Special Report: Cycling

A Challenge to Fiscal Conservatives

I'm laying down the gauntlet to all the fiscal conservatives out there. I'm going to clear a couple of things up right here, right now, and I will issue you a very simple challenge.

By Justin Jones
Published March 27, 2014

There's been a lot of talk lately about "value for the dollar" when it comes to cycling infrastructure. This includes a few City Councillors, commentators and unnamed constituents who continue to insist that Hamilton's high-speed network of thoroughfares are a "competitive advantage" and bike lanes are frivolous and expensive.

We've heard that people would rather see this money spent filling potholes, which is certainly a concern after the winter that we've had, and we've heard the oft-repeated line about cyclists wanting infrastructure but not wanting to pay for it.

So I'm laying down the gauntlet to all the fiscal conservatives out there. I'm going to clear a couple of things up right here, right now, and I will issue you a very simple challenge.

Filling Potholes

First off, the potholes argument. Let's be perfectly clear about this: we could fill potholes a lot better and spend a lot less money doing so every year if we weren't maintaining twice as much lane capacity as we need in the lower city.

Pothole on Aberdeen Avenue (RTH file photo)
Pothole on Aberdeen Avenue (RTH file photo)

Potholes aren't just caused by freeze-thaw cycles. They're caused by heavy, high-speed objects rolling over them during those freeze-thaw cycles.

By removing automobile traffic from some of the extra lane capacity that we've built in Hamilton, we're reducing the amount of maintenance we have to do, and we can address potholes and maintenance issues more easily.

The other overlooked aspect is that the faster the traffic is going, the more damage is done to a road. So if we calm traffic, we'll also see lower maintenance costs.

So in the long run, this expenditure will actually save money on spring and summer maintenance, even though the winter maintenance costs will be higher.

Cycling and Wedge Politics

Second, this whole licensing/charging cyclists argument. Now a licensing regime for cyclists would cost a lot more to set up, run and enforce than it would bring in, but that's often ignored by so called "fiscal conservatives" who use this as a wedge argument.

It's true that there used to be bike registration programs in the past, where youth and adults would register their bikes for a nominal fee (usually about $10 in modern dollars). But that wasn't a "license" in any meaningful sense of the word - what these systems really are is a bike registry so that if your bike is stolen there's a much higher chance you'll get it back.

In a few jurisdictions in the US you're required to register your bike, and the penalty for not having one is having to sign up for it on the spot if you're pulled over.

The whole "cyclists should pay for infrastructure" argument is more evidence of the divisive politics sometimes employed by those people who just can't see any way different than their own way of life.

This argument ignores that the vast majority - 89 percent - of cyclists are also drivers. They pay licensing fees, gas taxes and so on already, even though those costs don't pay for municipal roads. People who sometimes ride bicycles also pay property taxes to the City, which are the main source of revenue for local roads.

And yet, despite data that shows that more than 1 percent of Hamilton residents use their bikes every day as their primary mode of transportation, spending on cycling infrastructure has never even been close to 1 percent of the roads budget in our city.

Even with the Cannon Street Cycle Track, we'll still see just over 1 percent equivalent (I draw this distinction because the funds are not coming out of the roads budget, but out of the Wards 2 and 3 area rating funds) of the City's roads budget of $97 Million invested in cycling infrastructure, and that is only for this year.

If we truly wanted to talk about "fairness" and "equity", then we would be spending roughly $1 Million on cycling infrastructure every year and not batting an eye about it.

Challenge to Critics

So now comes my challenge to all those who oppose this infrastructure investment on the grounds that it's "a waste of money" catering to "special interest groups". I can cite study after study showing that:

Again, these are studies that have been done from around the world, with most of them being done in North America.

I can also point to studies and figures that show:

I can point you in the direction of studies that highlight the true costs of sprawl, and emphasize the need to build more walkable, bikeable and livable neighbourhoods in order to start reducing some of these costs. So that's my data set that provides the economic justification for my assertions.

My challenge to you, then, fiscal conservatives, is twofold.

1) Find me one report that shows that our current patterns of automotive use have a net benefit to the economy once externalities like healthcare and infrastructure costs are factored in.

2) Find me one instance where a community made a significant investment in cycling and active transportation but did not see a net benefit.

Once you can come back to me with data that supports your hypotheses about where our money should be going, and we can have a debate where we can both compare facts, then I'm willing to engage.

Until then, all you are using is conjecture and anecdote, which holds no value when discussing how best to use limited public resources.

Justin Jones is the Manager, Bicycle Friendly Ontario at the Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Justin is a project manager, sustainability professional and rabble rouser with nearly a decade of experience in the sustainability field. His work with student groups, municipal governments and NGOs has taken him all over the country. He is passionate about civic engagement, with a special focus on active transportation issues and the creation of liveable cities through better infrastructure and education.


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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 08:48:28

Excellent article! As someone who drives, bikes, and walks a lot, I cannot wait to start riding my bike to work again this spring. I will do with renewed pride and purpose, feeling that I am part of a larger movement for better things in Hamilton as opposed to just getting to work quickly and cheaply. The YES We Cannon has been good for this city, and I am optimistic that more people will be swayed in favour as it moves forward.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 09:05:00

This fiscal conservative agrees with the evidence you present.

