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The Truth About Commuting & Cars

On Election Day, some voters went to the polls looking for politicians who are ready and willing to change the way we spend, build and think about traffic and congestion. At the federal, state and local levels, frustration over commuting woes drives pols to make promises and voters to seek solutions, but what if we're all asking the wrong questions?

A new study on Commuting in America finds that much of what politicians promote as the answers to traffic woes bears little connection to how we really live.

For example, despite decades of growing rhetoric about the virtues and value of mass transit, walking to work, and carpooling, Americans' participation in all three of those activities is flat or decreasing, not growing. The portion of Americans who walk to work has plummeted from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 2.4 percent now. The portion of folks who drive to work alone has shot up over that same time by 11 percent, to 78 percent of all commuters. Carpooling is way down, from 20 percent in 1980 to just 10 percent now. And most of that 10 percent is not real carpooling but what the experts call fam-pooling--in other words, a husband and wife driving in to work together.

The only sign that all the angst about commuting has translated into anything remotely helpful is the increase in the number of people who work at home, which was insignificant back in pre-Internet 1980, and is now up to 3.8 percent.

Every measure of our dependence on cars is shooting upward--time spent in the car, number of car-owning households, number of vehicles per household.

But wait: There's worse news. So much of the political action and blather about commuting woes focuses on finding ways to ease the pain of commuting to work, and obviously that's the part of driving that drives most people nuts. But get this--commuting to work accounts for just 15 percent of all trips we take, down from 20 percent in 1990. What's really growing is the number of trips we make besides going to work--going to the store, taking the kids to school or other activities, going out to eat, etc. And it's hard to think of any road solutions that public officials propose that would even begin to deal with the congestion created by those trips. Think about it: The traffic on Rockville Pike or Rt. 50 or Rt. 7 is often far worse on Saturday afternoon than at any time during the work week.

You can find lots more depressing facts about commuting from the study here.

And now that we've selected new leaders and lawmakers, many of whom promised that they'd be the ones who'd finally do something about the glut on the roads, do you think they can get anything meaningful done?


By Marc Fisher |  November 13, 2006; 8:24 AM ET
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Marc,

Would you agree then that our politicians should be looking more at what they can do to bolster living options for people so that they can be somewhere were public transportation and walking/bicycling can take them to those stores and places to eat that generate so many of those trips? Doesn't this mean that the 'walkable city' that some push for is the direction we should be pushing all of us to go in, if possible?

Posted by: imgoph | November 13, 2006 8:59 AM

We won't get anything meaningful done unless we're willing to give up our cars; and with gas below $3/gal, that's not going to happen. I came back from Richmond last night and it was bumper to bumper traffic from there to here. And had been as far as I could tell from when I was southbound ealier. You can't tell me that all those trips were necessary.

Posted by: Stick | November 13, 2006 9:14 AM

The "truth" about commuting and any discussion about possible solutions brings with it an even more unpalatable truth: the "solutions" will cost a bazillion dollars of public money (and there is no "Plan B"), and the "truth" is, no one is going to propose the necessary taxes and the expenditures on building more infrastructure, much less maintaining and improving the existing stuff.

The "solutions" are basically more light rail, more intracity public transportation (trolleys, subways, buses, whatever). more city-suburban transportation, more parking lots at those suburban transportation sites, etc.

Part of the problem is that the "solutions" can only be solved on a transjurisdictional, regional basis, which is to say, they cannot be solved at all, because there is no such things as a "true" transjurisdictional governing authority with any teeth AND with any taxing and spending authority--and the further "truth" that no one is going to yield up any power to such an agency. Hence, the problem is inherently unsolvable under present real-world conditions.

That statistic that fewer people walk to work is, in my opinion, a useless statistic and a bit of a bad joke. Of COURSE less people walk to work; "work" has moved from being tightly concentrated in urban areas with worker housing closely concentrated nearby (i.e., tenements), to moving out into the countryside (to say nothing of changing its character massively), along with worker housing. How do you walk to work when you live in a nice split-level in The Mews at Shropshire Woods and you work in a modern "indusrtrial park" 10 miles away?

Most of the commuting statistics measure the wrong thing anyway: they measure how many minutes someone spends commuting by car. But in order for that "walk to work" statsitic to be meaningful, one would have to measure how many people used to live a walkable distance from work 80 years ago, to how many live a walkable distance now. THAT's the number that is shrinking.

I've been in the workforce for almost 40 years now, and in all that time I've had exactly one job (for about 4 years) that I lived a walkable distance from my job. And even then I seldom walked, because often during the day I had to run out and do some personal or business-related errand that required my car. (Ironically, the few times I did walk to that job were on bad snow days, when it was easier --as well as safer -- to walk the 900 yards to work than to shovel out the car and attempt to drive down an unplowed back street to go park in an unplowed company parking lot. The downside was that on bad snow days, I was often one of the few who made it in or wasn't late. Being close, I was also the one people called at 1 a.m. when there was some sort of emergency and somebody had to go in.)

Attaching the commuter problem to the fuel crises and global warming may or may not make the problem more "urgent." But it doesn't make it any more fixable. The fact is, there are a handful of major problems that can only be solved with massive transformations of society -- transportation, health care, education, global warming, energy -- and they aren't going to be solved either. The reason is that no one can or will make massive transformations to society, because society itself doesn't want them.

So we're screwed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 10:06 AM

That those people who have chosen to live apart from their basic needs might have difficulty filling those needs should come as no surprise.

The only surprise might be that so many others bought the same mass-commodity isolationist dream.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 10:08 AM

I work in Ballston and my duty hours are 600am to 230pm. My commute is 25 minutes in the morning and 35minutes in the afternoon from Clifton. I tried the Ride on Bus and Metro and door to door and 1hr and 25 minutes each way. And driving to Metro at Vienna and taking Vienna 1hr 5 minutes each way approx. Not saving any money using Metro even with Metro checks and it is costing me time. Tele commuting would be nice. Metro costs me more in time etc. Just not worth it. Driving and parking at Metro at Vienna is just stupid.
Doubling my commute time isnt worth it.

Posted by: vaherder | November 13, 2006 10:12 AM

So, Stick, was your trip really necessary?

Posted by: cb | November 13, 2006 10:14 AM

The future can not be predicted from the past. Not in a linear way as long as we have no clear idea of what fule will cost in the future. If it is expensive, perhaps few will be able to drive. If not, we may have people walking to avoid traffic or using mass transit where they did not in the past.

Posted by: Gary Masters | November 13, 2006 10:35 AM

Wrong concept, Marc. You too Curmudgeon.

