Can Political Opposition to Transit/Rail/Bikes be Explained by the Rural/Urban Divide?
Image: The Transport Politic
All Politics is Local
Without getting into partisan politics (that way lies madness), it's fairly easy to conclude that in the U.S., one of the two main parties has been more opposed to things like transit, bike infrastructure, rail, etc (I'll let you guess which one I'm talking about). So far a lot of ink has been spilled on how this is an ideological difference, but there's another interesting way to look at it which I think could further explain the rift. The graph above shows which party is in power on one axis and population density on the other. Looking at it, it's pretty clear that one party does a lot better in cities and that the other is more rural.
Photo: planetc1, CC
No need to explain why investments in transit, rail, bike paths, etc, bring more benefits to areas with high population density (or benefits in linking highly populous spots, in the case of high-speed rail) than to places where people are more spread out. This is good ol' self-interest at work, and in an alternate universe where the roles were reversed, maybe it would be argued that highly subsidized roads and cars (especially if you count all indirect subsidies, like military spending to keep the oil flowing, etc) were the big government solution, and more efficient means of transportation were the fiscally conservative thing to do, or whatever.
It's a theory. It doesn't explain everything for everyone and everywhere, but I think it's good food for thoughts.
In any case, this chart seems to tell us that we're not close to having a consensus on this in the U.S.... The solution is probably to do things more locally when possible.
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