The arguments typically presented by opponents to cycling infrastructure are not about conserving anything other than the Western world's largest entitlement program: mass motoring.

The same people that criticise spending $1 million to create opportunity where it is needed downtown won't blink an eyeball at spending $21 million on a single intersection to make things easier for a few, mostly out of town motorists.

Based on latest stats from 2009/10, Canadian governments collected $15.5 billion from taxes and licensing fees and spent $29 billion on roads. That's a deficit of $13.5 billion which has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.

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By Whole Story (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:40:36 in reply to Comment 99208

$15.5 Billion in direct taxes. Then all the drivers, corporations etc. who/that own trucks and cars pay their share otherwise. So, what percentage of taxpayers including corporations own cars? If the answer is 90% then there is very little subsidy, if any, coming from the non-driving public, who BTW, benefit greatly from having an automotive road network.

Also, you may be looking at gross federal numbers. A recent Conference Board of Canada study (2013 I believe) found that drivers directly pay for 90% of road costs in Ontario and 137% in Toronto. thestar.com/news/gta/2013/10/17/drivers_already_paying_a_toll_for_ontario_roads_study.html

In a big and economically diverse country, the Federal Government has paid for significant road work in areas where the traffic and the local economies could not support the road system; similar to what they did when they built the railways.

My guess is that if you look at so called public transportation you will find that the "subsidy" is far far greater. Yet you will tout, no doubt, that the greater good demands the expense. This begs the question, could you imagine a country as large and diverse as Canada without roads or the auto industry?

Lies, damn lies and statistics I guess ; )

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 10:10:21 in reply to Comment 99251

Just to clarify, the $13.5 billion difference includes all 3 levels of government in Canada, with municipalities picking up the largest share. Municipal taxes are paid by property owners, regardless of how much or how little they use the roadways.

The Conference Board Study was a good attempt, probably the best assessment at the provincial level, but if you actually read the study behind the headlines you find it...

a) attributed a fudge factor of 10% to "non-users" with admiteddly no rationale for that assumption. "Table 11 shows the whole road network cost after a somewhat arbitrary 10 percent of the road network costs are first allocated to non-users."

b) used 3 different methods to estimate road costs. The figure used in the headlines was the lowest estimate that was studied. The actual cost recovery percentage before including this fudge factor was a range between 57.3% and 87.6%.

c) did not reflect the fact that there is a significant cost for rural roads and highways outside the GTHA which are heavily used by GTHA residents. The reason for the GTHA cost recovery being so high is simply because the GTHA has 42% of the road users, but a much lower % of the road infrastructure in the province.

The amount spent on transit by all 3 levels of government (again using Transport Canada's most recently released statistical adddendum) is less than $8 billion. I assume this is net (after fare recovery) not gross, but still, it clearly shows public transit is not as heavily subsidized as motor transport.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:23:29 in reply to Comment 99251

I agree, we need roads. No argument there. My argument is that we are using our roads way more than we need to because we haven't been providing people with any viable alternatives. If we rationalize how we spend our resources and give people more transportation options, the payback is very high. The same cannot be said of roads and automotive transport.

As for the Conference Board report, there was some serious issues with how they reported their data. They took all the licensing fees, registration fees etc and lumped that in with "drivers paying their fair share" for the roads, but didn't factor in the costs of actually administering those programs. They also didn't factor in any externalities or ongoing maintenance costs (like snow clearing, which has caused so much hubris at City Council re: the Cannon Street Cycle Track) of our current infrastructure patterns, nor did they take into account that we're facing a multi-billion dollar infrastructure deficit in Ontario already, and current funding levels won't keep up with it.

So that's my response to that.

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By externalities (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:54:55 in reply to Comment 99251

You are so creative in listing all of the fiscal-positive externalities, and yet completely blind to the negative ones - THe biggest being the losses due to injury and death. There is no honest math that puts 100% of the costs on drivers, no matter how strongly you believe it.

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By Whole Story (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:24:05 in reply to Comment 99252

I suspect that your analysis is overly simplistic. I am talking about the interplay between taxes, autos, and overall benefits. Are you saying that auto use is not a NET benefit to society? If it isn't you are correct. If it is, we need to see if the net benefit (taxes paid included) outweighs the deficits.

So if the government takes in $100.00 and the true cost (including societal costs) of auto transport is 50, and 90 is raised directly and indirectly from drivers, they are paying $45 of the 50. There would therefore be a subsidy not considering other components of the overall function. However, taxes are only one part of the function. If the income generated to produce the the taxes is dependent upon driving, we need to look at what that is.

Say that without auto transportation, gross national product is half of what it could be. Then your tax revenue is 50 and your expenses are 50 (assuming that other expenses stay the same) and there no net benefit. But if gross national product is 25% of what it could be then you will run deficits without auto transportation. IOW, transportation is necessary to "subsidize" other public goods.

This of course is an over-simplification. You can play with the numbers. The point is that arienc(registered)'s comment begs the question I begged, "could you imagine a country as large and diverse as Canada without roads or the auto industry?"

