Last week I posted a response to Timothy B. Lee's critique of The Declaration of Independents' unfriendly treatment of government-funded rail projects. Today, Lee has posted a response to that response over at Forbes.com. Here's an excerpt:
It's also important to keep the big picture in mind. In the decades after World War II, urban planners across the country pursued a variety of aggressive "get people into their cars" policies. They used the power of eminent domain to push freeways through the heart of urban areas, destroying some neighborhoods outright and cutting others off from the rest of the city. They passed zoning restrictions that systematically discouraged high-density urban living. Many of these laws are still on the books to this day. In addition to restricting building heights and mixed-use development, these zoning codes almost invariably force developers to provide parking for new construction projects, whether the market demands it or not.
The results of these policies—convenient automobile access to the heart of the city, plentiful parking, inflated rents in the city compared to the suburbs, spread-out neighborhoods that are hard to traverse on foot—creates the illusion that people are freely choosing a suburban, auto-oriented lifestyle. […]
The consistent, libertarian position is to oppose both styles of social engineering, and that can certainly include criticizing train-related boondoggles. But I think it's a mistake to focus so heavily on the government's relatively modest efforts to get people out of their cars while ignoring the older, bigger, and more systematic efforts to push people into their cars. Not only does this give a free pass to some seriously anti-liberty policies, but it also risks giving urbanists the impression that libertarians have picked the other side in urban planning's version of the culture wars.
I'll give him the last word, though I'm curious to read reaction in the comments.