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Why You Should Care About Transit

This is a photograph of Beacon Hill, Boston.

It is a fascinating early 19th century neighborhood with narrow streets.

It’s a national historic district and is very well preserved.

Houses are well maintained with low traffic streets and gas lit street lighting.

This town seems as it would feel like a real community, unlike much of our newer towns.

Beacon Hill, Boston

Photo by Chee-Onn Leong


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A common misperception is that the current American state of auto-dependency is a result of the free market doing its work. In fact, a variety of government interventions ensure that the transportation market is skewed towards car-ownership. These policy biases are too numerous to list exhaustively, but a few merit special recognition:

Zoning requirements in most municipalities mandate that shops and houses must be separated. It is widely illegal to build the old small-town main street with the mix of shops, houses, and apartments that many find charming (so charming that some of these towns have been turned into tourist attractions). Furthermore, in most states it is mandatory for new schools to be built next to hundreds of acres playing fields, and thus far away from residential neighborhoods (see this report and this paper for a fuller discussion of policies that affect travel to school). These and similar regulations ensure that there are no shops or schools that is, major household destinations within walking distance of the average American’s home, which in turn requires the average American to own and use a car, not merely to commute to work but to perform basic tasks like picking up a gallon of milk or sending the kids off to school in the morning.

Why Conservatives Should Care About Transit

This is a very interesting article you should take a look at. I think it’s closely related to some of the things we’re trying to do with the small house movement and building better communities.

It makes sense to have more close knit communities where people can walk and ride bicycle to more destinations like work, school and the grocery store. That way the community can be less dependent on personal vehicles.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Davidrc February 28, 2010, 8:08 am

    I grew up in Dallas during the 60’s and 70’s (some would call this the dark ages), I lived in a section thereof where I walked or rode my bike to the elementary school, my friends homes (whether neighbors or living further out), and to various shopping centers within a several mile radius. Later I went to a junior high school (yes, they were still called that then) via leased transit bus or by bike. Even delivered the local papers. My Mother insisted on giving me a ride around the route on a Sunday morning that was pouring out enough rain to cause possible flooding, I did not ask her to. I also collected for those papers and only on one street was I ever sufficiently worried that I saved it for last and took my German Shepard along with me. I had no problems.

    The point of all that is; everyone knew me at least by sight as I knew most of my neighbors. When at the homes of friends who lived farther out than my normal range, they knew the good , bad, and ugly of their immediate area. People didn’t worry as much about their kids safety as they do now. So I have to agree with this article, neighborhoods are a good thing and the demise of them is the root cause of a lot of the “stuff” you hear about on the news

    I now live 10 miles from the closest town. No bus service, pay a premium to get a cab if, for some reason you no longer have a vehicle, or, your dependent on relatives or neighbors to get to goods and services. I love it out here, no nosy inspectors or regulators, wave at the State Troopers and the Sheriff’s deputies as they drive by (FM rd.), but there are drawbacks. Oh well.

  • Deek D February 28, 2010, 8:47 am

    Definitely an interesting article, esp. as I live about 10 miles from Beacon Hill. A great section of the city to stroll around! Nearby, the North End, of Boston, right near Paul Revere’s house is also home to one of the world’s (of “THE”) narrowest houses.

    Author of “Humble Homes…”

  • Alex March 2, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Deek-I think I’ve seen the Narrow house somewhere before. I’ll have to do a quick search to see if I can post it here as well.

    David-You’re absolutely right. I’m too young to have even had days like that, but I do notice. It’s interesting how old towns like this become popular tourist destinations too. Proof that people LIKE them.

  • Alex March 2, 2010, 12:40 pm

    On a more positive note… We can make the best of what we have and try to create that community of people by just being nice and friendly with those we see everyday. At work, the neighborhood, the stores we go to, etc. Even though it’s harder because people aren’t used to this.

  • sunshineandrain February 8, 2013, 1:00 pm

    Thanks Alex for this eye-opening info. More for us Tiny Housers to get together and peacefully change.

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