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 18:50:32 in reply to Comment 99257

I don't have to imagine it, it actually existed. And still exists in some places, such as the residential community on the Toronto Islands. Which is North America's largest car-free urban residential community. See:


People in Hamilton are being denied housing choices by being denied a car-free neighbourhood.

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By awesome (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 20:21:24 in reply to Comment 99270

Great pics. How do they get fire trucks and ambulances down those paths?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 22:28:42 in reply to Comment 99349

There is a fire station in the car-free zone. It uses light equipment similar to that used in Japanese and European car-free zones.

There is also an EMS station on the Toronto Islands. Here is a video of an ambulance in action there.


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By Show Me the Money (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 20:37:16 in reply to Comment 99270

So, go buy some land and build one. Watch the people flock to your new development.

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By finally (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 20:35:34 in reply to Comment 99270

Well at least one person is honest enough to admit they want to eliminate the automobile (I guess gas powered or any powered.) Or might you be a luddite?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 23:40:56 in reply to Comment 99274

You found us out. See, the bikes allow us to form a zen Om field that fuses our personalities into a single uber-gestalt. In that manner, we all think exactly the same identical things all the time. We are all Kevin Love.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:40:10 in reply to Comment 99257

It's not an oversimplification at all.

You listed some positive fiscal outcomes generated by the automotive industry, which are indeed fiscal positives. There are negative ones too. Healthcare consumes those taxes. And we're not talking direct injuries, we're talking greater load on the health system as a whole, from asthma to obesity. As do so many other negatives listed in this article.

And before we once again go into the hyperbole that somehow this means roads and cars are not supposed to exist, we're talking about a re-balancing and providing more choices, my goodness how do some people translate that as eliminating the automobile industry and road network. Good grief.

Modern roads, and cars, add an incredible benefit to civilization. Sorry, but you are just absurd for suggesting that this conversation includes in its scope "roads not existing in Canada". Sorry, but it's a true statement that you were ignoring the negatives in your view. Your comments assume alternatives eliminate the auto industry. That is just not true. We just want to more effectively mitigate some of its negatives, particularly in the urban cores where people are most impacted by those negatives and in greatest numbers.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-03-27 15:51:05

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By Whole Story (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 16:09:34 in reply to Comment 99258

I was responding to "There is no honest math that puts 100% of the costs on drivers, no matter how strongly you believe it" because there is honest math that does when you take the whole picture into consideration. I did not raise this point, externalities (anonymous) did. Ultimately it goes to the comment "Based on latest stats from 2009/10, Canadian governments collected $15.5 billion from taxes and licensing fees and spent $29 billion on roads. That's a deficit of $13.5 billion which has increased dramatically over the past 10 years." which I believe to be incorrect economically and philosophically.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 17:01:56 in reply to Comment 99262

Considering all costs and benefits of driving, both direct and indirect, and trying to come out with a net balance is extremely difficult.

However, two independent Canadian studies have shown that the direct costs of building and maintaining roads are not covered by the collection of fees and taxes by directly or indirectly by drivers (even including development charges and traffic fines). The argument that is usually put forward is that "drivers already more than pay the costs of roads through gas tax, HST and license fees". This is demonstrably not true.

No one is proposing eliminating all motor vehicle traffic, and shifting all goods and passenger movement onto rail, water, and air. Obviously even in the most extreme case, the final few kilometres would require local road access!

What people are talking about is reducing our inefficient and harmful over reliance on driving, especially for the large number of trips made by individuals that can easily be replaced by walking, cycling or transit: those trips less than 5km.

There is also an attempt to make people aware of the huge cost of building and maintaining our road network, so we can try to use it more efficiently.

A market mechanism that passed on these costs to those benefitting should (according to free market theory) allow us to use the roads more efficiently. This would mean that these costs would be paid by the drivers (perhaps based on rates of congestion). If these drivers are transporting goods, they would then pass those costs onto their customers who would then pay their fair share. There aren't really many positive externalities in driving (unlike education or health care, for example). Even if I don't drive I still benefit directly from goods transport, and so should pay my share when I purchase a product.

Right now, we don't measure the huge cost of maintaining inefficient little used road infrastructure, like that named in the City report, but we get upset and outraged about spending relatively small amounts on improvements to encourage cycling and walk that would actually lower the costs of the road network and help us us it more efficiently.

We should be aiming to keep the beneficial aspects of driving (those which truly help the economy and enhance personal freedom), while minimizing the negative aspects. These negative aspects are usually underplayed, and include, at the worst extreme thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year in Canada. Pollution is also another significant negative externality.

Can we do more to rebalance our transportation network to maximimize the benefits while minimizing the costs? There is huge scope to do this.

One simple example is commuting: the 30% or so who live within 5km of their work could easily cycle or take transit without damaging the economy if the options were there. Would it really damage the economy to allow more commuters in the GTAH to take transit instead of driving by themselves?

