Friday, June 4, 2010

Midnight Notes

So sad to see that Elana Schor is moving on from Streetsblog. You can still follow her work but it's not likely to be all transportation all the time.
I can appreciate the want to allow people to walk and bike to the store and perhaps consume less in general. But saying that people can't buy a lot of groceries seems like a bit of overkill to me.
The plan intends to discourage large purchases, which will help ensure that people walk or bike home.
I really only have time to go to the store once a week and I walk and use a single reusable bag. But if you have a large family that can be a bit tougher. What do you all think?
If you haven't seen the dramatic photos that show the change of the Vancouver skyline, i suggest taking a look at Price Tags.
I think Megan McArdle completely underestimates the value of buses and bikes in congestion pricing schemes. She doesn't make a single mention of them. While the subways in New York are crushed, if you limited traffic and gave buses and bikes some lanes, you might find that transit service could improve and people could get around the city just fine without their cars. While I love the subways and think many cities should have better subway systems (ie San Francisco) I think we discount the roll of buses and bikes at our own peril.


Matt Fisher said...

"While the subways in New York are crushed, if you limited traffic and gave buses and bikes some lanes, you might find that transit service could improve and people could get around the city just fine without their cars."

Yes, I like rail, but here in Ottawa, OC Transpo runs a very good transit service without rail, and people in Ottawa can get around just as fine. Ottawa's Transitway should be fully converted to light rail everywhere, but it's a bad idea to discount buses fully.

Also, Ottawa have the most extensive network of recreational pathways in any major North American city, and the pathways are just as good as the Transitway, even if it involves appropriating former rail lines (in both cases).

So, instead of bitching and moaning about what we have, we should accept it because I believe in working with what we've already got. Complaining only goes nowhere.

Brent said...

In my limited European experience -- I lived just nine months in France -- I had the impression that the typical grocery shopper visited the store more and bought less. On the way home from work, for example, the commuter might drop in to buy some green beans and fish for dinner. The refrigerators were smaller, too, so the concept of stocking up once weekly didn't make much sense.

joshuadf said...

I have a family of 4 and we typically shop on foot or with a stroller (we live about 6 blocks from the grocery store, and even closer to the farmer's market). We also often order certain non-fresh things online like bulk organic dried fruit.

Shopping carts are rare in Japan, too. The US has something like 6X the retail sq footage per capita as the typical European country, and I'd bet most of it is car-oriented big box stores that rely on volume of sales. It's absolutely true to that small stores with good locations have slightly higher prices, but when you factor in transportation time/cost for the big box stores it's worth it.

John said...

Getting rid of carts seems like a sure way to discourage families from shopping at a store.

I usually go to a small local ethnic grocery once a week to get most of my shopping needs done. I was previously able to carry everything I bought in one very full basket. However, once I had a son, I could no longer carry him and the groceries. The cart is a necessity to hold him while I shop.

If I were to walk to a store (the one I described is beyond walking distance) with a stroller for my son, I could manage some groceries, but it's very difficult to push a stroller with one hand and carry a basket with another. I'd have to use a backpack or hang bags off the handles of the stroller as I go.

All of this doesn't even discuss the impact of having a bigger family that needs more good than can be realistically carried or the elderly or disabled who can't carry things well. Really this just seems like over-regulation by the government that will make people's lives more difficult.

arcady said...

Even in NYC, where supermarkets generally have no parking at all, they have shopping carts. You bring your own collapsible cart to haul the groceries home and hang it on the front of the store cart, which is more convenient for shopping. When you buy your stuff, you transfer it from the store cart to your own cart. Or you can get a supermarket employee to deliver it to your home on a special cart designed for that, for a small fee. So I think banning carts is a silly idea.

Eric L said...

When I lived 3 blocks from a grocery store, I always made a point of using a handbasket so that I would feel it get heavy and not buy more than I'd want to carry back. But it seems silly for the store to make that choice for me -- once I'm at the grocery store, I've already made the decision on whether I'm getting back by car, bike, or foot/transit.

Matt Fisher said...

Oh yes. It can be tougher if you do have a large family. At least I won't have one like in "Cheaper by the Dozen".

Dustin said...

This is the comment I left over at The City Fix concerning Sydney's shopping-cart ban.


Here’s an idea: ban the parking lot instead!

I live in Washington, D.C. My wife and I make large purchases from the grocery store all the time. And not once have we driven to the grocery stores in our neighborhood. That’s right — never in our married lives have we driven to do our grocery shopping. We have a collapsible shopping cart that works quite well.

In fact, I was surprised to find out a few months ago that a grocery store a few blocks from our apartment actually has a parking garage. I didn’t know. I’ve never seen it, and it never occurred to me that there would actually be a parking garage there.