Next time you see someone online raving about the wonders of the car and pretending it has no drawbacks, send them this image and link:
(You can read the article about the NYC Health Department's study at Streetsblog.)
Outside of the major gridlock zones (i.e. Midtown), the map above represents an almost perfect trace of the interstate highway system in the New York City area. These ribbons of dense truck traffic are literally stifling people with their noxious fumes.
Think about that, and then watch my new favorite TV commercial.
This brings me back to America's plan for nationwide HSR, and begs me to ask yet again: why invest trillions to connect far-flung American cities with high-speed passenger rail for intercity travel?? Freight travels a much longer distance than we do on a regular basis: an article at "Car Free in Big D" (one of my favorite blogs on the web) mentions that the average meal travels 1500 miles to arrive on your plate. Why not dedicate some more effort to improving and expanding our rail freight system?
Even better, how about targeting long-distance trucking on corridors that have parallel rail lines? Shipping companies are saving a few bucks to ship with their own trucks instead of using one of the major rail lines - but this comes at a major environmental cost, safety cost, and health cost to everyone. Even worse, these trucks degrade our highway system at many many times the rate of a typical passenger car. At the very last, the companies that ship by truck should contribute to this maintenance nightmare.
Think about it -billions of dollars so that people can get from Minneapolis to Chicago in less time, or a fraction of that toward moving more freight by rail?