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 18:35:05 in reply to Comment 99266

I think what Mr. Whole Story is saying is that the oft repeated two independent studies perpetuate a possible myth. As I read it, he is saying that taking into account the taxes drivers pay into general revenue, it may well be that they fully pay for the roads and then some. The two studies most often cited did not take that into account. As he says there are recent studies that show that the taxpayers of Toronto pay 137% for example. It should not be taken as a given, as some others repeat on this site, that we (whoever that is) are indulging the self entitled driving class by subsidizing their driving. Whole Story appears to be trying to say that that may not be true. And so we live at the risk of the maxim that a lie, repeated enough, becomes the truth.

As to kevlahan's other points, they are separate, but important issues and I think are more to the point of the original challenge to the fiscally conservative responder. The Whole Story thread seems to be a tad off that main topic.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 11:16:55 in reply to Comment 99269

It may not be true in the sense of one distinct set of people subsidizing another set of people. But clearly the use of roads in general is subsidized by other taxes that are not tied to roadway usage.

Hence road use as an activity is underpriced, while property ownership, for example, is overpriced.

This distorts each individual's decisions - where to live, what to buy, what rents to charge, whether or not to invest in improvements, etc. and has ripple effects throughout the economy.

There are other reasons why this misallocation may cause us to underperform economically. As others have pointed out this incentivizes greater usage of our road system than would be otherwise and therefore we incur more negative externalities resulting from it.

Also if, for example, road pricing was adjusted to account for a greater portion of its actual cost, shipping goods from remote locations would become more costly, offsetting some of the advantage of cheaper offshore labour. This would tilt the balance towards more competitive local products (meaning more employment and wealth locally) vs. those from far away.

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By higgicd (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 09:40:19

Much of 'new urbanism', a term that arouses instant derision and animosity as 'lefty' propaganda from fiscal conservatives, is in fact soundly based in the very same fiscal conservatism. Want to share the costs of infrastructure in a more economically efficient manner? Add density. Want to reduce gridlock? Charge individuals for their use of the infrastructure in question through a toll. Want to build condos on the waterfront? Oh we need a traffic study first? Maybe you can move more people per area of road space with gasp an LRT or GO train. On the other hand, its funny to see that you also get so-called fiscal conservatives championing excessively over-built infrastructure like our one-way streets or the Scarborough Subway - but that is a topic for another day.

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By JeffH (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 10:34:54

Now, now, Justin. Don't go clouding the issue with pertinent fact!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 10:35:17

So much of modern fiscal conservatism is about things that offend fiscally conservative ideals rather than actually saving money.

Look at the tempest in a teapot in Louisiana about that "Welfare for lingerie" thing. How much money do you think was actually spent by welfare recipients on lingerie, vs how much was spent by the Louisiana government fighting this horrible problem?

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 10:45:20

comment from banned user deleted

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:49:28 in reply to Comment 99217

Do fiscal conservatives support tolls the 400-series freeways ... or do they claim that "we already pay for the roads in our taxes"? Would they support tolls on city streets as well (easy to implement with gps technology, that could also adjust the charges based on congestion and time of day to ensure free-flowing traffic at all times)?

Do they believe in these market-based solutions to pay for and manage the limited road resources? Shifting the financial incentives from driving to cycling, walking and taking transit is part of this "market based" approach.

Can you point me to a good representative fiscal conservative organization?

The Canadian Taxpayer's Federation, which presents itself as fiscally conservative doesn't publicly support road tolls, time-of-use parking fees or other such market-based fiscally conservative measures. In fact, the CTF actually has a petition running opposing all new taxes and fees to fund the Big Move ...


This petition calls on the government "to ensure all gasoline taxes are used for roadway spending" which conveniently ignores the fact that Federal Government and CAA sponsored Conference Board studies have shown that even counting every single source of revenue associated with driving doesn't the cover the cost of building and maintaining roads in Canada, let alone indirect costs due to pollution, deaths and injuries.

I can see why they oppose new taxes, but why aren't they advocating tolls? If the CTF doesn't support tolls, it is entirely reasonable to claim that actual fiscal conservatives as they exist now don't support them!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-27 11:52:56

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 21:25:27 in reply to Comment 99228

Re: Gasoline tax for roadway spending.
By that logic, all GST/HST collected from sales of carbonated beverages (Coke/Pepsi etc..) should be invested back into the carbonated beverage industry.
Next time I purchase cat food, I will be happy knowing every dollar of tax is going to improved cat infrastructure.
But seriously, having all gasoline tax excluding GST/HST (10.0c/litre excise tax plus 14.7c/litre Provincial Gas tax) go directly to roads would be fair. Although we may have to start buying a crap load of gas if we want to pay for the Mid Pen. At 24.7c/litre, a mere 20 billion litres will do it.

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By even Steven (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 01:04:12 in reply to Comment 99352

The corollary of your point is that if drivers should be taxed for their use of roads, patients should be taxed for their use of medicine, students should be taxed for their use of schools, welfare recipients should be taxed for receiving welfare. Why are drivers singled out? This constant bickering about making drivers pay for roads drives me nuts. Why should drivers pay for roads but medicine should come out of general revenue? It's as if you totally ignore that drivers are the majority of the people paying all the taxes in almost every way.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 22:31:10 in reply to Comment 99367

Driving is a choice. Very few people choose to be sick.

