Monday, June 26, 2006

Madison Traffic Calming

Shortly after Kathleen Falk manages to swing the Mayoral election to Dave Cieslewicz, city streets which work just fine during any number of Paul Soglin administrations begin to collect lumps, bumps and permanent obstructions. From the very beginning, this incarnation of Madison City government is intent on traffic calming. I was saving this link for a later post but Vicki McKenna beats me to the punch this afternoon.
A Desire Named Streetcar: PROPONENTS OF TRAFFIC CALMING--mostly government planners--not only oppose new highway construction and, in some instances, highway maintenance, but want to reduce mobility by installing roadway barriers and traffic-slowing devices that clog up the roads. In other words, rather than alleviate congestion, traffic calming aims to induce it.

Why create congestion? The goal is to make driving as undesirable as possible, thereby discouraging sprawl and encouraging people to live in high-density areas, where they will either ride mass transportation or walk. Since most cities have trouble filling seats on their money-losing transit systems, traffic calming is also another way to try to make these systems more financially justifiable.
Immediately upon obtaining administrative power Cieslewicz aggressively pursues the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan. The expressed purpose of the plan is for reducing the “negative effects of motor vehicle use” and to “alter driver behavior”. Traffic calming works by creating physical barriers to smooth traffic flow including, “removal of excess pavement width in some areas” and eliminating straight lanes in order to "vertically deflect and horizontally shift the vehicle driver's path, causing the driver to devote more attention to the task of driving". In other words, the entire point of traffic calming is to make driving more difficult and more time consuming for citizens.

The Kathleen Falk – Dave Cieslewicz wing of environmentalist Democrats share a core belief that human life should not be dominant over nature, and it is the proper role of government to regulate human behavior for minimal impact on the natural world. Cieslewicz leaves his job at the Nature Conservancy specifically because it is not active enough in pursuing political changes. He creates 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, modeled on a Portland, Oregon organization.

Organizations like catchy phrases and Mayor Dave picks the slogan: "Perfecting the places we live and protecting the places we don’t". It is a brilliant summation of what the eco-socialist movement believes. People should only live is certain places so that the damage humans inflict on nature can be minimized. The more people that can be crowded into small spaces the more nature can be protected, and the more efficiently government services can operate to perfect the lives of the subjects.

Idling in line while trying to get off the beltline, or weaving slowly around islands of dirt in intersections, or steering crooked paths through paint lines on otherwise straight streets are not natural to Madison. These are political problems, intentionally created by this administration in the foolish hope that people will abandon their love of personal freedom and embrace more limited and restricted lives.