition of Clean Air Mail! Learn how you can protect yourself and your family from Ozone’s harmful effects.

Yes.  The responsibility is on you.  Like, when I stab you (hypothetically, of course), I'll be a helpful neighbor and supply you with a first aid kit and instructions to deal with your new problem.  Not mine.

Now think about how many highways enter Dallas, how many run past downtown, surrounding areas, neighborhoods, etc., and how many vehicles, particularly commercial freight trucks, move past the city without stopping.

"When most people think of vehicle emissions, they assume cars do most of the damage, but it’s actually commercial trucks that are largely to blame. Freight transportation on U.S. roadways is expected to double by 2050, and by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are forecasted to jump 30 percent due to freight transport alone." Daryl Dulaney, Siemens infrastructure chief 

Check out today's air quality.  I love how orange is on the "healthy" side of the spectrum.  Next year we'll add gray and black to the other side to make orange seem even more healthy.  Just no prolonged exposure. In other words, don't go outside.  Not our fault.  Oh you have asthma?  Also, not our fault.  Carry an oxygen mask around.

Now think about all the other cleaner, more efficient ways we could accommodate all of the same movement needs.  Or, just think about every other city in the world you love to visit. They are likely not third world backwaters, but decidedly more advanced, high-tech, and more economically opportunistic than a car-dependent city.  The smartest city in the world is the one that empowers the user with the most choice.  Highways limit choice.  They're constructed specifically so you have to use them.  There is little way around them.  And it's not pleasant nor convenient to do so.  Of course, neither is actually using them.

The first conventional wisdom we have to get over is that highways are necessary for cities to function.  They are not.  They are only necessary when you already have them, the life of the city and its interconnections are adapted specifically around them, and you helplessly feel like you can't possibly live without them.  That is because the way the city is structured is an outgrowth from the highways themselves, essentially making them a self-fulfilling prophecy.  An unhealthy system for sure.

Here's another highway and a gas mask.  You're on your own.