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By Rational Optimist (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:31:11 in reply to Comment 99228

C.D. Howe, Fraser Institute.

(I can’t post links due to spam filter. Part of my explanation consisted of spam, evidently. Will log in later, but that’s your answer.)

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:16:10 in reply to Comment 99249

Fraser Institute? You mean the ones that published a piece supporting congestion pricing in 2012? http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-... (page 11-13)

Nothing published by them I can find that show a net economic benefit of our current transport system.

Or CD Howe, which emphasizes that the costs of congestion in the GTHA are likely even higher than metrolinx estimated, and makes the point that road pricing should be a key element of policy moving forward? http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/Commentary_385...

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 08:33:22 in reply to Comment 99254

Justin, kindly re-read Kevlahan’s post. His question was “Do they [fiscal conservative organizations] believe in these market-based solutions to pay for and manage the limited road resources? Shifting the financial incentives from driving to cycling, walking and taking transit is part of this "market based" approach.

Can you point me to a good representative fiscal conservative organization?”

To answer your question, yes, I think it would be the Fraser Institute which supports road tolls and congestion pricing (I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic when you said that- I only know the one Fraser Institute). C.D. Howe and Fraser Institute are two good examples of fiscally conservative organizations (to answer Kevlahan’s question) that support road tolls and trying to shift the cost of congestion to those causing congestion. I humbly submit that others who may identify as “fiscal conservatives” may not understand what that label means. Someone who is interested in using resources efficiently would come to support (for instance) a bike lane when it resulted in lower ongoing costs, or in pricing of road capacity to encourage its efficient use.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2014 at 09:43:06 in reply to Comment 99282

Gotcha - sorry, I read that wrong. I suppose a lot of this stems from my misrepresentation of fiscal conservative ideology in the original post. I agree, I painted with too broad a brush. But from my experience, the most vocal voices against investing in high-quality cycling, pedestrian and transit infrastructure are the same ones that do so for reasons of "we can't afford to spend money on those things because we need to pay for our roads", and who say that they're "a waste of money". So I apologize, and I recognize that many reflective, intelligent fiscal conservatives weigh both sides of the argument against what makes good economic sense. Unfortunately, in this sort of discussion, ideology is all too often what guides decisions rather than fact.

I accept your characterization of some that identify themselves as "fiscal conservatives" while only supporting a transportation system that is both expensive and wasteful, and those are really the people that this is targeted at, not true fiscal conservatives, who understand the ROI and the business case for investing in other forms of transportation, and I apologize for painting with too broad a brush and not being specific enough in who I'm calling out. Really, they should be labelled as what they really are: fiscal hypocrites.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 09:21:43 in reply to Comment 99282

Thanks for those examples. I definitely accept the Fraser institute as fiscally conservative. Do you know if Fraser and C.D. Howe have publicly supported road tolls in the specific case of Ontario's Big Move? This would help the Ontario government support road tolls as one of the revenue tools, and highlight the hypocrisy of the CTF. I really hope these institutes get actively involved in the Ontario debate. As far as I know, they haven't.

It is one thing to support road tolls in theory, but another to support an actual implementation (without resorting to the "first eliminate government waste" argument).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-28 09:23:16

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 10:33:29 in reply to Comment 99287

Very few conservatives have publically expressed support for road tolls in Ontario lately, unfortunately. John Moore is a radio host on CFRB and writes for the National Post on occasion; he has what some might call “good conservative credentials”. This is an article of his from last year that is worth checking out, directly speaking to the sensibility of road tolls to help solve the GTHA’s traffic challenges: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013... He references both C.D. Howe and Fraser. It is put well, particularly the final line: “Road tolls aren’t a liberal shakedown, they are a common-sense conservative means of charging users the real cost of a government service.”

As for C.D. Howe and Fraser directly speaking to the Big Move, Fraser near the beginning of the “revenue tools” discussion expressed qualified support for HOT lanes; I’m not sure that either spoke publically specifically about the “revenue tools” being considered, but both have supported in the past road tolls and congestion charges, as in Justin’s links above.

Very difficult for many conservative-minded types in Ontario right now. One party doesn’t understand the huge costs that have resulted from externalizing them to drivers; the other two are spendthrifts in other areas, but “get” the need for reducing incentives to driving, and seemed until recently to get that we should pay for important investments with sustainable revenue, not debt.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 12:26:31 in reply to Comment 99295

Unfortunately, the NDP does not get that subsidies for driving should be reduced. They are strongly against any new charges for drivers, and are also for increasing subsidies for energy costs!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 13:36:04 in reply to Comment 99308

They'll pay lip service to transit, but they will never adopt any policies that might impact auto-manufacturing.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:58:03 in reply to Comment 99254

Both of these institutions are suppose to have charitable status, so they are deemed as not for profits. How can this be, these two big lobby groups which further lobby for the decline of the common good. I am amazed at the alck of common sense among those who live in this community along with me, it is sad really. Just actually what is a fiscal conservative, I mean really?? What pro business, anti union, anti people???? It drives me crazy when people post those lefties, as I know just by their comments, they fail to have any common sense and they are part of the further decline of the common good. So much for brains, I mean really now. Yes, well keep doing the same old thing, which is known fact to be destryoying the natural world, however fellow citizens think they are not affected at all. Ah, the fuedal system is well entrenched, it goes back centuries, I doubt that we will ever make headway. Why do I get the feeling we are all doomed in the long run or is it the very short run??? I leave it all to you to debate!!!!!

