A bedrock principle of legislative sanity is making laws and policies for how people really are, rather than for how the planners think they ought to be.  Sure, some changes in public character are possible.  If you arrest people for driving recklessly, they may come to drive more considerately.  On the other hand, Prohibition, the great Progressive project of its day, was not known as a dazzling success.

G.K. Chesterton remarked that utopian schemes “take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones.  They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon.”  He was thinking of economic utopianism, but let me give a more prosaic example:  Highway utopianism.

Municipalities like mine pour millions into the expansion of light rail systems which hardly anyone uses, because they think people ought to prefer them to automobiles.  Maybe we ought to, but we don’t.  Not only do people prefer the flexibility and privacy of personal vehicles, but they would rather not have to deal with frightening, drugged-out derelicts in rail stations (another product of our handlers’ brilliant ideas).  The planners dream that if only the systems were vastly expanded, people would prefer taking the train.  You can dream anything you wish, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Proponents cry “But we need more light rail because traffic is getting so much worse!”  Yes, it is – but why is it?  A lot of things can be done to alleviate congestion, like synchronizing stop lights.  Yet often the simplest things go undone because the planners want people to change instead.

In fact, in cities like mine, the planners do just the opposite of alleviating congestion.  As though to punish people for using automobiles, they drag out road construction projects and adopt policies which make driving more difficult.  For example, they turn all the nice four-lane roads into two-lane roads to accommodate wide new bike lanes which hardly anyone uses either, because people ought to prefer bicycling to driving cars.

Halve the available auto lanes, and presto!  Auto congestion doubles.  In the meantime, driving becomes more and more confusing.  It isn’t just that bicyclists are granted carte blanche to run stop lights, although that is quite a hazard.  Have you ever had to figure out what to do when a designated bike lane diagonally crosses over a designated auto lane, from far right to far left, instead of running alongside it?  The first time I ran across one of these, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

NOW will you planet-hating Neanderthals authorize a bond for expanding light rail?  Don’t you get it yet?  Haven’t you figured out who rules in this burg?