What costs "bazillions" is exurbia. Where do you think you got the basic infrastructure? Yep, Federally funded rural electrification and telecommunication programs. Roads paid for out of general taxation (betcha didnb't know the Highway Fund was initially funded entirely by gas taxes...now its 47% and rapidly declining).

That leaves aside extrality costs. Does the latest horrendously expensive road expansion project, funded out of general taxation to serve exurbia (and expand it) do anything for the overall society? Nope. But we all get dunned for it.

Does the mainenence of massive carrier fleets to "the spice may flow"...er, uh...I mean the oil may flow and keep SUV a drivin' exurbia going get charged to the primary user? Nope.

If you were to shift just direct subsidies to user fees, like chargebacks to developers for infrastructure, or returning the Highway fund to user fees, gas would be ~$4/gal, and land prices for more McMansions would double or triple. Exurbia and low density would be instantly uneconomic.

In other words, exurbia is the Queen of Welfare Queens. A totally unsustainable lifestyle subsidied to affordability by overtaxing urban areas and transferring the money. Yet anytime someone brings up nasty old transit projects, folks scream about cost. The funny thing is that you could fund the Metro expansion to Dulles in just one year of implicit subsidies to the exurban Dulles corridor. Plus get some money back.

But no one wants to talk about this.

Posted by: John | November 13, 2006 10:44 AM

I certainly don't have hard numbers on this, but I agree with the poster above that says exurbia is the Queen of All Welfare Queens. You see all this astonishingly expensive infrastructure going in, mile after mile, to support relatively few homes.

But other posters have a valid point too. Mass transit in many areas doubles your commuting time. Until we get a handle on that it'll always be a less desireable form of transportation.

One simple thing we could do would be to actually enforce HOV lanes and raise HOV fines dramatically. I routinely see 1 person vehicles in the HOV lanes. The fines are set ridiculously low. We should do like California does, make the fines very high. That'd free up HOV lanes and make those an actual viable option and reason for people to carpool. As it is now, they are clogged with 1 person freeloaders.

Make that second HOV offense a $1000 fine and you'll see a lot less of what we see now.

Posted by: Hillman | November 13, 2006 11:07 AM

Why should the politicians care? They can just fly into where they need to go. Or close the HOV lanes. Until they sit in the same traffic that we do, day in and day out, planning our entire lives around early morning or late night, they won't do anything about it. After all, it's no problem for them.

Posted by: NAC | November 13, 2006 11:08 AM

The Red Line this morning- after letting two packed trains pass- was still like the Tokyo subway. If I wanted to ride the Tokyo subway, I'd have moved there.

Posted by: Ike | November 13, 2006 11:22 AM

Hey, I'm a generally pro-environment person who takes the Metro to work (I don't want to even THINK about driving to Dupont Circle). But I understand the psychological aspect of solo car commuting.

For a lot of people, it's the ONLY time they have to themselves all day. They get up in the morning and have to compete for the bathroom and bicker with the kids to get them off to school on time. All day long they have to deal with co-workers and their company's rules.

That time in the car (however short or long it may be) is the only time many adults have to play THEIR music, set the temperature at THEIR comfort level (instead of dealing with the office building's HVAC), etc. So I can see why so many are loathe to give it up.

Posted by: Greenbelt Gal | November 13, 2006 11:44 AM

Our pols need to take the initiative and build the roads we need. Let's face it. We all SAY we wish we could walk or take transit to work, but let's face it. We don't REALLY WANT to live in smaller houses, or densely developed areas, or put up with having a transit line next door. That's for other people. So build us the roads and let's stop pretending. The car is king!

Posted by: Ernie | November 13, 2006 12:11 PM

Our pols need to take the initiative and build the roads we need. We all SAY we wish we could walk or take transit to work, but let's face it. We don't REALLY WANT to live in smaller houses, or densely developed areas, or put up with having a transit line next door. That's for other people. So build us the roads and let's stop pretending. The car is king!

Posted by: Ernie | November 13, 2006 12:14 PM

A couple more remarks. As more people use mass transit, the worse its riding conditions become. Also, as fuel costs go up, so do/will mass transit fares.
As far as living near work, take a survey of appartment rents. An appartment near where you work, particularly in an urban area, will cost more to rent. The difference probably will approximate your cost of living out farther and commuting. This of course is no accident.

Posted by: Kieth Miller | November 13, 2006 12:53 PM

People live where the transportation is, and transportation develops where the people are.
This is what this study seems to day.
On option that just might help with local trips, sidewalks, and pedestrian bridges. The life of pedestrian in northern Virginia is like living in Bagdad.
Maybe some planing needs be given to developing travel systems for pedestrians.

Posted by: Peter Roach | November 13, 2006 1:00 PM

To Stick:

I'm certain that only YOUR trip up and down 95 yesterday was "necessary."

Posted by: CW | November 13, 2006 1:04 PM

I had long wanted to go "car free" and last year when my son went off to college and I retired from the military I finally got my chance. I found a job near public transportation and purchased a small condo in Alexandria. I don't miss my car at all. My life is so much less stressful. All the little things that you spend money on when you have a car all of the sudden seem less important when you have no way to get them home:) I realize that most americans live in areas where it is almost impossible to get along without a car. Our towns and suburbs are not designed for walking, distances are too great and public transportation is thin on the ground. But, if you can get a long without a car, I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | November 13, 2006 1:11 PM

All you anti-suburbanites, get over yourselves. The market has decreed that people want the larger homes, lower taxes, more affordable lifestyle, and more family-friendly environment of the outer suburbs.

The externalities you mention are largely funded by the county, not the federal government, except perhaps interstate expansion (which serves other purposes besides commuting, including freight movement, military arteries, etc.). The county residents choose to live there, so I don't see it as oppressive, or indicative of a Welfare State; quite the contrary.

I live in an outer suburb/exurb, and we pay more property tax per capita to Prince William County than any other zip code...in effect, subsidizing the Woodbridges and Dumfries's of our county. Am I complaining? No, I chose to live here because it's relatively safe for my kids, my home, my car, etc.

I work near the beltway/Rt 50 intersection, and there is no mass transit available to get there inside of 2 hrs. You bet I'll drive; and pay the price in time of commute.

Posted by: JD | November 13, 2006 1:50 PM

That those people who have chosen to live apart from their basic needs might have difficulty filling those needs should come as no surprise.
---------

Let's see, my basic needs are clean air, clean water, fresh food, housing, and a place where I can work as a software project manager.

So what I need is a high tech office space where I can manage 20 highly-skilled programmers on a farm. Makes sense!

