Including its braking zone, every car at cruising speed occupies as much land as a house. In a lifetime, most drivers will spend at least two years at the wheel, enjoying free rent of a house sized (moving) parcel of land. A generation ago, we thought allocating land for cars to hurtle along, free of charge, would be good for society. But now we see the obesity, alienation, accidents, emissions, congestion, depreciation and repair costs, etc, and we’re changing our minds. Never mind charging drivers vehicle registration, and tax contributions, to help toward the cost of patching the potholes they make, I’m looking at the value of the actual land, land they’re getting for free. It is in recognition of this theft going on—"grand theft auto," let’s call it—that some cities are charging congestion taxes, and reallocating some land to pedestrians, buses and cyclists. Let’s push this trend to its logical and rightful conclusion.
For the right to handle machines, that transform quarter acres of public land into deadly no-go zones, drivers should have to pay market rate rents for that land. Most, let’s assume, will be paying for two years worth of rent across a lifetime. Given the rental value of land in the city, the cost of driving in town would be prohibitive, for all but a few billionaires. Renting driving space in inner suburbs, would be a rare privilege, while out in the farms and exburbs, the cost of renting driving space wouldn’t be such an issue at all. Sounds fair to me.
If you like this idea, do share the link, or find ways of disseminating the concept in your own words. Let me point you too, to a website by the bicycling journalist Carlton Reid, who has given a lot more thought to the subject: IPayRoadTax.com
p.s. Thanks Carlton, for mentioning this post to everyone who follows you via twitter. That’s 5417 people, my godfather!