Trip and infrastructure report

April 3, 2023

Just spent 3+ weeks in Europe (spouse had work, I was along as a vacationing assistant more or less), we visited Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, and spent part of a day in Malmo. Is it perhaps necessary to point out that Cambridge is a wealthy city in a wealthy state in an actually-wealthy nation (that fails to tax its richest people adequately and overspends on war preparation, thus the government is perpetually complaining about “can’t afford?”).

  • I assume all y’all are jealous of this fun vacation (I had a great time). Would it perhaps be nice to live in an interesting place like these?
  • All these cities are, shall we say, unfriendly to cars and especially to parking. Yet Paris actually has quite a few cars in it, despite all the press that Mayor Hidalgo has received. Copenhagen, had cars in it, spouse had to do a day in Aarhus and car-pooled there, the car arrived at the door of where we were staying (a half-block from a no-cars pedestrianized area). Copenhagen, I saw plenty of people older than me, including women, including in the drippy rain, biking. Their raincoat game is strong there.
  • All these poorer-places have great mass transit and some amount of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, the lack of which we always trot out as our reason for not making it harder to drive/park. (The Paris Metro on strike works better than the red line currently does.)
  • No doubt someone will point that Massachusetts is not Denmark, we don’t have the density that they do. This is correct, Massachusetts has less area than Denmark (10565 vs 16580, square miles) , more people (7 million vs 6 million) , and is actually denser (900 vs 360, per square mile). “Gross State Product” of MA is $584B (2020), versus either $411B (2022, Purchasing Power Parity) or $387B (2022, nominal). Whatever works in Denmark because of their population density and wealth, should work better in Massachusetts.

So, we could add bike lanes and fix mass transit, if we wanted. That’s a choice we make, we have the money, we have the density. We cannot do “cars-cars-cars” in Cambridge/Somerville/Boston/etc without noise, pollution, traffic jams, and a low but not-zero level of pedestrian crash deaths; that’s not a choice, that is physics. And the way to get better transit is to quit voting for lower-my-taxes penny-pinching conservatives; if you complain about the T and then vote for the guy (and the party of the guy) who broke it, you’ll get to complain some more in the future.

Slide show from the trip (Google Photos).


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