Bethesdan

Posted by: Bethesdan | November 13, 2006 1:58 PM

This is no NYC. Not only is public transportation in adequate for people that have to be at work early in the mornings or on weekends, employers almost encourage us to drive. I live in Alexandria (Kingstowne to be exact) exactly 5 minutes from the Springfield Metro station. I would be a fool to take the metro. My employer pays for me to park in Dupont Circle. The cost of parking at the metro and taking it back and forth is more expensive than the cost of gas and it would take over an hour (it only takes me 40 minutes to drive now).

For those of us that have to be at work at 7am....why leave my house at 5:45 taking the metro when I can leave at 6:20 and spend less money?

Metro is also only convenient for people that either live close in, or go straight to work and straight home. I go to class in Arlington and by the time I get out at 9pm, taking the metro is not an option to get home quickly.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 13, 2006 2:16 PM

I bought a house 20 years ago that was close to my job, and my commute was almost nonexistent. Then, when business got tough in my industry recently I was transferred 25 miles from my home. Take it or leave it. I'm sure my story is not unique. So much for "live near where you work". Don't even suggest that I move closer to my new office. I'm not going to uproot my family, especially when things could change again.

Posted by: conscript | November 13, 2006 2:47 PM

JD, "the market"? As any economist knows, "the market" will always favor heavily subsidized goods.

Again, you ignore the freebie infrastructure paid for entirely by general taxation which developers never have to reimburse, such as telecom and electric. Without those already in place, no one would develop.

Also, the county has nothing to do with major highway devlopment. That's mostly Federal dollars (53% general taxation and rising), and State dollars (also mostly general taxation, raised in urban areas). This devlopment does nothing for freight, etc...excepting making it easier to ship goods to exurbia. The existing highway system does just fine for everything else you mention. If exurbia causes extra traffic problems, then exurbia should pay for the infrastructure to allievate it.

Your gasoline for the commute is subsidized. The externalities are not covered by existing gas taxes.

Look, own it. You're a welfare queen.


Posted by: John | November 13, 2006 2:57 PM

Sorry John, I'm afraid you don't really know what you're talking about. You might want to think before reflexively striking out at us evil suburbanites.

Tell me again how gas is subsidized? Whether the funds for road (or mass trans) construction comes from gas or general funds, that doesn't mean that gas is subsidized per se. You might need to read that sentence a few times to convince yourself. Go ahead, we'll wait..... Surely you understand that the population *as a whole* (not just commuters) benefits from a built-out road system, for everything from mail delivery to trips to the soccer fields, which therefore justifies the melange of funding streams for road development.

Now, you say that telecom and electric service to the exurbs are subsidized, that the installation/usage fees paid by that (generally well heeled) market doesn't cover the costs. OK, let's see some proof. Note that we're not talking about the TVA or rural electrification or the Al Gore tax (Universal Service Fee) to fund the de-Third-Worldization of Appalatia here. I'm pretty sure Comcast and Verizon have made a few bucks on the Western PWC market, if only because we tend to buy the most services and pay our bills on time.

By the way, saying that the 18 wheelers (freight) don't benefit from the Federal interstate or State highway networks is so disingenious, you might consider another more receptive blog (Kos, et al).

Posted by: JD | November 13, 2006 3:11 PM

The market has decreed that people want the larger homes, lower taxes, more affordable lifestyle, and more family-friendly environment of the outer suburbs.
--------

I grew up in Montgomery County and if you want to explain how the roving gangs in Germantown and Gaithersburg- my mother was mugged by kids who drove up to her at a mall, stole her wallet and drove away- please I'm all ears. If there's one thing the outer suburbs are decidedly NOT, it's family-friendly. I mean, how many zoos and museums are out there? Start with that. Then look at playgrounds within walking distance. You can't pull the wool over us, we've SEEN these suburbs.

Posted by: Bethesdan | November 13, 2006 3:11 PM

well, it was a family thing, I hadn't seen some in years , others in months so it was necessary for me. I was just amazed at 97 miles of bumper to bumper traffic over the course of, say six hours. How many thousands of cars is that? So I trade my one trip every couple o' months for people doing it every weekend to say they weren't all necessary. To be perfectly honest, I largely don't care, I'm old enough that it ain't going to be my problem and well off enough that I can afford $'s/gal gas.

Posted by: Stick | November 13, 2006 3:13 PM

Now, you say that telecom and electric service to the exurbs are subsidized, that the installation/usage fees paid by that (generally well heeled) market doesn't cover the costs. OK, let's see some proof. Note that we're not talking about the TVA or rural electrification or the Al Gore tax (Universal Service Fee) to fund the de-Third-Worldization of Appalatia here.

--------

Loudon County isn't Appalachia? In the early 70s when we'd drive out there, it was. Not now, but how can you deny the electrification of rural areas that are now AOL suburbs? It happened.

Anyway, if you look at the amount of wiring per customer, which was a number I saw when working at good ole C+P Telephone in college, you'd see that you're paying less for maintenance than in the city with underground wires. Strong winds don't tear up underground wires, but do knock down poles. These were reports I saw at C+P.

Apology accepted in advance.

Bethesdan

Posted by: Bethesdan | November 13, 2006 3:15 PM

Read the Clarendon story in todays paper. All these people who lived there now have to drive to find a hardware store and other necessities. Sometimes it's not their fault. Or the job moves away from you, to Tysons or Reston.

Posted by: Stick | November 13, 2006 3:17 PM

I mean, when I was really young my mother brought Thanksgiving turkeys to families living in the Potomac/Poolesville, MD area where they didn't have electricity, phones, or running water. Definitely before 1974, but maybe as early as 1971. That whole area was suburbanized.

Posted by: Bethesdan | November 13, 2006 3:18 PM

What about affordable housing? Not everyone moving to the suburbs is trying to get some huge house with a huge yard. Some are just trying to get a house period. For friends that are looking to buy a condo, they've got to travel about 30 miles from DC to find something affordable. Someone tell me the price of an affordable safe condo in DC and then tell me if most ppl can afford it.

This problem will continue as it is happening in the suburbs as well. Everyone wants to live near their jobs. The housing near major companies in the suburbs is not affordable either....which leads ppl to move even further out.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 13, 2006 3:39 PM

I work in a building on Army Navy drive, basically across the street from the Pentagon. When members of the staff in my office have to go to meetings in the Pentagon they take a shuttle bus. They can't handle a 10 minute walk. No wonder they're all fat and have health problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 3:42 PM

Sorry Bethesdan, no apology offered. I maintain that electrical, telecom, etc., services that are brought to *clustered development* (I am NOT talking about the one-house-per-20-acres, maybe you are), more than pay for themselves through rates, fees, additional tax base, etc. You seem to disagree, so let's see some proof (not more anecdotal stories about your summer job).

