Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Gas Use Down and So Are Taxes: A Turning Point for the Walkable City?

American drivers continue to use their cars less, The Wall Street Journal reports, and the country’s highways are going to suffer as a consequence. The number of miles driven in May dropped nearly 4 percent compared to a year before, and public transporation use has risen. The WSJ says that “the number of people riding Amtrak has risen 11% this year, and mass-transit systems in many areas, including Seattle and South Florida, are experiencing ridership increases of 30% or more, according to the American Public Transit Association.”

But because most American road construction and repair are financed by taxes on gasoline, the drop in gasoline use means a drop in available funds. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to show a $5 billion deficit this year, and the talk in Washington is how to get around that and stiill repair roads.

Of course crumbling highways are one of the things that James Howard Kunstler predicts in The Long Emergency. Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. Our dependency on fossil fuels is going to lead us to disaster sooner rather than later, he writes, and we’re not going to be able to afford the infrastructure that our petroleum-hog vehicles used anyway.

More compact living patterns are the only solution, it seems to me. If you can walk or take public transportation to where you need to go, you don’t need highways nor do you need a car. That’s the message behind The Walkable City, my new book for which I should get final corrections this week. Been doing a lot of walking lately, too, since the weather, while full of showers, has been good for strolls most of the time.


Brian Palmu said...

And Peak Oil, along with the current international inflationary pressures (particularly in he U.S.), means less driving, as well.

I'll look for your book when it comes out. It's an imperative topic.

Mary Soderstrom said...

Hope you find the book interesting.

Happy trails, as we used to say.