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:59:08 in reply to Comment 99228

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 13:29:08 in reply to Comment 99231

I just cited two independent studies pointing out the road are NOT already paid for by drivers, and you repeat the unjustified claim that "the roads are already paid for" (presumably, you mean by drivers).

I myself criticized the NDP for NOT accepting road tolls ... what is your point? https://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/2831...

A group like Civic Action http://www.civicaction.ca/ is a great example of an organization that brings together conservatives and "progressives" and supports tolls and other market based mechanisms. The Toronto board of Trade also supports tolls.

Is that enough examples for you?

But the most public example of an organization that is self-described as "fiscally conservative" is the CTF. And I was just calling them out for being not actually fiscally conservative, just pro-automobile and naively anti-tax.

Once again, please point me to an organization that describes itself as promoting fiscally conservative government spending that supports tolls and other market based mechanisms to pay for and efficiently allocate our limited road resource.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-27 13:35:35

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By Rational Optimist (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:33:22 in reply to Comment 99240

Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation is one of the most public examples, but only one example.

Civic Action is a very good example of a progressive group whose thinking is grounded in financial realities.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:28:25 in reply to Comment 99217

In Canada, very few want to be tarred with the social conservative brand so every conservative identifies themselves as "fiscal conservative". The same occurs in the USA with young people and the terms "libertarian" or "independant". But still, we see the same arguments and policy from such folks on every issue other than purely-religious items like gay marriage.

Either way, the point stands: He asked a pointed question for self-identified "fiscal conservatives", and you quibble about terminology (obviously, as a self-identified "fiscal conservative") rather than actually either

(a) agreeing with him about urbanism-as-conservatism or

(b) providing coherent arguments against it

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 01:50:51 in reply to Comment 99225

Social conservatism has been in intellectual decline since the Reagan era. It used to have intelligent proponents like William F. Buckley. Now it has only NRA & tea party suck-ups and the entire US is blatantly controlled by corporate "entities" and the massive military industrial complex Eisenhower warned of in his farewell address. Hope that doesn't sound like smug Canadian crap as we are only about a half a step behind our cousins to the south in many regards. Before Reagan finished his 1st term I was identifying as a "fiscal conservative" thanks to trickle down theory, Reaganomics and the rapid dumbing down of social conservative thought. Rush Limbaugh or Fox "News" are examples of this dumbing down. P. J O'Rourke is the only conservative worth reading or listening to; but in many regards he is far from being a social conservative, readily stating that government has a vital role beyond the confines of social conservative "small government" gum flapping. I think you are correct about why many south of the border identify as libertarian etc. It is an embarrassment to any thinking person to identify as a social conservative when not only has the ideology lost its intellectual force it is just no longer even rational. Justin has made a powerful case regardless of a few quibbles about some of the roadway cost subsidy stats. I would offer evidence to the contrary but he has all the bases covered. What really stands out to me is that if Canon can accommodate bike lanes there are a lot of streets especially in the lower city that could do likewise. It is very logical that maintenance costs will drop substantially. One hundred and fifty pound pedestrians just don't inflect the same stress as ton and a half vehicles doing 60km/hr (typical for Canon). Add twenty pounds of bike and the portion of the roadway devoted to bike use will be cheaper to maintain. Pot holes and other hazards are clearly not encountered with the same frequency they are on our roads. As a fiscal conservative I totally support the use of bike lanes throughout this region.

PS Liberalism in Canada is about equally or perhaps even more bankrupt than social conservatism. E-Health, Ornge, Douglas Creek Estates and the Power Plant scandal have wasted 100's of millions actually closer to a billion dollars and not one person has been held accountable. Don't forget either that mcguinty imposed the largest tax hike in Ontario history in the form of the health tax reimposed on individuals instead of employers. He did this some 3 weeks after pledging not to raise taxes. Clearly he lied and so it goes in the liberal party. We didn't delete any emails - no not us. It is hard to be smug when you look at the train wreck the libs in Ontario have left. I would encourage people not to be dogmatic or constrained by organizational policies in their beliefs political or otherwise and to value independent thought.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 08:56:01 in reply to Comment 99225

I think what this person probably should have said was that this could be alienating to folks who might be conservative-minded who are also urbanists. What about conservatives who are in favour of infrastructure for active transportation? They are being challenged here to oppose it. It seems a shame that it would have to be framed that way.

In response to (a): urbanism and conservatism (fiscal and otherwise) are not competing ideals. Dense urban areas provide myriad benefits of great attraction to all different types of conservatives (they’re more efficient, and they make individuals more free, chiefly). It could be difficult for someone whose identity might partly be built around a descriptor of his opinions to hear a “challenge” aimed at people with that descriptor, and then “fail to meet that challenge” by agreeing with the antagonism (I think a challenge is antagonistic, isn’t it? If not, I think it can feel that way).