By the way, here in the exurbs, we are as family friendly as it gets - wide streets with driveways, so kids can play kickball, etc., decent yards (but hardly big), playgrounds, pools, gated community, everyone knows each other. And just last weekend, when we wanted to go to the Smithsonian, we just drove in. Same goes for the zoo. I don't see how this is a problem.

As for roving gangs in Gaithersburg, mugging innocents because of a lack of playgrounds....uh, I don't know what to say. We don't have that problem in western PWC. Now Arlington and Alexandria, on the other hand, are practically galactic HQ for MS-13 and other bad guys. I'm sure you're not about to argue that crime (especially violent crime) is worse in the exurbs than in the city core.

Posted by: JD | November 13, 2006 4:39 PM

I for one feel very fortunate to live in a city I love, can walk to work every day, walk to the dry cleaner, grocery store.

I feel fortunate that I don't have to honk a horn, get filled with road rage, and arrive home stressed out.

I know for many this isn't an option, and that is sad. Prosperity unfortunately has its side effects and one is uncontrolled population growth. Political leaders need to implement smart or no growth strategies if we are to begin to get a handle on all of our infrastructure needs.

Only after that can we grow at a sustainable rate. Otherwise we as humans are nothing more than an uncontrolled cancer on this earth.

Posted by: kthhken | November 13, 2006 5:03 PM

So long as commuters don't speed through or act like antisocial idiots in my inner urban neighborhood, I say let them choose how to spend their time and money. If they want to pay to pave over God's green earth and then spend their time sitting in a environmentally controlled box, hey, who am I to argue.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:12 PM

"If they want to pay to pave over God's green earth and then spend their time sitting in a environmentally controlled box, hey, who am I to argue."

This is ridiculous. Where do you think inner cities came from? Just one day "poof," a city springs into existence? I hate to tell you this, but unless you live in the South Pole, "God's green Earth" was paved to provide the place where you live too. And unless you live in a tent on the ground, your residence is also an "environmentally controlled box." I am so sick and tired of hearing smug city dwellers blame problems on those who live in the suburbs. There simply isn't enough room for everyone to live in the city. Hence some people will live elsewhere. That doesn't make you or them superior. DC once was rolling farmland.

Posted by: Woodbridge Dweller | November 13, 2006 5:27 PM

So long as commuters don't speed through, or act like antisocial maniacs in, my inner urban neighborhood, I say let the exurbians choose how to spend their own time and money. If they want to pay to pave over God's green earth so they can spend their time sitting in various environmentally-controlled boxes, hey, who am I to argue. My kid and I will enjoy our walk to the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and various free-to-the-public embassy functions.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:30 PM

Woodbridge: Pave up, not out.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:31 PM

Oh, and Woodbridge, there's plenty of room in DC. The city's population is about 400K under its all-time post war high. You just don't think you want to live here.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:33 PM

Mark, glad to hear you are so priviledged as to afford living in the city. What about those people that want to own a home in a safe neighborhood....what should they do?

Posted by: TH28754 | November 13, 2006 5:34 PM

I bought my home over ten years ago for less than 250K. Much less than the then-cost of my families house near Tysons.
But don't worry, you and your friends will create a nice dense community right where you are, I'm sure.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:37 PM

And needless to say the neighborhood wasn't exactly "safe" back then.

Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 5:39 PM

I always said I should have been born 5 years earlier...then i'd have a big house close or in the city.

I worry my friends will have to move to Frederickburg to be able to afford a home. I ended up being lucky though in being able to find a townhouse in Alexandria (near springfield). I don't want to live in a box in the city,....but what good is a huge house if it takes me 10 years just to get home in traffic?

I think I made a good compromise where I am now....but if i were 5 years older, i'd be living it up right now.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 13, 2006 5:40 PM

What have we learned from these "findings" if nothing else?

That the majority of people can't be forced or social-engineered into changing their lifestyles to please the self-appointed arbiters of "correct" living.

Some may not like it, but MOST, yes MOST people simply DO NOT want to live in smaller houses in dense communities and ride trains and buses or walk, bike, beam up, or dogsled to work. It's that simple.

Many of us are sick and tired of being demonized for wanting some space, decent schools, functioning government, and safety in a community we can afford.

The self-appointed "lifestyle police" need to grow up. A 60-year-old, 900 sq ft house in a crowded neighborhood with poor city services and lousy schools accompanied by riding to work in a sardine can isn't everyone's idea of a good time. Neither is arriving at work sweaty and stinky after walking or biking several miles in the heat.

And everyone can't afford to live in the cute little, neo-urbanist development some like to call "smart growth". Those of us who can, simply want more house and yard for our money - and (horrors!) less density. Grow up and deal with it.

The obviously uninformed and uneducated guy whining about "the exurbia welfare queen" and her "expensive infrastructure" needs to get a clue. Or maybe just keep quiet when grownups who work and pay taxes are talking.

The REAL "welfare queen" in his argument is the heavily-subsidized transit rider who pays for only 30% of the cost of his/her ride on Metro. Drivers pay for nearly 100% of the cost of their ride. Drivers buy and maintain their own cars, pay license and registration fees, fuel taxes, tolls, taxes on insurance premiums, automobile use taxes, etc., and STILL pay taxes to subsidize transit. Plus, toll revenue is often appropriated to fund transit. That's 9th-grade civics.

And the "expensive infrastructure" in exurbia just isn't getting built ,thanks to the selfish transit advocates who think they are entitled to EVERY dime of transportation funding because of there "choice".

Badmouthing and demonizing suburbanites who drive is one thing. Elitism and misstatement of facts are something else, altogether.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 13, 2006 8:37 PM

"I am so sick and tired of hearing smug city dwellers blame problems on those who live in the suburbs. "

Amen to that!

Don't you just LOVE these "environmentalists" who think everyone ELSE is polluting God's green earth?

Whata a joke! They seem to forget that their precious transit operates on once "green" earth and the sidewalks they tell others to use to walk everywhere are PAVEMENT.

And the electricity that powers the computers they use to write their nonsense are powered by electricity generated by that terrible foreign oil!

Posted by: CEEF | November 13, 2006 8:49 PM

"I am so sick and tired of hearing smug city dwellers blame problems on those who live in the suburbs. "

Amen to that!

Don't you just LOVE these "environmentalists" who think everyone ELSE is polluting God's green earth?

