They May Not Take Our Lives But They’ll Take Our Freedom

Richard Florida passes on this poster and statistics from Münster, Germany to illustrate “the different amounts of space taken up by different kinds of transit.”

  • Bicycle – 90 sq. m for 71 people to park their bikes.
  • Car – 1000 sq. m for 72 people to park their care (avg. occupancy of 1.2 people per car).
  • Bus – 30 sq m for the bus.

So, it takes more space for each person to have his own means of conveyance with the freedom to travel where he pleases rather than being crammed into a single, smelly bus that probably isn’t going where you want to go any time soon?  Imagine that!

It’s a good thing, I guess, that Münster is 302.89 square kilometers and contains only 272,951 people.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    Danish people bicycle more, and are happier, than Americans. I think the correlation is nothing to be afraid of.

    But sure, I am making that argument for the bicycle choice rather than any hypothetical mandate.

    We humans are happier when we use our big muscle groups daily. A bicycle does that, and in my opinion in a more sensible and rational way than a thrice weekly trip in the SUV to “spin class.”

  2. James Joyner says:

    We’d be better off as a society if we walked and biked more, to be sure. For most of us, though, our daily lives aren’t set up in a manner conducive to much of either. There are tradeoffs to suburban living and that’s one of them.

  3. John Burgess says:

    I recommend that all proponents of mass transit close their doors and lock themselves in until teleportation–absolutely green!–is a functional reality. It putting their principles on the line and they should be proud to do it for Gaia’s sake.

  4. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    The “freedom” to drive anywhere you want is highly subsidized in the form of tax-funded roads, highways, and free parking. The photo simply illustrates this fact.

    Simple thought experiment: if your city ran a bus down every single street every minute, there’d never be any traffic, nobody would need to park, and it would take no time to get anywhere.

  5. odograph says:

    There was a show on TV last night, about the Federal government offering cities 90 cents on every dollar spent for freeway expansion (in the sixties? seventies?). It was a Miles Obrien thing.

    He said that when Portland, OR, asked for the same money for mass-transit, dollar-equal, they were refused.

  6. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    To Joyner: your life may be setup around the automobile, but I wonder if you really made the choice freely, or if you only think you did. Decades of market-distorting planning policy have all but eliminated the option of having a car-free household, outside of New York, San Francisco, and a handful of much smaller cities.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    I wish the cyclists the best of luck on their trip between Los Angeles and New York. I’m not (entirely) being facetious. It’s absurd to compare a country the size of a good-sized county with, for example, the United States.

  8. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    I bet most LANY trips are made by air, not car.

  9. William d'Inger says:

    Not to worry. The O’Bama bug will fit in two square feet and get 177 MPG on moonbeams. The union board of directors said so.

  10. floyd says:

    “I bet most LANY trips are made by air, not car”

    At nearly 4000GPH at cruising speed[MUCH more while accelerating or climbing. One tank of fuel is nearly 60,000 gallons(200tons), most of which is burned in the upper atmosphere. [where it can do the most harm according to Algore, who just phoned that in from his private jet.]

    I love my bike [1989 Trek 820]. The problem is that the theft rate for parked bicycles is orders of magnitude higher than my car, it won’t carry a week’s worth of groceries, or tow my travel trailer, so it is mostly used for pleasure.
    The only alternative to my 4CYL SUV would be to give up travel and move to a city, where I might be forced to live next to a Democrat [now there’s a daunting thought!]

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    My point in remarking that cycling from LA to NY is impractical was that one size does not fit all. You can cycle fairly handily across Denmark. You can drive across Germany reasonably. I’ve done it.

    The transportation system that’s appropriate for Denmark won’t be appropriate for Germany, the transportation system that’s appropriate for Germany won’t be appropriate for the United States. Does planning have an impact? Sure. I’ve been complaining about the adverse secondary effects of the Interstate Highway Defense Act for 40 years. But better planning won’t change our geography.

  12. odograph says:

    Dave, I live in SoCal, and do not really need to ride to NY for the library or groceries.

    “Country size” arguments are more properly about “radius of services” and I’d submit that in some locales the radius approaches Danish levels of convenience. Davis or Irvine, California, or certainly NY, NY.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    They May Not Take Our Lives But They’ll Take Our Freedom

    lol, I thought you were talking about DarthObama’s foreign policy.

  14. Tlaloc says:

    So, it takes more space for each person to have his own means of conveyance with the freedom to travel where he pleases rather than being crammed into a single, smelly bus that probably isn’t going where you want to go any time soon? Imagine that!

    Did a bus run over your puppy or something? It’s very possible to have a decent non-stinky bus system that gets you where you want to go. Come to Oregon sometime. Both Eugene and Portland have very useful systems that are clean and nice despite being significant metropolitan areas (more so Portland than Eugene).

    Granted 70 people on the same bus is crowded but split among two buses they’d be perfectly fine and still take up 2/3rds of the space of the bikes and ~1/20 of the space of the cars.

  15. Tlaloc says:

    I recommend that all proponents of mass transit close their doors and lock themselves in until teleportation–absolutely green!–is a functional reality. It putting their principles on the line and they should be proud to do it for Gaia’s sake.

    I’m curious- how did it feel to make such a flagrant ass of yourself? I mean, lord knows, I’ve said some dumb things in my life but I can only stand in awe of the kind of utter vacuousnes that was required to pen that post.

  16. Tlaloc says:

    The transportation system that’s appropriate for Denmark won’t be appropriate for Germany, the transportation system that’s appropriate for Germany won’t be appropriate for the United States.

    What do you mean by “appropriate”? Do you mean preferred? Then you are probably right. Do you mean functional? Then you are clearly wrong. Society and industry adapts to whatever transportation is available. When we had horses we lived closer to our work and extended families tended to live in the same town. As cars and air travel became more available we moved further from our worplaces and our families.

    Thing is such a transition is hardly irreversible or necessary. We can choose to use public transit. It will involve changes, certainly, but those changes are possible and in many cases even desirable, and the costs of a heavily car centered culture are just way too high.