If the author of the article is expecting all members of certain groups to oppose something (particularly the issue in question), I think he vastly underestimates the diversity of the group he identifies, and risks antagonizing members of that group and losing support.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2014 at 09:49:05 in reply to Comment 99285

See my response above - I agree with your comments. I painted with too broad a brush, and should have been more specific in what types of people I was calling out. This is aimed at Councillors who insist on getting "value for the dollar" for their "taxpayers" when talking about the Cannon Street Cycle Track that never asked for a full-cost accounting examination of the Aerotropolis. It's targeted at people that incite anger and create false divisions between drivers and cyclists by insisting on licensing schemes, or on charging "cycle track tolls" - an idea Scott Thompson was bandying about on his show last week. It's targeted at those commenters who keep saying that this money would have been better spent filling potholes this year, all while ignoring the fact that the reason we have so many potholes to fill is that we have too many damn lanes all over the city. So I should have been more specific, and I apologize for painting with too broad a brush. True fiscal conservatives recognize the value of these investments, because they are grounded in reality. Unfortunately, those types of conservatives are becoming increasingly rare, giving way to shrill, selfish, short-sighted views that have no basis in economic reality. Those are the people I want to target with articles like this.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:53:12 in reply to Comment 99225

comment from banned user deleted

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:54:50 in reply to Comment 99229

comment from banned user deleted

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 12:09:38 in reply to Comment 99230

Hey look, it's Alan Taylor replying to himself and concern trolling.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:37:31 in reply to Comment 99225

comment from banned user deleted

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:45:58 in reply to Comment 99226

Hey, look everyone, Alan Taylor is offended. Very very very offended.

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By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:11:50

Justin, why don't you mention you work for the "Share the Road Cycling Coalition" as a project manager, with an office in Burlington. I assume you ride your bike to work every day. I have no problem with bike-lanes, despite only serving 1% of the population who use a bicycle to commute from home to work. We have many on the mountain, but in the winter they are buried in snow. In the nice weather I see people riding in them, your 1% statistic may go up a little during the summer months when recreational riders are factored in. The proof of success will be in the number of riders, and how that is monitored and measured. Hopefully that number will be based on actual ridership, rather than a guesstimate.

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By Tompa (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 14:48:53 in reply to Comment 99221

I have not seen any evidence that anyone is prepared to monitor the use of these lanes.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 12:01:32 in reply to Comment 99221

Hi Mark-Alan. My work with Share the Road as a project manager started after my work with Yes We Cannon began, and both my roles have been kept very separate. I have never hidden what I do for a living, but at the same time the work that I do to educate high school students on how to cycle safely and the work I do on the Bicycle Friendly Communities portfolio, while they are definitely related to my work with Yes We Cannon in that they both involve bikes, in no way shape or form overlap. Everything I have done in Hamilton has been done as a citizen, and I have been very careful to ensure that my professional life does not overlap with my personal advocacy.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 19:20:14 in reply to Comment 99232

I am a professional Accountant, and I have absolutely no problem with my professional life overlapping with my personal advocacy. For example, by showing the true costs of unsustainable behaviour such as car driving.

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By jobby (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:15:21

how about levelling this challenge at your apparent allies the social democrats? They don't seem to be buying into new urbanism any more than your straw man.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 12:25:23 in reply to Comment 99223

You mean like this?

Comment edited by arienc on 2014-03-27 12:26:28

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 12:28:59 in reply to Comment 99235

Or this?

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By jobby (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:29:07 in reply to Comment 99236

except neither of those articles claimed dippers hold a belief that they don't actually hold. So there's that difference.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 13:28:22

Ah, yes. "You people..."

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By nonspamtest (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:15:15

This is a test to see if rth shoves away all anonymous comments as sp_m as it to a number of people and comments for comments that were, like, legit ¬ spam at all, right? If new polcy then RTH owner should tell every body, right?

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 14:30:45

I've come to the conclusion that the people who are arguing so bitterly against spending a penny on bike lanes are just people who are jealous (and bitter).

Maybe they don't live close enough to work to ride their bike, maybe they're scared to try or never learned how to ride a bike. This is not to insult them -- I just can't think of any other reason why there seem to be so many people who are saying, "You can't have something for FREE, what about MY share".

It seems you can drown them with the facts about how the bike lanes on Cannon and elsewhere will benefit the city as a whole - socially and economically - but you can't sway them from their position.

I'm always interested in the psychology of the motivation behind behaviour.

Comment edited by fmurray on 2014-03-27 14:31:16

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 16:02:29 in reply to Comment 99248

I've looked at it as "I'm paying good money to sit in this car!! How dare you pedal past me in a traffic jam you freeloader!! And then make me do extra work to go around you! Outrageous, what about my rights?!?!"

Either way, hilarious but sad at the same time.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-03-27 16:03:51

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 18:14:14 in reply to Comment 99261

Also "How dare you get off your bike and walk across the crosswalk as a pedestrian! Choose one mode and stick with it!"

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:01:32

"The other overlooked aspect is that the faster the traffic is going, the more damage is done to a road."