Whata a joke! They seem to forget that their precious transit operates on once "green" earth and the sidewalks they tell others to use to walk everywhere are PAVEMENT.

And the electricity that powers the computers they use to write their nonsense are powered by electricity generated by that terrible foreign oil!

And so is their rail transit.

Posted by: CEEF | November 13, 2006 8:51 PM

"Woodbridge: Pave up, not out."

That should be REAL EASY, considering DC's building height restrictions and its tradition of resisting change.

You're making more sense each and every time you post, pal.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 13, 2006 8:59 PM

CEEAF:

I'll agree that at this point berating people isn't effective, and that most people can't be, as you put it, "forced or socially engineered into changing their lifestyles"

Referencing your other statements (quoted below):

"A 60-year-old, 900 sq ft house in a crowded neighborhood with poor city services and lousy schools accompanied by riding to work in a sardine can isn't everyone's idea of a good time. Neither is arriving at work sweaty and stinky after walking or biking several miles in the heat. (see comments 1, 2 and 3)
...
Those of us who can, simply want more house and yard for our money - and (horrors!) less density. Grow up and deal with it. (see comment 4)
...
for wanting some space, decent schools, functioning government, and safety in a community we can afford (see comment 5)
The REAL "welfare queen" in his argument is the heavily-subsidized transit rider who pays for only 30% of the cost of his/her ride on Metro. Drivers pay for nearly 100% of the cost of their ride. Drivers buy and maintain their own cars, pay license and registration fees, fuel taxes, tolls, taxes on insurance premiums, automobile use taxes, etc., and STILL pay taxes to subsidize transit. Plus, toll revenue is often appropriated to fund transit. That's 9th-grade civics." (see comment 6, 7, and 8)


I'd like to point out a few things.

1- A house built 60 or 100 years ago, with care, is very likely to still be standing and sound in another 60 years. Masonry walls and metal roofs are strong, and last a very long time. I've heard from builders and home inspectors that new "stick built" construction has a useful life of about 40-60 years.
2- The 900 sf house thing is hyperbole. Most existing city houses fall in the 1200-2200 sf range. The monsters being (poorly) built today are a historical anomaly. They are an extravagance.
3- The point of taking mass transit or biking to work isn't necessarily to have "a good time", though many people who do metro or bike to work do enjoy their commutes.
4- Do you feel you should always have everything you want and can afford? Do you recognize any irony in telling people who do show restraint to "grow up"?
5- Government (and schools) can use improvement pretty much everywhere. You complain that "transit activists" are "selfish" and rob you of "expensive infrastructure" in the "exurbs". It seems to me you have your own problems with your own government.
6- Everything is taxed. Of course you spend your money to buy, operate, and maintain your own car. There's nothing special about that. But nothing you write addresses the valid point that people without cars still pay taxes which go to building new roads for your car.
7- Toll roads are meant to pay for themselves, but they're the exception, and even a 9th grader knows that.
8- Mass transit is subsidized precisely for the same reason that roads have been- to provide a general public benefit. The argument now is whether the greater benefit is derived from building more mass transit or more roads.

It seems to me that people who feel entitled to always more are the ones who are behaving in an elitist way, or at least in a selfish way. But as I mentioned up top of this (very long) post, it's no use berating...


Posted by: Mark | November 13, 2006 9:55 PM

First lets get rid of the myth that a house built 60 to 100 years ago was better built. Sorry it depends on the skill of the the person building the house and the budget of that first owner. Houses built that long ago are not energy efficient and their layout isnt conducive to modern living. No closets or Cat 5 wiring. You need to watch repeats of TOH. Old houses are a lot less green than a new house.

And damn I am just so sorry the Federal govt is subsidizing me. So shut the f up and figure out how to get them to subsdize a loser liberal birkenstock wearing fool like yourself. Come one the Dems control Congress this should be easy. Ooops these subsidies happened back when the Dems controlled Congress for 40 years. If you want fairness than get rid of the mortgage deduction! And it aint never going to happen.

Not everyone wants to live close in on a small lot or in a condo. Free country we can live and work where we want unless Comrades Murtha, Reid and Pelosi want to change things! Last time I checked that little single family home on a postage stamp lot in a safe neighborhood inside the beltway was going to cost you anaverage of $800k.

Posted by: Vaherder | November 14, 2006 6:43 AM

In my experience, people who are confident of their points feel no need to berate or belittle others. Hyperbole, exaggeration, yelling and a didactic or bullying approach tell us a lot -- but those characteristics never strengthen points made in an argument. For the most part, I don't find that the comments posted here reflect social engineering, they only show that different people balance work and commuting issues differently. Some choose to live in densely populated areas, others not. And some dream of living elsewhere but are contstrained by circumstances we are not aware of. We can debate choices made by planners and legislators but it's pointless to berate people who live in a democratic country about their life choices.

Marc Fisher notes that "But get this--commuting to work accounts for just 15 percent of all trips we take, down from 20 percent in 1990. What's really growing is the number of trips we make besides going to work--going to the store, taking the kids to school or other activities, going out to eat, etc. And it's hard to think of any road solutions that public officials propose that would even begin to deal with the congestion created by those trips."

We all know the jokes about the person who drives to the gym for a workout, comes home, and then thinks nothing of getting back in the car a little later to drive 5 minutes to buy something. And complains if he or she can't get a parking spot near the entrance to the mall. For those who still like to walk while taking care of errands, going to the movies, shopping, etc, it's too bad there aren't more areas like the Clarendon described in yesterday's newspaper. And that living in such "urban villages" is so expensive in terms of housing.

Posted by: NoVa reader | November 14, 2006 7:13 AM

Hi, Marc, interesting blog entry and comments here. I don't know how much time you have to read through the comments on this blog and on others that deal with Metro area issues. Have you ever considered doing an analysis of how people debate issues on message boards? We have a homegrown expert here in DC, Deborah Tannen. She has written some good articles and books about the "argument culture" and about linguistic differences. Some of the things she points to seem to play out here in terms of sensitivity as to who is one up or one down, etc. One female analyst describes it this way:

"According to Tannen, men see the world as a hierarchy where someone is "up" and the other is "down." Men try to maintain the upper hand to stay in the "one-up" position and protect themselves from being put down. That's why men are less likely to share their feelings and vulnerabilities. It would put them at a disadvantage. . . .It also explains a typical male communication style, the "putdown." They "put down" another person to keep themselves in the "king of the hill" position.

Women use conversation and communication to build relationships and for cooperation and collaboration. . . . While men try to protect themselves from being put down, we women try to protect ourselves from being rejected both in one-on-one and group situations."

