It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My market preferences

This map shows my recommended bus route to work and available bike paths in the region. It requires two cricuitous bus routes and a transfer.

You will note that there is NO safe bike route, no matter how circuitous, shown. This is not a cartographic error. In my opinion it is correct.

The recommended bus route requires only a half mile of walking and twelve additional minutes of waiting in the typically 100-degree weather, each way, and takes 48 minutes each way. This doesn't account for walking inside the research campus, which is about another half mile.

My car commute takes nine minutes each way.

So I "want" a car. I "demand" continued road maintenance and gasoline. I "show no interest" in bicycle or bus options. This is my revealed marketplace preference.

Update: Atmoz takes me to task, and offers up one of the suicidal bike routes I have considered. Suffice it to say that my wife forbids the enterprise. Austin takes out better bicyclists than me with considerable regularity. I am forced to leave the bike pioneering to wilder spirits with better maintained bodies. But if it encourages Atmoz back into blogging, I will be happy to quibble about the really dangerous bits, viz. Burnet Rd and 51st St (or alternatively St. John's.) I was visited at the Pickle campus once by a wiry and healthy young bicycle fanatic, and he swore to me he would never again take the risk of riding the mile up Burnet Rd. It is necessary to approach via Rutland, which means crossing 183 somewhere upstream. As for crossing I-35 on St. John's, it's not so much the rogue traffic (one could do a portage over I-35 on the sidewalks) as the muggers in the neighborhood that will happily do in a fat old puffing gringo with a laptop trying to commute through on a bike.

I would sacrifice the time for the exercise gladly, but it is not feasible: it would as likely do me in as do me any good. So I drive to my hideous workplace and drive to my hideous gym.

Austin thinks of bicycling as recreation, not as transportation. The bike paths to nowhere are excellent, but the roads to where one actually goes are death traps. Austin's highly touted claim to being a "green" city has always struck me as a cruel irony, nothing more.


Greg said...

Perhaps we need a term "manufactured preference" to go along with Chomky's "manufactured consent".

Although, looking closely at that map, if there is some sort of unofficial connection across a schoolyard or parking lot or something like that to fill the gap just north of Heritage Hills ... oh, I see, only if Little Walnut creek is dried out and you carry your bike up ... ok, never mind. Google street view is truly awesome.

BTW, your google shows more acceptable bike lanes/paths in the area than mine does. Strange that.

manuel "moe" g said...

If you combine the insight of Greg's nice term "manufactured preference" plus Atmoz's attitude, you get the best of both worlds for those in charge: their desired preference is enforced, and those who might wish to push back fight amongst themselves.

I was thinking lately that the next necessarily social movement is replacing the 40+ hour work week with 30 hours + 10 hours local political activity.

Jon said...

How unfortunate that you apparently have no choice but to work where you work AND live where you live. Perhaps the dangerous but cheap neighbourhoods you can't live in surround the campus completely. Or expensive neighborhoods you can't afford to live in. I wouldn't know, not knowing Austin.

Michael Tobis said...

Oh, I made some mistakes on both counts, but extricating from my circumstances under present conditions is not going to be easy. Nor are my conditions all that awful, anyway.

I'm just living a car-centric life for the first time in decades, and I still dislike that aspect of life thoroughly. But on the whole I'm alright.

The main UT campus is surrounded by a wonderful variety of walkable and bikable neighborhoods, and someone with the sense to buy twenty years ago would have made out handsomely... Anyway I am trying to work out an arrangement where I spend most of my time on the main campus; it's just one bus to get down there, and the bike situation is more reasonable as well. So that's one way out of my quandary.

Oale said...

Yeah, this is an interesting problem. I took some time to check the Google street wiew of Austin and it looks like N Lamar Blvd is reasonably safe for cautious bikers to cross the 183... follow it and pass the W Rundberg Ln crossing and take smaller streets... then it's only a matter of how to connect the ends... Are we havng it too well here for those 183 kinds of highways usually have at least 1 crossing solely for bikes/pedestrians per mile? anyway biking at above 90 degrees F isn't that nice pasttime, so I'd try that in winter if the car would be stolen/broken/out of gas... :-) thanks for teminding the routes for bikes are pretty good here.

Oale said...

anyway the route I thought of looks like I'd have to take quite a many of sidewalks just to keep it safe at the ends...

Oale said...

Anyway, here's the route I'd try, though some of the car lanes look so narrow I'd rather take the sidewalk, if it's legal...: Berkman Dr.- E-W. St.Johns Avenue (the bridge over interstate 35 is a hazard, can't help it)- N Lamar Blvd- Rutland Dr. - Mearns Meadow Blvd - Quail Valley Blvd - BACK TO Rutland Dr.

Andy F said...

A urban planner on my favorite bike mailing list put it most eloquently:

He concludes:

And sure, it's a choice. It's a choice like your choice of food at the freeway exit is a choice. You can choose between a Big Mac at McDonald's and a Whopper at BK's. And if you pose the question of whether that's a meaningful choice, particularly if you pose it to someone who's never eaten anything but burgers at freeway exits, it's probably understandable if you then were met with the subtle suspicion that you're trying to tell people
what to eat.

josullivan58 said...

I lived in Austin for five years. Central Austin in the UT area is bikeable and the public transportation is good. I lived in Hyde Park and I got to school, work, shopping, etc just fine without a car.

However if you need to get to central Austin and are outside central Austin you definitely need a car.