This statement is not true at all. The axle weighting of a vehicle is the driving force behind the deterioration once there's a crack in surface and hole in the sub-bed. The faster traffic would result in higher kinetic energy which would not be impacting the road surface in any significant way, and would be more concerned with road safety issues than operations/maintenance.

Rutting can be caused by increased speed but it's most strongly correlated to traffic volumes which generally have higher speeds (so a bit of a chicken and egg game). But really, rutting doesn't increased maintenance cost since most streets usually fall under the 10 partial rebuilt/20 full rebuild life cycle except in special cases.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 16:10:29 in reply to Comment 99253

From http://www.ehow.com/info_11401897_wear-e...

You're correct about rutting occurring ...

  • Effects on Uneven Roads

    Dirt, gravel and unevenly paved roads are subject to the effects of axle-hop vibrations. Axle-hop vibrations are caused when a passing vehicle is pushed upward and downward due to a bump or dip in the road, with the resulting fall distributing the load of the car unevenly on one or two wheels. This effect is more significant at higher speeds of travel, and can cause significant cracking and potholes if the road is not smoothed out in the problem areas.

  • Raveling

    Raveling is the loss of stones in a particular section of pavement or gravel roads. This condition can contribute significantly to further road wear due to increased axle-hop vibrations. Raveling occurs when large volumes of traffic pass over the area, causing the stones in the road to gradually loosen and fling out from the road. This situation gets worse as vehicular speed increases, particularly on gravel roads, leading to tire spin: the rapid spinning of tires due to loss of sufficient traction for forward or backward propulsion, especially on slick roadways.

... but high speed traffic also does break down the road faster.

  • High-Speed Travel

    Vehicles traveling at a high speed on smooth, or paved, roads will require more-tractive force to keep them from spinning or flipping upon turning corners. As the vehicle increases in speed, it generates more grip on the road. This grip comes from a very high horizontal force that the tires exert. The bonding material found between stones in the pavement will break down with tractive force. Long-term exposure to high-speed traffic can result in extremely bumpy roads.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-03-27 16:15:17

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 16:52:05 in reply to Comment 99263

I'm not disagreeing that speed impacts those issues, but when you look at all of the scenarios the mass of the vehicle is the biggest determinant of damage. Bikes can cause all of those same issues (they are vehicles after all) but since it's such a lower mass vehicle its actual impact is so minimal.

From your own reference:
"Low-speed travel, in contrast to high-speed travel, produces more vertical load weight than horizontal. When a vehicle is particularly heavy, such as construction equipment or military vehicles, the weight can cause thinner pavements to experience total structural failure -- cracking straight to their foundations under the weight of the vehicle as it moves."

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By ignoramuses (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 15:19:37

The behavior is a result of ignorance (intellectual deficiency) and arrogance (spiritual disease). The two often occur simultaneously, and with devastating results in practically every case. The best response to these is to disengage.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 17:21:07

Kevlahan, you put forward your view and I do respect your view, however it would appear that you do not want to really make change that would upset the ECONOMY, what ever that really means. I ask what is the ECONOMY, really, it is rhetorial question really. You want change, yet you seem not willing to really challenge things. So if native communities before the intrusion of white Europeans sustained all, there was no need for the almighty dollar, what exactly are you putting forward???? I do not know, however, I wonder about things when tyoung people talk about the market place and what that means. I guess after working in a trade that is soley financail for almost 25 years, I figure I know something more than the average Joe. So I guess I am asking what truly is your stance and waht are you fighting for?????

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 19:06:16

You did not answer the question. Xo please tell me what is a fiscal conversativve???? Come on now, can you give me something positive???????? Kevlahans cannot give no co-hesive view on why???? He stand for what exactly?? Is he pro business, is he what??????? Please let me know so I can determine if he is a enemy or an ally!!!!!

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 19:41:12

So I wonder about your expertise, and what you know. Of course people like myself must bow down to you, right. So explain your knowledge. I wonder about your boasting, sorry there buddy1111

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2014 at 22:47:50

I don't think fiscal conservatism it the correct label. I would consider myself one and have commented on this site more than once about the folly of Hamilton's current road system. Further some of the intended targets of your article who oppose such investments as you are proposing have never seen a taxpayer dollar they didn't want to spend.
The problem I think ..... IMHO .... is that we have too many members of council who have sat around that table for too long, who represent a bygone era, and are fully out of touch with what city building and building livable communities is about as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

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By Core-b (registered) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 23:01:20

Justin, I declare you the winner. "My challenge to you, then, fiscal conservatives, is twofold.

1) Find me one report that shows that our current patterns of automotive use have a net benefit to the economy once externalities like healthcare and infrastructure costs are factored in.

2) Find me one instance where a community made a significant investment in cycling and active transportation but did not see a net benefit.

There was a great deal of discussion here, and unless I missed it, nobody met the challenge.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 22:38:02 in reply to Comment 99278

Excellent comment! Yes, nobody met the challenge.

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By True (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2014 at 23:52:07

Maybe it's time for the "the urban progressives" to brand themselves as "the true conservatives" to expose the "true populists"

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