I'm not a fan of attributing "everything" to gender differences, I just know too many different types of people in terms of character, temperament, interests, political affiliation, etc. to view the world that way. Some of them defy steoretyping. And I know you can't always tell if a man or woman is posting or what his or her political views are or who leans authoritarian and who leans libertarian and who is somewhere in between. But you sure pick up some clues sometimes. And some of what Tannen points to does play out here. On the Get There blog, you even can pick out the potential candidates for participation in road rage incidents.

Posted by: Fischer fan's question | November 14, 2006 8:38 AM

Of course we're ignoring the ultimate price of poorly planned suburban and exurban growth. The 3000 US soldiers that have died in Iraq, defending our insatiable thirst for oil.

Sure, we'd still need oil without such poor planning. But our demand for a suburban lifestyle certainly makes the problem considerably worse.

I am one of those that referred to poorly planned suburban and exurban growth as welfare. And I stand by that. I'm not making moral judgements about those that live in suburbs. I'm simply stating a fact.

But I do make a moral judgement about those that encouraged this lifestyle, and literally paved the way for it, while refusing to plan for the future.

As for mass transit being a subsidy - yes, it is. But it benefits everyone, including those on the roads, driving solo in their cars. And it's a subsidy that helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As such, it's justifiable, and then some.

Posted by: Hillman | November 14, 2006 1:33 PM

To Mark:

"1- A house built 60 or 100 years ago, with care, is very likely to still be standing and sound in another 60 years. Masonry walls and metal roofs are strong, and last a very long time. I've heard from builders and home inspectors that new "stick built" construction has a useful life of about 40-60 years."

Not always true. That depends on the quality of materials and the skill of the builder. Plus, as another blogger point out, most old houses are not energy-efficient. So unless he's spent a fortune on renovations, an environmentalist who brags about living in an old city house is making himself look like a fool.

Nor are most older houses conducive to modern living. You might probably call it "extravagant", but most folks like having central air conditioning and more than one bathroom.

"2- The 900 sf house thing is hyperbole. Most existing city houses fall in the 1200-2200 sf range."

Too small for most families.

"The monsters being (poorly) built today are a historical anomaly. They are an extravagance."

That's a matter of personal opinion. And what, by the way, gives you the right to decide what's an "extravagance" for others? Exactly who do you think you are? In any event, you've proven my point. People like you are so smug about your "lifestyle choice", you think it gives you the right to decide for others. That's the height of arrogance. It's not winning anyone over to your point of view.

"3- The point of taking mass transit or biking to work isn't necessarily to have "a good time", though many people who do metro or bike to work do enjoy their commutes."

So do many people who drive. I can listen to music, the radio, or an audio book without hearing someone else's conversations. If I don't like the scenery, I can take another route. I can ride without being packed in like a sardine among a bunch of strangers and without depending on someone else's idea of a schedule.

"4- Do you feel you should always have everything you want and can afford?"

As long as I'm willing to work for it and can afford it, yes. Who are you to say otherwise?

Tell you what: if you're so certain of your convictions, start supporting me and you can tell me what I should and should not have. Until then, shut the ... up!

"Do you recognize any irony in telling people who do show restraint to "grow up"?"

What you need to "show restraint" with is your unhealthy need to dictate how others should live. So, yes, grow up.

Or seek therapy. I've heard they have drugs than can work wonders.

"5- Government (and schools) can use improvement pretty much everywhere. You complain that "transit activists" are "selfish" and rob you of "expensive infrastructure" in the "exurbs". It seems to me you have your own problems with your own government."

I do. It spends too much time and money indulging those with your point of view, who BTW, are a small, albeit loud, minority.

"6- Everything is taxed. Of course you spend your money to buy, operate, and maintain your own car. There's nothing special about that. But nothing you write addresses the valid point that people without cars still pay taxes which go to building new roads for your car."

Now your proving and admitting your ignorance. Congratulations for making a fool of yourself, since only a fool would make that statement, only a fool would believe it, and only a fool would not know that those who don't use the roads are paying an insignificant part of their cost.

"7- Toll roads are meant to pay for themselves, but they're the exception, and even a 9th grader knows that."

I'm glad you know that, too. you should.

"8- Mass transit is subsidized precisely for the same reason that roads have been- to provide a general public benefit. The argument now is whether the greater benefit is derived from building more mass transit or more roads."

Considering that roads benefit more people, my money is on the roads. Stop trying to get us to believe the lie that transit takes sufficent people off the roads to significantly impact congestion. Anyone who drives knows better.

And transit does little to improve the environment. Vehicles stuck in traffic pollute and waste fuel far more than vehicles that flow at a constant rate of speed (Duh!).

But people like you care nothing about congestion or the environment. You WANT congestion to get worse and you WANT pollution to increase. Because your goal is to force people onto transit. That's why you oppose all new roads and why you've never met a rail project you didn't like. You can't stand people like me because we can see through you like glass.

"It seems to me that people who feel entitled to always more are the ones who are behaving in an elitist way, or at least in a selfish way. But as I mentioned up top of this (very long) post, it's no use berating..."

You are obviously the one with the elitist and entitled point of view. Just read and re-read your own words.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 1:55 PM

"Of course we're ignoring the ultimate price of poorly planned suburban and exurban growth. The 3000 US soldiers that have died in Iraq, defending our insatiable thirst for oil."

That garbage is straight out of the car/suburb haters' handbook. Which slanted, agenda-driven website did you cut and paste that from?

Do us a favor. Go back and see if any of those websites can tell you how many barrels of oil we've taken out of Iraq, lately.

We'll wait.

"As for mass transit being a subsidy - yes, it is. But it benefits everyone, including those on the roads, driving solo in their cars. And it's a subsidy that helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As such, it's justifiable, and then some."

A myth.

Mass transit does nothing much to alleviate traffic congestion and fuel consumption in the inner core that it serves, much less farther-out suburbs. When it is implemented in the outer suburbs, it doesn't generate enough ridership to make an impact. Don't believe it? Ask anyone who drives.

Transit benefits only those who use it. The transit advocates know that. That's precisely why they want all transportation funds spent on transit.

The transit advocates couldn't care less about traffic congestion or "consumption, all their protestations to the contrary.
The transit advocates want congestion to get worse so they can force everyone onto transit.

If the transit advocates cared one wit about traffic congestion and if they were seriously interested in quenching "our insatiable thirst for oil", they would:

1. Acknowledge the fact transit doesn't make roads unnecessary and advocate a complementary transportation network.

2. Admit the congestion caused by inadequate road infrastructe pollutes and wastes fuel, and stop opposing roads.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 2:34 PM

Dear CEEAF,

Only idiots use ad hominem arguments.

Posted by: guez | November 14, 2006 3:34 PM

Hillman: Agreed.

CEEAF: Your argument style suggests you failed that 9th grade civics class you mentioned.

Guez: Not only idiots use ad hominem arguments. They're also a favorite tactic of people who know they can't compete on the merits.

Posted by: Mark | November 14, 2006 4:01 PM

Mark:

Sorry you feel so reBUTTED.

If you REALLY think you're right about whether drivers pay their own way and if you really believe non-drivers are burdened by road costs, then you're an uneducated idiot and not worth my time. And if your chosen "lifestyle" was so great, more would participate.

I'm willing to bet you neither work nor commute, since you communicate the attitude and opinions of a student. Your entire argument and demeanor smacks of the know-it-all smugness of a college sophomore who has read a couple of urban studies textbooks, hung out with environmentalists, and so-far managed to maintain a 3.0 average.

FYI, a REAL man doesn't always have to be right and he NEVER needs to be smug. So have a happy landing and enjoy your g.y lifestyle with your little partner, Guez. You two make a nice couple.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 4:17 PM

Guez:

Only the inarticulate come back with one-liners.

And only the unknowing side with the uninformed.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 4:23 PM

Mark:

Your resorting to personal attacks reflect your inability to rebut my arguments or support your own. Your reaction to being proven wrong shows a terrible character deficiency.

Perhaps you should take some classes in debating, ethics, and psychology before you leave school.

Guez:

Nitpicking the arguments of others is an indicator of having nothing to contribute.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 4:38 PM

I just love these guys who grew up in the suburbs, decided to live in a city apartment and walk to work after college, and now want to knock suburbia and badmouth people who want to live there.

Newsflash:

Paying too much rent, riding a train, and walking around in your Birkenstocks doesn't make you an urban planning expert or an environmentalist.

I've never met a single-minded neo-urbanist. Narrow-mindedness goes against everything they stand for.

And I've never met a real environmentalist who wants to make traffic congestion and its attendant pollution worse.

You "transit advocates" and road opponents who are so pleased with yourselves for living carless in the city and hate on anyone who doesn't are a bunch of phonies playing at being experts and pretending to care about the environment.

You're fooling no one but yourselves.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 5:13 PM

CEEAF: When did schoolyard accusations of homosexuality become part of articulate, reasonable discourse? (Personally, I blame talk radio.)

I would happy to debate these issues with you if you weren't foaming at the mouth, but as it is, I can't really see the point. I will therefore ignore you. (I suggest that others do the same.)

Posted by: guez | November 14, 2006 5:49 PM

CEAAF:

Your hostility is misplaced. I do not believe that transit alone is the answer. And I've never said that.

Clearly mass transit has it's logical limits. There will always need to be a road system. Besides, it's hard to get my truck onto the Metro, no matter how hard I try.

For instance, we really should have finished the 395 link through DC. It's just stupid to not have done that.

And I for one think the beltway ought to be doubled. Same for 66.

And I am not a suburb hater. I've specifically limited my argument to poorly planned housing patterns.

As for public transit not taking people off the roads, I stand by my point. I can easily imagine how much worse the commute in and out of DC would be if Metro shut down tomorrow.

As for Iraq and oil, of course we haven't gotten any oil from Iraq lately. Primarily because we grossly mismanaged the war. But the reason for going there was oil. Even Bush has finally gotten around to acknowledging that fairly obvious fact.

And let's not forget the other hidden cost, since you brought it up.... global warming. Yes, some of the global warming rhetoric is hype, but some is quite real. And our gas guzzling suburban poorly planned lifestyles are making that much worse. And that has a very real cost, both in terms of money and in quality of life.

Posted by: Hillman | November 14, 2006 6:07 PM

Right, Guez.

Hillman: Ignore CEEAF- he's an obvious troll- meaning his primary goal is to provolk. Notice how when his comments go too far out of bounds that he comes back with apparent moderation? Someone once said "Never wrestle with a pig- the pig enjoys it, and you'll just end up muddy". Let him be, Hillman, and he'll remain alone and isolated as the only pig in the stye.

Posted by: Mark | November 14, 2006 6:48 PM

Mark, Guez, etc.

I must have hit the nail right on the head since I've obviously touched a nerve.

Sorry, but suburban kids who temporarily move to the city to cash in on the gentrification craze and have a little fun with the natives just leave me, a born and raised New Yorker and DC investor, cold.

I'm old enough to remember "white flight". Folks like you were "too good" to live in the city, especially among those who didn't look like you.

Now, that you've made a "choice" to "return" to the city, ride transit, and eschew suburban life for the time being, you want to act intellectually and morally superior.

Well, I don't buy it. Because you and I both know, that unless my "assumptions"
are correct, once you get married and the kids reach school age, you will either send them to private school, away from most of the native kids, or move right back where you came from - the suburbs.

If I seem "hostile", it's because I suffer self-righteous phonies very lightly.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 14, 2006 9:54 PM

Nice. Keep digging that hole.

Posted by: Mark | November 14, 2006 10:27 PM

CEEAF:

You seem hostile because you are. Nothing in my posts here warranted your hostile response. And you made a lot of assumptions about me, none of which were warranted.

As for city living, I've lived in urban areas since I was in my 20s. I lived in DC during the early 90s, when it was terrible. So please spare me the "too good to live in the city when times are tough" line. Again, it's an assumption you are making that simply isn't true.

Your last post is basically accusing other posters including me of racism.

Please, either provide some proof of our racism or withdraw your charge. It's a fairly incendiary one, and as such demands at least reasonable proof.

Posted by: Hillman | November 14, 2006 11:52 PM

Wow. Interesting to see the 8:38 post about Tannen on 11/14 from Fischer Fan, followed by a daylong string of postings from others about (and in some cases relying on) ad hominems. I don't know if Tannen is right in stating in her books that men use putdowns to protect themselves. She may be right up to a point. But for that to work as a protective mechanism, there has to be broad acceptance of the framework. Not all readers accept it; some even turn it on its head. I do know that at least for this woman, ad hominems and putdowns and hostililty are counterproductive in argument. I don't mean that I'm self actualized (which as it happens, I am). I mean that the people I most respect and admire (men and women both) are the ones who are confident and knowledgeable and who deal well with other people. Funnily enough, at least among the ones I socialize and work with, such people never feel a need to put down others. People are drawn to them because they seem comfortable in their own skins. On the other hand, people who lash out at others seem to signal discomfort of some kind. Often, that makes people back away from them.

Good thing the postings on this board, although permanently available through a Google search, mostly are anonymous. Who would want a future employer or future girlfriend reading some of this? Doesn't matter how old anyone is, everyone is likely to need to impress or win over others in the future. Of course, over reliance on certain wording and signature phrases and other quirks might establish a pattern, even on boards where there are no names listed. Imagine some of you talking to someone whom you hope to impress a year from now and turning to familiar topics and using your signature phrases only to have that person turn out to be a WaPo online reader. Imagine having them think, whoa, is this the guy whose stuff I read online last year?

Did anyone catch Maureen Dowd's column about the election results, where she described how 55% of women voted Democratic and noted that in her view, they and many men also were sick and tired of blustering, bellicosity and swaggering? At least at the polls, it doesn't look as if going negative worked in attracting women's votes. If you think it works on message boards, fine, go ahead and use it, display whatever you want. Just don't expect all the readers to be impressed by it. Me, I prefer cooly reasoned exchanges that avoid attack and exaggeration.

Posted by: Interested observer | November 15, 2006 6:52 AM

PS to my posting above

I recognize that once someone starts a flame war, it can be difficult to respond without some harsh words in return. So, I have the least respect for those who deliberately trigger flame wars. I'm assuming that those who stereotype others probably hate being stereotyped or pigeonholed themselves. I don't know anyone personally who likes being thought of as some kind of cartoon figure. Saying someone is gay ("not that there's anything wrong with that") when they haven't self identified as such or charging racism or turning to irrelvancies as distractions or using broad brush arguments and stereotypes just seems like lazy argument to me especially when the "targets" seem to have given little cause for doing so. You would think that someone who does that would look carefully at the posted messages to see if they actually display those attributes. Otherwise, there's the danger that far from strengthening a point, turning to those tactics seems to weaken it. Whichever political party you support, think of what you most dislike in the other party's tactics and arguments. Then think about why people turn around and do the same exact thing they seem to dislike in politics here on the message boards. If berating people doesn't work in politics, it is unlikely to work here.

Posted by: Interested observer | November 15, 2006 8:01 AM

Interested: I agree. Oddly, I've had civilized if somewhat heated conversations with CEAAF on this and other subjects in the past. And he actually taught me a lot about the history of local transportation funding and choices. Which makes his recent postings all the more sad.

Posted by: Hillman | November 15, 2006 9:43 AM

IO:
My assessment of CEEAF continues to be that his (I'm guessing the writer is a "he") primary goal is to provoke. Everything he's written has been more effective at that than eliciting reasonable discourse.

I don't view his posts as reflecting typical differences (if any) between male and female styles of discourse. Rather, they seem to me tactically designed to accomplish some goal other than an up front exchange of perspectives or ideas.

Whatever his goal, he's welcome to play by himself.

Posted by: Mark | November 15, 2006 9:57 AM

Agreed. I'm not convinced these tactical choices relate to gender (I too assume CEEAF is a man.) I've known or observed people who write as if they like to provoke others -- some such writers or speakers are men, some are women. I've also known people who engage others on an intellectual level with little or no extra baggage on display or reliance on overheated rhetoric; again, some have been men, some women. Seems like it mostly is a personal choice which is based on things far too complex to unravel on a message board. I myself find Tannen's stuff interesting to read but am leery of some of her stereotypes. For example, not all women prefer conversation that centers around families, shopping, personal relationships, etc. as someone who has read Tannen wrote on another website. I'm a woman and whether I'm with men or women, I mostly yearn for good clean (that is, not overwrought) debate about current events or history. Where Tannen is interesting to read, however, is to see how a tactic that may seem powerful or effective to someone who views relationships in terms of dominance hierarchies may turn out to be ineffective when used on a person who merely thinks "you go your way and I'll go mine." Conversely, the "can't we all just get along" approach, while it might appeal to a person with a flattened (nonhierarchical) view of relationships might seem overly weak or passive to someone who is hierarchically inclined. You can't win 'em all.

Posted by: Interested observer | November 15, 2006 10:27 AM

Right. I'm way out of my depth in any discussion of gender-based communication styles. My own recent background is in city administration, politics, and planning. This background has taught me to be skeptical of the motives of people who employ such apparently non-productive communication styles.

There are a wealth of clues in CEEAF's writing. But creating a profile or even speculating at the motives of this anonymous person, solely from his writings, puts me in a similar position as the fabled blind man feeling the random elephant part.

As diverting as such could be, it is not a productive use of my time.

Posted by: Mark | November 15, 2006 11:05 AM

Sure, got it. This thread as a whole seems to have played itself out for the most part, anyway.

Posted by: Interested Observer | November 15, 2006 11:11 AM

The transit advocates/new urbanists/environmentalists (we know who they are) on this blog all fit a predictable mold.

They like to exaggerate the benefits of transit and the negative effects of roads, reject facts that contradict their position, ridicule those who hold different views and nitpick their arguments, and demonize or ignore anyone who proves them wrong. Their arguments consist entirely of misstatements, outright lies, and insults.

The little men on this blog who identify themselves as transit advocates/whatever prove that every time they post.

No wonder no one but themselves take them seriously.

I'm done.

Posted by: CEEAF | November 16, 2006 10:59 AM

CEEAF:

In truth, you were done back when you characterized opponents as being variously racist, gay, or Birkenstock wearing sophomores.

You are so past being done, you are burnt. And all by your own hand.

Nice article on green building standards on A1 of the Post today, btw.

Posted by: Mark | November 16, 2006 11:44 AM

Hillman said CEEAF sometimes comes across as knowledgeable (albeit opinionated) about some things. I googled CEEAF and found some interesting observations on the Post's Get There (transportation) blog. Some of his postings are good, others get side tracked by some of the stuff posted here. Interesting how he and the other people posting on that other blog sometimes talk past each other, however. I suppose message boards are not very suited to dialogue. Still, interesting to read.

"What the Elections May Bring" November 10, 2006; 6:35 AM ET (blog entry posted)
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/getthere/2006/11/post_6.html#comments

"Meetings on Future of Roads and Buses" October 24, 2006; 6:00 AM ET (blog entry posted)
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/getthere/2006/10/meetings_on_future_of_roads_an.html

Posted by: Interested Observer | November 16, 2006 12:15 PM

CEAAF: I did none of those things you list in your 10:59 am post. If you feel I did, please point them out, specifically.

Posted by: Hillman | November 16, 2006 4:24 PM

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